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I’m baaaaaack!


You’ll have to excuse my over-exuberance. It feels like forever since I last rambled but in reality that was just eight days ago. A lot happened over those eight days including a trip I took down to Toronto for the DobberHockey event.


That was a great time with a bunch of great guys. Next time there is an event I recommend you come out because good times were had by all.


One of the things that struck me was how patient and appreciative everyone was with listening to and sharing fantasy stories with one another. Not that I should’ve been surprised considering it was a group of readers and writers who frequent this site that is all about discussing fantasy stories, particularly with the forum being a place for exactly that but I was still awestruck to see it in person.


Something I’ve heard is that there is nothing more boring than hearing about someone else’s fantasy team. I’ve never experienced that myself, I love fielding fantasy questions but it’s something that has always kept me reserved in many social environments. At the Dobber event though, it was uninhibited fantasy hockey talk. Just a great time.


Thanks to everyone who came out. I hope it's not too long before we can all hang out again.




The Olympic tournament also concluded over the weekend, which was just strange in how it played out. The women’s Gold Medal game was just insane and was arguably the high point of Olympic hockey on both the men’s and women’s side.


Sean McIndoe had a great breakdown of how that game played out.


From there we had entertaining but predictable results in the semis and anticlimactic domination in both the Bronze and Gold Medal games on the men’s side.




One thing to keep in mind with regard to players who had great performances in the Olympics is sample size. Teams played only six games or less. You can’t hardly draw conclusions from such a small sample. We see it every year over the first couple of weeks of the season – guys randomly putting up huge numbers only to fizzle.


Take Drew Doughty for instance. There are plenty of reasons why he would go off in the Olympics and not in Los Angeles but regardless of those reasons you are drawing on a small sample if you want to consider his Olympic performance a reflection of his ability.


And really, the style at the Olympics was different from what you’ll see in the NHL. Those Olympic games were slow and all about puck possession. To compound things Canada’s opponent’s packed it in like crazy so the points were wide open. Doughty couldn’t help but get chances with all the time he had out there. He won’t get that same treatment in the NHL.


Of course, the Kings could still do a better job of unleashing him on opponents but it’s not like it will be as easy as it looked on Team Canada.




Okay, enough of that Olympic crap. I don’t want to see another game on big ice until the 2016 World Juniors in Finland. On to NHL hockey. Yes, it’s back too!!!




It was a battle of the backups between Boston and Buffalo and it showed. Chad Johnson going for the Bruins and Jhonas Enroth in net for the Sabres but these goaltenders had little interest in stopping pucks as the game ended 5-4 in overtime.


Enroth got the win, his first since October 25. Appreciating the fact that the Sabres dreadful play has more to do with Enroth’s win/loss record, he’s still not the long term answer. Too small. That’s why any Ryan Miller deal will see a goaltender head to Buffalo and that’s appreciating the fact they have Matt Hackett in the minors. You can never have too many goalie prospects.


Matt D’Agostini scored the overtime winner on a nice individual effort. This guy probably shouldn’t be an NHLer but he has cracked the Sabres lineup and has carved out a sizeable enough role. I think he has some value in the deepest of leagues as he could surprise down the stretch but this is probably the last we see of him.


Speaking of guys who probably shouldn’t be NHLers; Ville Leino, Jamie McBain and Bryan Flynn each had two-point nights.


Leino actually has six points in his last 10 games, which is astounding for him. I’m not reading anything into it yet although he has been seeing some healthy minutes so it’s not inexplicable that he could have some relevance down the stretch. I just need to see more.


McBain is a guy I loved way back when but it’s clear he just doesn’t have what it takes at the NHL level. As soon as the Sabres get better defensemen on the team he’ll be on the outside looking in. Can’t believe they gave up Andrej Sekera for him.


Zemgus Girgensons also had two points for the Sabres. He’s a must-own in rotisserie keepers. He was a star for Latvia with his in-your-face play but he’s been bringing that for the Sabres all season. Doesn’t possess as much offense but he reminds me of Ryan Kesler with the desperate way he plays the game.


Christian Ehrhoff is on a total roll. I told you awhile back that he could be a great one for the second half with all the minutes and shots he’s been putting up. He’s got 23 points in his last 32 games. Crazier still is that he’s held an even plus/minus over that stretch. That goes to shit if (when) Miller gets dealt but that won’t stop him from putting up points.




David Krejci seems to have carried all the disfunction of the Czech team back to the Bruins as his line with Milan Lucic and Jarome Iginla went minus-three each. At least Lucic and Iginla did some work on the power play. Krejci, not so much.


