James O'Brien

Hockey Daily Dose

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Dose: Flyers under the Radar

Friday, November 22, 2013

Are you in the mood for some snappy, fantasy-oriented game summaries? What, no? Oh, uh oh, you’re not going to like these …




-- This post would've been all about Jaromir Jagr if his game-winning goal didn't, funnily enough, tie him in two big ways. It was the 121st game-winner of his astounding, somewhat-unappreciated (relative to other greats, mind you) career. That ties him for first all-time with Gordie Howe. Let that one soak in for a moment.


It was also the 690th garden variety goal of his career, tying him for ninth all-time with his (former?) buddy Mario Lemieux. It's interesting that the two former Penguins stars both endured exoduses from the NHL before coming back; to remind you, Lemieux retired before returning while Jagr spent three seasons in the KHL.


I'll probably discuss Jagr's legacy repeatedly as this season goes on, but it's not just about the past. That was his ninth goal and 18th point of 2013-14, giving the Devils their ninth win. He now has a three-game goal streak (four in that span), too.


-- Hey, the East won a few games over the West on Thursday. For what it's worth, the Metropolitan Division seems like it's collectively regaining its self-respect after a slow start.


-- It's pretty amazing that Ben Scrivens has more wins (5-1-2) than Cory Schneider (2-5-3) so far this season. If you predicted that before the season started, I'd like to chat with Doc and give your DeLorean a spin, McFly.




-- It's easy to pin all of Tampa Bay's troubles on Steve Stamkos' injury, but I'd attribute much of it to a galling road trip; they've lost to Phoenix, Los Angeles and San Jose and visit the Ducks in Anaheim on Friday night. The good news after that is that they're hosting three East teams at home after that. The bad news is that they're catching those Metro teams in their return to semi-competence.


-- Hey, Patrick Marleau might seem like an obvious contract extension in the making, but he's still in a contract year. He's looking like a serious force with 23 points in 22 games and might just best his career-high of 83 points (in 2009-10).


-- Brent Burns scored a goal in his return to the lineup. He only logged 14:20 of ice time, but that could be attributed to easing him back in and the score. He appeared to resume his gig with Joe Thornton and Tomas Hertl, which is fantastic news.


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-- I feel pretty confident about Scott Hartnell (39 percent owned) being a legitimate bounce-back guy. He has four points in his last five and should get back to being that PIM-sponging pest he was in his best fantasy moments. He's doing OK hits-wise, with 28, so I think he brings quite a bit to the table now that Claude Giroux's climbing with his Flyers.


-- The concussion Steve Downie suffered really made me think this season might fall apart for him, but he's been great since coming back, collecting five assists in five games since returning to the lineup. He's phenomenal for PIM (55 already) and seems tough to resist even though he's only a third-liner. He must have really rubbed people the wrong way in Colorado, because that trade was a huge win for Philly, if you ask me.


-- Not sure he'll be good enough to be truly fantasy-relevant, but Tyler Myers is at least showing a pulse again. Maybe he needed a clean slate or just more of a "green light"?




-- Can Mike Babcock really keep "The Monster" glued to the bench? I'm not saying he should start the Swede more than Jimmy Howard (who sure seems star-crossed this season), but Jonas Gustavsson hasn't lost in regulation yet this season. He broke the Red Wings' disturbing losing streak on Thursday.


-- To be honest, I expected little of Justin Peters, but he's acquitted himself very nicely (.920 save percentage) despite a 4-7-1 record.


-- Deep down, I feel like I can make an argument for a Peter Laviolette hiring on almost every middling team. Carolina loves familiarity, so it actually makes some sense. (Feel free to fill in details about an ugly departure if that happened, though.)




-- Any worries about Rick Nash not being up to speed were seemingly scuttled on Thursday. He scored a goal, drew an unsuccessful penalty shot and generally wreaked havoc in helping the Rangers win despite a significant (43-27) shot disparity for the Stars.


-- Derek Stepan seems like he's doing more or less what should've been expected of him (15 points in 22 games). Maybe he'd score more if he was given a fairer contract this summer, though?


