James O'Brien

Hockey Daily Dose

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Triumphant returns

Monday, March 11, 2013


Fandom is generally irrational.

After all, caring this much about something that doesn’t make the world significantly better or worse is a little bit strange. Your Favorite Version of Hockey Laundry’s peaks and valleys won’t feed the hungry, make your hair thicker or further the cause of world peace. On the other hand, it will give you a fun escape and some bragging rights, especially if you also have the benefit of seeing your meticulously-constructed squad earn victory in the fantasy realm.

My trip to witness Nashville Predators fans serenade Ryan Suter provided another example of how entertaining that irrationality can be.

Maybe it would have happened regardless of the circumstances, but the disappointment of seeing the best-ever Preds squad from 2011-12 fall shorter than their ceiling indicated and the ugly divorce with GM David Poile really seemed to make Suter’s departure unforgivable for the vast majority of people in Nashville’s growing fanbase.

With those hard feelings in mind, Preds fans really let him have it, leaving the lost star hurt.

At first, they booed every time his skates first touched the ice. Eventually, that tapered off into the classic villain staple of jeering him every time he touched the puck. It was a pretty impressive display of vitriol made all the more surprising after the franchise chose not to run a video tribute of a fixture who ranks as one of the best players in team history.

SUTER INTELLECTUALIZED

All of that hype and hysteria obscured something interesting. While the Minnesota Wild aren’t exactly lighting the NHL on fire with the additions of Suter and Zach Parise (who’s lucky to avoid his New Jersey rendezvous until at least next season), Suter’s been very useful - at least in fantasy terms.

Including Saturday’s assist and Sunday’s duo of helpers, the American born blueliner is now on a seven-game point streak (one goal, eight assists). Overall, he has an impressive 18 points in 24 games this season, with his workload being especially stunning; he's averaging more than 27 minutes per game, which is a career high.

It would be nice if Suter was more useful in the peripheral areas, though. My limited view indicates that Suter passes entirely too much, even when he has clear lanes to shoot (which shows in the fact that he averages less than two SOG per game despite ample ice time). The Wild probably want him on the ice as much as possible, but owners would love it if he racked up more than 10 PIM so far.

Still, Suter’s shown that he can at least produce points without Shea Weber’s beastly slap shot helping him out. It’s also nice that eight of his points have come on the PP, tying him for ninth among NHL defensemen. Overall, I’d give him a solid B+ for his work so far.

My guess is that there aren’t many jilted Predators fans who are reaping the rewards of his work (even with my draft your enemies advice in mind), though.

Jump for more fantasy fun.


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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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