Evgeni Malkin takes home Player of December honours and what a beast he's been. Ridiculous totals and downright dominance on the ice. Steven Stamkos, who's really heating up in the goal department, was second star. Henrik Sedin rounded out the top three.
So Ilya Bryzgalov will have a little more time to contemplate the universe. Sergei Bobrovsky will start tomorrow's Winter Classic, which has been moved to 3pm et in case you hadn't heard. Tough call for Peter Laviolette given the big picture of Bryz being "the guy" in Philly, but clearly he feels Bob right now will give the team the best chance of getting two points. I like Bryzgalov a lot and I'm not worried about him in the short-term or in the long run, for single-season or keeper leagues. If his owner is jittery, start haggling for a good price.
Henrik Lundqvist will obviously start for the Rangers. No Marc Staal yet, but he's getting closer.
New contract for Josh Gorges: Six years at $3.9M per AAV. He was to be a UFA this summer and that's not a bad contract for a guy who was never drafted. Carey Price will be happy to have that guy locked up.
Happy New Year!
All the best to you and your family. If you can, take a minute on New Year’s Day to let them and your friends know how much you appreciate them. We sometimes get a little caught up in our own lives and forget to tell the truly important people to you know how much they mean.
Make 2012 whatever you want it to be. No excuses. It's your life... seize control and take it where you want it to go.
And from me to you, a sincere thanks for the warm welcome from the DH community (readers and staff) since I signed on for the Sunday Ramblings gig (and bi-weekly Q&A) at the start of this season. It's been a really worthwhile experience.
Anyway, it was another typically busy Saturday of action so let’s get to it.
Alex Ovechkin scored another pair of goals tonight, pushing his point streak to six games. That’s also B2B games with two markers and it’s fantastic to see him playing like he should be and also getting some results. That sound you’re hearing is the rare window of opportunity that had been open in keeper leagues to get one of the game’s few truly elite players slamming shut.
And Alexander Semin? He potted another one today and has come up with nine points in his past seven starts. Finally. He’s been playing with Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, who has basically been the picture of consistency this season, so Semin owners who hadn’t given up on him are FINALLY being rewarded.
I love that Ryan Johansen has been getting a shot on the wing with Jeff Carter and Rick Nash. The other night Johansen had a really strong game on that line. He’s like the vast majority of young guys we see come into the NHL... they take time to mature. Patience.
David Krejci quietly has points in five in a row. He can be one of those guys that will run really hot or really cold. It’s particularly interesting, to me at least, to see the opening of a Bruins’ broadcast now and see the Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – Tyler Seguin unit listed as the first line, while Milan Lucic – Krejci and Nathan Horton are placed second. Completely deserved, but it’s always kind of fascinating to see how long it may take for broadcasters or media to make that sort of designation.
Trevor Daley has been getting first unit power play time with Alex Goligoski and Daley has five points in his past four games. Three of them came today.
It still is not old to me how cool it is to see the fans of Winnipeg so charged up every night. Imagine a playoff series?!?! Cannot get enough of Evander Kane either. His progression this year has just been so fun to watch. He and Blake Wheeler are tearing apart the opposition on a routine basis.
Phil Kessel has been a beast for his poolies this season, but his owners got a scare when he was hit by the puck in the second period. He left the game for a bit and then came back for the third. Hopefully no lingering ill-effects from that one.
You may have heard by now that Krys Barch earned a misconduct for an alleged racial slur toward P.K. Subban. Team General Partner Cliff Viner offered this comment to the Miami Herald in the third period, so kudos for the quick response on the situation: “This is not what the character of this organization is about. Period. I'm devastated by that kind of behavior. That is not what we're about as an organization, a team, coaching staff, hockey operations.
"Dale, I'm sure, will be very critical of this. I hope they talk to the team and let them know this is unacceptable. You play hard, you fight hard. But that's not part of any competition.''
The good news for Florida in that game is that the vaunted Tomas Fleischmann – Stephen Weiss – Kris Versteeg line was back together. They had been separated due to injury and then weren’t placed on the same line when they were all good to go. They have to qualify as one of the biggest surprise lines of this season in terms of stellar results.
With Jose Theodore leaving today's game injured, Jacob Markstrom has been called up.
Bruce Boudreau switched things up for tonight’s game against the Avs. He opened with Bobby Ryan and Corey Perry on the wing of Saku Koivu, which left Ryan Getzlaf skating with Niklas Hagman and Teemu Selanne. The Ducks lost again.
T.J. Galiardi began on what had been Matt Duchene’s (knee injury and he’ll apparently miss at least a month) wing slot on the Paul Stastny line tonight with Daniel Winnik. The Gabriel Landeskog – Ryan O’Reilly – Milan Hejduk line stayed together. Landeskog continues to pick up steam for single-season owners too. His assist tonight gives him seven points in his past eight affairs.
On the subject of the Avs... Kyle Quincey has points in both of his starts back in the line-up. It was a couple of days ago in Hockey Hearsay I had the Denver Post article that kind of blew me away with Quincey’s honesty. In a nutshell, he missed a couple of games because of a groin injury and then was a healthy scratch for four because the Avs didn’t want to mess with a winning line-up. Quincey then said in the future he might not seek treatment for minor injuries and that he wishes he hadn’t said anything about that groin issue.
"I do regret it. Because if I didn't say anything, I wouldn't have missed those six games," he said. "You're trying to play through injury, trying to play your best, but it's better than coming out of the lineup because you don't get back in."
