Easily the biggest story on Saturday night was the Boston batterings. I was in theScore newsroom all evening covering the NHL and the barbarism in Boston completely dominated my night. Here’s how I covered Shawn Thornton’s mugging of Brooks Orpik, Loui Eriksson’s latest concussion (ugh), and James Neal’s knee to the head of Brad Marchand.
What really bothers me about those plays is that this wasn’t an issue of hockey fights, it wasn’t an issue of head shots (though it was that too), and there was nothing resembling a hockey play here – aside from Orpik’s clean though injurious hit on Eriksson. This was a couple of guys in Thornton and Neal targeting the heads of their opponen’s while those opponents were either lying prone on the ice or had their backs turned (or both).
Every time any NHL player steps onto the ice, and to a lesser degree any time you step onto the ice at beer league, there’s a significant degree of risk being assumed. Hockey is, after all, a game played by men weilding weapons and wearing knives on their feet while skating around a hard surface in an enclosed space. It’s dangerous as hell, especially when there isn’t an air of mutual respect between players.
Clearly that mutual respect was completely absent from Saturday night’s game in Boston. It made for a disgraceful affair and another black-eye for the National Hockey League.
Okay let’s turn promptly to fantasy because that’s what you’re here for, right?
We’ll start with the game I just ranted about because it makes as the most natural segue.
Bruins forward Reilly Smith had another strong game, which sucks for me since he was on my bench. The underrated Bruins forward scored a goal, assisted on Zdeno Chara’s game winner (while playing with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron in the absence of Loui Eriksson, you might be interested to know), managed 2 SOG, a hit, and was +2. He’s now got 19 points in 29 games this season, is posting stellar underlying numbers, and isn’t benefitting too enormously from the bounces.
Also and most importantly: only owned in 5% of Yahoo fantasy leagues and about to see his minutes tick upward while Eriksson convalesces. If you’re in a deeper league it’s time to pick this guy up…
Some nice fantasy lines from Penguins defenseman Matt Niskanen (2 assists, 2 PPP, even, 3 shots, 5 hits) and David Krejci (1 goal, +1, 1 SOG, 6 hits(?)). Who pissed off David Krejci, I wonder? Oh right it was James Neal and Brooks Orpik. Makes sense…
Let’s transition unnaturally now to the afternoon game, which was dominated by Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn and VALERI NICHUSHKIN! Seguin recorded a hat-trick, NICHUSHKIN! managed 3 assists and Jamie Benn only managed an assist, but was +4, took 6 shots and added a couple of hits for good measure. Not too shabby.
I’m not sure that Dallas’ Benn, Seguin, whomever (but usually NICHUSHKIN! or Peverley) line is the league’s best. In fact I don’t think they are the league’s best because one of Kopitar’s line, Thornton-Burns-Hertl, or Backes-Steen-Oshie are. But they’re probably the most exciting: