James O'Brien

Hockey Daily Dose

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Positive returns

Wednesday, January 04, 2012


With 2012 upon us, I thought it might be nice to talk about a few positive things that have developed around the NHL. Unfortunately, in one case, it seems like there are a couple negative caveats to go with the good bits, but it seems like that’s just going to be the reality of the situation for the Washington Capitals. Anyway, let’s start off the Wednesday Daily Dose with a look at three positive returns:

 

GREEN MEANS GO


After missing a lengthy amount of time, Mike Green finally made his way back into the lineup for those Capitals, who extended their current winning streak to a promising four games. Green played a little under 16 minutes and only provided four PIM in that effort, but it’s a pleasant sight to merely see him back in action.

 

On the downside, Nicklas Backstrom to an elbow to the head from Rene Bourque and needed to leave the game after taking a few short shifts. He made a great impact before then as he generated three assists, but his situation is obviously something to keep an eye on.

 

Alexander Semin was just starting to get things going, but he sat out Tuesday’s win with what some are calling a cut on his arm. The flashy and frequently critiqued winger is known for getting injured almost as much as he’s known for his rocket shot, so fantasy owners should see his troubles coming. That being said, they probably expect more production when he’s actually in the lineup.

 

Those two negative bits might cancel out some of the good feelings related to Green’s comeback, so let me provide another positive development: Tomas Vokoun seems to have benefited from his involuntary break in December. He’s on a four-game winning streak in which he’s allowed just five goals.

 

SMITH SURPRISES


In a surprising twist, the Phoenix Coyotes activated Mike Smith from the injured reserve on Tuesday and he played against the St. Louis Blues last night. That’s certainly a nice break for the Coyotes and fantasy owners who might have been getting antsy about his absence, even if he allowed three goals in a tough loss. Kari Lehtonen is struggling a bit in his own right after coming back from a groin injury (he allowed five goals as his Dallas Stars lost to the Detroit Red Wings), so it might just be a matter of both unexpectedly effective goalies getting their timing back.

 

(In other Coyotes notes, take a look at Radim Vrbata if you need some winger help. He suffered through a five-game scoring drought but looks like he’s streaking in the right direction again, with three goals in his last two games.)


PERRON PRODUCES

 

While Smith and Green made their comebacks last night, David Perron’s situation is a longer term scenario worthy of your attention. At this point in the season, it’s unlikely that many point-per-game players are sitting around on the waiver wire. OK, technically Perron is a touch short of a point-per-game with 13 points in 14 contests, but it’s close enough to be worthy of your consideration.

 

The only bummer is that he isn’t sniping quite like he did last season before Joe Thornton gave him that concussion. Only two of his 13 points have been goals and he’s not exactly firing a lot of shots on net, either, with just 23 SOG so far. For those reasons, he might not be worthy of an instant addition, but he should at least be on your radar.


QUICK HITS

 

Drew Stafford has been heating up lately and that was especially true last night as he scored a goal and two assists in Buffalo’s 4-3 win against Edmonton … Stafford might be heating up, but John Tavares is downright on fire right now. With three assists last night, Tavares has scored seven points in his last three games … Joffrey Lupul continues to be one of the NHL’s biggest surprise success stories as he collected four points to push his 2011-12 total to a whopping 44. He’s only nine short of tying his career-high of 53 (2005-06 with the Anaheim Ducks) … Jimmy Howard improved his league-leading wins total to 24, making it that much more ridiculous that he wasn’t on the All-Star ballot. (Just ask a Red Wings fan about that one.) … Jaroslav Halak might need some time to wrestle back the starting job in St. Louis, but he’s shown some significant improvement lately. In fact, he hasn’t lost in regulation since Nov. 22, going 5-0-3 since then.


INJURY/SUSPENSION SNIPES

 

While it’s unclear if Jaromir Jagr’s injury is groin or calf-related, the bottom line is that he’s expected to miss 7-10 days with whatever is hampering him … Jose Theodore will be out at least two weeks with a knee injury and that might be an optimistic estimate … Dan Carcillo has been suspended indefinitely for his dirty hit on Tom Gilbert, who might be able to participate in a “light skate” today. There are rumors about Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ shoulder injury keeping him out multiple weeks, but nothing has been confirmed yet … The league is taking its time regarding a punishment (or lack thereof) for Krys Barch’s alleged racial slur toward P.K. Subban … Knee surgery will sideline Joni Pitkanen for about another month (which might be good news for anyone who owns Jamie McBain) … We should know about the status of David Booth’s knee this week … Devin Setoguchi was activated from the injured reserve. (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 two years. Follow him on Twitter.
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