Nine NHL games will be played on December 18, 2008:
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Boston Bruins
Florida Panthers vs. Carolina Hurricanes
Philadelphia Flyers vs. Montreal Canadiens
St. Louis Blues vs. Washington Capitals
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Atlanta Thrashers
San Jose Sharks vs. Detroit Red Wings
Colorado Avalanche vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Dallas Stars
Nashville Predators vs. Phoenix Coyotes
So now let’s go through some players!
Andreas Lilja: This is a player you may think about benching. Sure he plays for the reigning Stanley Cup champions, but do you really want to put your money on a player who hasn’t scored a single goal this season? Also add on to the fact that they’ll be playing the Sharks today. Uhh yeah playing him might result in a HUGE bite of your fantasy score.
Jeremy Williams: Okay he’s scored one goal in each of his three games. Last time, I was leaning towards benching him against New Jersey, but he scored a goal. This time, I’m still leaning towards benching him because 1) He can’t can’t possibly maintain this goal-scoring pace and 2) He’s facing the best team in the Eastern Conference.
Patrik Berglund: 10 goals. 10 assists. +10 rating. Good stats? Sure! After all, he’s a rookie! However, I would not expect him to do much against a hot Washington Capitals team that is ripping up the Southeast Division. Nevertheless, if you do play him, kick a soccer ball towards left field at Fenway Park and hope that you clear the Green Monster.
Mike Knuble: With three goals in his last two games, it’ll be difficult to bench Knuble. And really, why would you? Given the hot streak the Flyers have been on lately, you can expect Knuble to do wonders for you against a now-struggling Canadiens team.
Nicklas Lidstrom: Not scoring much, this fantastic offensive defenseman may be one you want to sit, especially if your Max & Pace for defensemen is a positive number. Facing a tougher team in San Jose, it’ll be difficult for the Swede to contain guys like Setoguchi, Marleau, and Thornton.
Nicklas Backstrom: He’ll continue to score points as long as BOTH Alexanders are healthy. Keep him on your starting roster, and you’ll get a handful of points after he adds some helpers (and maybe even a goal) against a struggling Blues squad. Bench him and kiss your season goodbye.
Dan Boyle: Although I have a few doubts about starting him, do so. With 10 goals and 16 assists in 29 games, expect him to score some much-needed fantasy points against a Red Wings team that is struggling to get its focus back.
Roman Hamrlik: Bench him. The Flyers are hot. Hamrlik isn’t hot. The showers he take aren’t hot. Starting him is an idea that is not hot.
Evgeni Nabokov: Okay he had a decent game against Columbus on Wednesday, but ended up with the loss. You could argue that he might not win against Detroit, but if the Wings could only muster two goals on Andrew Raycroft, how do you think Nabokov will do in Hockeytown?
David Backes: His two-game goal streak might be a valid reason to start him against Washington. But can you really put money on the guy against the best team in the Southeast Division? I might put in a dollar tops that he’ll get at least one point, but if you do play him, try a three-point shot blindfolded.
Vesa Toskala: You COULD start him, but do remember in his last game against Boston, he made 19 saves on 22 shots. He probably might struggle against the beastly Bruins, but I’m not saying that starting him isn’t a good idea. If he stood on his head against a tough Devils team, he might do the same against a tougher Bruins team.
Peter Mueller: He hasn’t scored a goal since that November 9 win against San Jose. But he’s had 14 assists this year, which is worthy of him being on your starting roster. Also add on to the fact that he’s had one assist in 7 of his last 9 games and is currently riding on a 4-game assist streak. Against a comparable Nashville team, he’ll likely extend the streak to five games.
Henrik Zetterberg: While his team may be struggling, the player isn’t. With three points in his last two games, he’ll be the go-to guy when the Wings face off against the Sharks today.
Milan Hejduk: Facing a weak Lightning team, you can expect him to score today against Tampa Bay. With a dozen goals and a dozen assists to boot, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Hejduk improve to a baker’s dozen in both categories after tonight’s game.
Mike Komisarek: With a shoulder that’s sidelined him since mid-November, he should get medical clearance to play Thursday against Philadelphia. Should you play him? Odds are, he probably won’t do much against a Flyers team that has won 6 games out of 7 in the month of December, with the only loss coming in Overtime against New Jersey.