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What a crazy day of hockey, and we'll start where ESPN's Sports Center broadcast did on Saturday night: with the Vancouver-Calgary line brawl that capped off one of the more memorable evenings of NHL hockey. 

 

For a full run down and videos click here, but here's what you need to know. Calgary Flames head coach Bob Hartley started his fourth line on Saturday night (the first time he's done so all season), and John Tortorella answered with a goon-ish lineup of his own. Off of the ensuing draw all ten players on the ice engaged (shades of what happened with the Devils and Rangers back in 2012) and eight of the players (essentially all of the fighters save for Tom Sestito and Brian McGratten) were tossed.

 

One of those players was Canucks rookie Kellan Lain, who was making his NHL debut with his family in attendance. While Torts said after the game that he regretted the decision to start Lain on Saturday, the rookie actually managed to make a dent in the NHL record books thanks to his roll in the fight. No rookie skater has ever managed to get into a fight as quickly into their career as Lain, and no one is likely to ever take that away from him.

 

After the first period, Tortorella pursued Hartley to the Flames dressing room where an altercation of sorts took place. Tortorella isn't the first coach to try and fight Hartley (or at least give him a stern talking too) and partly that's because Hartley's teams are regularly goonish gongshow squads. Also it's partly because Bob Hartley seems like a rather unsavory character. Anyway Tortorella reportedly will have a hearing in New York on Monday to discuss his role in the brawl and his attempting to enter the Flames locker room.

 

One thing to keep in mind is that an in-person hearing for a coach doesn't imply the same thing it does for a player (whenever a player receives an in-person hearing we can be pretty sure the suspension will be six games or more, and the CBA in fact requires the DoPS to extend an in-person invite to any player in order to suspend them for a duration exceeding five). I'd expect Tortorella will get a short suspension and a significant fine, in part because his actions were a bit much and in part because he's been a bit too critical of Brendan Shanahan this season.

 

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Beyond the ugly scene in Vancouver (and I for one kind of loved it, frankly), Jamie Benn elbowed Matt Cooke in the head rather blatantly on Saturday. No one cared of course, and there wasn't even a penalty on the play, because the victim of the hit was Matt Cooke. But... that totally common reaction is kind of messed up right?

 

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Finally in a third bit of controversy, this Nicklas Kronwall GTG bounced up off of Jonathan Quick, hit the netting, came back into play, bounced off of Quick's back and really, really, really shouldn't have counted. Just review every scoring play already, man...

 

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Before we get to breaking down the action, let's recap the major injury news. Canucks center Henrik Sedin, y'know, that guy who has been killing your fantasy team of late anyway; well, he didn't finish the Flames v. Canucks game on Saturday.

 

Tortorella said after the contest that he pulled Henrik off of the ice and could see he was labouring. Henrik has been wearing a splint on his finger for a few weeks, and appeared to be injured further when he was cross-checked by Coyotes forward Martin Hanzal on Thursday night. He's clearly not anywhere close to 100% at the moment, and I suspect he would have already gone under the knife in a non-Olympic season.

 

Meanwhile Henrik's countrymen and totally perplexing Swedish Olympic Team snub Victor Hedman was seen on crutches following Saturday afternoon's Tampa Bay Lightning loss to the San Jose Sharks. While the X-Rays ultimately came back negative for Hedman, I'd imagine he'll miss a few.

 

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One final bit of relevant hockey news to cover briefly: Steve Mason was given a lucrative three year, $12.3 million extension by the Philadelphia Flyers. Amusingly and appropriately, Mason was then shelled and pulled as the ink was still drying on his new extension on Saturday night...

 

Mason has really been one of the league's absolute worst starters over the past six or seven seasons, and paying him $4 million+ (and the actual relative value is even higher, since one of the seasons Philadelphia just bought was of the RFA variety) is completely inexcusable. Essentailly Mason put together a strong start to the season in Philadelphia, and Flyers brass have once again demonstrated a complete inability to evaluate netminders. There's just no reason to sign a below replacement level starter to a medium-term contract like this when guys like Anton Khudobin are available for 1-year/800k on the market every summer.

