- Category: Hockey Rambling
Angus here - my fantasy mailbag is open today and tomorrow. Ask your questions here!
After a 51-game absence thanks to a concussion, Andy McDonald will return to the lineup tonight to face the San Jose Sharks. He'll play LW on a line with Patrik Berglund and (likely) Jamie Langenbrunner, which may push Chris Stewart with Vladimir Sobotka and Chris Porter. Ken Hitchcock says McDonald's return is like adding a free agent at the trading deadline.
Impossible to tell how he'll come back from this since concussions have been so dramatically different for various players, but McDonald can be an absolute difference-maker for fantasy owners down the stretch. He'll get good power play time too. The article notes how he returned from a two-month IR stint last year and finished with 33 points in his final 33 games.
I shut down the computer pretty early on into the Brent Sutter interview last night at the end of a long day so I couldn't note it then, but was actually laughing out loud when Scott Oake asked him, as a throwaway question headed into the final commercial break with no possible time for Brent to answer with more than one sentence, if things were good with Darryl. Priceless. I think Brent laughed, said things were good and then something like, "How could you ask that?" as they all chuckled headed into the break.
My guess is that Oake had wanted to ask that last and have at least a few minutes to discuss it, but since the game went to overtime and a shootout they were short on time... something to which Oake alluded early on. He was shuffling through his notes as the segment was winding down and thought what the hell... it turned out to be pretty funny.
BTW, love the 'obviously' comments so far. Glad I'm not the only one noticing that and if you hadn't yet, you have thusly been hit with The Curse of The Obvious. You'll never watch an interview the same way again. I was just reminded of it watching highlights from the early games yesterday. It was some number of years ago I initially mentioned it in a blog, I think when I was with Canoe/ SLAM!, and it still makes me laugh because you can catch it in virtually every single interview of any significant length.
Calgary coach Brent Sutter was tonight's guest on After Hours. One of my career highlights was a phone interview I did with Brent somewhere back around the lockout when he was still with Red Deer and hadn't made the leap to behind the NHL bench yet. We chatted for probably 90 minutes - when he could have gotten rid of me in two - and took a walk down memory lane from his days with the Isles. As a huge Mike Bossy fan growing up, that conversation with Brent was a treat I'll remember for a long time.
His Flames beat the Canucks 3-2 in a shootout. Michael Cammalleri got a nice bounce for his goal and maybe now he'll be able to record points in B2B games for the first time since the trade.
Hockey Day in Canada is as good chance a chance as any to reflect on what the sport means to you. Or maybe it's just a good excuse to open a cold one, sit back and watch a few games. Whatever works.
Evgeni Malkin deserves top billing for bestowing on poolies what is already his third different five-point result of the season as the Pens and Jets played pond hockey in an 8-5 Pittsburgh decision. Malkin goes up against Steven Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning next, which is also against whom the Pittsburgh forward recorded his last five-pointer.
Jordan Staal came back this afternoon and presented his owners with 1G, 1A while starting with Matt Cooke and Pascal Dupuis. Both Kris Letang (2G, 1A) and James Neal (1G, 1A) did their thing and Chris Kunitz’s four-point matinee equalled his production from his past 11 outings. He is absolutely one of those guys whose value on the ice far exceeds his box score contributions, despite still being a decent producer that way.
Evander Kane was with Nik Antropov and the now-healthy Kyle Wellwood on the second line, instead of being where Andrew Ladd was on the wing with Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler. We saw that trio used when Kane was out. Evander may be going through the normal growing pains and Claude Noel is coaching, which is his job, but it sure seems like Kane is being messed around with more than is necessary. He’s your highest-end talent up front... leave him in a spot where he’ll best be able to succeed. That Kane-Little-Wheeler line did some big damage earlier in the year and it should be the go-to unit on a nightly basis.
‘Obviously’. Try to listen to a hockey interview without hearing a player or reporter say that word. If you’ve never noticed that before, you’ll never get that thought out of your head while watching one from this point forward. You’re welcome.
Memo to reporters while conducting broadcast interviews: the less you say, the better. Don’t put words in a player’s mouth and don’t take five sentences to explain what can be said in one just to hear yourself talk. #petpeeve
Patric Hornqvist has 10 points in his past nine games after his Preds fell to the Bruins in a shootout. Mike Fisher and Sergei Kostitsyn have combined for 34 points over Nashville’s past 18 starts. Martin Erat completes that line. Three more points for Shea Weber and he’ll post his fifth 40-point campaign.
The Panthers took down the Devils 3-1 and while we’ve come to expect the stats from the top line of Tomas Fleischmann, Stephen Weiss and Kris Versteeg in Florida, it’s the next trio of Sean Bergenheim with Marcel Goc and Mikael Samuelsson who have provided some timely depth contributions of late.
Evgeni Nabokov has won seven of his past nine starts with a couple of shutouts in that stretch. Mark Steit’s overtime winner delivered today’s good news. Kyle Okposo added an assist and while it’s decent that he hit the 30-point mark on the season in this clash, that total is especially worth nothing because 15 of them have come in 2012 alone and we’re not even quite at Valentine’s Day yet. Matt Moulson has at least 48 points in three consecutive campaigns now, which is a testament not only to how well he’s been playing - but also how adeptly he’s meshed with John Tavares.
