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:

 

 

*

 

Injuries to Stephane Robidas and Trevor Daley have all but destroyed Dallas' playoff hopes in real life, sadly. But for fantasy owners there's a fantasy angle to be played here (isn't there always?).

 

Kevin Connauton, who I have some familiarity with since he comes from the Vancouver system and I used to write exclusively about the Canucks, will probably rack up some minuses over the balance of the season; but he'll also probably put up some points if he's getting power-play time. He was on Saturday, in fact, he almost played 4 minutes with the man-advantage.

 

Connauton managed a shot and three hits and with a bounce or two could've had a really big night. I'm not picking him up or anything, yet, but I'll be keeping an eye on his minutes...

 

*

 

Similarly, Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski played well over 27 minutes on Saturday and had a couple of apples, was +4, took 2 shots, managed a hit and blocked 7 shots. Could he be the biggest fantasy beneficiary of Dallas' depleted blue-line? Would make a lot of sense...

 

*

 

Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen only played 12 minutes on Saturday against Dallas. Timonen has been battling through a bruised finger on his right hand of late, and left Saturday afternoon's game in the third period (though the result was out of hand, so it's tough to gauge how serious that injury is). He's listed as day-to-day with an upper body injury for now...

 

*

 

After a red-hot start to this fantasy season Alex Galchenyuk has cooled down significantly of late. He's still recording assists but he rarely racks up hits and his shot rate is anemic. He broke out a bit on Saturday with a goal, 2 shots and 5 hits but he's not having those games often enough to provide the sort of fantasy value some were hoping he might before this season began...

 

*

 

Sabres forward Zemgus Girgensons managed 6 hits and a highlight reel goal. He's probably a few years away from having fantasy value yet, but it's cool to see the 19-year-old Latvian undress the reigning Norris trophy winner and score on a beauty deke while falling down...

 

*

 

Speaking of falling down, Patrik Berglund's epic whiff this week was phenomenal and well worth your time if you missed it. Similarly Henrik Sedin's falling down one-timer was pretty neat, especially considering that the pass-first center got more velocity on that off-balance shot than he's put on any shot while his feet were planted in several years...

 

*

 

As bad as the Toronto Maple Leafs have been for much of the past two weeks: Phil Kessel and JVR remain fantasy killers. van Riemsdyk had one of the best line of the night on Saturday with a goal, two assists, one PPP, five shots, four hits and a +2 rating. If you're in a weekly league JVR's cume this session was a goal, four apples, a +2, two PPPs, 16 SOG and 12 hits. Oh and he plays again tomorrow...

 

*

 

I wrote at length last week about how I was modestly higher on Mika Zibanejad as a fantasy asset than I was on Gustav Nyquist who was getting more press. If you'll excuse me I'd like to give myself a quick tap on the back and point out that DJ ZBad had the far superior fantasy week this past seven days. Zibanejad had a nice game on Saturday against Toronto with two power-play assists, four shots and three hits...

 

*

 

Erik Karlsson's game isn't pretty when he's in "do it all myself" mode, but it's great for fantasy. The -2 sucks but the 9 shots and 5 hits (plus a power-play goal) is pretty remarkable...

 

*

 

James Reimer's save-percentage is completely out of this world and he stopped 47 of 50 Senators shots on Saturday night. Jonathan Bernier's has been a revelation this year too, but remind me why this Leafs team needed another goaltender again?

 

*

 

The Panthers dusted off the Red Wings on Saturday night 2-1 thanks to a third period goal from Jonathan Huberdeau. Something that might warrant a look, by the way, is the play of recently acquired defenseman Dylan Olsen who managed his fourth point since being acquired by the Panthers from the Chicago Blackhawks six games ago. Olsen's on-ice shooting percentage is through the roof (north of 9%) and he's getting no power-play time, but he's averaging a couple of shots per game, playing a lot and the team is actually outshooting opponents with him on the ice at even-strength so far. Worth keeping an eye on, I'd think.

 

*

 

Jimmy Hayes might be too, come to think of it. Hayes has played more htan 10 minutes in three of his past four games and his shot rate has spiked. He's also got goals in two straight games so perhaps his ice-time will shoot up a bit. He managed a goal, four shots and five hits on Saturday...

