James O'Brien

Hockey Daily Dose

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Could Bob gain on Bryzgalov?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Wednesday night’s games weren’t without strong performances. Look at how Max Pacioretty fared (2 goals, 1 assist) for proof that it wasn’t a totally awful evening.


Still, the overall theme of Oct. 26 was go-to guys struggling.


For the second night in a row, a goalie with an expensive, long-term contract grabbed negative headlines. With Roberto Luongo on the bench in favor of Cory Schneider, Ilya Bryzgalov’s tough times in Philadelphia took center stage.


After a fairly strong first three games where he went 3-0, Breezy is on a four-game losing streak in which he allowed 17 goals. It’s far too early to write off the Russian netminder as a mere beneficiary of Dave Tippett’s system, but that won’t grant him mercy in the far-from-friendly atmosphere that is Philly. Flyers fans are expecting him to be the guy who finally provides that long-awaited answer in net, but right now he’s just a question mark.


And much like Luongo, Bryzgalov has a strong backup to contend with. Sergei Bobrovsky’s proponents actually have more of a high ground than Schneider’s advocates, too; let’s not forget that “Bob” carried the load quite nicely last season. (Also if you ask me, the franchise prematurely pulled the plug on their young “goalie of the future” in the 2011 playoffs, but that’s a discussion for another time.)


My advice regarding Bryzgalov is to avoid getting too carried away with this small sample of ugly games, but if Bobrovsky is available, he’s at least a good short-term option for Breezy insurance. That’s especially true if an awkward platoon sprouts up for a significant amount of time (something the Flyers should have considered, when you really think about it).


Don’t cut bait with Breezy, but if Bob is available, it would be wise to hedge your bets – especially if you’re in a fantasy league where goalie stats account for a big chunk of the categories.



Last night’s 3-0 loss to the St. Louis Blues solidified the fact that the Vancouver Canucks have problems that extend beyond their oft-criticized franchise goalie. The Sedin twins are still producing at their usual fantastic paces (Daniel has 12 points; Henrik has 11), but they’re not getting the support they once did.


That starts with reigning 2011 Selke Trophy winner Ryan Kesler, who hasn’t been himself just yet. He has two points in five games since returning from off-season surgery and one cannot help but wonder if the two-way forward came back a little bit too soon.


Kesler isn’t the biggest disappointment in Vancouver, though. That would be Kevin Bieksa. The hard-nosed defenseman has just one point and an ugly -9 rating so far this season, which makes his “hometown discount” seem more like highway robbery.



If Matt Duchene wants to make John Tavares money, he needs to keep pace with the player who went two picks earlier than him in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. Things started off nicely with 3 points in 4 games, but now Duchene only has 1 in his last 5 contests and even ended up playing on the fourth line recently.


He’ll work himself out of this slump as long as he can get his confidence back. The easiest way is just to shoot the puck; he only has 3 shots on goal in the last 5 games and went without a SOG in 4 games already this season.


Wayne Gretzky would have something to say about that



Hey, not all the news in this Daily Dose is glum. Elliott wasn’t even certain to win the Blues’ backup job over huge (literally, not necessarily figuratively) prospect Ben Bishop, but now he’s one of the hottest goalies in the NHL. He earned a 32-save shutout against the (once?) mighty Canucks on Wednesday to improve his record to 4-0-0 with an amazing .950 save percentage and a sparkling 1.59 GAA.


Certainly see if he has a few more games left in that hot streak and keep an eye on him throughout the season because Jaroslav Halak hasn't proven that he can carry the workload of a top goalie yet.



It’s probably for the best that a few two-goal performances didn’t happen on Tuesday, or I’d have to break out some bad “Two for Tuesday” puns. (I guess it sort of happened anyway. Oops.)


Along with Pacioretty’s aforementioned 2 goal, 1 assist game, Wednesday also saw 2-goal performances from Alexander Steen and Rene Bourque. Pacioretty has an impressive 9 points in 9 games, Bourque is all goals (5 total) this season and Steen is almost at a point-per-game so far (5 goals and 3 assists for 8 points).


Both Steen and Pacioretty could be decent options in deeper leagues. Pacioretty might be the most promising of the two, especially if he keeps firing pucks on net (39 SOG in 9 games).



As expected, the Ottawa Senators sent Mika Zibanejad back to Sweden … It sounds like Erik Gudbranson will stick with the Florida Panthers, on the other hand. It might be a while before the big blueliner has much fantasy value, though … The Devils added Ryan Carter via waivers, but you shouldn’t do the same in your league(s).



Word is that Drew Doughty and Tim Connolly are ready for action Thursday night, but stay tuned at Rotoworld to make sure that they don’t have setbacks … Curtis Glencross is day-to-day with a lower body injury … Devante Smith-Pelly is dealing with flu-like symptoms; we’ll see if he misses any time.

James O'Brien is the Hockey Daily Dose's author and has been a contributor to NBC's Pro Hockey Talk for more than four years. Follow him on Twitter.
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