James O'Brien

Hockey Daily Dose

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Getting the good bounces

Monday, March 18, 2013

Since St. Patrick’s Day is just behind us and modern science tells us that everyone loves a theme column,* I thought I’d jazz Monday’s Daily Dose up a bit by asking: who’s been lucky and unlucky so far in 2013?

A quick note before I jump into this: just because someone is labeled “lucky” doesn’t mean that player lacks merit. It just so happens that things are going their way and might slow down eventually (maybe next month, maybe next season).

As grumpy coaches like to say, you have to be good to be lucky,* so keep that in mind. With that out of the way, let’s see:


Chris Kunitz - It’s almost like this season is a reward for all the times he forechecked like a demon for Sidney Crosby’s line. He’s been a nice (but sometimes fringe) asset in fantasy in other years, but the linemate benefits are finally rubbing off on him. It doesn't hurt that he has a 28.1 percent shooting percentage - more than double his career average of 13 - either.

Jakub Voracek - There’s a strong chance that he’s “for real,” but I’d say there’s also a strong chance that his production would be far more limited without Claude Giroux. Credit him for running with the opportunity, though.

Paul Martin - It’s grim to discuss the potential beneficiaries from an injury, but if Kris Letang’s injury (more on that on page two) is serious, he could be the guy reaping the rewards of passing to Crosby & Co. He already has, to an extent; his 18 points ties Alex Pietrangelo and Andrei Markov.

Andrei Markov - Speaking of Markov, he - along with his owners and the Montreal Canadiens - are shockingly lucky that his health is intact. Can’t say I expected things to turn around for him like this after recurring knee problems.

Mike Ribeiro - Like Kunitz, we all knew he was a pretty valuable depth player, but he’s jumped up a level in his first season with the Washington Capitals. He’s had a reasonable amount of time with Alex Ovechkin on his line, yet that’s not as much of a boon as it used to be. The talent’s always been there, but he also shares a common trait with Kunitz in having an unsustainably high shooting percentage (27.8).

Jiri Tlusty - Apparently lining up with Eric Staal and Alexander Semin is a plum job. Kudos to him on an impressive season so far, however.

Marc-Andre Fleury - Talk about getting goal support …

Ilya Bryzgalov - Despite a .899 save percentage, Bryzgalov is tied for third with 13 wins and tied with Pekka Rinne for most starts (27) in large part because the Philadelphia Flyers employ Michael Leighton and Brian Boucher as backups.

Mike Smith - He gets to play in the Coyotes’ suffocating system and has made the most of his best nights; the big goalie has four shutouts yet he only has a .903 save percentage.

Jump for some unlucky players and news from around the league.

* - This might not be true.

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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 four years. Follow him on Twitter.
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