 

*

 

Nyquist got a lot of ice-time on Saturday evening but did nothing with it. I still think he'll be a useful fantasy player this season (I'm not dropping him, or anything) but I think he's at a point where he's best suited to doing the Jiri Hudler thing, and putting up nice rate stats when Datsyuk and Zetterberg are in the lineup and drawing most of the attention...

 

*

 

Blake Wheeler had a two point night and the goal he scored was the 100th of his NHL career (which is pretty neat, I think, but then again I'm not a Phoenix Coyotes fan). 

 

*

 

Our pal Radko Gudas returned to the lineup from a long and mysterious "upper-body injury" that he sustained while fighting Ducks defenseman Luca Sbisa a few weeks ago. The bearded one had a typical Gudas style game with an assist, a +1 rating, three shots and five hits. The fantasy sleeper of the year is back in business!

 

*

 

Another, bigger name defenseman returned from injury on Saturday as Predators captain Shea Weber was back at it for Nashville (and he was wearing a visor too, after being struck just above the eye by a deflected puck). Weber's return was solid despite the Predators loss as he managed an assist, three shots, a couple of hits and was even on the night in a 5-3 loss...

 

*

 

So far Predators forward Viktor Stalberg has been the big ticket free-agent disappointment of the season (well, except for Stephen Weiss and David Clarkson). Is he beginning to turn it around though? His shot rate appears to be spiking over the past four games and he exceeded 16 minutes on Saturday for only the third time this season. Those are positive signs for the Swedish speedster...

 

*

 

Capitals defenseman Nate Schmidt scored his first career NHL goal on Saturday night and is logging major minutes for the Capitals. His shot rate is decent for a defenseman and he's playing an awful lot but his non-existent hit rate prevents him from having too much fantasy value for now.

 

*

 

Eric Gelinas continued his strong fantasy play with a power-play goal (which was also the game-winner for the Devils on Saturday), four shots and a couple of hits. Gelinas was second among all Devils defenseman in ice-time too and is only owned in 10% of Yahoo! Leagues so what are you waiting for?

 

*

 

J.T. Miller got back into the lineup for the Rangers after an extended absence in Connecticut. Miller didn't play too much (less than 12 minutes) but was relatively productive with two shots and a couple hits too. Miller definitely has some actual and fantasy upside if he can get minutes from Vigneault, who generally isn't the easiest coach for young forwards to please.

 

*

 

The Devils got hilariously lucky on Cam Janssen's goal Saturday night, but they were due after that phantom delay of game call that went against them on Friday. It looks grim and they can't score but I still think this Devils teams will make the playoffs...

 

*

 

Jaro Halak is an excellent fantasy hockey goalie, particularly because of how undervalued he is year after year. He was woeful on Saturday night, however, surrendering three goals to the Ducks in just eight minutes of work. 

 

*

 

The Ducks just rocked the Blues on Saturday night (to my surprise). And the best line any Anaheim player put up? Mark Fistric - who scored a goal, managed a shot and threw seven hits. Actually if you're in a league that counts hit Fistric is verging on a player with some value (he's not there yet, don't worry). The plodding PK specialist's minutes are spiking as he's played over 17 minutes in 6 of the past 7 games, and he's averaging just a hair under 4 hits per game at the moment...

 

*

 

The Oilers and Flames game was dull as sin but Taylor Hall brought some interest to it with a late goal with just ten seconds left. Hall was due to be rewarded as he'd managed 7 shots on the night and was all over the place. Meanwhile Flames defender Kris Russell assisted on Jiri Hudler's overtime winner and continued what's become something of a redemptive season for the once highly touted blue-liner. He's been really good (both in fantasy and real life)...

 

*

 

Finally the Los Angeles Kings mauled the Islanders 3-0. Tyler Toffoli scored his seventh of the year (into an empty net), Doughty threw 6 hits, Dustin Brown filled the boxscore (as per usual) and Ben Scrivens' backup Martin Jones managed his first career shutout.

 

Thomas Drance is a news editor at theScore.


Write comment
Comments (0)add comment
You must be logged in to post a comment. Please register if you do not have an account yet.

busy