Torey Krug got in on the power play action as well with two assists. Seems to me he’s just about the only Bruin taking full advantage of all the forward depth on the Bruins. Everyone else has their offense repressed a little. Krug is living like a king.


While I was down in Toronto my friend Elliott mused that every time Patrice Bergeron was on the ice he felt like Harry Potter when he’d throw on the cloak of invisibility, as though it was impossible for Canada to get scored on while he was out there. Naturally, the group of us watching the games together would hoot and holler about the cloak being on every time he took to the ice. Not a bad nickname. You could definitely add that to his Selke case.




Carey Price was ruled out of last night’s affair and will miss tonight’s game as well. Peter Budaj got the start for Montreal instead. I wonder if Dustin Tokarski will start tonight’s game. Probably not but if he does you can add him to extensive list of goalies to start this season.


Budaj had to be solid as the Red Wings really came to play out of the break. I found that surprising considering how many of the Wings had been active over the break and considering they’d lost their captain Henrik Zetterberg.


I guess all that losing at the Olympics had them fired up or Mike Babcock brought the winning attitude back with him or all of this is just irrelevant.


Johan Franzen made his return to the lineup and looked good. He got assists on both Detroit goals. So glad I scooped him up in my one year league. Could be a beauty down the stretch. He’s still available in 40% of Yahoo! leagues too.


Gustav Nyquist scored the OT winner. I don’t have much faith in him with the combination of Zetterberg going down and Franzen returning. We saw last night that Nyquist was relegated to the second power play unit with Franzen back in and with Zetterberg down Nyquist has lost his security blanket. He’s still a beauty in keeper leagues but he went into the Olympics on a roll. I don’t expect it to continue.


Jimmy Howard! If not for a late flurry he’d have blanked the Habs. Sure, he didn’t have to do much but this is a promising sign. I was worried Howard would be near worthless down the stretch with Zetterberg out and Pavel Datsyuk laboring. That was not the case, at least for one night anyway.




Alex Galchenyuk made his return to the Habs lineup and was pointless in 15:15 of ice time. He saw no power play time skating predominantly with Rene Bourque and Lars Eller. Check out the Habs lines with Galchenyuk back:




Line Combination













Galchenyuk did see some minutes with Tomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta when things got desperate for Montreal. I’d like to see more of that line combination and more Galchenyuk on the power play. I think he’s the key to stabilizing things for Montreal. 


I mean, getting Price back healthy the most important thing but in terms of play outside the crease Galchenyuk is hugely important. The team struggled before the break when Galchenyuk went down and that was with Price in the lineup so his return should help.


The Habs had a great flurry at the end of the game and Gionta tied things up. He had six shots on goal as well.




That Avalanche-Kings game was tremendous fun. The backups were in sure, which helps explain the 6-4 score but also there was some really solid end-to-end action. An excellent change from the slow pace of the Olympics.


Basically every King got on the board in this one too, which is great news.


Anze Kopitar was in particularly strong form. He scored two goals and an assist including the game winner but beyond that he was just a beast on the puck all night. A pleasure to watch.


Dustin Brown got stopped on a breakaway attempt but I was impressed when he stuck with the play and got the puck out front for a Jarret Stoll goal. This is how he can break out of his slump. Start making some plays for others. Bet against that though, he’s skating on the third line.


Tyler Toffoli notched a couple of assists in this one. Wasn’t very noticeable but he was out there and scoring, which is what matters.


Justin Williams had two points as well, including the empty-netter. His owners are not complaining at all. Williams had scored just one point over the previous 14 games. I don’t know how that happens. He’s way too good to slump that badly.




Matt Duchene was in top form for the Avalanche. He notched a couple of assists and was just great utilizing his speed and skating. I was particularly impressed with one rush from Duchene that led to a PA Parenteau goal. The video below doesn’t do the play justice as it started with Duchene outside the zone and using a give-and-go to get deep in the offensive zone.



Parenteau, by the way, just knows how to play with talent. You can say that anyone can do it but I think it’s a legit skill to just fit in and know your role. If you don’t buy that there’s chemistry there at least appreciate what Parenteau does driving the net with his stick on the ice and fighting off a check to tap that puck in. That takes skill and it is tangible because look at the scoreboard.


What I’m saying is that the Avs would be foolish to move this guy. He’s a fit. You aren’t finding someone better. I was really glad to see Parenteau back on the top line and the top power play unit. They had him playing the point, if you can believe it. We’ll see if that lasts when Erik Johnson returns


Jamie McGinn looked pretty good last night as well. He was up on the top power play unit and notched a goal and an assist.


Nathan MacKinnon only had an assist in this one but he looked very dangerous. His skating is just fantastic to watch. The speed, the strength, just marvelous. I don’t know that he has humungous upside, right now it looks like he uses his skating more for defensive play but it’s still brilliant.




