James O'Brien

Hockey Daily Dose

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High Price to pay

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Monday’s Daily Dose began with a warning that Dustin Byfuglien might be out of action for the Winnipeg Jets. That still seems like a wait-and-see deal, which is actually one of the rare things that might be OK about the fact that this week’s schedule is imbalanced. You can make a list-minute decision regarding Big Buff (or as I like to call him, “Buffy the Hamburger Slayer”) because there are 10 games tonight after just two on Monday. Chances are, if he cannot play, you’ll likely have a benchwarmer who can come in and at least have a roll-of-the-dice to play.




Unfortunately, Tuesday’s Daily Dose must also focus on impact players who might not be seen again in 2012-13, starting off with another guy who's hurt and whose team isn’t contending for the playoffs. In this case, I’m discussing Carey Price. The Montreal Canadiens admit that Price has a concussion, something that they’re apparently monitoring on a day-to-day basis.


That sort of implies that Price might not be done for the season, but I have a simple question toward the Habs brass if they ask him to play again: “Why?”


OK, he does have a new contract to discuss, but how much can a couple starts really change? Will some stupendous shutout or horrible performance swing his next salary by $1 million in a positive or negative way? Nope, instead, they might risk the health of a 24-year-old goalie who – alongside fellow pending free agent P.K. Subban – is one of the only bright lights for a sad sack Montreal squad. After trading away playoff hero Jaroslav Halak, it’s clear that the Canadiens are married to Price. Why would they risk his health for meaningless games that they’d be better off losing anyway?


In other words, if Montreal is smart, they’ll shut him down. That’s been a huge “if” so far this season, but perhaps things will be different with Pierre Gauthier gone.


Honestly, I’d instinctively part ways with him based on these warning signs, but I understand if it’s tough to say goodbye to Price after sticking with him through a bad year of fantasy marriage in the first place. (You probably should, though.)



The Washington Capitals suffered another huge loss in a game that could have made life a lot easier for them – no, I don’t blame you for sensing a pattern – so the Buffalo Sabres’ playoff hopes were given a huge boost.


That’s the good news, but the bad news for Buffalo is that they’re missing Christian Ehrhoff and Tyler Myers. The latest update is that Ehrhoff won’t play another regular season game while Myers seems to be a coin toss.


Perhaps you should treat them in a similar way, then: drop Ehrhoff because he’s obviously just taking up space now (even on your IR) and make a judgment call with Myers. Personally, I’d lean heavily toward dumping Myers because it really burns to have an empty roster spot when every little stat counts.



The latest update on Jeff Carter is that his ankle issue stems from a bad bruise rather than anything more substantial, but it still seems like a problem that’s baffling enough that he’ll be out for at least the rest of the regular season. Perhaps this is fitting if you’ve had the patience to stick with Carter through thin, really thin and a little thick because he’s been a mess this season. (But seriously, cut it out and drop him already.)


If you need an offensive-minded guy who has taken criticism for his defensive lapses and/or attitude issues in your lineup, then let me offer Carter’s former teammate James Wisniewski. He’s highly likely to play tonight and could certainly help your offense out (24 points with 10 on PP) in 45 games played, especially since he might give a sneak preview of the Columbus Blue Jackets’ potential 2012-13 power play pairing of Wisniewski and potential captain Jack Johnson.


Wisniewski can also help – and hurt – your team in peripheral areas. The highly paid defenseman’s snarl is well-documented based on some ugly suspension incidents, which shows itself in his 35 PIM. The drawback is plus/minus, however, as he’s a -17 rating this season.


Now, plus/minus is largely a team (and honestly, suspect) stat but as hard as it might be to believe, the signs point to him getting at least some relief in that if patterns hold.


The Blue Jackets are currently on a three-game winning streak - all against playoff-caliber teams in Detroit, Florida and St. Louis (including a win IN St. Louis). Columbus seems to be embracing the spoiler role – which surely must be that much easier to embrace since they’ll have the best chance in the lottery no matter how many points they generate in their last three games – so it’s interesting that they’ll have the chance to play that in two of their final three contests.


Logic says that’s a bad thing for Wisniewski’s vulnerable plus/minus, but perhaps the pattern will hold. Now, if you’re already weak in that category, you might as well just go ahead and add him while shrugging your shoulders even if he piles up minuses. (Sometimes it’s better to embrace your weaknesses by letting them go and spending all of your energy improving already strong areas.)



Monday marked some great moments for the Flyers franchise.


Wayne Simmonds wasn’t necessarily the marquee piece in the Mike Richards trade – Brayden Schenn or the eighth pick of the 2011 draft likely received top billing – yet he earned the first star of the week honors as he bumped his season totals to 27 goals and 48 points. Simmonds’ success is easy to root for, but it is interesting that you could argue that he’s replacing Ville Leino in a way. The Flyers’ offense is quite the machine and successful depth players might provide cautionary tales for future free agent shoppers, much like how former Pittsburgh Steelers linebackers can be dangerous adds.


The other great bit was that Ilya Bryzgalov was named the first star of the month. The Flyers brass and anyone who stayed patient regarding his struggles must feel great about that. Still, I wonder if we’ll see him more than once before the playoffs begin.


Speaking of Flyers we won’t see, Daniel Briere is out indefinitely and Nicklas Grossmann looks primed to miss at least a week with a knee injury – both from hits via Joe Vitale. As painful as this might be to read, I hate to say it, but it might already be time to dump Briere. I won’t blame you if you wait – especially since he’s generally been disappointing this season anyway.



If you added Marty Turco in hopes of getting Boston benefits, let him go. He’s unlikely to start again – and might already have played in his last NHL game … Steven Stamkos is zeroing in on 60 goals after he scored No. 57 and 58 on Monday. Now he has three games to score the two remaining ones. Oh yeah, he also collected an assist, so his great performance might just cost the Caps a playoff spot (or at least the division title) … Jonathan Quick collected his league-leading 10th shutout of the season. It sort of makes up for the fact that his team occasionally fails to give him goal support … Sounds like Kyle Wellwood is out for the rest of 2011-12 ... Kyle Quincey received a one-game suspension for his hit on Tomas Kopecky. Light punishment, if you ask me … The word is that Teemu Selanne will make his retirement decision on July 1 aka free agent time. Nice for the Ducks that they don’t have to put decisions on hold based on expecting him to be in the top-six if he retires. Not so nice for the Ducks and hockey-loving public in general if he, you know, retires. (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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