My Midseason Guide was released January 6 and then an addendum was added Friday the 13th, get it here.  Prospects, second-half projections, the trading block – and so much more.


Uh oh – Taylor Hall and Jeff Skinner. Down and out. Footage below. Hall took an UGLY one, a fluke in which Corey Potter in warm-ups leapt over him and his foot landed on his forehead. There goes that pretty face! Thank goodness it could have been so much worse, but man was it scary. And Skinner had his head down and got hit hard by Orpik. I thought the hit was clean, but it was close and will certainly be reviewed. Just terrible timing, as Skinner had just returned. And back-to-back concussions always make their fantasy owners cringe.


I’m sorry, I’m still on the fence about Marchand getting suspended there. And then I saw Foligno hit Phaneuf in almost the same way and I just didn’t see anything wrong with it. So… Foligno will either be suspended for five games, or he’ll get zero, or who knows… When you get a suspension-happy NHL and a select few fans and media who whine real loud all the time, what you are left with is uncertainty. There is no black and white when a game goes at 100 miles an hour. There is a lot of gray, but these select few demand that it be black and white.


Nathan Horton has 11 points in his last 11 games. He scored twice last night, yet was a minus-2.


I’ve had several people email me, or PM me wondering why I think Martin St. Louis will have a strong second half. After all, this season is a write-off for the Lightning, he’s getting older and he’s not seeing as much time with Stamkos. But the answer is simple – his stats always correct themselves. Every time you want to write him off, he steps it up. His last five seasons: 102 points, 83, 80, 94, 99. So this year he’s on pace for 70. He’s going to get 80 minimum, less his six games so 74. At worst he improves by four points in the second half, which is eight points over a full season or 10%. To stay in his proven range. I mean, we all lose bets, but the smart money will take the odds and bet on him doing what he has done for the last five years. It’s not a big leap.


His plus/minus hasn’t been great, but Matt Gilroy has quietly been putting up points for TB. He has eight points in his last 12 games.


Well, Brad Marchand is back next game, let’s take a look at how Benoit Pouliot did: 5 GP, 1-1-2, plus-2, 7 SOG. That’s below expectation in my books. He saw 18 minutes last night, but he won’t see that again once Marchand returns. To me, another two points and four shots would have made all the difference.


Teddy Purcell has 12 points in his last 31 games and is minus-2 in that span. A promising start, but a terrible run that warrants a healthy scratch. Something like that often gets a young player to start rolling.


So Tim Thomas owners – getting nervous? You probably shouldn’t, but I don’t really blame you when one of the best (if not THE best) up and comers in hockey is the backup. Thomas has lost four of his last six games and has allowed four goals in three of those losses. Meanwhile, Rask has won seven in a row.


Craig Smith was back in the lineup, but was minus-2 in 10:50 of ice time. The good news is that he was out in the last minute with the goalie pulled, which speaks to the coach’s expectations of him in the long term. But short term, I think for this year and probably next, he will be a second-half flop. Just doesn’t have the legs to handle this workload yet.


Matt Read, however, does. It would seem. Notice how I rarely talk about one without the other, when it comes to Read and Smith? That’s because both jumped on my radar in May of last year and both jumped on everyone’s radar by early October. Both came from college hockey and both players have a high skill set. But Read, maybe because he’s a little older and closer to his prime…or perhaps just better skill in terms of teammates, is still going. He has seven points in his last seven games and is plus-5.


The Wild really fell apart without Koivu. Matt Cullen was minus-2 in his spot. A lot of blame should go to Marek Zidlicky. He was minus-3, his ice time went down below 17 minutes and the team now relies on Spurgeon to run the PP more. Zidlicky is still looking for his first goal.


Josh Harding has given up four or more goals in three of his last four games. Last night’s debacle was the game after his strongest start in a month.


Cal O’Reilly has been sent to the minors. He may get one more chance, but that would be about it. The problem here was, when he was rolling about 13 months ago he got injured. Were it not for that injury, we could be talking about an established NHL player coming off of a 50-point season. If he was established and coming off of 50 points, then he would get a lot more ice time, premium linemates, and would never have been waived. Injuries don’t lose jobs? Sure they do, when you don’t have a secure hold on the job to begin with.


Kyles Palmieri and Cumiskey were sent to Syracuse by the Ducks.


Here is a Nicklas Backstrom update. It doesn’t tell you much, but he still hasn’t skated and it’s been 11 days.