 

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So - yeah - there was also a whole lot of hockey played. First off the Rangers defeated the Ottawa Senators 4-1 with Derek Stepan filling the boxscore like the Canucks and Flames filled Vancouver sin bins (1 G, 2 A, 1 PPP, +2, 4 SOG, 3 hits). Another nice fantasy outing for personal favorite and possession beast Mats Zuccarello-Asen too (1 SOG, 3 hits, 1 G). 

 

Clarke MacArthur had an okay fantasy outing for a point-less player (4 PIM, 3 SOG, 2 hits) for the Senators, while Zack Smith continued to log a whole whack of minutes and Erik Karlsson managed 5 SOG. Cody Ceci meanwhile continues to log major minutes for the Senators and chipped in an assist, and his status is something you'd do well to be aware of in a deeper league.

 

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Martin St. Louis turned in the best fantasy outing of the day with four goals in a losing effort against San Jose. Sharks wingers Matt Nieto (1G, 1A, 3 SOG) and Tommy Wingels (2A, +2, 1 SOG, 3 hits) had solid outings, and more interestingly Wingels is playing legitimate top-six minutes at even-strength over the past week. The production wasn't there until Saturday, however, so he could be available in your league and might be worth a flier.

 

Obviously Joe Pavelski also had himself one hell of a game, with a hat-trick and 5 SOG, but Martin St. Louis scored four so who cares, y'know?

 

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The Winnipeg Jets leaned heavily on rookie defenseman Jacob Trouba to down the Edmonton Oilers 3-2 in overtime. I saw on my Yahoo! Sports fantasy app that a tonne of owners have been dropping David Perron of late, and he showed why that's a huge mistake with a goal and four shots on Saturday. 

 

Newly acquired Oilers forward Matt Hendrick made an impression on Saturday too with 6 hits and 5 PIM, and also played nearly four-and-a-half minutes short-handed. That's a quality tenth forward performance, and it's cool for the Oilers if they get a few of those out of the 32-year-old grinder before his contract really starts to stink...

 

Mark Scheifele (whose last name I still can't spell without looking up) had a solid outing, managing a goal and taking six shots. Scheifele's on-ice %s remain pretty favourable and a six shot outing isn't typical for him (his low shot rate is a reason I'm still bearish on his fantasy alue), but he's been on a nice run of late and has five points in his past five games.

 

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I know it's just an overtime win over Edmonton, but Paul Maurice is off to an okay start in Winnipeg, huh?

 

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In a 4-3 shootout victory over the Buffalo Sabres, Columbus Blue Jackets forward Brandon Dubinsky recorded his 31st and 32nd points of the season (10th goal, 22nd assist), while also contributing 4 shots and 4 hits. He's quietly having a monster fantasy season.

 

Another Blue Jackets forward I'm really high on is Cam Atkinson, who managed five shots in under 14 minutes of ice-time. Atkinson's sky-high shot rate and tough luck this season make him an excellent midseason sleeper (check out Dobber's Midseason Guide for more on his value), but that his minutes continue to lag behind inferior player Nick Foligno is some cause for concern. Foligno doesn't have nearly Atkinson's offensive pop or overall utility (counting stats aside), but played 19 minutes on Saturday while contributing six hits and a couple shots.

 

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Tyler Myers has had a sub-4% on-ice shooting clip for most of this season, and while he may never live up to his contract or the promise he showed in his rookie season, the Sabres defender was bound to turn it around to some extent as a fantasy asset. He had a nice outing against Columbus on Saturday managing two goals, 1 PPP, 2 PIM, 2 SOG and 3 hits.

 

Tyler Ennis meanwhile managed a couple of assists, 3 hits and 7 SOG. Probaably worth noting that his shot rate has been spiking for nearly a month now.

