James Neal was suspended for five games today after he kneed Boston’s Brad Marchand in the head in an ugly game against the Bruins yesterday. Earlier in the game the Bs’ Shawn Thornton punched Brooks Orpik twice in the head while in a scrum. The punches toppled Brooksie and he was taken off the ice in a stretcher, Thornton was tossed with a match penalty. Then, later, Neal sees an opportunity to get revenge after seeing Marchand get tripped up and fall to all fours. It’s then that Neal skates by and lays his knee into the side of Marchand’s head. What really gets me is how nonchalant as he can be Neal was after the fact, not looking back or flinching in the slightest, instead he slowly coasts to his bench for a line change. Listen, I get defending your teammates and support it, but this eye-for-an-eye nonsense does nothing but put him on the sideline for a week and out of our lineups. Happy now, Jimmy? He should get more than five in my opinion, you be the judge.
Regardless of what you think of the play we can all agree that this is not what Neal owners needed after he missed the start of the season due to injury. In any case you’ll be without him for the next week, so plan accordingly. You know, this is the kind of fluke event that keeps guys like Evgeni Malkin from getting to 100 points on the season without 35+ goals to power the effort. Granted, Geno is hurt right now, but he should be back before Neal and he’ll wish Neal was there waiting to pick back up where they left off. See what revenge gets you? Nada! More hockey, less of this. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in fantasy hockey this weekend:
Tyler Seguin (3 G, 1 A, 5 SOG, +4, 2 PIM) only needed the second period of Saturday’s tilt with the Flyers to tally a natural hat trick with three unanswered goals.
Valeri Nichushkin (1 G, 3 A, 2 SOG, +3) assisted on all three of Seguin’s goals and added one of his own assisted by Seguin. I mentioned Nichuskin before and he’s worth keeping an eye on as he has seven points in his last three games and continues to see time on the top line with Seguin and Jamie Benn. He’s streaky, but he’s clicking with that top line, so he’s worth a flier.
James Reimer (3 GA, 47 SV, W) faced another ridiculous amount of shots pushing away 47 of them for the win. I don’t care whether it’s Bernier or Remier in net, if they keep facing that many shots there’s no way to count on either Leafs goalie for consistent production.
Reto Berra (1 GA, 30 SV, W) made his first start since Nov. 29th count holding off the Oil for an OT win. Karri Romo has pulled away with the no. 1 job with three straight starts before this, so Berra isn’t worth owning.
Frederik Andersen (2 GA, 26 SV, W) continues to impress in limited work. If he keeps this up he’s going to make it hard for the Ducks to send him back down to the AHL when Victor Fasth returns from his injury.
Craig Anderson (3 GA, 28 SV, L) is too Craig Anderson-y and lost another one. Robin Lehner still has the opportunity to grab this starting gig and run with it.
Martin Brodeur (3 GA, 21 SV, W) started for just the second time in the last six games for the Devils and eeked out 4-3 OT win vs. the Rangers. Had Marty put up a vintage performance and shut the Rangers down I would say he’d get the next start, but since he gave up three goals on just 24 shots, I’d think Cory Schneider will get the call next game unless his recent “rough” patch gives Brodeur more slack.
Al Montoya (1 GA, 28 SV, W) was given a rare start after Ondrej Pavelec gave up five goals to the lowly Panthers last Thursday. I’d say keep an eye on him, but the Jets seemed pretty committed to Pavelec and Montoya’s track record is spotty at best, so I seriously doubt you see a goalie controversy start up in Winnipeg anytime soon.
James van Riemsdyk (1 G, 2 A, 5 SOG, +2) was absolutely dominant all game and contributed at every stage scoring a power-play goal, a shootout goal and assisting on two even strength goals. A few more games like this and we can officially call this Van Riemsdyk’s breakout season.
Braden Holtby (2 GA, 34 SV, W) rebounded from an embarrassing 4-1 loss to the ‘Canes last week. We’re still waiting for your GAA to come down a bit there, Braden.
