Angus here - Merry Christmas (eve). Out doing some Christmas stuff this AM, so the ramblings will be up a bit late. A lot to chew on from a busy Friday night in the NHL. Thanks for your patience!

 

Dobber's THN column on Radim Vrbata is here.

 

Weiss left the game with an upper-body injury last night. Likely a promotion for Shawn Matthias (who is playing some great hockey right now). No word on the severity, but Weiss won't play in Florida's next game.

 

My fantasy hockey year in review will be out this weekend. I have been stalling with it (and a few other pieces) – very busy fall for myself. I’ve spent a lot of time compiling my top 10 fantasy hockey stories (with input from you fine folks on the site, twitter, and via e-mail).

 

In honor of Kronwall’s hit – a post from the Score’s hockey blog (back from October) on hockey’s five scariest hitters. Worth the read alone to see the evolution of Dion Phaneuf’s photo.

 

The daily Studs and Duds are up over on the forums.

 

Nick Foligno was kicked out of the game last night for throwing a hit. More of a reputation call based on some recent stuff (his hit on Kesler which also earned him a game misconduct). Neither hit was malicious – Kesler embellished it and fell into the hit a bit, while Keaton Ellerby blew a tire and Foligno really had nowhere to go but over. It is nice to see him playing with more of a physical edge, though.

 

Tomas Fleischmann played almost 25 minutes last night. He’s having a great season for the Panthers. His signing was a risk (and still is) considering the severity of the injury/issue he was coming back from (blood clots). He’s a dynamic offensive talent and he’s making the most of his first line opportunity.

 

Versteeg’s great season continues, as well. The Florida top line is arguably the top surprise line of the season, and could find its way into my top 10 fantasy stories of the year list in a few days…

 

Three points for Alffy last night, and two points for Karlsson. Karlsson is second in the entire league in assists. Showing why people have been so high on him for so long. He’s never goiong to be a defensive stud but he’s a game-changing defenseman offensively. Imagine the totals he will put up once Ottawa gets some more talent for him to play with?

 

Chris Neil had a goal and a helper – he’ll be highly sought after at the deadline this season (if the Senators choose to shop him).

 

Turris has points in two straight games. He didn’t see any PP time last night, although the Sens only had one (brief) power play. He also had three shots on goal.

 

Michalek is getting closer to returning, but he still missed the game due to a concussion.

 

Brian Campbell refuses to slow down, as he is still on pace for 65 points.

 

Shawn Matthias has four points in his last four games.

 

PK Subban was a healthy scratch last night. The Habs continue to struggle, and I’m not surprised. Their roster is built for a Jacques Martin system – responsible defensemen who can clear lanes and the front of the net, but aren’t great puck movers, and a forward group devoid of elite offensive talent. I feel for Carey Price.

 

Montreal was shut out without Subban. Chris Campoli was a minus-3. Montreal has been playing some ugly and uninspired hockey lately.

 

With Bryan Little out, Burmistrov and Jim Slater took most of the faceoffs for the Jets. Neither recorded a point, though.

 

Three points and four shots on goal for Blake Wheeler. Wheeler’s quietly on pace for over 55 points.

 

Another collapse for the Blue Jackets, as they failed to hold two different three goal leads. Jeff Carter had a first period hat trick, but the Jackets collapsed once again down the stretch.

 

Nikita Nikitin continues to log heavy minutes. He had one point, five shots on goal, and close to 26 minutes of ice time.

 

Weber and Suter combined for five points and a plus-4 rating. Another dominant performance from the league’s best defensive pairing.

 

Nazem Kadri scored the game winner for the Leafs as Buffalo continues to struggle.

 

Enstrom has two points in three games since returning from his shoulder injury.

 

Calgary needs to trade Iginla. I can foresee a deadline situation similar to Sundin in Toronto, although the circumstances may differ (Sundin wanted to stay, if the Flames are out of contention I bet Iginla would entertan offers).

