FREE - Last year's Midseason Guide. I think the midseason edition is just as helpful as the preseason one and to prove it to you I want you to look at what we did last year. The information that it gives - prospects, half-season projections, tidbits, trends, college free agents, KHL thoughts - WILL help you for the second half. So read last year's version, enjoy it, and be convinced. Pick up last year's Midseason Guide for free right here.
My first impression of the Russia – Canada game last night was how smart Yakupov was (four assists by the time I stopped watching). My second impression was of what a risky play Ryan Murray made with that pass, followed by a terrible decision to dive to stop a pass that didn’t arrive. He ended up knocking his goalie over and reflecting the puck in. At that point, I told my buddy that I would bench him for at least the period, maybe the game. Too jittery. By coincidence or not, the 2012 draftee went on to tip the next two Russian goals in! Anyway, at 5-1 we flipped to the Detroit-Dallas game.
Can’t blame Canada’s goalies, but then again they weren’t exactly legendary superstars either. There was an era when Canada pumped out the goaltenders. Quebec was known for that – one after the other, superstar after superstar. These days it seems as though Canada “settles” for their goalie after putting together a killer team in front of him. Let’s get some goalies developed again!
In one of the meaningless games, when Team USA hammered Latvia, Nick Bjugstad finally showed up, potting five points. Nashville prospect Austin Watson had seven. You can see WJC stats here.
Jordie Benn and Jamie Benn assisted on the first Dallas goal, in Jordie’s first NHL game. Jamie went on to post three points even though they lost. Jamie has 13 points in his last nine games.
Not coincidentally, Alex Goligoski has been back for 12 games. I warned you that he wouldn’t get any points in his first two weeks because his hand wasn’t fully healed. It seems to be coming around now as he has three points in four games.
Also with 12 points in nine games – Michael Ryder.
Gustav Nyquist got his first NHL point despite just 9:38 of ice time. More of that to come. The points, not the 9:38.
Ian White is on pace for 43 or 44 points, but I’d put a friendly wager on him reaching 50 this season. He’s a new man in Detroit, and having Lidstrom at his side is working wonders. If Lidstrom could give him one more year as his partner, I’m convinced he’ll be a top fantasy own for years to come. Strong words, I know.
Jiri Hudler scored his 11 goal last night. Last year he had 10.
Well, the Sabres were impressed with Nate Gerbe’s return to action on the weekend so they gave him 17 minutes last night and repaid them with three points and a plus-3. This year or next year – just repeat that mantra with me. I see something in him, and this timeline I haven’t wavered from in three years. Just hang in there, you’re starting to see results now…
So Leino gets hurt and the void is filled BETTER by Gerbe (once he returned). And Ehrhoff gets hurt and the void is filled BETTER by both Jordan Leopold (five points in five games) and Brayden McNabb (four points in two games). Again, I ask the owner – who I love for being so passionate and willing to spend – why did you make the GM sign players for the sake of signing players? Dobber for owner!
That Leafs-Lightning game was a gong show, wow. For about 10 minutes there, every shot was going in. Made for an exciting game though, until the Leafs pulled away. Frattin looked real good out there. He has the moves and the smarts, though he may not be the finisher of a first liner he could certainly hold his own on a second line in the future. He has nine points in his last 20 games and is plus-7 in that span.
Since being recalled again, Nazem Kadri has four points in six games and is plus-5.
Grabovski is in one of his legendary hot streaks now. That’s six points five games and I think he’ll keep it up for a few more yet. He’s generally 10 on, five off, 10 on. Oversimplifying, I know, but still not a bad estimation.
His team scored seven goals and Nikolai Kulemin still managed to not get a point.
Joffrey Lupul is back into the Top 10 in NHL scoring with a four-point game. He needs to get hurt in order to miss 75 points, because at this point that threshold would be pretty tough for him to miss if healthy. Unbelievable.
Sure enough, Alexander Semin missed the game because of that gash on his arm. That didn’t stop Nicklas Backstrom from getting three points though. Backstrom has points in five straight. All of the Caps stars, including you know who, are rolling now… but Backstrom took an elbow to the head and left the game (clip below). He could be out anywhere from zero games to a full season, I give up with this concussion stuff. He had another two shifts after that elbow, but ask Kris Letang how much that matters.
Rene Bourque is looking at 10 games in my opinion. Second offense this season.
Mike Green played 15:43 in his return and picked up four PIM. No shots and minimal PP time, so obviously taking it slow.
Drayson Bowman has points in three straight games now. Ice time has steadily increased in that span – 10 minutes, 16 minutes, just under 19 minutes.
Mike Smith returned for the ‘Yotes and stopped 27 of 30 shots in taking the loss. The decision to start him came pretty last minute, but he got through the game.
Jaroslav Halak hasn’t lost in regulation since November 22 and is 5-0-3 in that span. Brian Elliott has lost three of his last four, so things are finally shifting the way they should. Like I said, Hitchcock was setting up Elliott to fail and Halak to succeed, because Halak is the No.1 guy and that needs to be unquestionable by April. A game of chess. So for now, Elliott gets the tough ones and Halak gets the softballs.
Ryan Malone collided with Nate Thompson and practice and suffered a lower-body injury. He was unable to play last night.
Joni Pitkanen underwent knee surgery yesterday and is expected to be out for the next four weeks.
Both Shea Weber (concussion) and Colin Wilson (upper body) returned to practice yesterday for the Preds.
Devin Setoguchi and Casey Wellman were both activated off of IR by the Wild and should be in the lineup tonight.
Today's Studs and Duds here.
The Backstrom hit …
My buddies with Upper Deck were at it again at the rookie meet last summer, and finally released this funny Ryan Ellis video: