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My frame-by-frame breakdown of the Kesler goals from Game 2 (via Canucks.com)


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Montreal got back into the series with a total team effort. Oh, and some goals helped, too. I really like the Galchenyuk-Plekanec-Gallagher line. In particular, Galchenyuk and Gallagher are building some nice chemistry this season.


If you are a fan of a team that isn't Montreal, go to HockeyDB, and check out the 2011 draft. Look at all of the players your team picked ahead of Gallagher. And now weep.


Montreal did all of this without Max Pacioretty, Brian Gionta (both hurt), and Lars Eller (obviously hurt).


It wasn't Wiercioch who drew in for Grbya, but AHL veteran Andre Benoit.

 

*


Marc-Andre Fleury wan't very good last night for the Penguins. The Pens were outshot, but he simply didn't give them a chance to earn the W. 38 saves on 42 shots looks better than he played.


The Islanders, to their credit, brought it last night. Especially their top line. Moulson had two points, while Tavares had a helper and six SOG.


This last month or two is by far the best hockey of Josh Bailey's career. A sign of things to come? Chalk me up as cautiously optimistic.


Crosby had two goals in his return. Of course he did. It's the Islanders (not a dig against them, but he seems to thrive in return games against New York).


Malkin and Crosby combined for four points and 18 SOG. The rest of Pittsburgh's roster combined for 15.


*


Chicago once again outclassed Minnesota. Parise/Koivu were a combined minus-6.


Charlie Coyle had a helper and three SOG. This experience is great for him and his short term development. Monster upside, really smart player. Reminds me of a young Arnott. Or for a more recent comparison, David Backes with more skill and slightly less grit.


Chicago depth forwards Frolik, Bickell, and Shaw combined for five points. Frolik scored the first two goals of the game (cue applause from Dobber). 


*


Ryan Kesler turned back the clock with a vintage performance last night. He was hitting, embelishing, scoring. Basically doing everything. Too bad the rest of his team couldn't keep up.


Let me expand on the embelishing comment. I'm not praising him for diving. He is one of the worst divers in hockey. But it is simply a sign that he is playing at the top of his game. That is what he does. Like it (few) or hate it (many).


Brent Burns was a monster - I don't think he lost a single puck battle all night - that big frame sure helped him behind the net, and he makes an easy transition back to D on the power play.


Boom:



Niemi and Luongo were both very good (Luongo, in particular, who faced about 10 or 11 high-quality scoring chances against).


Derek Roy was invisible for the second straight game, as was Mason Raymond. Vancouver needs more from them. This is essentially a series between two very evenly matched teams, and last night's game was a close contest. 


Martin Havlat didn't play - he was speared/slashed in the man parts by Kevin Bieksa in Game 1 - surprised there wasn't more media attention around the play. Sneaky dirty.


*


My stance on the Gryba hit hasn’t changed, even in light of the two game suspension. The result was unfortunate, sure, but you can’t convince me it was a dirty hit in any way. Shoulder was the principle point of contact (although I may be on my own here... Shanahan distinctly said the head was the principle point of contact in his video analysis). Separating an opposing player from the puck in the open ice.


And I am far from the “old school” mentality here. I’m not saying huge open ice hits that target the head are an integral part of the game. Just that Gryba’s wasn’t one of those. This kind of hit won’t happen in your local beer league. Why? Because NHL players are so big, so fast, and so strong. Collisions are seismic nowadays. The force produced is incredible.


If Gryba is a star player, what happens? If Eller isn’t lying in a pool of his own blood, what happens? Obviously the outcome matters (you shoot a bullet at someone and kill them compared to missing...), but the intent needs to matter a lot more than it currently does.


Dustin Brown could have blown out Jaden Schwartz’s knee (or his head) with his malicious/lazy play the other night. But because Schwartz is fine (and Brown is an “honest” player and big market captain), nothing happens? Even though he was recently suspended? I have a clip to that hit below in today’s ramblings.


My beef isn’t with Brendan Shanahan. And it wasn’t with Colin Campbell, either. Well it was, but now I know I was misguided in my blame. The process itself is rotten. It stinks. They league only doles out punishment to save its own face - it needs to get a third party involved and get serious. Oh, a hit gets national TV attention in the USA? Better get serious! Who cares about the guy who goes around head hunting with regularity. Because at some point in time someone is going to die on the ice. It will happen.


/end rant.


*

 

Danny DeKeyser is done for the postseason with a broken thumb. Tough news as he was playing really solid hockey for the Wings. Big, smart, and composed. He has a bright future in this league. Don’t think there is much offense, though. 20-25 points. But he is a smart guy who should be a two-way minute-eater pretty soon.

