James O'Brien

Hockey Daily Dose

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Hall of a Temper

Thursday, April 11, 2013



While Hall is a reformation project, Anton Volchenkov is an aging player whose trade basically demands that the occasional hit goes awry. In an odd way, it’s harder to be angry at the fading Russian with a larger rap sheet simply because he’s an old dog running out of tricks. With Hall, you’re talking about a budding star who just needs to tone things down.


Volchenkov’s elbow on Brad Marchand was pretty bad. It’s hard to imagine the league explaining it away with anything less than a suspension, but again, this is the NHL.


The bigger worry, obviously, is Marchand’s condition. His agitating acumen actually tends to obscure the fact that the Boston Bruins forward is a pretty nice player. People have been making comparisons to Claude Lemieux for a while, but Marchand might finally be the right guy ... except it’s quite plausible that he’s much better.


He was building some fantastic chemistry with Jaromir Jagr - and so has Gregory Campbell, shockingly - but that could be placed on hold for a quite a while with a possible head injury. (Sorry, I just can’t recommend Campbell yet, either. I need to see him be a useful passenger for a while longer, but gamble away if you’re feeling that frisky.)


My guess is that Tyler Seguin might gain in the short-term from his usual partner’s bad luck. Seguin scored a goal and seemed to be in the lower line more out of punishment/exasperation than anything else, so his frustrated owners could finally see the light at the end of the struggle tunnel.


It’s ugly for Marchand. Things are also ugly for the hapless New Jersey Devils, who lost their eighth in a row in a game that really wasn’t as close as the 5-4 score indicated.




Yesterday’s study of Alex Ovechkin’s red-hot month sort of flipped the light switch on and off for a second, but Teemu Selanne’s goal from Wednesday actually sparked a rather negative realization:


Selanne finally looks 42, at least statistically speaking.


Things started off as brilliant as ever for “The Finnish Flash.” He had a point per game in January and then close to that in February (11 in 13 games), but something must have gone wrong in March. Between March and April, he has just six points in 22 games.


It wouldn't be surprising if he's injured, but if not, it's a bit of a bummer that he might fizzle out a bit toward the end of his awe-inspiring career.


That being said, I'm sure the Anaheim Ducks don't mind having him around, especially if he's merely saving his juice for the playoffs. (In fact, maybe the Ducks should give him a little siesta before the potentially perpetual playoff grind commences.)




Earlier on Wednesday, the status quo seemed 100 percent safe in Vancouver and Anaheim. Cory Schneider and Jonas Hiller seemed primed to run with the ball with varying degrees of job security.


Schneider needed to miss his game against the Calgary Flames because of the flu, however, opening the door for Roberto Luongo to get back in net after a lengthy (and at times, emotionally overwrought) stay on the bench. Bobby Lou responded by stopping 40 out of 41 shots in a win that has to at least cause the Vancouver Canucks to consider giving him a few more starts.


(They didn’t trade the guy, after all, and it’s nice to have a rested goalie if you can.)


While Schneider is likely to retain the majority - if not all - of Vancouver’s remaining starts, the same cannot be guaranteed for Jonas Hiller. It’s been a seesaw in Anaheim for quite some time, and it looks like things might tilt toward Viktor Fasth again after last night. Hiller was yanked after allowing four goals on 16 shots through two periods, giving way to Fasth who mopped up in the loss.


It would be hard to imagine Fasth not getting the next start (or two-plus), which might just swing a substantial amount of very close fantasy playoff races in the process.




Ryan Kesler collected two assists on Wednesday ... Ryan Getzlaf returned from a minor leg injury ... T.J. Oshie seems like he’s inching closer to a return, although your playoffs might be over by then ... I’m not sure what was more ridiculous: the “controversy” over Ilya Bryzgalov taking a nap during a team meeting or the fact that April 10 is “National Sibling Day.” We’ve clearly reached the point of no return with these inane holidays ... Devan Dubnyk has been better than his 12-13-6 record would indicate, with a .922 save percentage emboldening that point ... Remember when everyone was worried about Phil Kessel? He’s had two straight two-goal games and a great season overall. Keep that in mind the next time your star (or more lucratively, someone else’s star) has some bad early luck ... Mike Smith has allowed two goals in three games back from his latest injury. He could make himself a handsome amount of cash in this, potentially the last month of his contract year ... Cam Fowler left the Ducks’ game with an upper-body issue ... Let's pump the brakes on all the Jean-Sebastien Giguere praise, shall we? He slammed his teammates and faced 19 shots. He didn't transform the Colorado Avalanche with his "lucid critique" ... Ales Hemsky also came back from his foot issues ... Bryce Salvador appeared to injure himself blocking a Zdeno Chara shot, which sounds like the most obvious way to get hurt ever ... Tobias Enstrom is banged up once again, this time with a “middle-body” injury. Hey, at least that adds some variety to his specific situation and injury reports overall.

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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