 

Malkin and Stamkos are both playing well this year. The debate between the two has been the biggest one on this site for the past few years. I haven’t wavered from camp Malkin, but it was looking bleak at times. Both players are elite talents. Stamkos will always be less of a health risk, and his upside isn’t much lower than Malkin’s. Malkin has that little extra “what if” that no other players really have, and we are seeing a bit of that right now.

 

I think the big thing for Malkin is establishing a level of comfort with his linemates.

 

Peter Regin is out indefinitely with a shoulder injury. He’s pretty much done if this is another serious surgery and rehabilitation. His shoulders make Ales Hemsky’s look durable. Too bad, as he was really starting to develop into a solid top six forward two seasons ago.

 

I am enjoying the HBO special (obviously), but not quite as much as last year. Bryzgalov is far and away the star of the show with his hilariously bizarre opinions. I really like the team assembled in New York too. A lot of gritty, hard-working, and grounded guys – Girardi, Richards, Callahan, etc.

 

Speaking of the Rangers, they won again last night, with a depleted defense and their back up goalie.

 

Del Zotto’s bounce back season continues. There was a great read on him yesterday in the New York Times – mentioning how good a mentor Brad Richards has been (Richards played the same role with James Neal in Dallas, and Neal introduced the two).

 

Confidence is everything with young defensemen, and Del Zotto has gone from zero to a lot in just a few months. He’s playing more of a two-way role than many thought he could, especially at this point of his career.

 

The NYR ice time for defensemen: Stralman (22), McDonagh (26), Girardi (28), Erixon (10), Del Zotto (24), and Bickel (8). Leaning heavily on four defensemen – one who started the year in Europe. Really, really impressive.

 

Stralman saw some PP time, and finished with two helpers and a plus-3. He’s not going to be the elite PP QB many had hoped/expected a few years ago, but he has quality offensive abilities and can produce if given the minutes on a consistent basis.

 

No points for Carl Hagelin, but he’s seeing lots of ice time (time on the second PP unit, and almost 17 minutes of total ice time).

 

What if the Islanders returned Josh Bailey to the OHL as an 18-year-old a few years ago? He’s on pace for 23 points, and is once again looking ineffective against NHL defensemen. He was rushed for no reason.

 

A bright spot for the Isles has been the play of Moulson – under the radar once again, but he’s on pace for over 40 goals and close to 240 shots.

 

Another loss for the Sabres – as I wrote yesterday, they could be the first team to make a big move in the new year.

 

Brayden McNabb played almost 20 minutes, including time on the PK and PP. He had terrific numbers in the WHL last year and looks pretty good at the NHL level as a rookie.

 

Pominville and Vanek are the only ones doing anything for the Sabres right now.

 

Broad Street Hockey did a review of episode two – mostly Flyer related, of course. Worth the read.

 

Neuvirth has strung together a few good games after Vokoun struggled a bit. I think Vokoun will re-establish himself as the starter, but I like that the Capitals are letting both goalies show what they can before the playoffs start. Giving Vokoun a super long leash wouldn’t do much for Neuvirth’s confidence.

 

A good read on Smith-Pelly’s expectations heading in to the World Juniors.

 

“In 26 games with the Ducks this season, the 19-year-old Scarborough native has three goals and five points to go along with 10 penalty minutes. He knows that with his NHL experience, he will be part of the leadership group for this year's squad, that includes seven 18-year-olds.


"It starts with us (veterans)," Smith-Pelly said. "We have a lot of expectations for ourselves and the team. We've got to make sure that we're on every night and it started tonight. Hopefully we can continue that."


Smith-Pelly was a key part of Canada's win over Finland. He laid out several big hits that put the Finns back on their heels for parts of the game.


"You kind of see him after big hits like that looking over his shoulder," said Canada forward Jaden Schwartz. "It gets the bench going and it's fun to see."”

 

The Blackhawks spread some holiday cheer:


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Comments (10)add comment

Austin said:

austeane
Kesler There WAS a really dirty play involving Kesler and I'm not sure why noone is talking about it... His intentional knee on knee was much dirtier than the Kronwall hit. Kesler's was 6 or so inches from being the same one that sent Booth to the IR for 4 weeks.. Instead people are talking about the Kronwall hit that was perfect except he mistimed leaving his feet about a tenth of a second too soon.