Interesting statistical analysis of how players have recovered from abdominal surgery over the last 28 years here. It basically indicates that players come back and player better and they play more games, hinting at what is in the future for Mike Green. A quick, easy read and very enlightening.


RJ Umberger’s concussion now has him “week to week”. Derick Brassard seems to be taking full advantage.


Ryane Clowe missed last night’s contest with a UBI. He is “day to day”. This article hints at perhaps a concussion. You know, one of those that the player hides for a week and keeps playing…and then suddenly misses a month? Yeah, that kind. Just a bad feeling. Especially since I acquired him in one of my leagues a week or two ago.


Studs and Duds for this morning here.


Taylor Hall – oh man, this looks ugly:



Does Brooks Orpik get suspended for this? Or did Skinner have his head down…



Here is the Foligno hit on Phaneuf. Suspendable? Similar to Marchand? Not even close?




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Comments (23)add comment

Rob said:

Orpik hit... pt 2. It was a classic 50/50 play for the puck and Orpik did as he has been trained to do in that situation, take the body, ignore the puck.

Now if you want a league where the rules favor the player who throw bodychecks then enjoy your Orpiks.

If you want to see a league of Jeff Skinners who make actually hockey plays with the puck, then vote in my new rule change:

Bodychecking without making an attempt to gain control of the puck afterwards is a penalty+.

The game should be about making offensive hockey plays with the puck, and defensively making plays to remove the puck from your opponents, without taking their head off.

Focus the game on the skill of hockey. It's 2012, not ancient Rome.

January 18, 2012
Votes: +0

Larry said:

... Orpik- according to the rules- clean hit. the fact he made no play for the puck doesnt figure into it, as Skinner had the puck- Skinner put himself in a bad spot vs a dman whose only play is to hit you.

Foligno- clean hit- but barely. A few inches higher than Marchands hit- and the fact Phaneuf had played the puck made him fair game. Dont like either player- but Foligno is building a reputation for playing on the edge, he wont get the benefit of the doubt much longer.
January 18, 2012
Votes: +1

Seth said:

Fast Tony DeNiro
Hits Skinner - I'm not sure why this one is even debatable? Textbook shoulder hit by Orpik there is absolutely nothing wrong with that hit. Orpik had his arms down, stick down, he glided into the check.....what is questionable about that?

Foligno - He definitely didn't go as low as Marchand did, that's the biggest difference between the two. Also, Phaneuf jumped at the last second which I think caused him to flip, whereas Marchand's hit was low enough Salo flipped without any help from a jump. Not saying Phaneuf did anything wrong by jumping, but the hit was high enough if he had stayed on his feet he would have simply fallen on top of Foligno and not gone head over heels. Unnecessary hit by Foligno maybe, but nothing like Marchand's and clean.
January 18, 2012
Votes: +0

Dave said:

Foligno Phaneuf The was EFFING awesome! Couldn't happen to a bigger douche.
ZERO difference between that and Marchand another douche. Foligno should get 5 games too. Problem is had he not did that, Phaneuf would have destroyed him. Gray area.
January 18, 2012
Votes: -1

D. Chappell said:

Foligno hit illegal Taken from NHL rulebook:
"44.1 Clipping - Clipping is the act of throwing the body, from any direction,
across or below the knees of an opponent.
A player may not deliver a check in a “clipping” manner, nor lower
his own body position to deliver a check on or below an opponent’s
An illegal “low hit” is a check that is delivered by a player who may
or may not have both skates on the ice, with his sole intent to check
the opponent in the area of his knees. A player may not lower his
body position to deliver a check to an opponent’s knees."

Foligno did lower his body and was aiming the hit at the knees and in my view his butt did hit Phaneuf's knees.
January 18, 2012
Votes: +0

Maximus said:

Mr Zizzla
Hits Orpik on Skinner: clean hit. Keep your head up Jeff! Skinner was a little wonky right after the hit, missed a couple shifts and came back out. He even was yapping at Orpik on his first shift back but the Pens broadcast did not reveal what was said.

