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Blue Line Buzz: Opening weekend in review

by | Rotowire.com
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On Saturday, the Los Angeles Kings might have gone a bit overboard with their Stanley Cup banner raising, ring ceremony and victory lap, all kicked off, oddly, by My Chemical Romance's "Black Parade." The Kings then proceeded to get thumped in front of their home crowd by Chicago 5-2. Oddly, the Kings did not give a Stanley Cup ring to the Devils' Steve Bernier, the player whose hit from behind gave the Kings a 5-minute power play in their Cup-clinching Game 6 victory, a power play where they scored three times.

Montreal looked like it missed P.K. Subban Saturday, as the Leafs topped their hated rivals 2-1. Were it not for Canadiens netminder Carey Price, the score could have been much worse. Nazem Kadri opened the Leafs' scoring and surprise starter Ben Scrivens -- not James Reimer -- slammed the door on Montreal. In fact, Don Cherry reiterated to all watching Hockey Night in Canada that he knew Kadri could do this all along, but people just ignored his advice.

As for negotiations with Subban, the dynamic Montreal blueliner and Habs' management remain far apart in their contract talks. Conventional wisdom has to suggest that a few more poor performances from Montreal will get new GM Marc Bergevin motivated to sign Subban quickly. As for P.K. himself, seems like he had a good time taking in the Toronto Raptors' game on Sunday against the Lakers.

Phoenix has played two highly entertaining contests to open the season, both losses to Dallas and Chicago, respectively. Owners that burned a high pick on Coyotes' netminder Mike Smith can't be too happy that he's seen 10 pucks slip past him in those contests.

The Penguins, Minnesota and Chicago are the only squads with 2-0 records after the first two days of the new season while the New York Rangers, the prohibitive Cup favorites, are 0-2. Also 0-2, Philadelphia.

As for the Wild, newly signed Zach Parise seems to be acclimating himself just fine to the Western Conference, with two assists on Saturday and a rocket of a one-timer for the game's only goal on Sunday. It's still odd seeing Parise in a sweater other than New Jersey, but the Wild's plodding, formerly-great sniper, Dany Heatley, must be thrilled with seeing Parise there. Heater slammed home two of Parise's passes from close range on Saturday.

Saturday night was a great night for those hockey players over 40: Martin Brodeur looked sharp in a 2-1 win over the Islanders while ageless teammates Jaromir Jagr and Ray Whitney sparked Dallas over Phoenix. Jagr factored into all four goals, including a beautiful no-look helper to Loui Eriksson on the winner. Not to be outdone, Anaheim's Teddy Flash, (aka Teemu Selanne), recorded four points as well, doing his best to help Vancouver clear up their slightly shaky goaltending situation.

Notes from the Back End

• Ottawa's Erik Karlsson didn't miss a step in the Sens' opener Saturday, notching a mere three points on one goal and two helpers in the 4-1 win over Winnipeg.

Vancouver's Alexander Edler will see his checkbook balance increase to the tune of $30 million over the next six years, thus keeping him off the open market at season's end. As long as he keeps firing pucks past opposing netminders, like this goal from Sunday's shootout loss to Edmonton, Vancouver's front office will be satisfied. Edler has two goals and an assist through two contests and appears to be well-recovered from the bulging disk in his back that bothered him last season.

• In other surprising news, Pittsburgh's Kris Letang has a goal and an assist through two games. Even more surprising, is that his teammate, the Penguins' whipping boy, Paul Martin, has three assists through two contests. Which streak will continue?

• Florida's Brian Campbell has put up half of his goal total from last season in just one contest, notching two goals in the Panthers' opening night win over Carolina. Florida looked solid and rookie forward Jonathan Huberdeau is going to be a tough player to handle, get your hands on him if you can.

• Phoenix's Keith Yandle and the Blues' duo of Kevin Shattenkirk and Alex Pietrangelo each have two points following the opening weekend, but that's what you'd expect from that trio of dynamic playmakers.

• Supersized blueliners Tyler Myers of Buffalo and Dustin Byfuglien scored goals in their lone contests this weekend.

Let Them Be

Sheldon Souray, Ducks: The odds of Anaheim scoring seven goals a game are slim. Souray started hot last season in Dallas, only to massively crash. He opened this season with a goal and a helper. He'll see power-play time, but Souray is a liability to fantasy rosters in a short season.

