Ramblings are late this morning - Happy Family Day to 25% of my readers! Enjoy yesterday's ramblings while I finish putting today's together...
Here it is - as I hinted a few days ago - the team finally says the "c" word about Brad Richards.
Marco Scandella has returned to practice for the first time since his concussion.
The Coyotes have sent Kyle Turris to San Antonio of the AHL. Buy low keeper leaguers, I still have faith in him!
Congrats to Jordin Tootoo, who got into his first game back with the Preds. He played 10 minutes.
Michael Russo thinks that the Mikko Koivu injury could be his finger and could be long term. He believes the Wild will now go shopping for a pivot.
Shane Doan knocked Ryan Suter out of the game with a blow to the head just in front of the boards. He left with a UBI, but I think that could be code for concussion - you know how teams won't say that word so i never trust them. The only clip I could find of it is here. Doan could have a suspension coming.
The moves paid off really well for St. Louis already as they pounded out nine goals. Of course, they played the only team without a goaltender (I count Montoya as a decent goalie until I see him stumble). Was the timing of the trade planned? The Blues knew they were playing a stumbling, Hiller-less Anaheim team so did that make them push the close the deal out on Friday at midnight, rather than wait until Monday? Sounds like a trick I would pull in my fantasy league.
Alex Steen's ice time did take a hit with Stewart in the lineup, but his production shot back up. His PP time went bye-bye, yet he lined up on the second line. The line had more freedom thanks to Stewart patrolling the first line and everything worked out just like the Blues had hoped.
Everything, that is, except Ty Conklin. But then after he gave up three goals on five shots, Ben Bishop came in and stopped all 20 that he faced. Good sign. Maybe the Blues will let Conklin walk in the summer and give Bishop the backup job.
Steen lost the PP time because Kevin Shattenkirk is there now. With Shattenkirk and Pietrangelo QB-ing, the Blues scored three times. Of course, that was against Timo Pielmeier and Curtis McElhinney, but still - you always need to start practicing with pylons before moving onto the real thing. And that was a good practice.
Brad Boyes was down to 13 minutes of ice time and was off the power play. But even he got into the act, notching an assist. The only reason I'd hang onto him is for a potential trade.
The only skater where things went south - as predicted - Matt D'Agostini was down to nine minutes of ice time and zero points. D'Agostini was on pace for about 40 points and he currently has 27. I think he'll end the season with...oh, around 28. Stick a fork in him!
I notice the St. Louis strategy was to increase the ratio of puck-movers to stay-at-homers. As I've been preaching since my Fantasy Guide, the NHL is shifting to offense from the blue line. So St. Louis moves out Johnson and Brewer, brings in Shattenkirk to go with Pietrangelo and Colaiacovo. Voila - three highly-skilled puck movers and the team scores nine goals. You'll see more teams embrace this over the next two years until 50-point defensemen are treated like 35-point defensemen in fantasy leagues and we all strive to get one of the five or six 70-point defensemen out there. I've noticed articles cropping up on ISS, The Hockey News and NHL.com on this, but just remember - I noticed the blossoming trend first and seized upon it as gospel.
With the Hatty last night, Devin Setoguchi has 12 points in his last 12 games.
Ian White saw secondary PP time for the Sharks and picked up an assist. I have a good feeling about his fit there
Antti Niemi has won 11 of his last 13 starts and has three shutouts in that span. As this team puts it together, Niemi stands to benefit the most as you can see.
For the moment, Kevin Porter stands to benefit the most on the Avs - but he blew it last night going minus-2 with zero points. He saw second PP time and 17:11 overall. He has the final few weeks to show that he can be a top sixer, otherwise he'll be pigeonholed forever as a checker in this league.
By the same token, Ryan Stoa needs to prove the same thing - except for Stoa, he won't be relegated to a checking role. He can't check, so his option would be out of this league.
Did anyone notice Stephane Robidas is minus-12 in his last eight games?
Sean Bergenheim has five points in five games and is plus-5 in that span. He's playing much better hockey these days.
Johan Hedberg has won six games in a row. Before that, he won six games all season.
Al Montoya, with the shutout last night, is 2-0-0, 1.33 and 0.954.
Matt Moulson has 16 points in his last 18 games.
Craig Anderson stopped 47 shots for his shutout. That makes me wonder - were his knees really bad in Colorado, as I suspected...or was he just tanking it?
How does any goaltender on the Leafs go 8-4-2? Well James Reimer has. Makes you wonder...
With the hat trick, Taylor Hall needs 22 points in the last 23 games to get to 60 and Calder consideration. If he gets to 60, I won't feel bad about my 67 projection. Realistically though, he'll get 55.
As noted in my THN column yesterday, Blake Wheeler will do much better in Atlanta. His ice time last night in his Atlanta debut was his third highest all season.
Weaver hits Stamkos awkwardly. Clean? Stamkos is okay.
Nice tilt by two AHLers being used as roster-filler in the NHL (Rosehill vs. Lessard)