James O'Brien

Hockey Daily Dose

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Headaches from head injuries

Thursday, December 15, 2011

This has been a week of bad news and Wednesday provided some more, but let me distract you all with a quick aside: wasn’t the first episode of HBO 24/7 awesome? I highly doubt it will have a big impact on fantasy hockey unless Sean Avery tries to get more undeserved screen time by getting in a fight every game, but it’s still fun to pull back the curtain on two NHL teams. I might be stretching a bit here, but the only possible fantasy spins I can think of are:


1. John Tortorella might be the one who injures Marian Gaborik. (Just kidding?)


2. Ilya Bryzgalov could be Gilles Gratton-level zany, so perhaps we should follow major astrological events (eclipses, meteor showers, etc.) and see if those moments affect his game. I'm still not sure if his strangeness is a good thing or a bad thing, though.


3. It seems like we might not see Chris Pronger and Claude Giroux on the ice for a while, if 24/7 was any indication.


Anyway, that was a desperate distraction from the subject we’re all quite tired of: concussions.


In the past day, we found out that both Jeff Skinner and Joni Pitkanen have concussions and (ugh) are out indefinitely. (Can Cam Ward’s stock drop any lower? The already-bad team around him keeps getting worse.) The Ottawa Senators also confirmed my fears that Milan Michalek’s “upper-body injury” is actually a concussion. Double ugh.


As far as who will benefit from those injuries, we’ll have to wait and see. Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson were the only goal scorers in Ottawa’s 5-2 loss to Boston last night, although the effort was there with 49 total shots. I’m not sure that there are a ton of options in the Senators’ pipeline to pick up much of Michalek’s production, to be honest. The same goes for Skinner (aside from a general idea of more from all of Carolina’s other top forwards?), but Jamie McBain might benefit from Pitkanen’s woes. Not sure if he’s really worth it since that team could be even worse now, but adding him to your watch list seems wise.



If you’re in a league without an IR slot, then there’s an outside chance that Lubomir Visnovsky might be available. (OK, it’s a long shot, but at least check.) The Anaheim Ducks played great on Wednesday and while it’s unlikely that Lubo was the only reason that happened, he is one of their best blueliner. The speedy defenseman earned an assist and could really flourish once/if Bruce Boudreau gets things in order.



The month of December hasn’t been particularly kind to the Phoenix Coyotes, which is shown most clearly by the struggles of bargain gem goalie Mike Smith. The big netminder has lost five of his last six games and hasn’t looked very good in the process.


The thing is, there just aren’t a whole lot of great starting goalie options out there. Maybe Ondrej Pavelec would be a solid replacement, but are you really willing to bet that the Jets’ starter will be better than Smith over the long haul? It’s a tough call. I’d say stay patient if your options are limited right now because he might just be hitting a rough patch. (You might want to be choosy about when you start him, though.)


Keep a watchful eye if he's still on your roster, though, because it could be that he experienced some beginner’s luck and is now regressing to the level many expected heading into the 2011-12 season.



I said this yesterday, and it bears repeating: I’m not certain how long the Boston Bruins will be a buzz saw like this much longer. I expect them to win the Northeast Division, but this domination could subside a bit or maybe even a lot. Still, right now, the team’s depth is showing and two less-owned players might be worth your while.


He’s less likely to be a free agent, but if Patrice Bergeron is available, snatch him up. He has the pedigree to keep it going and should be especially valuable if you have a faceoff win category. (I kind of love that category, but it might be because it’s so easy to win in leagues with less savvy owners.) I'd rank Bergeron as a "definite add."


I was a little skeptical about Rich Peverley’s value in Wednesday’s DD and I still am from a long-term perspective. Still, he racked up a goal and an assist last night, so the former Atlanta Thrashers center is looking pretty good right now. He’s a bit on the marginal side, but if you’re in a deep league, you could do worse than to add him.


Stay away from Daniel Paille, though.



Niklas Hagman scored two goals last night, which wouldn’t be worth your time except for the guys who got his assists: Corey Perry and Teemu Selanne. If he lines up with that trio with any kind of regularity – even if it’s just on the power play – that he might actually have some value again. It might be best to wait it out to make sure this isn't just a one-time thing, though.



Ville Leino will be out “weeks” with a lower-body injury. You might as well drop him for someone who actually earns his contract, then … Zach Bogosian won’t be suspended for breaking Pierre-Marc Bouchard’s nose. Bouchard adds to the Wild’s walking wounded, could once again include Guillaume Latendresse again, as he left last night’s game. The only bright side for Minnesota is that Marek Zidlicky returned. He’s not the fantasy producer he once was, but maybe he’ll make sense if you really need a D-man. (I’d rather just load up on forwards, even if it makes for an empty D spot instead, to be honest) … Adam McQuaid might get suspended for a knee-to-knee hit on Nick Foligno - not that it really matters to your team. (Foligno did return during the game though.) … Erik Gudbranson is day-to-day with a leg injury … Michael Sauer’s concussion landed him on the IR. (Click here for the full injury list.)

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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