James O'Brien

Hockey Daily Dose

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Cleaning up on hot streaks

Friday, December 09, 2011



To little surprise, Alex Ovechkin didn’t get a suspension for “spearing” Chris Neil. It’s a bit more surprising that he didn’t even face a fine, but the NHL still works in somewhat mysterious ways with these decisions. (It’ll be interesting to see if Artem Anisimov will be as lucky for his “rifle” gesture from Thursday. The league seems to come down harder for gestures than hits and other actions, which can be troubling in certain instances. I mean, as ridiculous as Sean Avery's antics can be, it's pretty tough to believe that what he did was worse than what Kevin Porter was guilty of this week.)



Here’s what we know right now: Andy Sutton is suspended. The thing is, the NHL currently labels his suspension as “indefinite.” My guess is that Brendan Shanahan realizes that Sutton is the rare multiple-offender who delivered an over-the-line hit for two consecutive months. This could be a “precedent setting” suspension, then, because it will show how harshly such frequent rule violators will be treated in the future. In that way, this situation is more important than losing Sutton, who isn’t particularly relevant from a fantasy perspective.



Ville Leino elbowed Matt Read in a fairly ugly incident, but perhaps the low-impact nature of the hit justifies it only being a one-game suspension. It’s not crazy to wonder if this suspension could benefit Leino in the long run. He’ll get a chance to sit back, assess the situation and maybe get a little motivation to live up to the bloated contract he signed last summer.



Barring even more discipline for Sutton, Kevin Porter received the toughest punishment on Thursday. It might have something to do with David Booth being sidelined for 4-6 weeks, but either way, the Colorado Avalanche winger will have a long time to think about his actions. It didn’t seem like an excessively brutal move, but knee-to-knee hits can often be of the “sneaky” variety.



Well, hopefully you were careful about adding Andrew Raycroft. He really struggled in the last two games, but he still should get some starts over the rest of the month. If Raycroft plays against the Kings on Saturday, he might be able to put up some respectable numbers. Then again, if the low-octane Kings thrash him, then it might be a clear sign that he’s not worth your time … Mathieu Garon started six of the last eight Lightning games. Things haven’t been going great in Tampa Bay, but he has a lot to gain if he can be in net when/if the situation improves … Niklas Backstrom didn’t return to the Wild net, which allowed Matt Hackett to improve to 2-0 in his NHL career. I’m still not certain he’ll be worth the trouble fantasy-wise, but you’d be silly not to monitor his progress just in case … Jose Theodore shut out the Boston Bruins last night. Let that sink in for a moment … Ilya Bryzgalov received back-to-back starts for Philly. This indicates that Sergei Bobrovsky’s value is rapidly declining … Roberto Luongo must be OK because he registered a win on Dec. 8.



Sidney Crosby apparently had a “headache” on Wednesday. Great … Brenden Morrow and Alex Goligoski are expected to return soon for the Dallas Stars … Travis Zajac might do the same for the New Jersey Devils, although he might take a little longer … Filip Kuba could be out about a month with a shoulder injury … From the Dept. of Irrelevant Backups: Henrik Karlsson will be out almost a month, too, so Leland Irving will be the guy watching Miikka Kiprusoff. (Click here for the full injury list.)


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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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