Foligno on Phaneuf: clean hit. It was just very poorly executed hit check on Foligno's part. There was no low bridge, there was no intent to injure but there certainly was an intent to flip Phaneuf end over end.
January 18, 2012
Votes: +0

Jeff said:

... Two things that distinguish the Foligno hit from the Marchand hit:

1) Phaneuf was carrying the puck. So Foligno isn't hitting him in a predatory manner. (This was mentioned earlier)

2) Foligno doesn't punch Phaneuf in the head TWICE before the hit. Huge, huge difference in terms of predation and intent.
January 18, 2012 | url
Votes: +0

Pengwin7 said:

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly Usually I don't comment on body-checks and infractions because there is so much "grey area" to interpreting them.

IMO, the Foligno check is a very clean interpretation... involving, the GOOD, the BAD, and the UGLY.

The good: The check itself is clean. It is a hip check. Phaneuf is a big guy and smaller players (myself included @ 5'-9") are taught in junior hockey to hit the bigger players lower. If you can get your center of mass concentrated and low, you can cause a larger players CoM to tip over top of you. Like running into a tombstone. It's a very effective check against larger players... and to my knowledge, a legal check... if the player has puck possession. You can't hit a player at the knees or below the knees, but above the knees is OK.

The bad: Foligno has enough time to see Phaneuf move the puck past him. As Foligno has no "momentum towards" Phaneuf, he is not "finishing his check". Therefore, it's not exactly great sportsmanship by Foligno - but that doesn't mean it's illegal either.

The ugly: The referees got the penalty call wrong. They called "clipping". By NHL Rule 44.1 Clipping - Clipping is the act of throwing the body, from any direction, across or below the knees of an opponent.

A player may not deliver a check in a “clipping” manner, nor lower his own body position to deliver a check on or below an opponent’s knees.

An illegal “low hit” is a check that is delivered by a player or goalkeeper who may or may not have both skates on the ice, with his sole intent to check the opponent in the area of his knees. A player may not lower his body position to deliver a check to an opponent’s knees.

From what I saw, the hit was not across or below the knees... it is still above.
Most hip checks are between the knee & the hip. This one appeared to be right there as well.

Actually, by Rule 56 Interference, Foligno is not required to move from his spot on the ice. 56.1 Interference - A strict standard on acts of interference must be adhered to in all areas of the rink...
A player is allowed the ice he is standing on (body position) and is not required to move in order to let an opponent proceed.

Foligno's hit landed on the pant of Phaneuf. Definitely above the knee. Phaneuf (wisely) jumps just prior to the hit... smart on Phaneuf's part as injuries occur less often if one's momentum is not fully halted.

But... the term "clipping" is widely interpreted as "illegal" and unsportsmanlike.

Over a few minutes of stirring in Phaneuf's brain... he's thinking "That guy f*#$**n clipped me". Well, Dion, no... no, he didn't. But the refs made the wrong penalty call and now you are getting all pent up with rage.

Fight a few minutes later & this morning it is a BIG deal.

1) A clean hit if Phaneuf is carrying the puck.
2) Probably not the most sportsmanlike hit... but may not have even warranted a penalty.
3) And a huge overreaction thanks to Phaneuf having his pride hurt & the referees calling a penalty with the wrong term. It wasn't clipping. It wasn't interference either... but "Interference" would have been a better call, IMO.

My 2 cents.
January 18, 2012
Votes: +0

Ross The Boss Palmer said:

Ross The Boss Palmer
Foligno Hit It seems to me that Foligno was low early enough, and that Phaneuf was originally facing him throughout the approach so he may have or should have seen Foligno was low prior to the hit, the opportunity appears to at least have been there. It didn't seem to be a dirty hit to me.
January 18, 2012
Votes: +0

Bender said:

Agree I agree with shaun b, both of those hits look ok to me, especially the hit on Skinner. The only reason we're talking about it is because Skinner had just returned from a concussion and could possibly have another one. Otherwise, the hit was shoulder to shoulder. Not much to say about the hit on Phaneuf, looks like it was just below the waist. Last I heard Phaneuf is a pretty big guy.
January 18, 2012
Votes: +0

Big Ev said:

Big Ev
... seriously, that Foligno hit is nothing. It's called a hip check, he even gets Phaneuf in the back if you watch it closely. He got 2 minutes, you don't need anything more than that. Phaneuf embellished.

