James O'Brien

Hockey Daily Dose

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Concussive blows

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


In Tuesday's Daily Dose, I griped about the negative wave of news that keeps washing up on the normally blissful beaches of fantasy hockey. Sure, there were some positives (Zdeno Chara might be OK?), but the happy stuff was a mere footnote compared to chapters of doom and gloom.

 

Well, I hate to say it, but doom and gloom might be our roommate for a while. Dec. 13's games and updates provided two crushing blows, including one that featured timing that was downright cruel. Let's order these stories by where the sad parties rank on the NHL's points scoring list.

 

CLAUDE VAN DAMMED


I raised my suspicions about Claude Giroux just having a neck injury, but I won't take any credit for clairvoyance because just about anyone who's followed the Philadelphia Flyers (and most of the NHL, honestly) knows that initial reports are among the least reliable. As many feared, Giroux suffered a concussion from Wayne Simmonds' knee and … ugh … he'll be out indefinitely.

 

(From now on, I might jazz that phrase up. The first substitute that comes to mind is "on an uncertain hiatus." Feel free to e-mail some fun suggestions. I might sprinkle them in and you can take a weird pride in marginally influencing the DD.)

 

As far as life without Giroux, the Flyers humbled the Washington Capitals 5-1 last night. Sean Couturier played between Scott Hartnell and Jaromir Jagr, but didn't do much beyond collecting a +1. (Jagr earned an assist on Hartnell's goal, though.)

 

It's ridiculous to say that the Flyers won't miss a beat without a guy who's breaking through from "outstanding" to "unquestioned elite status" like Giroux, but they're a deep team who should still fill the net more often than not. I'll do my best to survey their top line situation in Giroux's absence, but for now, it's a bit cloudy.

 

UPS AND DOWNS FOR MILAN


Tuesday night served some dramatic highs and lows to surprise scorer Milan Michalek. The red-hot winger took the goal-scoring lead from Phil Kessel by scoring No. 19 in the first period. That was an exciting moment for a player who is looking less and less like a fluke and more like a talent who's finally panning out, but then things came to crashing halt (literally).

 

Michalek and fellow Ottawa fantasy stud Erik Karlsson collided on accident, knocking Michalek out of the game. He has a dreaded "upper-body injury," which you might note is code for a possible concussion. I really hope it's not that, but my head is disagreeing with my heart once again.

 

Naturally I'll keep my eyes peeled, but this is just terrible news for one of the best bargains of the 2011-12 season.


NEW COACH BLUES

 

The sub-headline carries some bonus double-meaning because the only team that's succeeding with its coach firing is the St. Louis Blues thanks to Ken Hitchcock. Here's an update on how the other new bench bosses fared last night/in general.


Bruce Boudreau: inactive on Tuesday (no, that's not a fitness reference).


Dale Hunter: The Capitals were shellacked 5-1. His only wins have come against Ottawa (twice) and Toronto. Washington looks just as bad as before, honestly.


Kirk Muller: Hurricanes lost in overtime last night, prompting Cam Ward to break his goalie stick on a post, which looked pretty awesome.

 

John Stevens (interim): Sure, it was the Boston Bruins, but the Los Angeles Kings still lost 3-0. That offense is stone cold and it's hard to imagine someone like Stevens or rumored soon-to-be head coach Darryl Sutter dramatically improving their offense. I can't help but wonder if a trade or radical change is needed, although the Kings are so strong defensively (generally speaking) that it's tough to be too critical in the grand scheme of things.


After the jump: Jets who could fuel your depth, quick hits and more injury fun.



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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.
Email :James O'Brien



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