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.


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Comments (10)add comment

Anze said:

Anze
... Edmonton forwards BEHIND Yakupov ie less than 9 points are not NHL talents, not the Nuge or Hall. Gee.

Plus/Minus has to be looked at in regard with the team a guy is playing for and what his role is. Hard to be +15 on Buffalo, Edm or Flo. But Yakupov is DEAD LAST in the league ( that also mean last on his team BTW ), playing limited, protected minutes. He isn't facing other teams top lines, as far as I know. DEAD LAST in the league cannot be good. He is bad defensively, and doesn't see it. How can he improves ?

Yakupov has offensive ability, but also a prima donna attitude that screams KHL risk.

Can Huberdeau be given more opportunity because of his work ethic or attitude ? Or is it only nationality ?

We disagree for now, but we'll see who's right in a few years from now.

December 08, 2013
Votes: +2

rataylor22 said:

December 08, 2013
Votes: -1

rataylor22 said:

rataylor22
Anze First off, I really don't care if you disagree, stats are stats.

Secondly, it's well documented how I think +/- is a garbage useless stat, and t,here are many more arguments showing its inability to depict anything meaningful then there are that it's a useful indicator of defensive acumen.

As for Yak being 10th in scoring on his team, while that may be true this year, last year he was first on his team in goal scoring. So explain that one. He has less ice time because he is younger and more inexperienced than Hall, Nuge, Eberle, Gagner, Perron, Hemsky, etc etc etc. also among that list is the guys you listed as "no better than AHL second liners". Huberdeau is also trailing Scottie Upshall on his team in points, and if I were to call anyone of hall, Nuge, Eberle, Perron, Hemsky, Gagner, Arcobello, Smyth, Gordon, Schultz and Upshall, Upshall is the first guy I would list as "no better than an AHL second liner".

Lastly. Yakupov is Russian. Russian is a race. It is a nationality. And if people wanted to call out a Russian player without being called nationalist (which is much different from racist) might I suggest they not start out with "it's because he's a lazy Russian". Huberdeau is doing no better than Yakupov. In terms of linemates quality, his far exceeds Yakupov's. In terms of PP ice time and opportunity, his far exceeds Yakupov's. But his Nationality gives him a free pass. Disagree with me if you want, I really don't care, it's still a real thing that happens all the time in hockey and is happening right now.
December 08, 2013
Votes: -2

Anze said:

Anze
rataylor22, Wow ! I can't disagree more.

Yakupov has a league-worst minus 17. As in being on the ice for 17 more ES goals by the opposing team than the one you're playing for. When he was asked about his defensive play, he said it was fine. Not only useless, but clueless.

Huberdeau is the 4th scorer on his offensively-challenged team ( Flo sits 28th in goals per game ), only 3 points behind the first scorer. Yak is 10th in scoring, behind everbody on his team that has more talent than an AHL 2nd liner. And Edmonton is 17th in the league in goals per game. If he has less icetime, it is because he doesn't the trust of his coach. He may still become a star, but he will have to look himself in the mirror first. I don't see Huberdeau with this kind of attitude.

It would be nice if hockey fans or media people could critizise Russian players without being accused of latent racism. I don't see anybody speaking against Malkin, Datsuyk, Markov or Emelin. Ovechkin is a world-class goal scorer ( only Stamkos can be mentionned in the same category ) but he is critizised because he couldn't get his team to the next level, or when he is a defensive liability ( as he is a team-worst minus 10 ). Calls of racism get old.
December 08, 2013
Votes: +1

Brain Macho Man Savage said:

Chucker10
Bruins/Pens What happened last night is not that big of a surprise considering the two teams involved. Fans of these teams like to bury their heads in the sand and not see it but these have always been two of the dirties and disgraceful teams in the league, Boston is famous for playing thug style hockey but not in a legal way. Their past success can be attributed to the NHL front office looking the other way at suspension time and the game not being called the same at playoffs as it during the regular season. Players like Thornton, Lucic, Chara, Mcquad, Ference (gone now) etc. are dirty goons who should have all had multiple suspensions by now.

PIT is not much better. Have you ever really watched Malkin, very dirty player, lots of slew foots, spears etc. Kunitz has a long list of dirty hits, Neal the same. Even Crosby has delivered a few head shots and wielded his stick in way considered illegal. This is also the team that employed Matt Cooke for years. This is another team that has greatly benefited from favorable decisions by the NHL front office time and time again (see their cup year).

Both these teams are disgraceful and should be treated the same by the NHL front office and referees as the other 28 teams in the league. But who are we kidding they won't. The owner of the Bruins is the best friend of Bettman. The Golden Boy plays on the Pens. They will get their hand slapped and nothing more. But fans of the Blues, Wild, Sabres, Red Winds, Canucks, Capitals, Habs, Stars, Leafs, Hawks etc....your teams better not engage in this type of behavior or they will have the book thrown at them.
December 08, 2013
Votes: +0

baumer said:

baumer
...

The Jets squeaked out a win in the suddenly offensively challenged Lightning. Hedman is injured so he did nothing for his GM and Byfug added nothing for his.

In Washington, the Capitals took down Nashville 5-2. Backstrom got two for Washington, Green 1, OV 1 and Holtby got the win. Grabovski also added two points and he is on a bit of a run. For Nashville, good news for his GM as Weber returned and added a point.

In New York, the Rangers lost to the Devils. The Devils are the only team in our league without one player being owned. The Devils won 4-3 and of note Jagr, at the age of 77, notched his 24th point and that sits him in 37th in scoring. It will be interesting to see if he is picked up at our supplemental draft in two weeks. Even more interesting will be if A) anyone shows up at the supplemental and B) if anyone uses their picks at the supp. I digress. For the Rangers, Nash was pointless and Richards added a point. Lundy could not add to his GM's total.