-- Sergei Gonchar seemed like an interesting sleeper, but he's been pretty useless, with just four points (all assists) in 21 games.




-- It's hard to blame the Jets for being unable to beat the Blackhawks. It's like expecting a younger, weaker brother to beat his sibling in a boxing match with hand-me-down gloves.


-- He's not quite a no-brainer, but if you're a Blackhawks fan who wants a fantasy add or just want to take out an interesting flier, you could do worse than Brandon Saad. He now has a three-game point streak (two goals, two assists) going.


-- Andrew Ladd is showing that he's a legit fantasy forward. The points are great, but it's his versatility that bumps him up a level or two: 14 PIM, 36 hits, 67 SOG and a +7 rating. To extend that hand-me-down analogy, he's the blouse a little sister swiped without permission ... except, you know, he's tough and stuff.




-- Chris Stewart is frustrating, but he seems like he's either scoring or sitting in the penalty box. Ideally, he'd do both, but it's easier to sit out a scoreless streak when you look at those 57 PIM. Stewart's owned in 43 percent of leagues, which is understandable considering his ups and downs. Personally, I'd like to fill out my depth spots with a Stewart here and a Downie there, depending upon categories (in head-to-head situations, especially). The streaky power forward has five points in five games.


-- David Backes isn't marginal like Stewart, but I don't think many expected 21 points in 21 games. I expect that to subside a bit - he's connecting on 20 percent of shots, well above his career average of 12 - but he's another guy who can do a lot more than just score.


-- Tuukka Rask's .945 save percentage is worlds better than Jaroslav Halak's .906 mark, yet they both have 12 wins. Sometimes hockey isn't fair.




-- Nazem Kadri scored a goal in his return. Sure, it was flukey, but that seemed to be the theme of last night (and some might say, plenty of other recent evenings) in Toronto.


-- Craig Smith had three points on Nov. 16 and another three last night. He has some talent, though I'm not expecting him to have the hot hand to a relevant enough degree for a whole lot longer. That being said, he's worth monitoring.


-- Still, if I were to have Preds players, it would be a defenseman. Seth Jones continues to be solid, though he's better in reality than fantasy. Still, he gets a lot of power-play time (five of his nine points come from the man advantage) and gains value in leagues with shot blocking (39 so far).




-- Ryan O'Reilly scored the power-play game-winner last night, giving him nine tallies overall. He hasn't been shy about shooting, with 68 SOG. O'Reilly is in an odd contract year situation, made even stranger by the possibility that he might patch things up with the Avs.


-- Nathan MacKinnon's doing OK, which might not be enough for those who were expecting a runaway rookie season. He could break out a bit, though; MacKinnon only has three goals on 62 SOG (4.8 percent).


-- Martin Hanzal's impressive four-point game gives him one per night (19 in 19). Even if that goes away, he's yet another all-purpose player. The big center has an impressive 61 hits, 53 SOG and 27 PIM. Hanzal had 93 SOG and 100 hits in 2012-13 (shortened, in case you forgot). If you want an idea of a full season's work, 2011-12 might do the trick, hits-wise: 239. (His offense has progressed since then).




-- Maybe the Ilya Bryzgalov signing was the best thing that could've happened for Devan Dubnyk? I doubt it, bigger picture, but at least the towering goalie is heating up. He's on a three-game winning streak in which he's allowed just three goals. His numbers are still bad (6-10-1, .896 save percentage), but at least they aren't 80's-like any longer.


-- Allow me to vouch for David Perron once again. He's on a hot run, with four goals and two assists in his past three games. His eight goals this season are far from an accident, either, as he's showered a stunning 80 SOG in 20 games, exactly four per contest. Even if last night's nine SOG warped things a bit, the bottom line is that he's a great add on the depth level. There's a decent amount of ruggedness there, too, as he has 20 PIM and 28 hits. He’s just as good of an option as Hartnell/Downie/etc., depending upon your specific needs.


For a full list of injuries and suspensions, click here.

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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