James O'Brien

Hockey Daily Dose

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Dose: Streaks of Philadelphia

Monday, October 07, 2013



Alex Ovechkin - has an absurd 24 SOG in three games, good for eight per night. That's a 656 SOG pace with about 109 goals. Unless we're teleporting back to the halcyon 80's, that's not happening.


Still, this could be the Ovechkin who ran away with the SOG and scoring titles for years before hitting a bit of a funk, and that is really exciting. You have to be a pretty irrational Crosby zealot to enjoy Sulking Ovi.*


Mikhail Grabovski - There’s no denying that I’m on the Grabovski bandwagon, but there are limits. His shooting percentage is currently at 42.9 percent, which would make him a solid shooter in the NBA. His career average is 12.7 percent, so prepare as if he’s going to slow down. (In other words, if someone offers you Sharp for Grabovski, just make sure you don’t hit the “accept trade” button so hard that you damage your keyboard.)


Lars Eller - Certainly worth grabbing, as his nine SOG indicate that he's not just getting every bounce. Just don't go too crazy; he's shooting at 33.3 percent rate (one out of every three shots has been a goal) and his career-high is just 16 goals. There's talent there, but beware.


Other players who should be useful but are shooting at 20 percent or higher: Jiri Hudler, Jason Garrison, David Jones, Mason Raymond and Brandon Saad.


Again, most if not all of the guys listed in the “too hot” section should be viable, they’re just playing a bit-to-way over their heads right now.


* - Tip for enjoying sports: try your best not to pick sides, but instead enjoy your league’s most brilliant talents. You might just regret frowning every time Special Player A gets one over on Special Player B once they’re both gone. (See: Lemieux-Gretzky, Bird-Magic and so on.)


I’m not saying you can’t have a favorite, though ...




Marc-Andre Fleury - .50 GAA, .979 save percentage, two wins: Those numbers will normalize, but you won't complain because he could very well establish himself as elite once again.


Jonathan Bernier - .64 GAA, .979 save percentage, two wins despite one start: Another unsustainable set of numbers, but he certainly gained at least a short-term advantage over James Reimer. Management wants him to be the guy, so that's a huge plus, too.


1.00 GAA's: Tuukka Rask, Antti Niemi, Semyon Varlamov and Anton Khudobin.


Note: I really like all four of those guys in fantasy, though. Rask is obvious, Niemi was quietly nominated for the Vezina and is an underrated workhorse. I'm a fan of Varlamov's talent, and while I believe he'll have some absolutely brutal nights behind that rocky defense, Colorado could also have an offense that steals him some wins.


Jaroslav Halak deserves special mention, though. I believe you can put most of the Brian Elliott and Jake Allen fears to bed and consider him near-elite for 2013-14. Here's why:


  • He’s in a contract year. As a reminder, he shocked the world by helping the Montreal Canadiens upset the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2010 playoffs during his last one.

  • The Blues are really good. No, they won’t boot goalies in every game like they have so far (Pekka Rinne and Tim Thomas* are their victims), but they’re my Stanley Cup champion choice.

  • Halak’s been limited by injuries and bad luck, to some extent. This is his chance to rectify all of that … and, again, earn a big contract in the process.

  • I believe Allen is a year or two away and Elliott’s a career backup.


It’s still a fluid situation, though.


INJURIES (full list)


A knee strain sidelines Charlie Coyle for 3-4 weeks … Alex Burrows could be out a couple weeks after blocking a shot, surely endearing Canucks fans to John Tortorella’s strategies … Steve Downie’s hit concussed Roman Josi, who appears to have a discouraging history with head injuries … Ryan Miller has a minor groin injury while Henrik Tallinder’s expected to miss about a week … Gabriel Landeskog has a leg injury, but he should play on Tuesday … Kris Letang is skating, yet no word on when he’ll return … Jesse Joensuu is day-to-day with a back injury … Max Pacioretty is indeed banged up with an arm issue ...


* - No, I’m not particularly worried about Thomas yet, just a warning that there could be some bumps in the road.

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.
Email :James O'Brien

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