January 18, 2012

Dobber Sports

2012-01-18

 

My Midseason Guide was released January 6 and then an addendum was added Friday the 13th, get it here.  Prospects, second-half projections, the trading block – and so much more.

 

Uh oh – Taylor Hall and Jeff Skinner. Down and out. Footage below. Hall took an UGLY one, a fluke in which Corey Potter in warm-ups leapt over him and his foot landed on his forehead. There goes that pretty face! Thank goodness it could have been so much worse, but man was it scary. And Skinner had his head down and got hit hard by Orpik. I thought the hit was clean, but it was close and will certainly be reviewed. Just terrible timing, as Skinner had just returned. And back-to-back concussions always make their fantasy owners cringe.

 

I'm sorry, I'm still on the fence about Marchand getting suspended there. And then I saw Foligno hit Phaneuf in almost the same way and I just didn't see anything wrong with it. So… Foligno will either be suspended for five games, or he'll get zero, or who knows… When you get a suspension-happy NHL and a select few fans and media who whine real loud all the time, what you are left with is uncertainty. There is no black and white when a game goes at 100 miles an hour. There is a lot of gray, but these select few demand that it be black and white.

 

Nathan Horton has 11 points in his last 11 games. He scored twice last night, yet was a minus-2.

 

I've had several people email me, or PM me wondering why I think Martin St. Louis will have a strong second half. After all, this season is a write-off for the Lightning, he's getting older and he's not seeing as much time with Stamkos. But the answer is simple – his stats always correct themselves. Every time you want to write him off, he steps it up. His last five seasons: 102 points, 83, 80, 94, 99. So this year he's on pace for 70. He's going to get 80 minimum, less his six games so 74. At worst he improves by four points in the second half, which is eight points over a full season or 10%. To stay in his proven range. I mean, we all lose bets, but the smart money will take the odds and bet on him doing what he has done for the last five years. It's not a big leap.

 

His plus/minus hasn't been great, but Matt Gilroy has quietly been putting up points for TB. He has eight points in his last 12 games.

 

Well, Brad Marchand is back next game, let's take a look at how Benoit Pouliot did: 5 GP, 1-1-2, plus-2, 7 SOG. That's below expectation in my books. He saw 18 minutes last night, but he won't see that again once Marchand returns. To me, another two points and four shots would have made all the difference.

 

Teddy Purcell has 12 points in his last 31 games and is minus-2 in that span. A promising start, but a terrible run that warrants a healthy scratch. Something like that often gets a young player to start rolling.

 

So Tim Thomas owners – getting nervous? You probably shouldn't, but I don't really blame you when one of the best (if not THE best) up and comers in hockey is the backup. Thomas has lost four of his last six games and has allowed four goals in three of those losses. Meanwhile, Rask has won seven in a row.

 

Craig Smith was back in the lineup, but was minus-2 in 10:50 of ice time. The good news is that he was out in the last minute with the goalie pulled, which speaks to the coach's expectations of him in the long term. But short term, I think for this year and probably next, he will be a second-half flop. Just doesn't have the legs to handle this workload yet.

 

Matt Read, however, does. It would seem. Notice how I