James O'Brien

Hockey Daily Dose

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Bob might get the job

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Generally speaking, NHL teams and their general managers are generally not very easy to trust when it comes to injury reports. The problems stem from a combination of factors: 1) the plus side – likely much more significant in GMs’ heads than in reality – of providing a smokescreen for nefarious opponents and 2) genuine confusion on the parts of teams.


Sure, much has been said about the unpredictable nature of concussions. That’s no-doubt true because you can’t exactly ice your brain, right? (Unless you’re in a really vivid death metal music video or something.)


Still, even with other nagging injuries, an initial diagnosis shouldn’t always be taken as the rock-solid truth. That especially seems to be the case with the Philadelphia Flyers, a franchise known for bumbling the handling of injured players and/or misdirecting the media (and maybe themselves) about the extent of given injuries.


This is all a lengthy disclaimer to lead up to the following point: the Flyers claim that Ilya Bryzgalov’s “chip fracture”* isn’t a big deal. In fact, GM Paul Holmgren is optimistic that he could even be back this weekend, providing a quote to Frank Servalli (via Rotoworld’s own Ryan Dadoun on PHT) that’s so weird that it almost feels unreal:


“We don’t think this is a serious injury,” Flyers GM Paul Holmgren said. “It’s a chip off a weight-bearing bone, and the doctor has said it’ll be absorbed back into his system, and there’s no real risk here at all [to play]. It’s just he’s in a little bit of pain right now.”


Let’s all focus on the phrase “absorbed back into his system” for a moment. Maybe marinate in its splendor for a bit.


OK, with all that in mind – not to mention Holmgren’s optimism about such situations as Chris Pronger possibly coming back this season or postseason when he first suffered what increasingly looks like a career-ending injury – it’s pretty hard for me to believe that Bryzgalov will be back soon. I guess my ultimate question is: why would Philly rush him? They’ve made an enormous, long-term commitment of money and cap space to the guy and aren’t likely to move much in the East playoff seeding with the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins virtually guaranteeing them the fifth seed. What's to gain from forcing him into action as soon as possible, aside from "keeping him fresh."


(In fact, it might behoove the Flyers to slouch into the sixth seed if at all possible. Would you rather face the Rangers/Penguins or the inspiring but not-so-intimidating Florida Panthers in a best-of-seven series?)


So based on reason and logic – again, not always present in these matters, especially with the Flyers – I’d recommend that you pick up Sergei Bobrovsky. He’s only made one other start since Feb. 12 so there’s a strong chance that he’s available in your league – which could make him one of the biggest scoops of the remaining stretch run.


Sure, he’s struggled and maybe Holmgren isn’t stretching the truth and/or logic. Yet if all else fails, you can just drop him for another short-term solution if you’re trying to piece together just-good-enough goaltending to win it all.


* - Go ahead; make a joke about him actually being a robot dealing with problems in his computer system. Oh, I’m the only person who makes those sorts of jokes? Oh, OK then, I’ll just move along.



On the front office front, the Montreal Canadiens chose an interesting time to make something of a no-brainer of a decision. The organization fired GM Pierre Gauthier, the “luminary” behind such moves as trading for Tomas Kaberle – this season – and severely underestimating the Francophone factor in Montreal while hiring Randy Cunneyworth. Oh yeah, he also traded Michael Cammalleri in the middle of a game and fired Jacques Martin and assistants with the delicate touch of a butcher. (And that’s just what he’s done in 2011-12.)


The Habs might as well move on, because their next GM has some big moves to make, particularly re-signing cornerstone pieces Carey Price and P.K. Subban during this off-season.


While Gauthier’s logically gone, it sounds like the Colorado Avalanche will reportedly keep GM Greg Sherman and coach Joe Sacco aboard. That might not make Avs fans ecstatic, but it seems like both have had their moments (Sacco keeping a so-so team reasonably competitive, Sherman striking big so far with the Jamie McGinn trade)



Jonathan Quick might not be the apple of Darryl Sutter’s eye like Miikka Kiprusoff apparently is, but he broke the Los Angeles Kings’ single season record for shutouts with No. 9 on Wednesday. He’s also on his way to being one of – if not the – best Kings netminders in franchise history … The Nashville Predators are officially in the playoffs. They’ve done it in seven of eight seasons … Michael Ryder scored two goals to help the Dallas Stars get the Pacific Division lead back, and chances are if you have him on your team, he’s become a big part of your better moments. Ryder now has three goals and five points in a three-game points streak, bumping his overall totals to 35 goals and 62 points. That already represents a career-high for goals and he’s just a point away from tying his best output – which oddly came in his rookie year with Montreal … Want further proof of how bad the Red Wings are on the road? Allen York gained his first NHL win as the lowly Blue Jackets gave them a beating in Columbus last night … Cory Schneider’s fantasy value is hard to determine, as he’s in a way a slightly less productive and more publicized version of Brian Elliott. He has the quality (and qualities) you want but not in the greatest quantities because of the highly paid fellow in front of him.



Shane Doan is set to return from his suspension for elbowing tonight … Vincent Lecavalier is expected to play in Tampa Bay’s last six games. Sure, he’s one of the more over-hyped players of his era from a sheer production versus pay standpoint, but you could do a lot worse if his owner lost patience with his injuries … Nicklas Backstrom doesn’t look so primed to return from injury after all … Don’t expect Jimmy Howard back too soon either … Christian Ehrhoff is out indefinitely. Might as well drop him … Kris Letang is expected to miss Pittsburgh’s next two games … Tomas Vokoun is reportedly available to play tonight, but we’ll see if Dale Hunter gives him the nod … Tuukka Rask actually hopes to return next week. Sounds far-fetched but we shall see. (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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