James O'Brien

Hockey Daily Dose

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Suspending Disbelief

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


STEVENS WILL GIVE WAY TO SUTTER SOON

 

Judging by the way this season is going, Darryl Sutter might not have much of the “beginner’s” luck that usually comes from the fear and awe of an in-season coaching change. Then again, maybe Sutter will follow the path of the only so-far successful new bench boss: Ken Hitchcock. There certainly are some parallels. Each will be in charge of young rosters that carried heightened expectations into this season but have thus far disappointed. Each coach isn’t exactly known for being the fun-loving type when players are around, although Hitchcock seems like he’s at least having fun from time to time. Perhaps most importantly, both Hitch and Sutter have been around the block far more than the others. (Bruce Boudreau is on team No. 2 while Kirk Muller, Dale Hunter and Randy Cunneyworth are first-timers.)

 

Maybe it’s fitting, then, that the Kings are just a game over .500 – including a 2-2 record with interim head coach John Stevens – because Hitch took over a .500 Blues team (which might be tough to believe with their current 19-9-4 record). The Kings haven’t shown that much life lately, although Sutter surely must have felt good about what he saw from Dustin Brown (one regulation goal plus the shootout winner) last night. Justin Williams also showed some signs of life, so maybe the Kings will make baby steps in the right direction.

 

I'm still not ecstatic about Sutter coaching the Kings, but give him this: he was much better at coaching players than acquiring and properly paying them.


MORE HEADACHES FOR BOUDREAU, CUNNEYWORTH

 

Speaking of the two coaches who took over, things are still messy for Boudreau and Cunneyworth.

 

The Ducks dropped a 5-3 loss to the Dallas Stars and there wasn’t much to be happy about beyond the productivity of their power play and the downright history-making work of Teemu Selanne. (Selanne passed Mike Modano in the all-time scoring ranks.) The biggest worry for fantasy owners is the continued struggles of Jonas Hiller. It’s hard to blame Hiller for struggling behind one of the weakest defenses in the NHL, but much like Cam Ward, the bottom line is that his value is plummeting. It’s hard to imagine Boudreau figuring that thing out if Randy Carlyle couldn’t, so the only real hopes are that either snaps out of his serious funk or the Ducks start scoring goals in such bunches that he can at least pile up some wins.

 

Cunneyworth’s Habs are now 0-2-0 as the interim coach is feeling more heat for his inability to speak French than anything else right now. I already stated that – like it or not – Jacques Martin got the most out of that team, so it’s hard to imagine that this situation will end well in fantasy or reality terms.


QUICK HITS

 

Roberto Luongo shut out the Wild, so things might be going back to normal there … Rich Peverley seems like he’s officially on a hot streak ... If by any chance Brenden Morrow is still available as a free agent, pick him up now. He’s obviously feeling a lot better after struggling with injuries. (In other Stars news, Richard Bachman is now 4-1.) … I can’t help but wonder if J.S. Giguere might push the Colorado Avalanche into a platoon situation for at least a bit. He does have a two-year contract, after all.


INJURY SNIPES

 

Thomas Vanek is day-to-day with an upper-body issue … Curtis Sanford’s back is bothering him enough that he’s day-to-day. Hopefully this won’t wreck his value, because you know the Blue Jackets would prefer to look smart about Steve Mason being the “real deal” (even if he certainly doesn’t appear to be) if they had the option … Kris Versteeg seems banged up, though I’m unsure about the severity of the injury … Word is that Colby Armstrong has a concussion … Keith Ballard’s having back problems. No, I don’t think they stem from sleeping in Alain Vigneault’s doghouse all the time. (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.
Email :James O'Brien



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