James O'Brien

Hockey Daily Dose

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Thursday, January 31, 2013


COLORADO’S CONUNDRUM

Earlier this week, I mentioned that you should probably put your players in action when they’re facing the Colorado Avalanche. The Vancouver Canucks had a relatively easy time with the Avs last night, beating them 3-0 as Roberto Luongo got a SO and left Alain Vigneault with a difficult decision for Friday’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks.

(For the sake of space and perhaps with the advantage of knowing who will actually play tomorrow, I’ll leave that further discussion to the Friday Dose.)

The questions then flow into a few spots: who’s to blame? Who might bounce back?

Doing OK: Matt Duchene has five points in six games and has a respectable 14 shots on goal. P.A. Parenteau has been solid with four points and nine shots. Gabriel Landeskog would be in this category if it didn't seem like he's dealing with concussion-like symptoms. Semyon Varlamov had a rough night on Wednesday, but despite that and three straight losses, he still sports acceptable overall stats so far.

STRUGGLING, BUT WITH SOME HOPE

Jamie McGinn - Probably low on the radar anyway, but credit him for 11 PIM and 15 shots on goal. He might not actually be useless, although I wouldn't strain myself to pick him up.

Erik Johnson - Disappointing to just have one assist, but he's likely to climb a bit if his team climbs, too. Thirteen shots on goal is nice for a defenseman, although perhaps more PIM (just four) would help justify his presence on a roster. A fringe guy right now, maybe at best.

STRUGGLING, WITH AN EXTRA HELPING OF FRUSTRATION

Paul Stastny - What happened to this guy? He has to be a lead in any "most overpaid players" list now, or at least a marquee guy. His -4 is the second worst on the team. Stastny is generally more of a passer, but at least his 14 shots on goal show he's trying and maybe he's due - like many teammates - for a break.

David Jones - One of my least favorite signings of a Colorado off-season that was actually not half-bad from a subtle moves standpoint. Why go out on a limb for him and not an all-around guy like Ryan O'Reilly? Jones is a sniper, yet he has just 10 shots on goal in six games. He has zero PIM and a team-worst -5 rating. His one goal was unusually valuable (GWG *and* PPG), but that's about it. If one guy doesn't rebound much on this team, it might be Jones.

Overall, I think the Avs will get better collectively just because it can’t get much worse. Don’t forget, this team is without a line of borderline to full-on top-six guys (Landeskog, O’Reilly and Steve Downie), so times are tough. Of course, at least one of those guys is out for the season, one is the lone RFA holdout of note and one is dealing with mysterious concussion-ish issues. Yikes.

But hey, it can’t get much worse, right? *laughs nervously*

KASSIAN’S VALUE

Zack Kassian stood out along with Nail Yakupov (four goals, including last night’s memorable OT winner) and Cody Hodgson (three goals) as a useful youngster who curiously has only scored goals - in his case five - this season. Zero assists.

No doubt about it, he’s benefiting immensely from teaming with Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin. But how valuable is he?

It’s a mixed bag. The number one factor, no doubt, is that he needs to stick with the Sedins to most likely be a noteworthy guy. Sure, he could probably scratch and claw his way to relevance, but his wider value is pretty dependent.

Goal-scoring wise, don’t get swindled. In seven games, he’s scored five goals on 15 shots. That’s just a little over two shots per game and a whopping one-third scoring rate.

So the bad stuff: dependence on linemates, an unsustainable efficiency rate and zero assists.

Beyond his plum job, there are some pluses. The biggest one aside from the obvious goal-scoring potential is his power forward tendencies. He has 12 PIM already, so even if he hits a scoring lull, he could probably still bring that to the table.

He’s also getting some decent ice time. While receiving just under 16 minutes per game isn't astounding, he's been receiving more in the last two games. If he keeps getting strong ice time, he'll have more chances to shoot pucks on net (or make refs raise their hands).

INJURY NOTES (full list) and QUICK HITS

Harsh blow to the New York Rangers: Ryan Callahan’s shoulder injury is expected to sideline him 10-14 days. Oof … Niklas Backstrom was one of my sleeper faves this preseason, largely because he’s long been comparable to fellow Finn (and decent fantasy goalie) Miikka Kiprusoff and this season is huge because it’s a contract year. Backstrom came in relief of Josh Harding, was perfect, and thus handed the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 via a shootout. The Wild and Hawks are two very different animals, but the other takeaway? They’re both depending quite a bit on their top scorers (although Chicago obviously has more) … Back to Yakupov’s goal: one way or another, Derek Morris threw some punches at Ryan Whitney during the celebration. It wouldn’t be shocking if a suspension happens … In more fantasy-relevant Coyotes news, the team is optimistic that Mike Smith can return. If you briefly added Chad Johnson, take heed of updates in the next couple days … Steve Sullivan suffered his borderline inevitable lower-body injury, leaving him day-to-day. It seems like Nick Johnson might be the beneficiary (Phoenix’s only scorer Wednesday), although I wouldn’t get too excited about that. At all … Cam Atkinson seems likely to miss 2-3 more weeks, and maybe even worse: it’s a high-ankle sprain. If you’re familiar with that injury, it could linger even longer. Not good … Looks like Matt Niskanen’s own ankle issue means 2-4 weeks. Blah … Patrick Kaleta is day-to-day with a neck issue ...Sven Baertschi is day-to-day with a lower-body issue of his own … Colin McDonald has been suspended for two games, which affects just about no one, fantasy-wise … Sergei Gonchar is banged up, missing Wednesday, but it doesn’t sound too bad.



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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.
Email :James O'Brien



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