Going back to the topic of line changes, Darryl Sutter moved Mike Richards onto the wing of Anze Kopitar with Dustin Brown tonight against the Canucks. Certainly not the first time we’ve seen a coach put his two best centres on the same line, but it’s an interesting move nonetheless. That effectively made the Dustin Penner – Jarret Stoll – Justin Williams line into the second unit, while Brad Richardson – Andrei Loktionov –Trevor Lewis rounded out the top nine.
Kopitar, before tonight’s game, on the first five games under Darryl Sutter (via Helene Elliott of the L.A. Times): "I just think we’re more aggressive. We’re pursuing the puck a lot more and we’re playing with it a lot more. The difference with Terry maybe is that before we were waiting a little too much. Now we’re going after it."
Drew Doughty offered this of the new Sutter era: "I think that we’re definitely a different team....we’re quicker all over the ice, whether it’s in the offensive zone, neutral zone or defensive zone. We’re just quicker on pucks, and that’s really what he pushes....Just getting it quicker, getting the body quicker, everything is just quicker."
Nothing official, but indications are Simon Gagne could be out awhile with his concussion.
Victor Hedman has no timetable with his concussion either, as tends to be the case, but he’s also not even working out or doing anything light. Rest only. If you can farm him out for another few years, he’s still a great buy-low candidate for deep keeper leagues. We haven’t even come close to seeing what he can do offensively in this league, IMO.
Ryan Shannon’s knee sprain will keep him out another two or maybe three weeks too.
Tampa Bay lines especially are subject to change every 30 seconds, but Steve Downie and Martin St. Louis were with Steven Stamkos to begin today and that’s the trio I love to see. Great chemistry and a good mix of everything with that trio. Stamkos is in the goal-scoring zone these days too. His second one of the game this afternoon? Beauty. He ended up with his fifth career hat trick. St. Louis has points in all five games back, avec cage, while Downie chipped in three points. Ryan Malone also has points in six of 10. He had three assists today, but that was his first multi-pointer in that span.
Radim Vrbata added another three points to his totals tonight and ended a five-game pointless skid in the process. On the whole he’s been a really solid depth guy for any format though. Today it was Ray Whitney and Lauri Korpikoski on the line. Mikkel Boedker was back up with Daymond Langkow and Shane Doan.
Matt Niskanen will never be mistaken for Kris Letang, but the former first round pick of the Dallas Stars has done a really serviceable job offensively for fantasy owners in the past month who needed a fill-in for the concussed star blueliner. Niskanen added his 10th point to close out December’s 13th and final game. Throw in the 17 PIM and 30 SOG he chipped in and that’s a pretty stellar free agent add if you were on the ball right off the hop.
John Tavares is looking so strong out there right now. He wraps up the month with 15 points in 14 games, which puts an exclamation point on the way he closed out November with no points in six outings. Matt Moulson has been dynamite and even P.A. Parenteau has continued to deliver, despite Kyle Okposo being recently moved up onto the first line. Okposo, by the by, has points in three of four now and has been pretty consistent this month. It’s nice to see him gain some traction because he’s a guy who should have much higher fantasy value than he currently does.
Cool to see U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame member Ken Morrow go into the Isles’ Hall of Fame before the game. Fitting tribute.
From Craig Custance on the alumni game this afternoon: Mark Howe said he was awed by the support today in Philly: "I can't believe they sold 45,000 tickets to watch some old farts play hockey."
I would have liked to have been able to catch more highlights from that game or the World Junior action today, but NHL commitments prevented it. Too much work to do.
It’s no secret that we’ve been overrun with concussion issues in the last year. It’s bad for the players, the teams, the fans and the sport in general. For poolies, it can be especially frustrating when players are continually DTD instead of going on the IR.
Have you adjusted your thinking with your fantasy league though? More and more services give you the ability to be extremely flexible with injuries, sometimes even allowing for anyone with a DTD designation to be placed on the fantasy IR. In those instances, commissioners should give serious consideration to expanding the number of available IR slots.
For the leagues which choose to or are forced to adhere to strict “IR only” designations, have you considered adding an extra bench spot or two for next season? Decide what’s best for your group of owners, but adding an extra space or two could prevent fewer headaches for owners saddled with the concussion plague. Sure, it also potentially gives the sharp owners an extra chance to hoard a good FA pickup if their roster is otherwise healthy, but there are rarely perfect solutions for any problem in fantasy.
Food for thought, anyway. Good leagues adjust thinking as needed. This may be one of those cases where commissioners and owners need to put their heads together and think of something that works best for them to deal with a growing problem for poolies.
If you’re subscribed to my twitter feed you know this already, but a real bright spot right after Christmas came when a long-lost Mike Bossy jersey of mine turned up. It was a gift to me from a girlfriend back in high school around 1990 or so, who scored big points with me for delivering an Isles jersey with his name on the back. He was my fave player growing up, by far. I had it personally signed by him at an autograph session at a sporting goods store in 1991, where I also had him sign his autobiography at the time. The jersey had gone missing maybe seven or so years ago before I could ever get it in a jersey box and hang it properly on the wall. The item turned up during a closet clean-out and now it’s where it belongs. Pic up on Twitter. Made my day. Hell, made my year.
Hmm. You don’t think that my wife, who wasn’t my girlfriend back in high school, “accidentally” made it disappear do you? Haha.
Should you be so inclined, you can follow me on Twitter.
See a more thorough rundown of Saturday’s action with my nightly live recap.