 

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From what I saw on Saturday night, the game between the Maple Leafs and the Canadiens was physical (not to mention fast and fun), but the ACC scorekeeper really needs to give it a rest with the clutterbuck standard. The Leafs controlled the run of play for much of the contest, but still Dion Phaneuf and Cody Franson were credited with eight hits apiece, Tim Gleason and Joffrey Lupul were credited with four and Nazem Kadri was credited with five (probably all of them coming on Tomas Plekanec late in the game). Those numbers strike me as all kinds of suspicious...

 

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The Kings played much of Saturday night's game against the Red Wings with a lead, but it's worth noting that Jake Muzzin played top-four (as opposed to top-pairing minutes), while Willie Mitchell logged 27+. Muzzin and Doughty are one of the league's best pairings and when they're joined together, Muzzin has all kinds of fantasy value. But that doesn't mean Sutter trusts Muzzin the way he does Slava Voynov, Doughty and Mitchell.

 

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Tomas Jurco didn't find the scoresheet on Saturday, but 6 hits and 4 SOG is nothing to sniff at. 

 

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The Flyers, Islanders game was heaven sent for fantasy owners - well, except those silly/desperate enough to start Kevin Poulin or Steve Mason on Saturday. I sang Brock Nelson's praises at length in the midseason guide, so it's nice to see him make me look smart with a 1 G, 1 A, 2 hit outing so shortly after publication! Meanwhile Swiss-born Flyers forward Michael Raffl had a really nice game, scoring a goal and adding 4 SOG and 3 hits for good measure.

 

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Anton Khudobin is saving my fantasy team at the moment. Did you know that over the past four years among somewhat regular goaltenders, Khudobin is in the top-5 in EV save percentage? The sample of minutes he's played is significantly smaller than the other players on that list, but still: he was one hell of a gamble for the 'Canes this summer. Add him to your fantasy team if he hasn't already been snapped up.

 

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Alexander Semin with a two goal, eight shot game! Just like old times. I'd love to see that continue, few players more exciting than Semin when he gets flowing (gross, I know, sorry).

 

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I keep waiting for the Ducks, and center Nick Bonino in particular, to regress this season and every game they seem to look the gods of regression in the face and say: "Not today." Bonino had a two assist game in a 3-2 Ducks victory over the Blues on Saturday, and Danish goaltender Frederik Andersen was spectacular once again stopping 34 shots in the victory.

 

Digression: kind of sucks that Denmark's men's ice hockey team won't be at the Olympics this time around. Between Lars Eller, Jannik Hansen, Peter Regin, Frederik Andersen, Franz Nielsen, Mikkel Boedker and Philip Larsen - I have to think they'd be more formidable than Slovenia or Norway will be.

 

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Vladimir Sobotka with a ho-hum 1 A, 4 SOG, 4 hit game. Sobotka is going to earn Boyd Gordon money this summer. Also David Backes threw 7 hits because that's what he does

 

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Think Avalanche forward Matt Duchene was happy to end his scoring slump? (He was). Meanwhile Nick Holden (who?) posted easily the most surprising fantasy line of the night with 2 G, 1 A, 1 PPP, +2, 5 SOG and 9(!) hits. Holden's hit rate has been excellent this season, and his minutes are spiking and he seems to be getting a bit of PP time. He could maybe provide some value down the stretch in part because Colorado's blue-line depth is non-existent, but don't expect this offensive production to last.

 

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Meanwhile Devan Dubnyk - who I still think is a better bet to be helpful to a team going forward than Steve Mason, I might add - got lit up in his Predators debut. 

 

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Eric Gelinas is just crushing it for the Devils on the power-play, and managed another PPP, some hits and some shots on Saturday night as the Devils fell to the Coyotes 3-2. Sadly Gelinas' minutes just aren't there but his rate stats are out of this world. Next years Radko Gudas perhaps?

 

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Coyotes forward Martin Hanzal posted a fun fantasy line with a goal, an assist, 1 SOG and 84 uncalled cross checks.