Martin Jones (0 GA, 16 SV, W) shut out the Isles in just his second NHL start. This tends to lend credence to the idea that it’s the Kings’ stout D that makes their young goalies look so good rather than their own talent driving that boat. Scrivens has played waaaay above what anyone expected and now they throw a rookie out there and he gets a shutout? I’ve been telling people to trade Scrivens for the right deal; this only serves to reinforce that as a good idea to me.
Alex Goligoski (2 A, 2 SOG, +4) was once thought of as a guy who would push 40 points a year from the blue line. Yeah, not so much.
Jamie Benn (1 A, 6 SOG, +4) said recently that he’s starting to understand Seguin’s game more and more as time goes by. Lets hope so, he is hovering around a point-per-game but we’re not seeing many multi-point efforts from him.
Jonas Gustavsson (2 GA, 35 SV, L) lost but looked good doing it. Jimmy Howard keeps slipping and the Monster seems to get stronger by the start. If Gustavsson is out there and you need goalie help, grab him.
Anders Lindback (2 GA, 34 SV, L) continues to have a disappointing season in limited work. It’s hard to say what this kid can give you since he went from the D heavy Preds to the Bolts and now he sits behind Ben Bishop and will stay there, but you know what’s easy to know? He isn’t worth owning anywhere.
Brandon Prust (1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG, +2) has now contributed 100% of his offensive output for the season. Intangibles, baby. Intangibles.
Reilly Smith (1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG, +2) is another one of those young, talented guys that weighs 100bs wet. Well, he weighs 161lbs and I have no idea how much that’d be if he was wet, but he’s scoring at a solid rate for a rookie with 20 points in 30 games. He’s been compared to a young Petr Sykora, so take that for what you will.
Blake Wheeler (1 G, 1 A, 4 SOG, +1) wishes he still played in Boston.
Zdeno Chara (1 G, +3, 2 PIM) loves that he’s still in Boston and laughs at Wheeler’s misfortune.
Josh Harding (1 GA, 37 SV, W) leads the NHL in GAA again with 1.50 and has clearly taken over as the team’s go to tender over Niklas Backstrom. If you were lucky enough to grab him off the wire, he’s going to help you contend for your league’s title. Me? I put in a bid on him and lost by one lousy dollar.
Philipp Grubauer (1 GA, 30 SV, W) got his first start of the season giving Braden Holtby a break and beat the Rangers doing it. Grubauer has been inconsistent in his junior career so I don’t think we can expect much from him now, though it’s somewhat difficult to say with just one game under his belt. That being said, Holtby is the man for the Caps and that isn’t changing anytime soon.
Mike Santorelli (2 G, 1 A, 3 PTS, 6 SOG, +2) is easily having his best season but isn’t worth owning in most leagues. He’s a 2nd or 3rd liner that has the possibility of becoming a secondary scoring threat for fantasy owners; currently on pace for 21 goals and 54 points, he has value in deeper leagues.
Roberto Luongo (1 GA, 28 SV, W) had a shutout going with less than a minute left when Canucks colorman John Garrett broke an age old rule to NEVER mention a shutout until it’s final and jinxed Robby who promptly coughed up a goal. It was a solid performance nonetheless, but come on Garrett, seriously?
Ryan Kesler (1 G, 6 SOG, +3) is on pace for 38 goals so far. Looks like he’s returning to his 2011 form and is pouring shots on goal this season.
Patrick Kane (3 A, 4 SOG, +1) is nice to cabbies now.
Patrick Sharp (1 G, 2 A, 6 SOG, 2 PIM) stays on pace for his fourth straight 30 goal season.
Chad Johnson (2 GA, 30 SV, W) keeps making the best of his limited starts with a season line of 5-1-0, 1.98 GAA, .922 SV% but will fold if Rask goes down and he’s asked to take on more than backup duties. Still, should Rask get hurt he’s an immediate must own and until then? Meh.