This league is so soft now.
January 18, 2012
Votes: +1

Big Ev said:

Big Ev
... Jeremy Wark,

you clearly know nothing about Nick Foligno. Stop being ignorant.
January 18, 2012
Votes: -2

DuklaNation said:

... I guarantee Orpik was looking to knock Skinner out. He's hitting to hurt. Thats why they do hits like that because they know there wont be any retaliation. And there wasnt. Bring back the goons from 20 yrs ago now.
January 18, 2012
Votes: +0

littleranger said:

20 Interesting Players Under 20% Owned For the fantasy junkie who needs more for their fix!
January 18, 2012
Votes: +0

Jeremy Wark said:

Foligno Foligno, like Marchand et all, ducks a shoulder hit because he's a pu$$y. These are the rats that will rule the league without heavyweights. Guys that chatter, facewash and run away from getting hit - give them all unsportsmanlike penalties or call them for diving.
January 18, 2012
Votes: -2

Immortal Leafs said:

... I don't know what is wrong with the Foligno hit. Phaneuf clearly tries to jump over/around him and makes it much worse than if he had just run into the guy. I am the same height as Phaneuf and I've had guys try this again me on the ice, I basically just fall on top of them to avoid going ass over tea kettle like Phaneuf did here.
January 18, 2012
Votes: +0

shaun b said:

Panties In a Bunch
Guys, I hate to be the one to break it to ya but this game is very physical. 220lb specimen flying around the ice. And some of them even throw body checks, big and small. For the people that want to remove these checks (not dirty hits) from hockey, I suggest taking up table tennis or maybe a water sport. There was absolutely no intent to injure anyone on either play and to say there was is just wrong and doesn't fully understand the type of sport they are watching.

Orpik hit; Pure hockey play. The puck was advanced out of zone, the forward (Skinner), raced after it and tried to poke check the puck along the board while still getting by Orpik on the outside. That was his first mistake. He should have went along the boards to retrieve the puck instead of trying to get by Orpik on the outside. Any D man at all is gonna take the body knowing full well the forward is gonna slide right by him. If Orpik goes for the puck first too, in a foot race with Skinner, well, that's not what you're taught and he would have been burned bad. It's on Skinner for putting himself in that vulnerable position.

Foligno hit; Just look at the 52 second mark in slow mo. It's really not much of a hit besides Phaneuf going down like a Redwood. Give Foligno a tripping penalty and be done with it.

Green's Ab surgery recovery; That would be awesome if he came back with a new and improve groin/ab etc. But that's not gonna do anything for his shoulder, knee, hip flexor, ankle injuries and beyond. The guy is like a broken record, it just doesn't play.
January 18, 2012
Votes: +1

Guy Incognito said:

Guy Incognito
... Dukla, I don't get why a clean hit should be countered by wrecking a soft superstar's knees. That's just bush league. Every time your star player skates around with his head down you have to go after someone else's star? How about teach your teammate how to be aware of what's going on on the ice...

As for Foligno, he went after Phaneuf for sure. But unlike the Marchand play, Phaneuf was the puck carrier. Still clipping since he lowered his body to make a hit below the waist (though I'm not sure he went low enough for the knees, as the rule stipulates), but the on-ice penalty should be sufficient IMO. Bias disclosure: Sens fan.
January 18, 2012
Votes: +0

elTIGREblanc said:

Orpik / Foligno Both hits are not good hockey plays... know why? Neither player went for the puck. Foligno wasn't even close to the puck when he hit Phaneuf, it was already in teh corner. Orpik was almost worse because he was fully in reach of the puck but chose to hit Skinner who wasn't at teh puck either.

Here is my new rule for hockey:

If you aren't making a play for the puck, you can't hit anybody.

The point of hky is to take the puck and go score. Teeing off on players without worrying about teh puck is simply a deliberate attempt to injure.
January 18, 2012
Votes: +2

Username said:

... Does anyone know what's up with Niklas Backstrom (MIN)? Why hasn't he been playing (or even backing up Harding)?
January 18, 2012
Votes: +0

Dylan said:

@Dukla Really? Go after Malkin's knees? C'mon man, that's just a terribly stupid thing to say. I agree that someone on the Canes should have lined up Malkin - or at least tried to - for a clean shoulder-check, but to say that someone should attack the knees of someone who has had multiple knee surgeries is just stupid. Nothing more.
January 18, 2012
Votes: +4
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mounD said:

re: Foligno hit on Phaneuf The hit looks pretty Marchand-ish to me, and just adds to the ever-growing list of questionable hits to Foligno's credit. I didn't really think this guy was anything but a clean, hardworking player, but I'm beginning to have serious doubts.
January 18, 2012
Votes: +1
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