 

Valtteri Filppula’s ridiculously sick/nasty/amazing toe drag didn’t get the credit it deserved in yesterday’s ramblings… so here it is:

 

 

*

 

Is there a team with a  more underrated prospect group than Detroit? Nyquist, Jarnkrok, Pulkkinen, Jurco, Ouellet, Sheahan, Sproul, Jensen, DeKeyser, Tatar, Adam Almqvist, etc. Very good group of players there, and all different types (big, small, skilled, gritty, forwards, defensemen) too.

 

*

 

Interesting opinion out of Carolina – should the ‘Canes trade Jeff Skinner if it fetches them a prime time defenseman? After locking up Alex Semin for a long time… this isn’t as crazy as it once sounded.

 

With his issues defensively, continuing susceptibility to concussions, a contract that jumps to $5.75 million this season and the Hurricanes’ relative depth at forward – especially if they bring in an immediate-help player with the fifth overall pick in a deep draft – this might not be a bad time to trade the former Calder Trophy winner if, and only if, it means adding a defenseman of comparable quality.


*

 

There are also some exciting playoff games going on in the AHL right now, and any shrewd poolie will be keeping tabs on the AHL playoffs. That is where Jamie Benn first arrived many years ago, and the same could be said for the likes of Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, and Claude Giroux.

 

With that being said… here are some fantasy-relevant news/notes from the AHL postseason:

 

David Savard had a goal and four SOG for Springfield (Columbus) on Thursday night. He is going to be a good NHL defenseman for a long time. Be patient with him if you own him in your keeper.

 

*


 


*

 

Ondrej Palat had a pair of goals and seven SOG for Norfolk (Tampa Bay). There are so many young Lightning players that have fantasy upside… it is a bit of a risk attaching your cart to one of them, as any of Palat, Brown, Namestnikov, Panik, and Connolly could make the team and be productive next year (in addition to Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn).

 

Mark Barberio had an assist and tfive SOG from the back end. And a forgotten guy, former Devil prospect Matt Taormina, had two helpers. Taormina had a nasty ankle injury during Jersey’s Cup run in 2012, and he still has some NHL upside. Not sure he will crack the Lightning blueline next year, though.

 

Norfolk has a pretty good back end. In addition to those two puck movers, they have Radko Gudas (who scored a goal) and recent NCAA signing Andrej Sustr. Not sure what kind of upside Sustr has at the NHL level, but the experience he is getting right now can only help speed up his development.

 

 *

 

I have neglected by team-by-team look at a few sleepers for next season and beyond, so I will double down today with both Detroit and Edmonton.

 

First up… the Wings:

 

Wings

 

2013-14 sleeper: Brendan Smith

 

As I wrote on Thursday, I was a year early predicting Smith’s breakout. He averaged 18:24 per game in 2013, and that number will be closer to 20 next season. He finished with only eight points in 34 games, but seven of those points came in the last 15 games. That, my friends, is called a trend.

 

Smith is an aggressive two-way defenseman with great puck skills and a booming shot. His opportunity will come – Ian White is a UFA and likely won’t be back, and Carlo Colaiacovo is rarely healthy.

 

Long term sleeper: Xavier Ouellet

 

Ouellet is a part of a very underrated prospect group on the back end. In addition to Smith and Kindl with the big club, the Wings also have Danny DeKeyser, Nick Jensen, Adam Almqvist, and Ryan Sproul.

 

His best attribute is his hockey sense – he isn’t the biggest or fastest guy on the back end. He also makes a great first pass and will fit in nicely with Detroit’s puck possession game. It will be interesting to follow the battle for ice time in Grand Rapids next season with the young talent Detroit has quietly amassed on the back end.

 

*

 

And the Oilers:

 

Oilers

 

2013-14 sleeper: Justin Schultz

 

Schultz was hyped last season, and for good reason – he dominated the AHL as a rookie, and was an instant impact player in the NHL, too. He hit a rookie wall and struggled defensively, as the Oilers did a poor job insulating him with veteran defensemen. That will change with MacT at the helm, and Schultz could be had later in drafts this year relative to last season (thanks to the “what have you done for me lately” thought process). I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see him break the 40-point mark next season. Provided Edmonton brings in a few veteran defensemen, of course.

 

Long term sleeper: Martin Gernat

 

At 6-5 and 200 pounds, Gernat isn’t a prototypical offensive defenseman. He’s big and rangy, and he loves to jump into the rush. He could stand to play with a more physical edge, but that isn’t his game. He will turn pro after this season (his second in the WHL with the Edmonton Oil Kings) and needs a few years in the AHL before making the jump.

 

He has a ton of upside, and hopefully the Oilers are patient with him. He could be worth the wait.

 

*

 

10 Fitness Tips for May – lots of good stuff in here (in my opinion, of course). Burn fat and gain muscle at the same time, tips to warm up properly, the benefits of yoga, and much more.

