My Puck Daddy article is up. Find it here.
Both Kris Letang and Zbynek Michalek have been diagnosed with concussions. Simon Despres makes an excellent pickup – do it now.
Some Avalanche notes – Paul Stastny left the game late after suffering a torso injury. Also, Stefan Elliott’s low ice time came after a terrible turnover that led to a breakaway, further leading me to believe that he’ll be sent down. Semyon Varlamov had another terrific game. He is 4-2 with a 1.81 GAA and .939 save percentage in his last six starts.
Valtteri Filppula left the game last night with a cut on his leg. They’re not saying how serious it is right now. So probably not a paper cut.
St. Louis lines with David Perron back in the lineup: Backes, Oshie and Steen remains intact; Berglund with D'Agostini and Perron; Arnott with Sobotka and Stewart. This arrangement hurts Langenbrunner and Stewart, but helps Arnott and Sobotka.
Questions in Nashville are starting to arise about Sergei Kostitsyn's commitment level. Here we go again – and just when we thought he was a changed man. He played five excellent months of hockey to end last season and had a strong camp (four points in four preseason games). But now this. I get the impression that with either Kostitsyn brother, if they have the slightest hangnail they start to mail in the effort. They need to be comfortable. One little papercut and they go from possible 70-point players down to ECHL players. Just my gut feeling.
The Guardian Project was a failure. I did my part, but I think the powers that be underestimated how much the negativity of bloggers and hockey fans would impact the growth. And then they failed to build momentum – as Wyshynski says here, the characters weren't used on any jumbotrons to pump up the fans in the different arenas. This was meant to bring in (or keep) the very young fan. But even though it was targeted to 11 year olds, it should have been predicted that the 30 year olds would come down hard on this thing every step of the way. And that, in turn, would impact the interest of the 11 year olds. Anyway, I would have done it differently. It needed another year to build behind the scenes, for one thing.
If you want to see Lindy Ruff's reaction to Tootoo (hit is below), you can see it here.
Andrej Meszaros has an apparent shoulder injury.
I just realized (thanks to an email from Ryan) that I haven't addressed the Stamkos vs. Malkin debate here yet this season. This, after pretty much discussing it every two weeks for the prior year! My stance hasn't changed. Stamkos will get you between 90 and 110 points in nine of the next 10 years. If you want the security, you can't go wrong. Malkin will hit that range two or three times in that span – and he'll beat that range two or three times. And, of course due to his fragility, he'll fall short of the range three or four times. That's how I see it. And I understand that I'm in the minority when I say that I'd prefer sitting on him for 10 years just to get those two or three glory seasons. I'll suffer the three or four tough years out of 10. His upside makes him part of the Big 3. Upside. Not reliability. Not number of scoring titles. Upside.
If Martin Brodeur doesn't retire after this season, I'll be shocked. He has nothing to prove. But he's allowed six goals on nine first-period shots in the last two games. He hasn’t looked right in a couple of years.
To me, Ryan O'Reilly needed to cross that 19-point barrier. That's where he was stuck as a rookie (19 points in 26 games and then seven points in 56 games). With two more Sunday, he's beat the threshold. The Avs have one good line rolling right now – Landeskog and Hejduk are his linemates. How badly does this team need Peter Mueller to help kickstart a second hot line?
The wait on Mueller will be a little longer yet – he pulled his groin a few days ago, per Adrian Dater. During a bag skate, of all things. Meanwhile, his replacement Joakim Lindstrom has returned to Sweden.
With Erik Johnson back in the lineup, Stefan Elliot saw just nine minutes of ice time, although 3:28 on the PP. Still, it's hard to run a PP coming off the bench cold like that. Next stop – AHL.
Henrik Zetterberg has eight points in his last seven games now.
Ty Conklin had the start, so Jimmy Howard's seven-game win streak is intact. For Conklin it marks three straight losses.
Matt Duchene was stymied again (in terms of goals), but Sunday marked the second straight game in which he fired six shots on net. Positive sign, obviously.
Nick Johnson has a five-game points streak going. Seriously, he does. Hey, I noted him as a dark horse when the Wild picked him up. His ice time has been rising, hovering around the 15-minute mark. The first 10 games that number was closer to 11. When the Pens waived him, I called him "the most appealing name to go on waivers yet this year. Underrated player who deserves more than the minors this year." Then Angus chimed in with "I like the Nick Johnson claim by the Wild. At worst Johnson is a third liner capable of chipping in with 12-15 goals and physical play. If an injury strikes in the top six, he can slide up (and depending on potential linemates, could be 20-25 goals)."
I then really put my money where my mouth was but putting him down for 41 points in the fantasy guide. He's on pace for 33 at the moment. So what did the other guides have him at? Again I invite you to email me proof that you bought another fantasy guide elsewhere, and I'll send you a free copy of the Guide I released in the summer for you to compare (and kick yourself over having missed).
The Midseason Guide is coming out in about five weeks. You can pick it up here – the packages that I have put it with this year make things cheaper than last year (if you buy it on its own it is the same price though). So if you miss the incredible tools available by Frozen Pool, or the true expertise offered by Goalie Post, or you want to try out Hockey Pool Geek – these packs really drive those prices down. If you were to, for example, buy the "Midseason Goalie Pack" you are essentially getting a membership at Goalie Post for a dollar.
I have openings on staff for DobberBaseball. Email me if you are interested. The forum over there is also picking up steam again if you want to jump in with your thoughts and keep the ball rolling I would appreciate it!
With two points last night, Casey Wellman has appeared on the radar. He had a goal in the prior game. If he's continuing a trend that we've seen in undrafted college players, then keep your eye on him. The trend I refer to is, after two or three years of getting acclimated to the pro game, they become quite valuable (Bozak, Purcell). Just ignore Matt Read – that guy's a freak of nature!
Fingers crossed that Josh Harding can stay healthy this year. He's proving that he can be a starter…but if an injury derails him…again…then there may not be any more chances. But now at 7-2-1 and with Backstrom sidelined, he's taking the ball and running with it – and Backstrom may not get it back.
I still don't take back all the teasing I did with Chris Higgins, nor all the laughter. But they guy now has 17 points in 26 games. His last three seasons have seen 62, 67 and 57 games played. I guess injuries are Excuse No.1 with him, and that excuse seems to be eliminated now. And his linemates David Booth and Ryan Kesler are showing a lot of chemistry. Higgins and Booth had three points each Sunday.
Mason Raymond played his first game of the season. He played 14:35 and tallied an assist.
From all accounts, Kevin Bieksa is having a horrible year. But all I care about is 10-2-7-9, plus-7 and 27 shots. Last 10 games. Doesn't look sucky to me.
That's three straight games with points for Rene Bourque. That's his M.O. – he's a top Windex Wonder, so I would expect that his points are undergoing a market correction and so the streak will continue for awhile.
Bruce Boudreau likes Matt Beleskey. That's all you need to know – now go pick him up. Beleskey has two points in his last two games (new coach) and his ice time was up to 16 minutes Sunday. Just some very positive signs.
Lovely goal by Bouchard:
Fistric knocks Niederreiter out of the game:
Buffalo learned their lesson from the Lucic inaction – look at them jump to Miller's protection after Tootoo hits him: