James O'Brien

Hockey Daily Dose

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Piling up zeros

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Every now and then, full nights of action develop themes. In the case of Wednesday, the biggest theme might just be “zeros.” Sure, there are a couple cases where you have to stretch the argument a little bit, but the shoe seems to fit reasonably well.


The most obvious examples are the shutouts that took place. Two of Feb. 1’s first three games featured three just-about-perfect performances from the goalies involved.



The first case features New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who made 34 saves as the New York Rangers earned a 1-0 shootout win against the Buffalo Sabres. These are the types of performances that big proponents will cite when making an argument that the superb Swede is the best goalie in the world. He’s actually on a two-game shutout streak as he blanked the Winnipeg Jets on Jan. 24 to enter the 2012 All-Star break. Lundqvist’s overall numbers are eye-popping, as he has a 23-10-4 record with a Tim Thomas-like .939 save percentage, a fantastic 1.82 GAA and six shutouts.


Hank’s performance was absolutely outstanding. In fact, it upstaged a great performance by another elite goalie who isn’t having anywhere near the same level of success this season.



Ryan Miller stopped all 29 of the shots he saw in regulation and overtime. It wasn’t until the shootout that he fell short of his third win in a row.


That bummer aside, Miller has actually been pretty amazing lately. He’s only allowed two goals in his last three games while stopping an impressive 83 out of 85 shots. Long story short, if you’re considering a buy-low/medium trade, you might want to give his frustrated owner(s) a shout.



In the second of two low-scoring early Wednesday contests, James Reimer and the Toronto Maple Leafs shut out the Pittsburgh Penguins 1-0. Reimer’s 25-save performance short-circuited the Penguins’ eight-game winning streak as the Buds gained revenge for Tuesday’s come-from-behind defeat to Pittsburgh. Brent Johnson played well in his own right but couldn’t get the win in a rare off night for Marc-Andre Fleury.


Let me lay out a few stray thoughts from that game:


  • This was only Reimer’s second appearance in Toronto’s net since the New Year. In the other game, he allowed three goals to the Ottawa Senators in a loss on Jan. 17. Jonas Gustavsson hasn’t given him a real opportunity to regain the starting job, but shutting down the red-hot Penguins is a heck of a way to make a statement for more opportunities.
  • That being said, there might have been a little bit of smoke and mirrors to the Penguins’ streak. Five of their last six wins came via either a shootout or overtime triumph, usually with Evgeni Malkin pulling a rabbit out of a hat. It’s probably only fitting that the breaks stopped going their way for at least one night.



The last major “zero” moment from Wednesday night – unless you’re describing what Michal Neuvirth might have felt like after allowing a center ice goal by Mikael Samuelsson – revolved around a goal being scored instead of the ones being stopped. Drew Doughty scored a game-winning goal with four-tenths of a second left in the third period to give the Los Angeles Kings a 3-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets.


Of course, that goal likely wouldn’t have happened if a rather nefarious/convenient “clock malfunction” didn’t happen in Los Angeles, but the score sheet tells the most important story to fantasy owners.


Doughty received his fourth goal of the season and 24th point of 2011-12, but the most promising thing is that he now has four points in his last two games. Doughty seemed to finish 2010-11 strong after a slow start and that might just be the case this season, too, so chin up frustrated Doughty owners.



The Canucks-Red Wings game might be interesting because of the heat related to the Niklas Kronwall hit, although it’s hard to imagine him accepting a fight invitation from Ryan Kesler. Either way, it could be a useful fantasy night for those players and others involved in a big challenge … John Tavares edged Malkin for the player of the month award for January. That’s pretty impressive … Jamie Benn had three points as the Stars wrecked the Ducks in their first game after the All-Star break … Jeff Carter’s supposedly on the trading block. That sounds unpleasant … The Penguins pulled Cal O’Reilly off waivers. Not a shocker considering Ray Shero’s Predator connections … Peter DeBoer indicates that Martin Brodeur will get a lot of starts going forward. Did they find a time machine?



Eric Boulton (slashing) and Jared Boll (hit to head) received $2,500 fines for their offenses this week … Nathan Horton is making progress from concussion issues but isn’t skating yet … Dustin Byfuglien could be back in action tonight … John-Michael Liles and Colby Armstrong returned to the fold for the Maple Leafs on Wednesday … Jose Theodore remains day-to-day with his knee issues. (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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