James O'Brien

Hockey Daily Dose

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The more things change ...

Monday, February 11, 2013


“Bulletin board material” is a funny thing.

Sports teams often cling to clippings and posts that deride their qualities, or at least we’d like to think so* since many of us spend plenty of time reading and/or writing the things. The funny thing is, when someone makes predictions, there are always teams being excluded. After all, 14 out of 30 teams must miss the playoffs and 28 of them won’t make it to the 2013 Stanley Cup finals.

In other words, there will always be teams that yell the phrase “they didn’t believe in us.” It’s unavoidable.

Still, there are certain teams who have developed such a track record of success that you’d think they’d get the benefit of the doubt. That being said, athletes have very finite peaks, so the thought is that time and logic will catch up to many teams.

Two of the NHL’s steadiest mainstays are bucking that trend, so let’s take a look at them. But before we do that, check out Rotoworld’s Super Guide and sign up for a Yahoo pool.

BEDEVILED

After taking both of back-to-back games against the Pittsburgh Penguins by matching 3-1 scores, the New Jersey Devils sit on top of the East with 19 points (only trailing the mighty Chicago Blackhawks). Sure, they might not be the most riveting bunch, but they keep getting the job done - usually with Martin Brodeur in net. But who are some of the top choices beyond Brodeur and Ilya Kovalchuk? Here are three:

David Clarkson - Someone on Twitter called Clarkson a poor man’s Scott Hartnell. That’s one of the funny things about “reality” versus fantasy: what might be construed as an insult in practical terms is, in this case, a high compliment. Clarkson hasn’t been piling up the PIMs and hits that you might expect, but that’s probably because he’s become such a huge source of offense for the Devils. He has nine goals and 15 points in 12 games, and his 50 shots on goal - and contract year motivation - indicate that he should be able to contribute all season long. We’ll gladly take a Hartnell-like guy, thank you very much.

Adam Henrique - Surprisingly, last year’s sneaky-effective rookie is only owned in 24 percent of Yahoo leagues. While his SOG is a little lacking (10 in seven games this season, just 130 last), he has six points. He'll need to greatly increase his shooting quantities to maintain his nice scoring pace, but considering the Devils' limited offensive resources - only four Devils have scored more points than Henrique - he should receive ample opportunities. At worst, a fringe consideration.

Andy Greene - One of those players with more points than Henrique is defenseman Greene, with eight. He’s an interesting choice because he’s among the top minute-munching blueliners on the team with an average of 22:01 minutes per game. He also has a 37-point season on his resume.

He’s a marginal guy, though. I wouldn’t expect big PIM from him, he puts up average SOG and so on. Greene isn’t an awful choice, but he doesn’t seem too distinguished either.

* - One team that definitely reads the paper is the Washington Capitals. Just study how they tried to hop, skip and jump to the beats of “experts” who said they needed to play a more conventional style. Now they’re conventionally dull and mediocre.

After the jump: the Red Wings also defy expectations and more.


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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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