Happy Valentine's Day! I'd suggest you spend the day with your one true love but with the NHL (and thus fantasy hockey) on hiatus you'll have to settle for your domestic partner.
As I indicated in yesterday's ramblings, I spent yesterday on the road coaching basketball. We left at 6:30 am and returned at 12:30 am. I'm wiped.
Luckily, I was able to find some downtime to not only catch half of the Canada-Norway match but to also put together today's ramblings. Unfortunately, that downtime was courtesy of my squad's narrow loss in the semi-final. Oh well, you can't win 'em all.
I know that the natural reaction to Canada's underwhelming performance against Norway is to panic but these early struggles are a part of the process. Also, to panic would be to underestimate the Norwegian talent. They don't have many NHLers but they have plenty of talented professionals who, if nothing else, know how to slow the game down.
I'm sure you saw the defensive shell Norway was frequently falling back into. At times they collapsed all five guys to the front of the net. It looked like the kind of wall you see teams use in soccer.
Norway played tough and Canada is still getting their sea legs. Not panicking.
I didn't catch any of the other games so I can't weigh in with much. I did see that Tuukka Rask allowed four goals on 20 shots in Finland's blowout of Austria. Can't say that's Gold stealing form.
Three of those goals were scored by Michael Grabner whose hat-trick has left the New York Islanders wondering where he has been all year.
Huge blow to the Swedish effort as Henrik Zetterberg has been sent home with a herniated disc. Well that didn't take long. The Red Wings playoff hopes take a huge hit with this news. As does the fantasy value of Gustav Nyquist who has been running alongside Zetterberg. Jimmy Howard takes a hit as the Red Wings’ starter as the whole team will suffer from Zetterberg's diminished presence.
Apparently they won't know the extent of the injury until he gets back to Detroit but I'm going to go ahead and assume that even if he can return to play in short order that he'll be diminished the rest of the way.
Now to address some of your questions from yesterday…
How does the return of Steven Stamkos affect the futures of Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson?
The Lightning have created a very good problem for themselves having these two step up while Stamkos was on the shelf. It leaves a number of different possibilities open, which would have their own unique consequences.
The Lightning could elect to keep Palat, Johnson and Martin St. Louis together, which would leave Stamkos to center a line with Alex Killorn and Teddy Purcell as the most likely candidates. Valtteri Filppula would be left with the third line and the likes of say Nikita Kucherov and Ryan Malone.
Filppula loses in that scenario.
Stamkos could replace Johnson on the top line, relegating Johnson to what would probably wind up being the third line. He loses in that scenario, while Filppula retains some value and Palat retains a lot.
St. Louis, Stamkos and Killorn could be reunited on the Lightning top line, leaving BOTH Palat and Johnson out in the cold.