There was supposed to be a battle of titans in St. Louis last night. That didn't happen as Halak was chased in the first period after 3 goals on 8 shots. For the Ducks, Getzlaf added two more points for his GM, as he milks every last point out of him before he heads to the other GM's team (there was a very big deal this week as Getzlaf, Kulikov, a 4th in 14 and a 5th in 15 were traded for Giroux and Seabrook...the guy who acquired Seabrook needed D badly), and Perry got a point. Shattenkirk added one for his owner, who has the high with 19 heading into Sunday.

In Edmonton, Calgary won 2-1 in overtime as Hudler added his 27th point to his resume. He wasn't started either (it seems to be the theme this week....lots of guys that weren't started had big weeks...Seguin, Hall, Spezza and Hudler to name a few). Hall added his 6th point of the week.

In LA, the Islanders were a victim of doing too much blow the night before their game as they were blanked by some dude named Jones (not sure if he has a fedora and a bullwhip in his locker). The Isles managed all of 16 shots on goal. For the Kings, Kopitar got a point and Doughty added one as well, although he was not started.

As is customary with my saturday recap, I also talk a bit about some of the movies I saw this week as I am a bigger movie buff than I am a hockey nut and that is saying something.

Movie wise, I saw Frozen with my niece yesterday and it was quite fantastic. I know a lot of you have kids and if you are thinking of taking them to see it, if my opinion means anything to you, then it is well worth it. Of note is the voice performance by the actor Josh Gad. He plays Olaf, the snowman in the film and he is now one of my favourite actors working today. he was very funny as Jake Gyllenhal's brother in Love and Other Drugs and he was the best part of the sex addiction movie called Thanks for Sharing. He was even in a small role in Internship and he was excellent in the Steve Jobs biopic, called Jobs. If you haven't heard of him yet, you will soon.

I also so some smaller films this week. Philomena, Dallas Buyers Club and Out of the Furnace. All decent to good films, but maybe wait until the come to home video.
December 08, 2013
Votes: +0

baumer said:

baumer
...

In Boston, Neal, Crosby and Kunitz got one each but Pitt lost the game and they will be losing one of their top players for a while to suspension. James Neal kneed Brad Marchand in the head as he was on the ice in a defenseless position. Shawn Thornton also knocked out Brooks Orpik with several punches to the head as he was on the ice. This was an ugly game and not a great showcase for the NHL. I'm not sure how long these suspensions will be but imo Thornton will go 5-8 and Neal maybe 3-5. Both incidents were very ugly.

In Montreal, the Habs beat the basement dwelling Sabres as Montreal won its sixth in a row. Buffalo made a game of it late but couldn't complete the comeback. Fantasy wise, Galchenyuk and Ehrhoff got one each for the GM's who own them while Markov and Price added three points that GM.

In Ottawa, in a penalty filled game (I think there were 14 minors called), Toronto jumped out to a 3-1 lead and needed a shootout to beat the Sens. Reimer faced 50 shots and this is the second night in a row the Leafs have surrendered 50. Fantasy wise, the top line for Toronto looks really good with Kadri on it as the top line got six points (JVR 3, Kessel 2, Kadri 1). Kadri could of had another 3 points and Kessel could of had a hat trick. Phaneuf added a point for his GM and Spezza notched two points but was not started. Ryan was scoreless and Karlsson added a goal for his owner.

In Detroit, the Panthers beat the megastarless Wings, 2-1. Kronwall did nothing for his owner while....there's nothing else to report here.
December 08, 2013
Votes: +0

baumer said:

baumer
... Here's my write up for my league, I apologize if there are some references in here that are not generic but more focused on our own league, but every once in a while it is fun to contribute my own ramblings here.

No match is completely over as this is one of the busiest Sunday's in the NHL so far this year with 5 games. And many GM's have several players going today. I'll cover that later.

In Dallas, The Tyler Seguin show took center stage as he tallied 4 points and the remora (the small fish who attach themselves to the underbelly of sharks, this is an on going joke in our pool as Kunitz is called the remora of the NHL, basically a leech or a passenger) of the top line Valeri Nichuskin also notched four. The odd thing about this Seguin is he was not started as he was supposed to be injured this week and Nichuskin is a rookie and not owned. Benn, the other on that top line added an assist and disappointing defenceman Goligoski also added two assists. Of note in this game, Giroux was held pointless and Timonen left the game with an upper body injury.

December 08, 2013
Votes: +0

CommittedToTheIndian said:

CommittedToTheIndian
top lines Getzlaf-Perry-Penner?

Also, I don't know that Dustin Brown has been filling boxscores "per usual" this season. Still great for hits, but 11 points (only 3 on the PP) in 30 games is pretty disappointing. And I wouldn't call Halak excellent in any league that uses saves or save percentage.
December 08, 2013
Votes: +1

rataylor22 said:

rataylor22
Huberdeau Is anyone giving up on this kid like everyone is giving up on Yakupov? 14 points in 30 games. Yakupov has 9 in 29. And Yak is shooting more and younger. Not to mention Huberdeau gets way more PP time and overall more and better quality minutes. Oh right, he's not Russian so he's just a kid finding his way in the NHL, but Yak is a selfish one dimensional player who is a draft bust. Not saying you bashed on Yak at all Thomas, just think it's hilarious one gets mentioned all the time and the other one never gets mentioned. Seguin was being called a bust last year too, and it kinda seems like he is doing ok.
December 08, 2013
Votes: -1
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