November 5, 2009

by Jeff Angus

David Krejci has been diagnosed with H1N1, so expect him to miss a few games.


Dobber's Puck Daddy article from today is awesome. Check it out here.


Both Pavelski and Setoguchi are very close to returning - probably not tonight, but expect Pavelski back for the Sharks next contest.


Puck Daddy has a fantastic interview up with Kevin Dallman, the former King and current KHL star.


Rob Blake has been placed on the IR. The already-thin Sharks defense takes a bit hit.


Boston has re-signed Tuukka Rask to a two-year deal (both being of the one-way variety). The cap it is around $1.4 per season.


Kevin Bieksa is skating on the top line tonight against Minneosta! The Canucks do have injuries up front but this is very interesting. He was good as a forward last game because he is physical and gets in on the forecheck (two things he did as a defenseman anyways).


Angus here… batting the flu right now but that hasn’t cut in to my hockey watching at all!


John Mitchell will skate with Kessel tonight on the top line. He is a much better fit for Phil compared to Matt Stajan, who is more of a two-way speedy guy with a good shot. Mitchell is a player I noticed two years ago, but for whatever reason he hasn't progressed all that much since that point. He is a good playmaker and pretty crafty -this could be his big break.


Only 11,000 made it out to the Pepsi Center last night to watch the Western Conference-leading Colorado Avalanche defeat Phoenix. So that means there were about 10,098 Colorado fans at the game.


Jason Arnott will return tomorrow night to the Predators lineup. They have had a HUGE hole at center with him out (and lets be honest, they still have one with him in).


Tomas Vokoun continues to live up to his billing as one of the most inconsistent goaltenders in the NHL. He recorded his second straight shutout over the lowly Hurricanes last night, stopping 32 shots. Previous to these past two games, Vokoun had allowed five and four goals consecutively.


Anton Stralman had two powerplay assists for the Jackets. Columbus is currently missing Brassard and Huselius up front, yet Filatov still saw less than 12 minutes of ice time. Stralman was close to 24 minutes.


Jan Hejda’s return was much needed, as he is far and away Columbus’ most valuable defenseman. The Jackets lost in a shootout, but their defensive game was noticeably improved (even with 38 shots allowed). Hejda’s fantasy relevance is not direct, but he allows all of the other defensemen to play their game and also settles things down for the entire team.


Rob Blake left the game with what appeared to be a shoulder injury. It didn’t look good and I’d speculate it is some sort of dislocation or separation.


Jamie McGinn saw 15 minutes of ice time and fired three shots on net. The other call-up, Logan Couture, saw only seven minutes of ice time. McGinn is ready to be a full-time NHL player, but San Jose has some crazy cap issues so they have to play musical chairs with their depth players.


As Yogi Berra famously said, it’s like déjà vu all over again. Kari Lehtinen is out ANOTHER 6-8 weeks after undergoing another back operation. Pavelec owners can breathe even easier – this is his team. If you own Lehtonen, the only way I’d recommend keeping him is if he can hide on your IR and not tie up a roster spot. If you don’t have this option, jump ship.


I’ll take a bit of a shot in the dark here – look for James Neal to garner serious consideration for Team Canada’s roster. Neal is big, fast, smart defensively, and ahs an absolute laser of a shot. He is Dallas’ most dangerous forward after Mike Ribeiro, and currently sits fourth in LW scoring, behind Ovechkin, Smyth, and Heatley. I had Neal pegged for 55-60 points but that may have been a bit conservative.


Ryan Miller continues his insane start with a shutout over the Islanders. New York does stink offensively but they had strung a few wins together before facing Buffalo. Not much advice to give here – if you have Miller, enjoy it!


Semyon Varlamov played well against the Devils, stopping 29 of 32 shots. He may have played well enough to earn another start, but expect him and Theodore to trade starts until one of them pulls away.


Toews finally skated with the Blackhawks again and appears ready to return later on this week. Chicago plays on Thursday and Friday, so expect Toews back in one of those. He has had a slow start, but did this last year and finished close to a point-per-game.


In a potentially freaky incident, Henrik Sedin avoided serious injury when his x-ray’s turned up negative yesterday. He blocked a shot with his foot and was really favoring it after the game. Imagine if both Sedin twins sustained identical injuries? I’m sure TSN would have a field day with that one (just after they updated Phil Kessel’s chase of Gretzky’s scoring record, of course).


Tomas Fleischmann scored, and he should pot quite a few as long as Ovechkin is out. Combine that with the fact that Semin was absolutely awful on Wednesday night, and Fleischmann should be seeing top line PP and even-strength ice time while Ovechkin is out. Boudreau loves Fleischmann as has been noted here before.


Also, recent call-up Mathieu Perreault (who I took a ninth-round flyer on a few years ago in one of my deep keepers) recorded his an assist on the play (his second of the game and first two NHL points). Perreault was a big-time scorer in junior, and had seven points in 11 games with Hershey before being called up.


Keith Ballard showed flashes of being a dominant offensive defenseman with Phoenix, but he hasn’t really emerged at all in Florida. He did have 34 points last season, but before his two tonight, he had only recorded two helpers in 12 games. He doesn’t see any first unit power play time, but he is extremely mobile and has a rocket of a shot. I don’t see a ton of Panther games but his lack of production really surprises me.


Calgary/Dallas was a very entertaining and physical game. The Flames got a bit lucky with a penalty call in the extra frame, as Grossman was nabbed for a delay of game penalty even though he was outside of his own zone when he cleared the puck (it was very close). Iginla was great, scoring two and setting up the tying goal in the final minute. Dallas, once they get a puck-mover on the back end, will be a dangerous team. They have two number one lines and some great role players.


Peter Budaj played a game! Perhaps even more stunning is the fact he played well, stopping 28 of 29 shots. Anderson has never been a starting goalie, so it will be interesting to see how Colorado handles his workload as the season progresses. Even the best, most proven workhorse goalies can’t play every night in the Western Conference.


Roberto Luongo took the trip with Vancouver and expects the play at some point. The Canucks have five games away from home, starting tonight in Minnesota. Also on the trip are Ryan Johnson and Jannik Hansen (no Daniel Sedin yet).


I have been watching James van Riemsdyk play a lot lately, trying to think of a good comparison (this is something I enjoy doing). Many compared him in college to Rick Nash, but JVR is more of a playmaker and less of a goal scorer. Both are big and smooth skaters, so I can see the similarities. However, I am really reminded of Ron Francis when I watch JVR play. That is not to say he will become a consistent 100+ point player, but it is just who he reminds me of. Either way he has a huge upside on a team with a ton of young talent locked up.


Rich Peverley has been a beast this season! I’d start to think about selling high on him to play it safe, but his progression may be more of a trend than a blip in the radar. He has been Atlanta’s best player since Kovalchuk went down and is really carrying the attack on the top line with Little and White.


Of Ryan Kesler’s 16 points, only two have come on the road. Only four of Henrik Sedin’s 17 have come away from GM Place.


Marleau, Thornton, and Heatley are all in the top five for road production. While the home/road trend is definitely something to watch for, all three of these Sharks are must-starts anyway. Keep an eye on lesser players when you have to make crucial bench decisions. The last change effect really impacts the roles of many players around the league.


Sidney Crosby is on pace for nearly 100 more shots than he got last season (238). He has barely over a point-per game, but you know that will change. He is on pace for 49 goals, and that may not. Sid has changed his stick and is really looking to light the lamp more than usual this season (and especially now with Malkin on the sidelines for a few weeks).


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