In seven seasons since the Flames took Mikael Backlund 24th overall he has failed to live up his draft position or the hype that followed. Not once has he topped 40 points or 20 goals, so it might seem odd to peg him as a second half sleeper now, but after he returned from an abdominal injury recently he’s been on fire. Since January 7th he’s put up three goals, two assists, a game winning goal, a shorthanded goal, 11 faceoff wins, three hits, a plus-3 rating and a block in three games. That pushes his season line to 4/5/9/+3 in just 14 games and it looks like he might finally be ready to live up to the high expectations heaped upon him nearly a decade ago.
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:

In case you didn’t know, Scott Gomez is still playing professional hockey.  Shocking as that may be, the real shocker is that he’s still just 32 years old  (and in case you were wondering, no he’s not from the Dominican, the age is legit.)  I just find it hard to believe that a guy who averaged 71 Points a season from 2004-2008 could be reduced to this.  Please, blog, may I have some more?