My Friday Five for PlayNow Sports - Kassian, Dubnyk, Hall, and more.

 

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Who would you say is the hardest NHL player to stop one on one? I'd say Taylor Hall is quickly working his way into the conversation. He has ridiculous speed and acceleration, and he can go through defensemen with his strength on the puck, too.

 

Hall had a goal in 20 minutes of ice time in San Jose last night.

 

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Patrick Marleau was held off the score sheet, but he did lead the Sharks with six SOG.

 

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Typical game from Nashville - outside of Mike Fisher (22 minutes) and Martin Erat (20 minutes), all of the top six/nine forwards were between 13-18 minutes of ice time.

 

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Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin was pointless, but he did play close to five minutes on the PP. Only Drew Doughty saw more man advantage ice time among Kings defensemen.

 

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Colorado's big guns rebounded in Calgary last night - Duchene, Stastny, and Parenteau combined for seven points in a win over the Flames.

 

I'm not sure if they were together all game, but Hudler-Stajan-Cervenka seemed to be Calgary's most effective offensive unit in the period that I watched. The trio combined for six points as well.

 

Not a great game for Kiprusoff, who allowed five goals on only 21 shots.

 

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Tomas Vanek played one of the best games I have ever seen a forward play in a regular season game last night. He finished with five points in 20 minuets of ice time against the Bruins. The scary thing is that he could have had another two or three points very easily.

 

The entire top line along with Pominville and Cody Hodgson was magical in the offensive zone.

 

It was Tyler Ennis's best game of the season too (by far). He is so hard to stop when he is skating - plays a game very similar to Patrick Kane.

 

I know not everyone is a fan of fighting in hockey, but John Scott absolutely destroyed Shawn Thornton in a fight and that seemed to take a lot of wind out of the Boston sails early on.

 

Steve Ott had a surprisingly quiet game - I figured he would have been mixing it up all night.

 

Another Buffalo player I was impressed with - Marcus Foligno. He is going to be a very good player for a long time - and a valuable multi-category player in fantasy leagues, too.

 

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Ryan Miller was great, even though he allowed four goals. He faced a ton of point-blank scoring chances from Boston's offense.

 

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Roberto Luongo is getting the start tonight against Chicago. Here is all you need to know on the current Vancouver goalie situation.

 

Appearing on the Team1040 with Matt Sekeres and Blake Price, Mike Gillis dropped a million dollar quote saying: "Obviously we have a long-term plan that everyone's aware of but as it sits right now... we're going to play whoever gives us the best opportunity and we're going to do it with both of them so long as they're both here."

 

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Some more positive thoughts on Zack Kassian from the Province newspaper.

 

Kassian was a beast around the net against Colorado. The Avalanche ran at him from more angles than a carpenters’ convention and he never fell on his ass. In fact, most of the time he barely moved, keeping position around the net. In fact, in one instance he straight-armed a Colorado blueliner out of his way.

 

All of it refreshing if you’ve spent any time watching the Canucks for the past few years. But he’s proving to be more than a bull around the crease. He showed some touch re-directing Dan Hamhuis’s slap pass into the net. But his most impressive play was in the first when he took a long Keith Ballard feed on the fly near centre ice and then set up Daniel Sedin in stride in the slot with a beauty of a pass.



Even as a Kassian/Canucks fan I didn't expect him to be this good this soon. Just shows what a summer of great training and a great opportunity can do to a player's confidence. The way he and Hodgson are playing - a major win-win trade in the makings.

 

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Ovechkin scored again, but the Capitals still lost. James Reimer was the difference in that game.

 

Washington's team seemed pretty lifeless for most of the contest. John Carlson is really struggling offensively right now (as are many of the Capital players).

 

Wojtek Wolski was a trainwreck for much of the night - soft on the puck, a few bad turnovers - not a good showing for a player hoping to prove he belongs.

 

Mike Ribeiro was probably the most dangerous Washington forward - he finished with two helpers.

 

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James van Riemsdyk had a great game for Toronto - a goal and seven shots on net. What a steal of a trade by the Leafs - he looks primed to be a solid 20-30 goal scorer for the next decade.

 

Phil Kessel is still scoreless, but not for a lack of trying. He was all over the ice and ended up with six shots on goal.

 

Matt Frattin had a great game too. I was high on him last year - even with his lack of production his effort and skill level really impressed me, and he has been showing that this season. And he is also building some nice chemistry with Nazem Kadri.

 

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Travis Hamonic logged close to 30 minutes for the Isles last night - he is an absolute horse on the back end.

 

John Tavares had three points, and David Ullstrom (who spent some time on the top unit) had a helper. Okposo was demoted for a bit after a few bad turnovers.

 

Brad Boyes also had two points - he seems to be finding his offensive groove once again on Long Island.

 

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Adam Henrique scored a goal in his season debut for the Devils.

 

Kovalchuk had no points, which is pretty rare considering the Devils scored four goals.