Antti Raanta (2 GA, 29 SV, W) came in for the injured Corey Crawford. With the Bulin Wall down as well it all falls to the rookie Raanta to hold down the crease for the Hawks. He’s done well this week in one start and one relief appearance and should be grabbed by any Crawford owners. There’s a reason the Hawks signed Nikolai Khabibulin even though they had Raanta already, so don’t expect a ton out of him. If Crawford is hurt long term, and it doesn’t look like it, look for the Hawks to make a deal for a steadier netminder.
Steve Oleksy (1 G, 1 A, 1 SOG, +2, 2 PIM) has produced at a slightly better rate than he did last year in his rookie season, which wasn’t stellar to begin with. He’s worth keeping an eye on for keeper leagues, but isn’t worth much this year. Still, if you’re really desperate for blueline production, he will likely give you another 15 points by season’s end.
David Krejci (2 A, 3 SOG, +2) is another Bruin on pace for around 60ish points and I don’t think you can expect anything more this year, next year, or… you get the idea.
Nate Schmidt (1 G, 4 SOG, +3) is smooth as silk on skates with a booming shot, but he’s still too raw to consider owning.
Chris Higgins (2 A, +3) keeps trying like hell to make himself fantasy relevant again, but on pace for just 40ish points is what you hope for from a defensemen, not a scoring forward. He’s owned in 73% of ESPN Leagues but just 12% in Yahoo! Leagues. What y’all smokin’ over there in ESPN fantasyland?
Brent Seabrook (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG, +1, 2 PIM) now sits at +14 and quietly remains one of the better fantasy options at D, he could be in for his best season yet.
Peter Holland (1 G, 1 A, 1 SOG, +2) is a big power forward with good hands and is likely destined to shift to a wing as a shoot-first guy. He’s had problems with consistentcy in the past but the Ducks have seen enough to give him a shot. He could be a special one, so keep an eye on him in keeper leagues.
Patrice Bergeron (1 G, 1 A, 5 SOG, even, 2 PIM) has turned it on of late and has five points in his last give games. He’s destined for his usual 55ish points and remains owned in more leagues than better options, are you one of those owners? Look at yourself in the mirror, then look at the wire and you tell me you can’t find a better option.
Brandon Saad (1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG, +1) is owned in 100% of ESPN Leagues and just 53% in Yahoo! Leagues. I really don’t understand why there is such an odd disparity on so many players between these two. Is Saad incredibly valuable in ESPN but not in Yahoo!?
Carl Soderberg (1 G, 1 A, 4 SOG, even) has tremendous hockey sense, good vision, a good shot and can even create when he doesn’t have an opening to score himself. Described as “explosive” he has spent much of his career in the Swedish Elite Leagues and has performed well at every level there. He signed a three year deal with the B’s this offseason and should be owned in most keeper leagues.
Milan Lucic (2 A, 2 SOG, +1) continues to not log much time in the sin bin.
Mikhail Grabovski (1 G, 4 SOG, +2) is on pace for 70 points. This is why the Leafs can’t have nice things.
Marian Hossa (1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG, -1) will never stop scoring if he is healthy. I have a man-crush on him and I’m not ashamed to admit it.
Jake Gardiner (1 A, 1 SOG, +2) had a great rookie season two years ago with 30 points but did not handle the lockout-shortened season well. He’s back and on pace for about mid-20s in points, but he’s got huge offensive upside. Keeper league fodder for sure, but he could be a 50 point d-man in the next few years.
Kris Versteeg (1 A, 1 SOG, +2) has points in three straight games and is worth owning in deep leagues since he plays for the Hawks.
Dylan Olsen (1 G, 2 SOG, +1) has a big, accurate shot and that will give him time on the PP for the Panthers. He also has five points in seven games so far this season, but there’s no bloody way the defensive first Olsen keeps his current scoring pace up, so don’t rush to add him hoping you’ve found a late steal on the wire.