 

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Coyotes defenseman Michael Stone's percentages and production have dried up, but he's still logging major minutes and throwing the body.

 

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Stars forward Ryan Garbutt scored his tenth goal of the year, which isn't surprising considering his sky-high shot rate. Between Garbutt, Antoine Roussel and Colton Scevior, the Stars seem to lead the league in "out of nowhere AHLers who are legitimately very effective in the show".

 

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Wild forward Nino Niederreiter is back on pace for 40 points with his 17th assist of the season on Saturday. The big Swiss forward also managed four shots on goal, threw a hit and took a minor penalty...

 

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If you're like and you own both Jason Garrison and Kevin Bieksa in a fantasy league that doesn't count penalty minutes: tough break for you on Saturday. The struggling Canucks power-play managed to cash in a goal, I might mention, off of a Yannick Weber point shot on Saturday. Might that earn the Swiss defender an extended look with Vancouver's top-unit? I'd pay close attention to his PP TOI over the next few days, because VAN's PP (for all of its apparent issues) is poised to go off over the balance of the season...

 

 

Thomas Drance is a news editor at theScore.


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Comments (15)add comment

Wink said:

Wink
... So, is Hartley allowed to send his fourth line out against the other team's first line at other points in the game? Or is the fact that it's the start of the game somehow more significant?
January 19, 2014
Votes: +0

slufoot said:

slufoot
... Glasses aren't red. I just hate the Canucks.
January 19, 2014
Votes: +0

kingshockeygm said:

kingshockeygm
Jurco Was at game last night. (GTG was atrocious but I'll avoid that)

Jurco looked like he's still years away from fantasy relevance. Even Nyquist didn't impress me. Tatar though, he's going to be a great sleeper for next year. He will be getting all sorts of pp time by then.
January 19, 2014
Votes: +0

Mr. Guru said:

Mr. Guru
... Even if Devane engaged that fight (which he didn't; Troop had the gloves off first and landed the firs punch) you're going to send out Scott to beat up Kessel. Really? Corey Troop = Phil Kessel? That is a good message for Rolston to send? WOW! You took out Corey Troop so we'll take out Phil Kessel! Not Kulimen. Phil Kessel. That's what is wrong with writers today.

Torts reacted accordingly. He was put in a no win situation. The intermission thing was wrong and he'll probably admit that later.

January 19, 2014
Votes: +1

Kofax said:

Kofax
... I find it funny how slufoot continues to call everyone a biased evaluator while his own comments make a fairly strong case for his own 'red-coloured' glasses being worn.

In my opinion, based on hartleys reputation and previous antics, he should be having an interview with the league as well as tortorella. It was unfortunate the way torts reacted, but Hartley should answer for his actions as well. Putting your star players at risk against a line of goons on a hopeless team with no playoff aspirations is an asinine idea, and anyone suggesting that is not evaluating the situation impartially.
January 19, 2014
Votes: +1

Axeman33 said:

Axeman33
... Hey, I am an Oilers fan so your "center of the universe" comment doesnt affect me in the slightest. I just think it was bush for Hartley to send out a full compliment of goons and try and sell it to the media after that he was "rewarding" them for scoring a goal last game.

Torts did the right thing by sending out the players he did instead of the Sedins.

Now as far as the crap after the 1st period, I dont agree with that. That was also bush league.
January 19, 2014
Votes: +0

slufoot said:

slufoot
Ovi42 Maybe you should go back and watch that tape again: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C2iAaq4g_Rk

This time take off your blue glasses. Then tell me who wanted the fight between those two. But I digress.

Any opinions on the Flames-Canucks game? Or do you even watch games that occur outside the center of the universe?
January 19, 2014
Votes: -2

Ovi42 said:

Ovi42
... Slufoot, glass houses, pal. Go back and watch Tropp bring Devane upon himself. He wanted that scrap. So sending out a Ogor after the other team's best player is an appropriate response? That's whack. Same rationale as having to fight after a clean hit.
January 19, 2014
Votes: +0

hawkdog said:

hawkdog
... Great ramblings this morning! Thanks.