 

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This probably isn't a huge surprise, but Dustin Brown from Thursday night. Misses on an attempted knee AND elbow. And the media still pushes the perception that he is a clean/hard/honest player....

 

 

*

 

You have heard the name before… but don’t forget it – Justin Dowling. He continues his strong play in the Dallas organization. Dowling was signed to an AHL tryout contract and is now one of Texas’ best offensive players.

 

Dowling had 16 goals and 30 points in 38 games with the Stars to close out the regular season. Really like his game (have seen a few Texas games since he has joined the team). Smart player, lots of skill, knows where to be. He will be an NHL player.

 

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Write comment
Comments (22)add comment

hockey said:

hockey
Now I've been drinking...but ...it strikes me that everyone is quite comfortable with the manslaughter:Brown-elbow-attempt and Murder:Gryba-on-Eller analogy, yet there was an uproar about Jack Edward's Sirhansmilies/tongue.gifrisoner-of-the-year as Matt Cooke:Masterton. Is that uproar mostly just leafs fans (i.e. non-hockey fans)? Just thrinking (drinking/thinking) out loud.
May 05, 2013
Votes: +0

repenttokyo said:

repenttokyo
trading skinner is a horrible idea there are better ways to get d-men.
May 04, 2013
Votes: +0

27Blue said:

27Blue
... For the first time in 4 years, capuano took moulsen off the top line and put bailey in his place. great move for the team and if it sticks, bailey will break out in a big way next year...
May 04, 2013
Votes: +0

angus said:

angus
... Thanks prabs. Point still stands. smilies/smiley.gif
May 04, 2013
Votes: +0

Anze said:

Anze
Suspensions How many times do you remember finding any suspension was too long, or that the player shouldn't have been suspended at all ? I can think of dozens of plays where I felt a suspension was deserved but nothing happened, or that the suspension wasn't long enough.

But I was surprised by only 2 suspensions : Thornton on Perron, and Rome on Horton in the 2011 Cup finals. Both hits were to the head but the injured players were skating forward right into the hitters, I felt they were legal ( I didn't buy the "formula we are using" to say that the Horton hit was too late ). Otherwise I think the league is too soft on reckless play. So if you feel Shanahan was too harsh this time, maybe you should look at the video once more. Or start the conspiracy theories...
May 04, 2013
Votes: +0

rataylor22 said:

rataylor22
Lockedge Must not have ever played hockey. You hit players as soon as they touch the puck to prevent them from getting control of the puck. That was a perfectly timed hit. Eller had received the past and was turning up ice to make a play.
May 04, 2013
Votes: +0

shingy said:

shingy
...
Very good ramblings. Thanks.
May 04, 2013
Votes: +0

shingy said:

shingy
BS
His head was almost completely missed. The body contact caused the fall, and the fall caused the injury.

Whatever Shanny says is tainted. Good, bad, whatever. He has sold out so hard he'll be on celebrity apprentice in a few years.
May 04, 2013
Votes: -2

raylinke said:

raylinke
... I agree with what Shanny says about the head being the principle point of contact as you can see Eller's head pop up at the beginning of the hit before the body reacts to the hit (and its the same from all angles I have seen). I agree with 2 games as well as he is first time offender and I don't see any intent to injure at all.

I do believe Brown's attempted KNEE and ELBOW to the HEAD (which just missed) also deserves at least a 1 game suspension as that crap needs to be taking out of the game and there is a clearly an attempt to head hunt and take out the knee in that play. With past history he should get more, but just for the reckless intent on the play he should be getting one game at least. And I am not saying he should be called for a penalty on the ice just that he should be sitting the next game or more to think about his actions...
May 04, 2013
Votes: +0

praba said:

praba
... gallagher was drafted in 2010, not 2011

http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/draft/nhl2010e.html
May 04, 2013
Votes: +0

lockedge said:

lockedge
Re: gryba hit I'm of the mind that it was a dirty hit, if very likely unintentionally. Not principle contact to the heat, but Eller simply did not have control of the puck. You hit people when they have control of the puck, and gryba's hit was early by about a half second, which I feel added to the fact that Eller was caught off guard.

I think that a 1 game suspension on top of the very fair in-game ruling would have been perfectly fine. Gryba wasn't head-hunting, he was just reckless and jumped the gun with his timing off, which I can understand, because a half second later, Eller would have had control of the puck. But you just can't always expect to get away with early hits, especially when you KO a guy and leave them to face-plant on the ice.
May 04, 2013
Votes: +2

horrorfan said:

horrorfan
Screenshots of Gryba hit I've added screenshots of Gryba's hit on the following post. Have a look and please share your thoughts:

http://forums.dobbersports.com/showthread.php?p=1134863#post1134863
May 04, 2013
Votes: +0

angus said:

angus
... phickey - it is my opinion. I stated it. People disagreed. That is generally how these things progress into arguments. My responsibility is to provide my analysis, opinion, and thoughts on hockey to our readers. Emphasis on opinion.

