News: Craig Anderson will make the start in the crease Friday against the Ducks, Wayne Scanlan of the Ottawa Citizen reports. Analysis: Craig Anderson came through with a much-needed shutout Wednesday against the Devils, which followed a three-game stretch where he surrendered 10 goals. While his hold on the No. 1 job remains tenuous, Anderson can carry some value when the matchup favors him. It doesn't appear that will be the case Friday against a superior Ducks squad.
News: Kyle Palmieri (shoulder) is aiming to return to the Anaheim lineup Dec. 27 in Arizona, Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register reports. Analysis: Though Kyle Palmieri is set to undergo further testing to determine the full extent of his shoulder injury, he didn't sound concerned about a long-term absence being in play. He could be cleared to practice at some point next week.
News: Joey Crabb is being isolated from his teammates at AHL Hartford on Thursday and will be evaluated for the mumps virus. Analysis: Acquired from the Panthers near the end of training camp, Joey Crabb has spent all season with Hartford, where he's produced seven points in 22 games. The mumps outbreak hasn't hit the minor leagues to the same extent it has in the NHL, but the organization obviously wants to take every precaution against further contamination if Crabb is confirmed to have the virus.
News: Josh Gorges (undisclosed) expects to return to the lineup Saturday against the Avalanche, John Vogl of the Buffalo News reports. Analysis: Josh Gorges missed the last two games due to the injury, but a three-day break in the Sabres' schedule looks like it will provide the defenseman with enough time to return to full health. His impending return would likely bump Andrej Meszaros out of the Buffalo lineup.
News: Mark Fraser was placed on waivers Thursday, Renaud Lavoie of TVA Sports reports. Analysis: Mark Fraser signed with the Devils on a two-way deal in the offseason, but he has spent the entire season with the team's AHL affiliate in Albany. His placement on waivers could be for the purpose of releasing him, as the defenseman may prefer to pursue another opportunity at this time.
News: Brandon Kozun cleared waivers Thursday and was reassigned to AHL Toronto, James Mirtle of The Globe and Mail reports. Analysis: Brandon Kozun had been a scratch in almost every game for the Maple Leafs since returning from an ankle injury earlier in December. He'll likely skate in a top-six role with the AHL club and provide a needed scoring punch.
News: Jimmy Howard will be in the net Friday against the Islanders, MLive.com's Ansar Khan reports. Analysis: Jimmy Howard has been the victim of some terrible luck of late, as he's dropped three consecutive games in shootouts. His most recent loss on Tuesday was doubly frustrating in that he shut out the Blue Jackets for 65 minutes, only to watch opposing goalie Sergei Bobrovsky blank his mates. Even if he's not getting the wins he probably deserves, Howard is at least playing extremely well right now, which should give his fantasy owners plenty of confidence in using him Friday.
News: Stephen Weiss (shoulder) said Thursday that he hopes to return to the Detroit lineup when eligible Sunday versus the Avalanche, MLive.com's Ansar Khan reports. Analysis: Stephen Weiss rotated in during line rushes at Thursday's practice, but he said that he's taking a "wait-and-see approach" to his status for Sunday based on how he progresses over the next few days. The Red Wings should have a better idea about his availability for the Avalanche game following Saturday's practice.
News: Johan Franzen (illness) has been cleared to play Friday against the Islanders, Chuck Pleiness of the Macomb Daily reports. Analysis: After skipping Tuesday's game with the illness, Johan Franzen returned to the ice for Thursday's practice and looked to be feeling significantly better. The forward said he's been battling the stomach flu off-and-on for the past three weeks, but passed all tests for the mumps conducted by the team's medical staff. The illness has surely impacted his play of late, as he's gone 12 games without a goal after potting six in his first 13 contests. Now that he's seemingly recharged, Franzen will likely form a trio with Riley Sheahan and Tomas Jurco on Friday.
News: Adam Larsson (mumps) is being labeled as day-to-day and his status for Friday's game against the Lightning will be a "coach's decision," Tom Gulitti of The Record reports. Analysis: After battling the mumps for the previous week, Adam Larsson was cleared to rejoin the team Wednesday. He's skated each of the last two days and appears to have regained stamina after the virus resulted in him losing considerable weight. With the Devils announcing Thursday that Damon Severson (ankle) would miss the next four-to-five weeks, there's a ready-made lineup spot waiting for Larsson should coach Pete DeBoer decide to play him.