I guess the flames are bored with their rivalry to the north, as the oilers are pretty much irrelevant these days so they are ramping up the heat with their western rivals, should pack the arena next time these teams meet.

Hartley won the mind games last night, he knows how the Canucks have been playing as of late, how they are standing up for team mates more, so he knew exactly what Torts would do.

The rest of the game was pretty blah, thanks half the players getting thrown out.


Hanzal's 5000 fine for xchecking Booth was a joke,
January 19, 2014
Votes: +1

AFlyers66 said:

AFlyers66
... I think it's pretty obvious from Drance's Mason comments he has watched very little (if not zero) Flyers games this season. Mason's been solid, not spectacular; but certainly a nice comeback from the goalie scrap heap he was on the last few years. He's stolen a few games here and there, especially when the team was stumbling early on. He's bounced back nicely from bad outings most of the time, instead of heading into a spiraling tailspin, always a good sign for goalie confidence. And he's definitely outplayed Emery -- which, if we all recall, was highly in doubt last summer, when most folks on here (Dobber included, in The Guide) suspected that the Flyers' Mason/Emery 1A/1B competition would result in Emery seizing the starting job by Christmas. Didn't happen. Must add, it's a bad coincidence that Mason gets pulled the day he signs the extension, but then it gives Drance a good chance to toss out his drive-by remarks, eh? I'll be interested to hear Dobber's thoughts on Mason's extension.
January 19, 2014
Votes: +1

slufoot said:

slufoot
... Axe, did you watch that Leafs preseason game, or just catch the Leaf-centric highlights on Sportscentre?

Scott lining up on Kessel in preseason was retaliation for Jamie Devane (6'5"-220lb) breaking Corey Tropp's (5'11"-185 lbs) jaw in a fight off the faceoff after Tropp scored a goal.

IMO it was a good message for Rolston to send.

So unless there's history of a Canuck goon taking a run at one of the Flames' scorers, I'd say my inference that Westgarth wouldn't have taken out a Sedin is pretty close to correct.
January 19, 2014
Votes: -2

Axeman33 said:

Axeman33
... "All Tortorella had to do was start his regulars - Kevin Westgarth is not going to grab a Sedin and beat the shit out of him."

Seriously slufoot, you know this HOW? If I was Torts, theres no way I am taking that risk. You obviously didn't see the pre-season game between Buffalo and Toronto when John Scott was lined up with Kessel and Kessel had to run from him at the opening faceoff. That's a risk you just don't take with your star players when you have guys on your bench who are better suited to deal with that.

I am no Canucks fan, nor do I like the Flames but this was a bush league move by Hartley. Westgarth isn't even a center and he was lined up to take the draw. BUSH LEAGUE!
January 19, 2014
Votes: +2

slufoot said:

slufoot
Hartley played Torts Hartley coaches the lineup he's dealt. I seem to remember a few teams he coached out in the Rockies that weren't goon squads. The thing is, he knew exactly what Torts would do when he submitted that lineup.

All Tortorella had to do was start his regulars - Kevin Westgarth is not going to grab a Sedin and beat the shit out of him.

All I know is that for a team that's been shutout multiple times in their last 10 games, you have to do something to kickstart their emotions. And I guarantee that both teams were up for that game after he initial faceoff.

I imagine Hartley was like, "Lets start the 4th line, nothing else has been working! And lets see what they do?" Then tells the starters, "If they start Sestito, its on. If they start the Sedins, get a quick change."
January 19, 2014
Votes: -3

eiswolf13 said:

eiswolf13
Michael Raffl Not that is fantasy relevant at all, but Michael Raffl is Austrian. In fact, this was the first NHL game ever with three Austrians in it (Grabner and Vanek for NYI). All of them scored a point.
Greetings from Salzburg, Austria
January 19, 2014
Votes: +3
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