Posted some videos for you to enjoy!
Ilya Bryzgalov has been a monster all season for the stingy Coyotes. I am flying down to Phoenix to get a first-hand scouting report next week! Going to catch the Coyotes/Canucks game on December 29th.
Expect Michael Grabner to be called up shortly if he performs well for the Moose. He was playing really well before breaking his ankle, and the Canucks just wanted him to get back in game shape down in the AHL. He really clicked on a line with Kesler and Raymond, as all three can absolutely fly.
The St. Louis Blues enter Christmas on a high note, having swept their Western Canadian road trip. Chris Mason was spectacular last night, going save for save with Miikka Kiprusoff.
Chicago has four shutouts in their last five games. Niemi and Huet have two each – absolutely insane and the fact that two different goalies are responsible shows how strong Chicago is defensively.
Andrei Markov's impact has been immediate. He finished the game with a goal, and played over 23 minutes of ice time (and over three on both the power play and penalty kill). The Habs scored five goals.
Tomas Plekanec continues his torrid pace. He had three assists and is inching closer to the NHL scoring leaders. Quite the comeback after a dismal 2008-09.
Dennis Wideman had two assists. He was a minus-2, but any production from him is a positive right now.
The Afinogenov-Antropov-Kovalchuk line combined for six points. Atlanta was let down by goaltending tonight, as they were behind the eight ball early. They trailed 3-zip a little over 10 minutes into the hockey game.
Alex Ovechkin has back-to-back three point games and is only seven behind Thornton, despite missing 11 games with injuries and his suspension.
Eric Fehr had an assist, but as I expected his ice time has been cut dramatically with the return of Mike Knuble. Fehr played just over 11 minutes, while Knuble played close to 15.
Brendan Morrison scored a highlight reel goal through his legs against Ryan Miller. I'll post a video when I can.
Afinogenov is out-pointing any Sabre by four points (Derek Roy has 29).
Scott Gomez had three helpers in the Montreal win. It was his first three point game of the season, and first multi-point game since December 4th.
The dive for Taylor Hall continues in Edmonton. The Oilers lost their fifth straight to the Wild. Denis Grebeshkov looks lost on the ice, and Patrick O'Sullivan is just plain unwilling to compete.
Guilliame Latendresse scored last night. Four of his six goals have come since the trade, and his ice time in Minnesota is around 16 minutes per game on average, compared to 10-12 in Montreal. He still has upside as a solid 20/20 guy.
Is Marian Gaborik going to defy the odds and play a full season? He had two more points last night, and fired seven shots on goal. What a signing so far by the Rangers. Scored his league-leading 26th goal, keeping his mid 50's pace.
Not the return Pascal Leclaire was looking for. He gave up six goals on 24 shots, including two apiece to Malkin and Guerin. Malkin later beat Brian Elliott to complete the hat trick.
Alfredsson left the Sens game in the first period last night after being on the receiving end of a hit from Craig Adams. He didn't return.
I am looking forward to the announcement of Canada's Olympic roster next week. I have been a bit surprised that many media outlets don't have Marty St. Louis as a lock – but I sure do. His versatility, consistently, determination, and heart are all qualities that would fit in well with any kind of team. I personally see him playing with the Anaheim duo of Getzlaf-Perry.
Cory Stillman is planning to return on December 31st against Montreal. He isn't quite 100% yet, but is very close. He will slot in on the second line with Reinprecht, and will add even more offense to the red hot Panthers. He often is overlooked in fantasy pools, but is a consistent producer. He should be good for 30-35 points during the final 40 games.
David Clarkson practiced today for the first times since breaking his ankle blocking a Zdeno Chara shot back in November. He is still at least a week or two away, but get ready to dress him once again – he has been a huge fantasy performer so far and has 25+ goal 150+ PIM upside.
David Booth continues to skate, and is aiming for a mid-January return. Great news, as even two weeks ago it looked like Booth may be just down for the season. Concussions are really tough to estimate in terms of recovery time, but it appears that Booth is finally on the right track.
Paul Marin has suffered a setback with his broken arm and is out for at least another four weeks. Extends the fantasy relevance of Andy Greene, but hurts the Devils (and USA if Martin isn't healthy by the Olympic break) big time.
Mathieu Schneider has left the Canucks for "personal reasons." Many are speculating it is because he is unhappy with his status as the seventh defenseman. Shane O'Brien has been fantastic over the past five or six games, and Schneider has been an adventure all season defensively. He is still valuable on the power play, but the Canuck have enough defensemen capable of filling that role without being a liability that he really doesn't provide anything to them at the moment.
Whenever you read a rumor that starts "according to the Ottawa Sun…" stop reading. Bruce Garrioch (or as Puck Daddy likes to refer to him, "Malkin to the Kings") is somehow holding on to a job without many/any credible sources. His rumors are interesting enough to spark discussion and proposals, but take them with a large grain of salt (very large).
Elliotte Friedman of CBC posts his "30 Thoughts" each week, and it is one of the few hockey articles outside of DobberHockey that I look forward to. Check out the latest installment here.
Who knew that fantasy studs Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry were also aspiring sketch artists? On a recent plane ride they and George Parros engaged in a thrilling drawing contest. Read on for more…
My take on the Kovalchuk situation – he wants to stay in Atlanta to a degree, but he is demanding more than he knows he will get to see how willing ownership would be to overpay for him long-term. And with GM Don Waddell recently saying negotiations have hit a "snag," I think his bluff is working. Kovalchuk is worried that if he signs a 10 year deal, he may be playing in Winnipeg or Kansas City before it expires (no insult meant to those cities, he just wants stability).
It is essentially lose-lose situation. If the Thrashers choose to deal Kovalchuk at the deadline in order to get something for him, they may alienate their fan base beyond repair. They finally have built a strong, playoff caliber club, and trading their captain and best player in the middle of a stretch run would be a crippling blow to any post-season aspirations for the Thrashers. Conversely, if they decide to keep him and are eventually bounced from the first or second round, they could lose him for nothing. There always is the option of trading his rights for something, but that is basically a band-aid on a bullet hole. Florida already made the same mistake last year with Bouwmeester, will Atlanta do it again? Personally, I would hold on to Ilya and try and sign him after the season if he is unwilling to negotiate further. Making the playoffs is too important to the organization and the city right now.
WJC stuff: Captain Patrice Cormier needs to cut out the stupid and malicious elbows and hits from his game, quickly. Nazem Kadri, besides being a turnover machine offensively, has taken several borderline runs at opponents. Intimidation is a great tactic in short tournaments, especially when they will probably face at least one of these teams again. However, it needs to at least somewhat resemble clean play, or it is going to get called by the stingy IIHF referees every time.
Forgot to post this one the other night – some guys dressed in green body suits mocked the Preds in the penalty box all game. Apparently it is from the TV show “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” Having never watched the show, I can’t verify.
Brendan Morrison with a SWEET through the legs goal last night.
NHL goals of the week. “HEEEEEE SHOOOTS AND SCORES.”