And where is my bias? I like both Ottawa and Montreal. I'm a huge fan of Lars Eller. And I also dislike how weak the NHL is in dirty plays. I just don't see this as a dirty play. I apologize if you feel I am being narrow minded.
May 04, 2013
Votes: +0

angus said:

angus
... And it does put an asterisk on one of the better two-way players (Kesler). Just like Dustin Brown and Brad Marchand sully their reputations as great hockey players (as both are) with their diving and cheap plays.
May 04, 2013
Votes: -1

angus said:

angus
... rt - you are misinterpreting my point. I am just saying that when Kesler is playing his A+ game, that is what he does. No different than other top players who embellish to draw calls. Diving isn't a commendable part of the sport. I don't like it. And I don't like when Kesler dives.

I'll rephrase my comments so this confusion doesn't make anyone else think I am praising him for it.
May 04, 2013
Votes: +0

phickey said:

phickey
Re: Gryba I completely agree with Anze and I don't usually comment or post but I need to throw my hat into this one.

To say above that one "can't convince [you]" that the hit wasn't dirty "in ANY way" is pretty narrow minded. Like many others, I've watched and re-watched that video a number of times and believe the primary contact point was to the head -- and under that premise - the hit was, in fact, dirty. While this is what I believe, I won't have the gall to say you "can't" convince me "in any way" that the hit was clean. This site and the authors' "ramblings" influence the opinions of many. I would expect that they (the authors) have a stronger sense of responsibility when declaring biased opinions on clearly controversial plays.
May 04, 2013
Votes: +2

fulcrum said:

fulcrum
... ...that should say FAR from the minority....the minority lies in those that think it was a dirty hit. The majority are surprized....and surprisingly quiet too...I think the NHL has told them to stop talking about it
May 04, 2013
Votes: +0

fulcrum said:

fulcrum
... you are from from in the minority on the Gryba hit. It s a spinless reaction by the NHL to the injury on the ice. They can't admit that someone could get hurt like that and have it all remain inside the rules.

Gryba is a borderline AHL player, two games was easy to dole out. if that hit is laid by Chara or Pronger we aren't even talking about this. The NHL lays out a different suspension for stars.
May 04, 2013
Votes: +0

rtstr said:

rtstr
um.. "Ryan Kesler brought his A++++ game. He was hitting, embelishing, scoring."

?

Are you really trying to say that embellishing is a commendable part of the game? It is absolutely not. I realize you might think it is because you are a Canucks fan (by no means do I mean offense by that, they're a cool team, but they dive constantly, so it's commonplace in their games). That's not how the game is supposed to be played. It's classless and Kesler is the poster-boy for those shenanigans. He should have accrued more penalty minutes for diving throughout his career than he has for all other penalties combined.

I'm sorry, but if you're saying that that's a good part of Kesler's game, well... then the writing's on the wall about the bubble Canucks fans live in.

Kesler's non-stop diving is one of the biggest problems in the NHL today. It's a ridiculous way to try and take advantage of the rules instead of winning like a man, the way you're supposed to. If you ask me it puts an ugly asterisk on one of the all-around better players in the game today.
May 04, 2013
Votes: +1

buddha21 said:

buddha21
Rant I agree. Although the outcome was unfortunate, the Gryba hit was clean. Shanny lost some credibility with his decision. Other plays were more suspect, including the Brown leg check, but because no serious injury occurred they get a pass. Maybe Lupul was on to something.
May 04, 2013
Votes: +0

Big Ev said:

Big Ev
... Anze, are you a Habs fan?
May 04, 2013
Votes: -2

Anze said:

Anze
Gryba Gee, just review the video again. Main impact is to the head, it's incredible people would say otherwise. If Gryba hits 3-4 inches to the right he hits Eller in the left shoulder. But he doesn't take that shoulder, and mostly ( not only ) hits the head, just as Shanahan explains. Eller passes out on the hit because head is main impact, and falls face-first to the ice, where he probably suffers his injury. If he is hit to the shoulder he can't pass out like that and probably protects himself on his way down. I'm a neurologist, I kinda know what I'm talking about there.

I admire your work, I know you're not old-school and not biased against Habs ( can't say the same about some other "commentators" like Milbury or Stock ), but you got it wrong in term of point of impact. Now if people want to argue about the angle and Gryba not coming from the blindside à la Cooke on Savard then that's something else. Eller is kind of quartering toward Gryba. Enough of an angle ? I guess Shanahan said so.

And I'm 100% with you on Brown and many other hits. Brown was heand AND knee hunting at the same time, he should be out 2 games just by intent. I think to be fair you should look at intent AND result ( similar to attempted murder and manslaughter ).
May 04, 2013
Votes: +2
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