Hat trick for Ryan Callahan, who hadn’t scored more than a goal in a game since Halloween. Four points for Marian Gaborik. Brad Richards set up three tallies and is showing some signs of life, which could be perfect for a deep stretch run and then headed into the post-season – where he can really shine. Derek Stepan posted another two-pointer here, which makes three in four starts. Carl Hagelin quietly has nine points in his past 12 outings too. Oh... and Henrik Lundqvist tacked on another win with more stellar peripherals. Hen-rik! Hen-rik!
More love for Wayne Simmonds, who also now has fights in two of four after having that quiet PIMless streak. With two more points here, he has 17 in his past 19 games. He began with Bryaden Schenn and Danny Briere on the second line.
Ales Hemsky has seven points in his past seven starts now, so the UFA-to-be is either finally driving his trade value upward or, hopefully, is ensuring he’ll stay in Edmonton in future years. Sam Gagner’s five-game point streak came to an end, but that 8-7-15 run is something fans of the Oil will not forget anytime soon. Taylor Hall’s OT GWG is yet another reason why it’s scary to think how good he’ll be in a few years. Great drive. And hey... Magnus Paajarvi has points on both games of this call-up, so maybe that AHL stint and a prominent spot in the top six have served the purpose of restoring his confidence and getting his game going again.
Steven Stamkos added another goal in a two-point performance as the Lightning downed the Sabres 2-1. It’s worth noting, perhaps more as a broad perspective reminder than anything, that Victor Hedman has points in three of five and his presence on the ice is becoming more and more noticeable. He’s earning prominent power play time and the offensive numbers are showing up in the scoring summary. Whether or not he can translate that into immediate, sustained single-season success for poolies remains to be seen, but it’s a true reminder of how patient we must be with the vast majority of young defencemen – even the elite prospects.
Not a huge shock, but Thomas Vanek has points in both of his games this weekend since coming back into the lineup. Kind of interesting that Ville Leino stayed on the Derek Roy – Jason Pominville line to open this one with Vanek skating alongside Tyler Ennis and Drew Stafford, but whatever. You know how that’ll end up before long. Maybe the best news in Buffalo is that Ryan Miller is back in a good groove. He’s looking so much sharper than he has for much of this season, so if you stayed patient with him it’s finally paying off with much better stats.
Really cool feature on the Subban brothers as part of HNIC’s blanket Saturday coverage. Going back to the Hedman comments, Subban is a guy with whom we should be patient in terms of expectations. His standard league value ceiling should be quite high, so his current struggles just highlight the opportunity to acquire a blue chip asset at a bargain price in those deep keeper leagues.
Carey Price, incidentally, picked up his second shutout of the month, fourth of the campaign and has wins in each of his past four starts. He turned aside all 32 shots he faced against the Leafs in a 5-0 victory.
Gabriel Landeskog is turning it up a notch. Opening with Ryan O’Reilly and Peter Mueller again (Milan Hejduk started with Paul Stastny and David Jones), Landeskog tallied an assist with three shots and has eight points in his past nine affairs. Can’t be said enough... that kid has stud written all over him down the line.
David Perron procured another two-goal game, giving him five markers in his past three starts. He opened with David Backes and T.J. Oshie, who combined for an additional three points.
James Wisniewski was finally able to play for Columbus tonight, returning from his ankle injury. He’s back on PP1 and with the empty net goal he finished with two points. If he can help the forwards get some traction offensively, that’d be ideal for poolies. Derick Brassard, who’s between R.J. Umberger and Rick Nash, has six points in five clashes.
Devin Setoguchi has been a disappointment in many ways this season, but with Mikko Koivu healthy and the big line reunited (Dany Heatley has been on such a good run for awhile now) maybe Setoguchi can come up with some pointage. He has goals in both games with the big three back together. If that line can put up numbers with regularity, that could prompt a rise in the value of Marek Zidlicky – who has endured a miserable season when he’s even been put in the lineup. He’s on PP1 now with those three and Matt Cullen. If you’re looking for a cheap alternative with solid upside for your stretch run because your blueline has been decimated with injuries, you could do worse than the veteran. FYI: Cal Clutterbuck left the game with a lower-body injury of unknown severity.
Mike Smith snagged a 38-save shutout, his third blanking of the season, in a 3-0 win over the Hawks. Chicago is winless in eight.
Jeremy Roenick was inducted into the Coyotes’ Ring of Honor. He was remarkably refreshing as a player; outspoken to the end of his career and the antidote to the usual vanilla quotes we get. He has a long way to go before he becomes a quality TV personality, IMO – he’s engaging, but I find him too often lacking in substance – but kudos for a strong NHL career and for keeping things interesting for the fans. He put together some pretty amazing fantasy campaigns too.
The Leafs raised Mats Sundin’s No. 13 to the rafters tonight. Either underrated or overrated, depending on your perspective. He received way too much crap from media and some fans during his playing days, I believe, but c’est la vie when you ply your trade in Toronto.
Chris Phillips was also recognized for his 1000th game from the other night in front of the home crowd this afternoon.
The overall takeaway theme of Saturday’s ceremonies? Athletes have pretty damn good looking significant others.
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See a full rundown of Saturday's action in the Live Recap, which runs nightly on Sportsnet.ca.