Btw this is as a Kesler and Canucks fan.
December 24, 2011
Votes: +0

littleranger said:

littleranger
10 Fantasy Thoughts For some late night fantasy hockey reading material: http://thehockeywriters.com/te...-and-more/
December 23, 2011
Votes: +0

paul said:

donpaulo
... great to see some rangers coverage. NY wins without Staal, and is now winning without Sauer who is a core player for them. Girardi is an MVP candidate and Gaborik has 20 goals.
If the line chemistry plays out I think NY can not only win the division but go deep into the playoffs, then again I wear blueshirt tinted glasses
December 23, 2011
Votes: +0

Seth said:

Fast Tony DeNiro
Kronwall I'm not sure what video you watched to say Kronwall didn't launch himself into Kesler. I know a lot of times players involuntarily leave their feet after the hit because of their momentum, but it's pretty obvious to me Kronwall is off his feet before the hit and clearly still moving upwards when he connects.

It seems like every time someone gets "Kronwalled" you watch the video and see Kronwall's feet a foot off the ice. He's a bad hitter and I hope at some point he gets the book thrown at him for these pretty blatant charging penalties, but at the very least he does hit people from the front which is more than can be said for a lot of other players.
December 23, 2011
Votes: +0

JMan12 said:

jjmckenn
Kronwall Sorry guys, it was a clean hit. He didn't launch himself at all at Kesler. Sure he exploded into the hit like all good hitters do, but that is part of the game and part of making great clean hits. No head shot, no knee, no blind side, not from behind = clean hit. The league can't start implementing rules saying that you can't hit guys too hard or you will get suspended. Let's remember that this is hockey, and hockey is a physical violent game. Also, notice how Kesler picks his spots. He knew Kronwall wouldn't fight, he wouldn't challenge a legit fighter.
December 23, 2011 | url
Votes: +0

Nathan Fleming said:

Devil10
SKinner Just wondering if there is much info out there on Jeff Skinner (Car). Finding it difficult to get a good read on the situation. But I guess that is the NHL these days. Some concussions out for a couple of days others over a year.
December 23, 2011
Votes: +0

mick said:

hawkdog
Kronwall I absolutely agree with ElTIGREblanc.

Total reckless hit with the intent to injure. I don't understand why no penalty? all the talk about preventing concussions is obviously fluff and BS if you are going to get serious about stopping concussions you need to take these reckless hits out.
We all like to see good hard hits but when the guy launches himself off his skates like that its wrong.

I know Kesler is not the most liked player but he is right, if you are going to hit to injure you better be willing to drop the gloves.
And I do think Kesler deserved a penalty on the Zetterberg leg on leg.

The short handed goal as a result was sweet, and I think if Edler doesn't score there the game would have gotten out of control.

I hope those two teams meet in the playoffs. wow.
December 23, 2011
Votes: -1

elTIGREblanc said:

elTIGREblanc
Kronwall... ...his hit on Kesler was reckless. He left his feet and had his back turned. How can he see where he's hitting with his back turned? That means its a blind runaway freight train that is clearly intent to goon it up. An appropriate bodycheck is should separate the opponent from the puck, so you can go skate with it afterwards. There was 0 intent to play the puck nor even a peek to see if Kesler's head was in a vulnerable position. If you're interested in avoiding concussions from reckless hitting, Kronwall's hit should be illegal.
December 23, 2011
Votes: +0

shaun b said:

shingy
Panthers C I don't know much about Weiss's injury. Upper body for now.

Does this put Shawn Matthias on the top line with Versteeg and Flash? This could work well. I think they'll rise to occasion rather than see the scoring dry up.
December 23, 2011
Votes: +1

Miqualle said:

Miqualle
Weiss Anyone see Weiss get hurt last night? I heard he went down and see he only played 3 minutes last night. Wondering how bad it was...
December 23, 2011
Votes: +0
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