James O'Brien

Hockey Daily Dose

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Dropping like flies and Flyers

Thursday, January 24, 2013


Fear-inducing ailments dominated the headlines yesterday, but there was at least a decent mini-trend of hat tricks. (Hey, there were only four games overall, so getting a hat trick in two of them is solid enough.)

The first wasn’t too shocking as Marian Gaborik dazzled with two early tallies followed by a mesmerizing bit of hand-eye coordination on the OT winner. If he can stay healthy and stick with Brad Richards and/or Rick Nash more often than not, then another trio could very well be possible this season.

The other hat trick was more of an eyebrow-raiser, though.

Honestly, I counted Steve Sullivan out as a nice story but a significant downgrade from the guy he is expected to replace: Ray Whitney. That hat trick shows that the resilient little bugger has some juice left, even though it’s still an uphill battle.


Sullivan (16 percent) - So is Sully worth it? No, not yet.

He’s managed those three goals on just five shots through three contests. His time on ice has bounced around in this small sample size, yet he came into Wednesday with some injury concerns - not exactly ideal considering his pockmarked resume. Sullivan also doesn’t really fill up peripheral categories, so his usefulness is based largely on getting points. I’m not super-confident he’ll do that.

Still, if he really ends up being Whitney-lite, you should know about it. Add him to your Watch List.

Zack Kassian (three percent) - Here’s another player who probably deserves Watch List treatment, although I’d watch him more eagerly than Sullivan.

He had a magnificent Wednesday, agitating with vigor, scoring a goal in regulation and an absolute beauty in the shootout. For the sake of predicting future success, his ice time is the real doozy in that contest, though: 19:14 minutes on Wednesday. That’s a huge jump from the 12 and 11 he received in that last two contests.

Those lower numbers explain why I’m advising a little caution at the moment. If he gets a ton of shifts for another contest or two, maybe give him a shot. Kassian has appeal because of that PIM-inducing snarl (which helps him add to the downright over-the-top pest factor in Vancouver).

James van Riemsdyk (27 percent) - An intriguing pick, especially if Lupul’s injury puts that much more emphasis on JVR. He had a big three-point breakthrough last night, but day-in and day-out production is his biggest concern.

He hasn’t made it happen in a regular season yet. I’d like to see a few more good games before I’d add JVR, but you could certainly make wilder gambles.

So the answer on all three? Hold your horses, but keep them on your radar. If you just love to tinker, JVR wouldn't be a horrible idea.

We pretty much covered the big injuries. Check this list for the full spectrum of band-aids, though.

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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