 

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Speaking of listless teams, the Rangers laid an egg against Pittsburgh last night. Tomas Vokoun made 28 saves for the shutout, but he wasn't really tested by the top snipers from the Big Apple.

 

Simon Despres had a very efficient game - two shots on goal, a goal, and an assist in less than 13 minutes of ice time. That will surely increase if he can keep producing in Matt Niskanen's absence.

 

Crosby had a helper and a team-high six shots on goal.

 

Zach Boychuk didn't play, but he is expected to line up alongside Neal and Malkin in Pittsburgh's next contest.

 

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Ondrej Pavelec had a horrendous game for the Jets last night, allowing five goals on 33 shots (and a few of them were very stoppable).

 

Jets forward James Wright had 19 PIM. He is an interesting story - the Panthers had him but lost him on waivers to the Jets a few weeks ago - Wright decides to goon it up against his former team.

 

I followed him during his WHL career - I really liked his game. A lanky two-way forward with a good head for the game. I'm surprised he never developed into anything more than a borderline call-up type of player.

 

Two assists for Blake Wheeler last night as he rebounds from a slow start offensively to the season.

 

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Florida got goals from five different players, including Kovalev and Huberdeau. The best players in this game were Brian Campbell (one goal, four SOG) and Tomas Fleischmann (three helpers, four SOG). Campbell in particular controlled the game with his skating and ability to make plays on the outlet.

 

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My latest for the PlayNow Sports blog - five overrated NHL players.

 

Jack Johnson – Columbus Blue Jackets

The Kings made out like bandits last season when they flipped Johnson for Jeff Carter. Johnson is a dynamic defenseman who can rush the puck up the ice and work the point on the power play, but he has been a significant defensive liability throughout his NHL career. He did turn things around after the trade in 2011-12, though. In 21 games with Columbus last season, he was a plus-5 (he still finished the season with a minus-7 rating, though). Plus/minus is far from a perfect measure for a player’s defensive prowess, but Johnson has been so far in the red for his entire career that it is an impossible statistic to ignore.

 

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Vanek's work:

 

 

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Great move from Parise the other night:

 


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Comments (7)add comment

The_Rock said:

The_Rock
Rock solid? So a guy who faces 22 shots, allows 2 goals (one being marginal at best) and is not really tested throughout the game is "Rock Solid".

Good to know that and what you consider a difference maker is. Will definitely take that into consideration any time I read your writings.....
February 01, 2013
Votes: -1

Isle B. said:

Isle B.
... Okposo is terrible. He is literally the Isles' 11th-best forward right now. Ullstrom and/or anyone else capable of carrying the puck (a la Parenteau) ought to be in his spot. Him playing with Tavares and Moulson is like putting ketchup on a filet mignon.

Muzzin has been outstanding. It is amazing that the Kings have this kind of organization depth at the blue line that they can lose a quality d-man like Matt Greene and have a player like Muzzin in their system to fill in.

Jack Johnson is a rover. He could do what Mike Green did on the Caps under Boudreau if given the right circumstances. Carter is a good player and the Kings absolutely needed to make that trade but Carter's contract is literally a steep price to pay.
February 01, 2013
Votes: -1

Jason_Banks said:

Jason_Banks
Toughest players one on one Rick Nash - he is just a whole lot of drive and power... pretty much unstoppable when he wants to be, which is an issue...

Alex Ovechkin - we've seen enough videos of him scoring from his back, stomach, knees ect... even if you take him down, he isn't out...

Pavel Datsyuk - he can do it with power and drive, or he cam make you seach for days looking for your jock....
February 01, 2013
Votes: +1

angus said:

angus
... "Did you watch the game?" Why yes, yes I did. Not all of it though, because Center Ice and its 10000 games is all-consuming. Reimer was rock solid from what I saw.

Neuvirth was also really good, but his team lost. He probably kept the score down, but when I say a player was "the difference" I am usually implying that he was the difference between a loss and a win. Either way, I try to not give my opinion on games I don't watch. Which is why the ramblings tend to focus on a few games more than others.
February 01, 2013
Votes: +0

NikW71 said:

NikW71
Despres Although he did have a goal and a beauty setup to Malkin, he also had some bad turnovers and looked very soft on the puck. Growing pains I suppose.
February 01, 2013
Votes: +0

The_Rock said:

The_Rock
James Reimer was the difference in that game???? Did you watch the game? The difference was Neuvirth, not Reimer. The Leafs outshot the Caps 2-1, had a 3-1 ratio on pucks to the net and had by far more quality scoring chances. Reimer should have had Ovechkin's goal and was not tested anywhere close to how Neuvirth was. If Neuvirth plays average the Leafs win that game 5-2.
February 01, 2013
Votes: +0

dbrzrk said:

dbrzrk
... great rambling...again... quickly becoming the best part of my day, an essential read
February 01, 2013
Votes: +0
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