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NHL Hockey Column: Studs & Duds

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February 20, 2013
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Stus & Duds : Week Five Recap

Gates Imbeau
Hockey Writer, Fantrax

Studs

BeLeaf
Two nights after Ben Scrivens recorded his first NHL shutout, he went on to repeat the feat on Monday.  Even though the Leafs net minder took a 4-1 loss to Tampa on Tuesday night, his strong performance deserves a mention. On a personal note, Scrivens’ play in the AHL Calder Cup run last spring - lost in the Final - peaked my interest. Given Toronto’s goaltending situation over the offseason, I invested in Scrivens. Those of you who follow The York Report via nextsportstar.com may have caught a preseason bold pick of mine in Scrivens making a run for the NHL’s Calder Trophy. That unfortunately will not happen as he is ineligible to do so by four days. However, if Scrivens does manage to steal the gig from James Reimer, and in the process leads the Maple Leafs to their first playoff berth in eight years, it will be good enough in my books.  

777
While Sidney Crosby has danced his way up to being only one point shy from taking the league lead in points, two other players have hit the slots this past week. Accompanying Sid with seven points apiece is Matt Duchene and Jakub Voracek. Duchene has been flying with new line mates Jamie McGinn and P.A. Parenteau, spending over 50% of playtime this season with the two wingers. As for Voracek, Eric Daoust points out that after a slow start of his own, the Flyers’ winger is on fire. He has twelve points in the last nine games, capped by a four-point effort in a 7-0 blowout against the New York Islanders.

Canadiens, eh?
The Habs deserve a little pat on the back as they ride their five game win streak to the top of the Eastern Conference. Both Carey Price and Peter Budaj have been rock solid throughout the streak and the team as whole has been consistently generating the offense needed to win tight games.

History Has Been Made
Following their shootout win over Vancouver, the Hawks are now tied with the 2006-07 Anaheim Ducks for earning a point through sixteen games to open a season (modern day NHL record). I wonder how the lockout factored into this impressive streak?

Honourable Mention – Fasth and Furious – Viktor Fasth going 8-0-0 in nine games played. Well done sir.


Duds

Sleeping Giant
With Sidney Crosby and Steven Stamkos racking up the points, it is not a good time to nap. That is exactly what Evgeni Malkin has done the last seven days with only one assist to his name. Fantasy poolies need not to worry, Geno will get back on track. All this does is hinder his chances at repeating as points champ.

Baloney!
Corey Schneider just cannot get a hold on that number one spot. While he may have the same amount of wins (four) as Roberto Luongo, the similarities stop there. Simply put, Luongo has been the better of the two goaltenders. Even though Schneider played well in the shootout loss to Chicago on Tuesday night, how can Vancouver justify selling Loungo as the season rolls on? I say keep the tandem until the offseason.

Broken Wing
Yikes, Jimmy Howard! In the last seven days, Howard sports a nasty 4.56 GAA and a gut wrenching .853% save percentage. Detroit and Howard’s Fantasy owners will not make it far with those kinds of numbers. Well Howard made it easier to stay benched as he left last night’s game with an upper-body injury.

Dishonourable Mention - Trojan Horse - Know that this dud only speaks to the general loss of Erik Karlsson, and not his actual on-ice play – which we sadly will not see until next season.

 

Quick Hits
by Eric Daoust

  • Shea Weber has six points in the last four games and is slowly turning it around statistically. He now has seven points in 17 games. Unfortunately, your window to potentially acquire him at a discount rate in a trade has probably closed by now.
  • Sticking with the theme of breaking out of slumps, Max Pacioretty finally scored his first goal of the year from behind center ice on Cam Ward. He followed up with a goal versus the New York Rangers the next night.  Despite the low goal total he has 11 total points in 12 games.
  • Detroit is a notoriously tough place for a young player to earn a full-time roster spot. After seeing Damien Brunner have immediate success in his first season, Tomas Tatar is making his mark of late with four points in eight contests. Gustav Nyquist was expected to crack the lineup before Tatar but for now Nyquist finds himself in the AHL. Both prospects should enjoy long NHL careers but the latest development could force you to wait longer than expected for Nyquist to deliver.
  • Another unexpected young player to see the ice in Detroit is young netminder Petr Mrazek. The 21-year-old was drafted in 2010 and has posted excellent numbers in the AHL – 16-7-1, 2.26, .916. He started two NHL games, winning one. The early success has to put Mrazek on your keeper league radar, especially with inconsistent goaltenders Jimmy Howard and Jonas Gustavsson ahead of him on the depth chart.
  • Recently we have seen Eric Tangradi traded from Pittsburgh to Winnipeg and then Alexei Ponikarovsky traded from the Jets to the New Jersey Devils. Both transactions were minor but do impact the players individually.
  • For Tangradi this is probably his last chance to earn a job in the NHL. He was a good point producer in the minor leagues but has been a disaster at the NHL level. The Jets could use some secondary scoring so if he has anything to offer there is no better time to take the next step.
  • For Ponikarovsky the return to New Jersey is a welcome change after not fitting in well in Winnipeg. His size will help offset the loss of Dainius Zubrus to injury. Still, he has not done much offensively since leaving Toronto in 2010.
  • Jonas Hiller has returned to the Anaheim Ducks’ crease after missing time with a lower body injury. His future in California is very uncertain because of the emergence of Viktor Fasth. The Ducks are not a team that spends up to the NHL’s cap ceiling and with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry due for new contracts you have to wonder if Hiller and his $4.5-million cap hit are made available on the trade market.
Gates Imbeau serves as the assistant manager of DobberSports.com - Catch him on twitter at @GM_Gates or by email at gates@dobbersports.com. Catch Eric Daoust on twitter @DH_EricDaoust.

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