By Jan Levine, RotoWire Senior NHL Writer
Special to Yahoo Sports
This week’s article includes a hot center in Boston and a cold one in the desert, two lesser-known wingers, the King in charge of his throne and surgery for one of his Ranger teammates.
First Liners (Risers)
Patrice Bergeron, C, BOS – Four goals in a game doesn’t guarantee entry to the Risers side of the column, but it surely helps. The four tallies Saturday give the Boston center — who, at times, is more known for his defensive ability due to his four Selke trophies and proficiency in the faceoff dot — 11 markers in his last 11 games. In addition, with that output against Carolina, Bergeron became the seventh Boston player to reach 700 points in his career. After falling from 68 in 2015-16 to 53 points last season, Bergeron now has 32 points in 35 games after notching an assist Sunday.
Eric Staal, C, MIN – Staal is skating on the third line in Minnesota but producing like a first-liner. The oldest of the Staal brothers, Eric looked to be on his last legs during a poor 2015-16 campaign with Carolina and the Rangers. Resurrected by his move to the State of Hockey, Staal potted 28 goals and added 38 assists last season. He is showing that production was no aberration, as his two goals Saturday now has the 33-year old center sitting at 19 with 18 helpers in 42 contests. His ice time has dropped with his move down the pecking order, though, so watch for any declines in production due to fewer minutes.
Ryan Dzingel, LW, OTT – Dzingel, a natural center, is still adjusting to moving to left wing, but he appears to have settled in nicely. Dzingel enjoyed a breakout of sorts in his first full NHL season, setting career highs in goals (14), assists (18) and shots on goal (123). This season has been marked by more ups and downs. After managing just three goals in 17 games from Nov. 24 to Dec. 30, Dzingel has scored at least one goal in each of his last three games — including twice Saturday — giving his 13 on the year.
Vince Hinostroza, RW, CHI – Hinostroza has been loving life skating on a line with Jonathan Toews and Brandon Saad. Seven — two goals and five assists — of his 10 points on the year have come in his last five games since his placement on that line. Who knows how long it will last, but as we know in fantasy, jump in when the iron is hot and get out when it cools. As Janet Eagleson wrote in her article this week, “Hinostroza had 22 points in 23 AHL games prior to his call-up and that total was good enough to earn him an All-Star berth,” so he clearly has a scoring pedigree.
Mikko Rantanen, RW, COL – The Avalanche have won five in a row and now sit in the second Wild Card spot in the West. A bigger driver in their recent climb has been the play of Rantanen. Taken 10th overall in 2015, Rantanen scored for the third straight game and added two assists Saturday against the Wild, giving him eight points over that span. This hot streak puts the Finnish winger at 15 goals and 41 points in 41 contests this season, making him a must-start.
Colton Parayko, D, STL – When St. Louis moved on from Kevin Shattenkirk before the trade deadline last year, one main reason for their ability to do was the presence of Parayko. Taken 86th overall in 2012, Parayko had proven in his first year-plus that he was ready for more responsibility. While his numbers this season don’t pop out, a deeper look shows a player on pace to set new career highs in assists, points, shots on goal, time on ice, hits and blocked shots as a top-four, right-handed defenseman. I’ll take that any day of the week.
Josh Manson, D, ANA – All the injuries on the Ducks’ blue line created the need for someone to step up and assume a larger role. Manson has been that player since Day 1 of the regular season. At just past the half-way point of the year, the sixth-round pick from 2011 has already exceeded his career high in points, notching 21 in 43 games. Manson has scaled back the number of hits he dishes out, cutting that total almost in half, allowing him to preserve energy and save a hit for when it’s really required. But he is still notching blocks while seeing more ice time.
Henrik Lundqvist, G, NYR – The Rangers’ defense was thought to have been improved this offseason with the addition of Shattenkirk, resigning of Brendan Smith and buyout of Dan Girardi. That has been far from the case, as the blue line has been sieve-like at best too often this year. After a very slow start, Lundqvist has been brilliant, covering up the mistakes by the crew in front of him, willing the Rangers to wins and keeping them in every game. Since Oct. 31, Lundqvist is 16-6-2 with a 2.26 GAA and .933 save percentage. Keep riding him as the Rangers have, with Lundqvist starting 35 of the team’s 42 games this year.
Carter Hutton, G, STL – In deeper leagues, backup goalies have value, and in daily formats, that value rises. One of the best No. 2 netminders in the league this season has been Hutton. Coming over from Nashville after a solid 2015-16 season, Hutton signed a two-year, $2.25 million deal with Blues. That has been money well spent, as Hutton went 13-8-2 with a 2.39 GAA and .913 save percentage. This year, the Thunder Bay native is 8-3-1 with a 1.81 GAA and .941 save percentage behind Jake Allen.
