12/09/11 - Studs & Duds
In a night where 8 teams saw action, stars shone and players struggled. Here are the Studs and Duds for Friday, December 9th:
3) Winnipeg's Citizen Kane
For years, the hockey world has been enthralled by the play of Chicago Blackhawks' star Patrick Kane. "Kaner" has been dominant in the league, becoming a consistent 80 point forward. However, amidst all of the discussion about Patrick, another Kane was ready to take the world by storm. Evander Kane, the 20 year old forward out of the Western Hockey League, has been very mediocre over his last two seasons, recording no more than 45 points. However, he came out determined to prove all the critics wrong.
On Friday, Kane scored a goal and added an assist, en route to a 4-2 victory for the Jets. This gives Kane 15 goals and 8 assists on the year, bringing himself closer to a career year. Kane's previous best goal total was 19, only 4 more than the amount he has in this quarter-season. If Kane has more nights like the one he had hours ago (which included 2 PIM, 3 Hits, and 6 Shots) he will become a future team leader and an invaluable fantasy option.
2) It's Miller Time!
No longer can Ryan Miller be embarrassed of his poor play. Amidst a struggling start, a surging backup goaltender, and a collision with Milan Lucic, people were fearing that the reign of Ryan Miller was coming to an end. However, a win over the surging Florida Panthers has proved that Miller still has the ability to dominate in the game he plays. Saving 22 of 23 and keeping his team alive, Miller arguably won the game for his team. More games from Miller like this, and the Sabres could become a threat.
1) Who Needs Green?
The loss of Mike Green had the potential to become quite costly for the Capitals, but many argued that his defensive lapses only negatively affect the team. However, there was no arguing that the powerplay would be diminished without his presence. However, Dennis Wideman on Friday must have taken serious offense to these skeptics.
Wideman recorded 3 goals and an assist, all of which on the powerplay, to lead his team to a 4-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Wideman recorded his first hattrick of his career, and not at a more opportune time. With the team struggling as of late, the Capitals needed leaders to step up and win games, and Wideman did just that.
3) Oh Semin, Where Art Thou?
In a game where the Capitals scored 4 goals and had 6 powerplays, Alexander Semin recorded one secondary assist, a -1 rating, and no shots. In addition, Semin only recorded 15 minutes of ice time, including merely 38 seconds on the powerplay. That is in comparison to Mike Knuble, that played over 3 minutes. This seems to spell the beginning of the end for Semin in Washington.
This could be a good thing for his career. Clearly not striving under the new system, a new team and fresh start could do Semin wonders. However, if he fails to produce at a new destination, it could be the last straw for Semin's tenure in the NHL, and off to Russia he goes.
2) Penalty Kill Killing Chances
The Toronto Maple Leafs have had quite a strong season, with little lapses and strong play. However, "strong play" signifies that every division of the team is succeeding on a given night. On Friday, the hustle was there, shots were being fired, and the physical game was up. However, the penalty killing was atrocious. The Capitals managed to go 4 for 6 on the man advantage, en route to a 4-2 victory. While it could be argued that the blame could be placed on Joey Crabb (who took two costly penalties), the entire "PK" unit needed work, and was ultimately responsible for the Leafs' loss.
1) The Scapegoat Escapes, but the Problems Continue
On every team, there is a skater that is deemed "the scapegoat". Every time a team loses a game or fails to win, the blame is directed towards that person on the ice. Whether that be Brassard (CBJ), Ryan (ANA), Gomez (MTL), or Kovalchuk (NJD), fans of the game are quick to diagnose these players as ones that can potentially ruin a game for their team. On Carolina, the scapegoat was Tomas Kaberle, the former Leaf and Bruin. After a horrific campaign in Carolina, Kaberle was traded to the Montreal Canadiens. With that trade, the Hurricanes lost their scapegoat and a person to blame. Either things would have to start looking up, or Things would continue to get worse for the struggling 'Canes.
Friday was not a good start to the plan. Carolina got outshot 37-25 en route to a 4-2 loss in Winnipeg. Without Kaberle to blame for this loss, and his replacement Spacek having a successful debut (2 assists, +1), the Hurricanes are still looking for answers. Bad penalties, a lack of energy, and bad special teams handed the Hurricanes their 18th loss of the season. Things need to turn around fast for Carolina, or a serious rebuild could be in the works.
Points of Interest
King Kessel: Phil Kessel potted his 18th goal of the season, propelling him into a tie with Milan Michalek for the most in the league.
Faulking Amazing: Justin Faulk got the 1st goal of his NHL career Friday, one of what should be many in this league.
Tomas the Jetsetter: With his trade to Montreal, Tomas Kaberle will play for the 4th NHL franchise in one calendar year, a huge difference from the first 10 years of his career (where he only played for Toronto). Kaberle also becomes the first player in NHL history to play for the Habs, Leafs, and Bruins in the span of one year.