Eddie Lack got the call for Vancouver and gritted out a 20-save shutout despite little offensive support.


To be fair, the Canucks were trying. They did fire 35 shots on goal. But they only got one past Jaroslav Halak. Part of that was brilliance on Halak’s part and part of that was just being straight snake-bitten. This team is having a tough time finding offense. If not for Jannik Hansen and the rest of the fourth line that game might still be going on.


Henrik Sedin made his return from injury and was back on a line with Daniel Sedin. Smart move getting those two back together to try and rekindle the chemistry. They had some chances but nothing yet. I’d be pushing to buy low for the stretch run though.There’s no way the Canucks throw in the towel, even with Kesler’s trade demands.


And to be fair to Kesler, his agent has denied that rumour. Right now, all he is is a slumping star currently out with a broken finger. Damn, Band-Aid Boy!


I don’t suspect he’ll be out long.




Paul Martin is out 4-6 weeks with a broken hand. Thank goodness for all that blueline depth in Pittsburgh. First Kris Letang, now this?


Matt Niskanen and Olli Maatta are in the money.


Beau Bennett is out 3-4 weeks as well. This guy just cannot catch a break. I’d recommend Brian Gibbons who has been filling in on the top line with Pascal Dupuis injured and Bennett on the shelf as well but it’s a virtual guarantee that the Penguins make a move by the deadline.




Check out this profile on Calle Jarnkrok from the Octopus Thrower.




Gary Bettman and Bill Daly have confirmed their willingness to participate in the Steve Moore-Todd Bertuzzi trial. 


This is still going on!?!?!?! Remind me to never get into a legal battle.




Interesting theory on the Raw Charge blog about how the changing roster in Tampa Bay may have had something to do with Martin St. Louis’ trade request.




Anders Lindback was sent down to the AHL on a conditioning stint so Olympic hero Kristers Gudlevskis will backup Ben Bishop in Tampa Bay. The question is, can they cure his rubber allergy?


Also in that article, Vladislav Namestnikov has been recalled as well.



Canes Country wonders if Carolina can keep both Anton Khudobin and Cam Ward.


Unless they want to spend near $10 million on goaltending annually the answer is no.



In Lou We Trust looks at why John Merrill remained in New Jersey while Eric Gelinas was demoted.




A look at the Islanders lines without John Tavares (and Frans Nielsen) from Lighthouse Hockey. Highlights for you:


Brock Nelson centering the top line. Ryan Strome and Anders Lee on the third line.




A study suggests that the top NHL teams may see a decline following the Olympics.




Apparently the Chicago Blackhawks are going to tryout Peter Regin at center with Patrick Kane.


Yeah… We’ll see how that one works out…




Check out the Advanced Stats All-Stars courtesy of Intelligent Hockey:


Jussi Jokinen

The former Carolina Hurricanes’ winger, who was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins for a conditional 2013 sixth- or seventh-round draft pick while Carolina agreed to retain some of his salary, has flourished in a top-six role with Evgeni Malkin and James Neal. Jokinen has found value in Pittsburgh as the ultimate fill-in-the-blanks forward, and his plucky play has made life easier for the two stars.




JT Miller has been recalled to replace the injured Mats Zuccarello.




You can follow me on Twitter @SteveLaidlaw.

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Comments (4)add comment

Rodgort said:

... "Henrik Sedin made his return from injury and was back on a line with Daniel Sedin. Smart move getting those two back together to try and rekindle the chemistry." don't know if this line is sarcasm as I doubt they'd ever lose the chemistry they have haha
February 27, 2014
Votes: +0

metaldude26 said:

... Re: Nyquist - if I still owned him I might be holding out hope. I dropped him (in a one-year league) so my "bias" leans negative.

Re: Sekera - all due respect to Compher, he doesn't make that trade all that better.
February 27, 2014
Votes: +0

als_revenge said:

... The Sabres did not give up Sekera for McBain. The traded Sekera for the Canes 2nd round pick (JT Compher), but had to take McBain in the deal to make the money work. Leaving JT Compher out of that deal totally mischaracterizes that trade, IMHO.
February 27, 2014
Votes: -1

Dobber said:

... Great point about the event and the willingness and even eagerness to swap fantasy stories

Regarding Nyquist - agree 100%. But there is some smidgeon of hope in the back of my brain. Despite no Zetts. And despite Mule returning to the lineup (another winger spot taken up on the PP)...Nyquist was still the game's 1st star. And for that matter, Tatar was 2nd star. It's just looking more and more like they won't be denied
February 27, 2014
Votes: +3
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