Others include Nathan MacKinnon, Auston Matthews, Tyler Seguin, William Karlsson, Bryan Little, Joe Pavelski, Sean Couturier, Jonathan Toews, Steven Stamkos, Paul Stastny, Andreas Athanasiou (fastest overtime goal in NHL history), Mattias Janmark, Erik Haula, Danton Heinen, Brock Boeser, Mike Hoffman, Evander Kane, Patrick Kane, Phil Kessel, Alexander Radulov, Taylor Hall, Jonathan Marchessault, Claude Giroux, Brad Marchand, Blake Wheeler, Daniel Sprong, Mark Stone, John Klingberg, Erik Karlsson, Brent Burns, Victor Hedman, Ivan Provorov, Jared Spurgeon, Erik Johnson, Rasmus Ristolainen, P.K. Subban, Jonathan Bernier, Connor Hellebuyck, Mike Smith, Ben Bishop, Malcolm Subban, Braden Holtby and Tuukka Rask. Drake Batherson, Filip Zadina, Casey Mittelstadt, Rasmus Dahlin, Elias Pettersson, Klim Kostin, Brady Tkachuk and Lias Andersson(WJC).
Training Room (Injuries)
Chris Kreider, RW, NYR – Kreider left a Dec. 27 game against Washington with a blood clot in his right arm. After missing several games, further examinations determined that a rib resection, which is usually an indication of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, would be required. Steven Stamkos and Andrei Vasilevskiy each had similar surgeries, returning within two months. However, since he’s a power forward who uses his physical play to create space, Kreider could miss the remainder of the season.
Others include Artem Anisimov (upper body, placed on injured reserve 12/29, likely out until after Chicago’s bye-week), Sebastian Aho (upper-body, left Saturday’s game), Filip Forsberg (broken hand, back at end of January), Josh Bailey (lower-body, missed Sunday’s game), Johnny Boychuk (lower-body, out until All-Star break on January 28), Shea Weber (foot, still in a walking boot, doubtful to return until after the All-Star Game), Corey Crawford (upper body, could be out until after Chicago’s bye-week Semyon Varlamov (lower body, should be back after Colorado’s bye-week on Jan. 13) and Jimmy Howard (lower-body injury, missed Sunday’s game).
Fourth Liners/Press Boxers (Fallers)
Max Domi, C, ARI – Domi was held scoreless for the sixth straight game Saturday against the Rangers. After a brilliant rookie season that featured 52 points, Domi fell to just 38 last season while missing 23 games. This season, at his current pace, the 12th overall pick in 2013 will be lucky to reach that mark. Domi saw his shooting percentage drop from 11.3 as a rookie to 8.1 last year and just 3.1 this season, so maybe there is hope for a rebound.
James Neal, RW, LV – Vegas has been a revelation this year. Earlier this season, Neal was a key driver in that story, compiling 17 goals and 27 points while firing 97 shots on goal in the first 33 games. Recently, the Golden Knights have remained hot despite little production from Neal, who has just one goal and one assist in his past eight games. His goal Sunday ended a seven-game drought dating to Dec. 19. A free agent after the season, Neal still could be moved at the trade deadline despite Vegas’ place in the standings, though that is far from set in stone.
Keith Yandle, D, FLA – Yandle got off to a good start with 19 points and a plus-8 during rating his first 29 games of the year, then the wheels fell off. Since that point, Yandle has just three assists and a minus-7 in his last 12 games. Yandle signed a seven-year, $44.45 million contract extension with the Panthers in June of 2016 and posted 41 points his first year in the Sunshine State.
Jaroslav Halak, G, NYI – Halak entered Sunday’s game against the Devils mired in a four-game losing streak where he had posted a horrid .884 save percentage coupled with a 4.68 GAA. He allowed four goals on 46 shots, Sunday, earning a 5-3 shootout win. A poor start last season — 3.23 GAA and .904 save mark over 21 games – landed Halak at Bridgeport of the AHL. He closed strong, earning back his starting job from Thomas Greiss. Both he and Greiss have struggled this season, giving the Islanders no clear answer between the pipes.
Others include Kevin Hayes, Kyle Turris, Anders Bjork, Nick Foligno, Richard Panik, Carl Hagelin, Max Pacioretty, Rick Nash, Kevin Fiala, Chris Kunitz, Jaromir Jagr, Michael Del Zotto, Mattias Ekholm, Mike Green, Jaroslav Halak, Matt Murray and Sergei Bobrovsky.