News: Chris Kunitz was given practice off Thursday, Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. Analysis: Chris Kunitz hit his leg on the Capitals' goalpost in Tuesday's victory, but managed to stay in the game despite probably playing with some limitations. Although coach Dan Bylsma characterized Kunitz's absence from practice as a maintenance day, there's still a slight chance he could be scratched Saturday vs. the Flyers if any pain continues to linger. Fantasy owners may want to keep an eye on him the next two days just to be safe.
News: Coach Patrick Roy said he'd be "very surprised" if Paul Stastny (back) played Friday vs. the Ducks, Adrian Dater of the Denver Post reports. Analysis: Paul Stastny has already missed the previous two games with back spasms and doesn't appeared to have made much progress in his recovery in spite of the time off. Fantasy owners should stash him on their bench until more optimism surfaces about a potential return.
News: Chad Johnson is expected to receive the start in goal Thursday vs. the Coyotes, Mike Loftus of the Patriot Ledger reports. Analysis: After Tuukka Rask got the start a night earlier for the Bruins, look for Claude Julien to give the net to Chad Johnson on Thursday, as he faces off against his former team. Johnson has gathered wins in seven of his last eight starts, including two victories earlier this month over the Panthers.
News: Peter Holland (illness) was absent from Thursday's morning skate, Terry Koshan of the Toronto Sun reports. Analysis: Unless Peter Holland is able to rally in the afternoon, it seems likely that he'll be out of the lineup Thursday vs. the Kings. With rosters expanding following the trade deadline, coach Randy Carlyle probably won't hesitate to give Holland the night off if he's at less than 100 percent.
News: Vladimir Sobotka was a beast in his return from injury, recording a goal, two assists, a plus-three rating and 12 PIMs in Thursday's 6-2 beatdown of the Oilers. Analysis: The man they call "Gumption" returned with a vengeance after missing nine games with a fractured knee cap. He opened the scoring for the Blues with just over a minute left in the first, flashing some sweet hands in tight before slipping the puck past a helpless Ben Scrivens. Of course, the lowly Oilers have the potential on any given night to make anyone look good, so you might want to wait for Vladimir Sobotka to turn in a few consecutive solid efforts before grabbing him. Sobotka's eighth goal ties his career high, and his 28 points leave him just one shy of his personal best set in 2010-2011.
News: Brandon Dubinsky assisted on two of Columbus' three goals in Thursday's 4-3 shootout loss to San Jose. Analysis: Brandon Dubinsky has three points in the last two games and is one of the team's more important players. Dubinsky is still more valuable player to Columbus than most rosters, but he's worth a look in deeper leagues.
News: Steven Stamkos scored a power-play goal and added an assist in Thursday's 5-4 win over the Panthers. Analysis: The monkey is off his back. These are his first points since his return from injury and they came after the team moved him to the wing to take some of the pressure off his leg. #rightwingspellsrelief
News: Ryan Johansen scored one of the Blue Jackets' three goals in Thursday's shootout loss to San Jose, his second goal and third point in five games. Analysis: Ryan Johansen is closing in on 30 goals and remains one of the team's breakout stars of the season. He's been somewhat consistent in terms of scoring and should see plenty of chances going forward as Columbus battles for a playoff spot.
News: Sergei Bobrovsky allowed three goals on 27 shots in Thursday's shootout loss to San Jose. Analysis: Goalie Bob and the Jackets played a strong game against one of the Western Conference's better teams, but fell for just the second time in his last five starts. Sergei Bobrovsky remains one of the league's steadier netminders and will be in goal almost every night as Columbus battles for a playoff spot.
News: Matt Nieto scored his second goal in three games and extended a points streak to three games with a goal in Thursday's shootout win over Columbus. Analysis: This rookie is long on skill but has been a bit inconsistent this season, as rookies are wont to do. When he's seeing time with the team's top players, he tends to score more, as anyone would. Remember his name for next year, as he's been too streaky this season to rely terribly much on him, with 20 points through 53 games.