News: Derick Brassard (illness) will play Saturday against the Hurricanes, Andrew Gross of The Record reports. Analysis: Coach Alain Vigneault signed off on Derick Brassard's return after he was able to take part in the team's morning skate. The center missed the Rangers' last two contests with the mumps virus.
News: Ryan Carter (upper body) was activated from injured reserve Saturday, Rachel Blount of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. Analysis: After missing the Wild's previous three games, Ryan Carter was cleared to return after practicing Friday. He'll be reinserted on the fourth line for Saturday's game against the Predators.
News: Jonathan Quick led the Kings on to the ice for pregame warmups and will thus get the start Saturday against the Coyotes, Elliott Teaford of the Los Angeles Daily News reports. Analysis: Jonathan Quick will likely be a heavy favorite to come away with the victory against a Coyotes squad that has lost eight of its last 10 games, with its lone two wins during that stretch coming against the sad-sack Oilers. The netminder hasn't been particularly sharp lately, so this should represent a good bounce-back opportunity for him.
News: Matt Cooke (hip) was activated from injured reserve Saturday and will suit up against the Predators, Rachel Blount of the Minneapolis Stat Tribune reports. Analysis: He'll replace Justin Fontaine in the lineup, joining Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter on the Wild's third line. Matt Cooke last played on Oct. 28 before missing the last 22 games with a hip flexor.
News: Jonas Hiller will get the start in net Saturday, Scott Cruickshank of the Calgary Herald reports. Analysis: Jonas Hiller and the Flames have hit the skids in December, as Calgary has lost seven straight and Hiller has lost six in a row. Until they right the ship, Hiller should be avoided, especially with his mates giving him a grand total of four goals combined in his last four outings.
News: Jake Allen will be between the pipes Saturday against the Sharks, Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Analysis: Things have started to turn ugly for Jake Allen here in December, despite the fact that he's won each of his last three starts. He's posted a horrid .884 save percentage in five outings this month, which has resulted in him yielding more work to Martin Brodeur than anticipated. Still, with a powerful offense and strong defense supporting him, the wins should keep coming rather steadily for the struggling netminder.
News: Antti Niemi will be between the pipes Saturday night against the Blues, Kevin Kurz of CSN Bay Area reports. Analysis: Antti Niemi will take aim at his seventh straight victory Saturday, though he hasn't been as consistently sharp as the winning streak would suggest. During that stretch, he's surrendered three goals or more on three occasions, but did manage to capture his second shutout of the season. He'll have his work cut out for him against the Blues, who rank sixth in the NHL in goals and fifth in shot attempts per game.
News: Coach Peter Laviolette said that the illness preventing James Neal from playing in Saturday's game against the Wild isn't related to the mumps virus. Analysis: Fortunately, it would seem James Neal is dealing with some kind of flu or cold that is unrelated to mumps epidemic laying waste to the NHL. The winger wasn't able to practice Friday and remained absent from the team's morning skate Saturday, but Laviolette wouldn't rule out the possibility of Neal playing Monday against Columbus.
News: Taylor Beck (concussion) is expected to return to the lineup Saturday against the Wild, Eric Stromgren of The Tennessean reports. Analysis: Taylor Beck has been out since Dec. 9 with the concussion, but it doesn't appear as though he's been dealing with any symptoms over the last couple of days. With James Neal (illness) scratched from Saturday's contest, Beck will reenter the lineup on the Preds' fourth trio alongside Derek Roy and Calle Jarnkrok.
News: Ron Hainsey recorded his third point of the season - an assist on Elias Lindholm's empty net goal - to help seal a 4-1 win over the Maple Leafs on Friday. Analysis: Ron Hainsey's days as a blueliner who can contribute offensively are long gone - the last time he recorded more than 20 points in a season was back in 2009-10 when he posted five goals and 21 helpers for the Jets. These days, the best the 33-year old Hainsey can do is take care of business in his own zone. He does currently rank second on the team in blocked shots with 50, but his plus-minus rating of -9 leaves something to be desired. Bottom line, Hainsey's shortcomings far outweigh his positive attributes. For fantasy purposes, it's best to avoid using him if possible.