Paul Martin, Penguins: Martin is enjoying life on the Pens' second power-play unit through two games, notching two of his three total assists on the man advantage. Martin is averaging 1:29 on the power play per-game through two contests while teammate Kris Letang is clocking in at 3:55 per-contest on the man advantage. Martin's chances of seeing top power-play duty are slim, as the Penguins regularly use four forwards along with Letang. Martin has never been a goal scorer and he's been notoriously streaky during his time with New Jersey and Pittsburgh.

Eric Brewer, Lightning: Brewer fired home two goals in the season-opening win over Washington, but finished fourth amongst Lightning blue liners in power-play ice time, recording just 1:46 while Matt Carle and Sami Salo had 10:47 between the two of them. Considering he was drafted in most leagues, Victor Hedman saw just 2:44 on the man advantage. Brewer is on the ice more to stop goals than to score them.

Tomas Kaberle, Canadiens: Kaberle is seemingly a placeholder until Subban returns to Montreal. The Czech veteran recorded 6:25 on the power play and put three shots on goal in Saturday's game. Kaberle's upside is essentially gone, especially with a healthy Andrei Markov and Subban waiting in the wings. Kaberle, like most of Montreal's skaters, didn't register a point in the loss to Toronto.

Young Guns

Dougie Hamilton, Bruins: Likely to be forever remembered by Toronto Maple Leafs' fans as the second first-round pick used by the Bruins from the Phil Kessel trade (Tyler Seguin being the other), Hamilton had a respectable debut in Saturday's season-opening win over the Rangers, recording 13:40 of ice time; 4:25 of that on the man-advantage. Considering Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg eat up most of the Bruins' power-play time, Hamilton might struggle early, but the kid is loaded with Rob Blake-level upside. Keep tabs on his ice time.

Mike Kostka, Maple Leafs: Kostka logged an impressive 5:02 on the power play complete with an assist on the man advantage. He was a late addition to Leafs 23-man roster and stands to see ice time as long as Jake Gardiner is experiencing post-concussion symptoms. It's worth noting that Kostka was playing at a point-per-game with the Marlies (AHL), notching 34 points in as many games, and he also saw 20 seconds more power-play time than Dion Phaneuf. It's just one game, but Kostka is definitely worth keeping an eye on.

Justin Schultz, Oilers: In other shocking news, Schultz led all Edmonton defenders in power-play ice time, edging out Ryan Whitney by one second, 3:47-3:46. Schultz put one shot on goal in the shootout win, but was very active in rushing into the offensive zone, getting down as far as the goal line on several occasions. Expect Schultz to roam freely this season and produce, but probably not to the level which he did in the AHL, where he was tied for the league lead in points before the lockout ended.

Justin Faulk, Hurricanes: Last season's co-leader in goals from rookie blue liners, Faulk grabbed an assist, albeit an even-strength one, in Saturday's loss to Florida. Faulk saw 5:30 of his total ice time of 17:02 come on the man advantage. That's not a surprise considering what he did last season, but what is surprising is that three other Carolina players logged over 4:30 on the power play: Joe Corvo (5:48), Joni Pitkanen (4:34) and former first-round pick Bobby Sanguinetti (4:39).

Adam Larsson, Devils: Larsson was a healthy scratch in New Jersey's season-opening win on Saturday, but Devils' coach Peter DeBoer believes Larsson "will play a huge role for us this year." The Devils have several defensemen with a limited offensive skill set, but Larsson does have a flair of offensive to his game, yet he can't crack the lineup. Once he does, he should see second-unit power-play time, which is hardly a ringing endorsement. He's still a project.

Players to consider

Matt Niskanen, Penguins: Already with a goal and an assist through two games, Niskanen sees second-line power-play duty and has produced in the past, totaling 61 points in his first two seasons with Dallas. Considered the throw-in in the James Neal-Alex Goligoski trade two seasons ago, Niskanen is enjoying life in Pittsburgh. His upside is higher than Martin's and he could see occasional time with the big power play unit.

Joe Corvo, Hurricanes: Certainly a maddening player to own, Corvo led all Carolina defenders in power-play ice time in Saturday's loss to Florida and has a track record of producing. His value was a bit down heading into the season, after notching just 25 points in 75 games last year, but he is a mere season removed from 40 points. With Carolina's attack expected to produce, you could do worse than burning a waiver selection on Corvo.

Stephane Robidas, Stars: In deeper leagues, Robidas is well worth a look as he's slated to see time on Dallas' power play and both of his helpers have come on the man advantage this season. Robidas will not usurp Alex Goligoski for the top power-play spot, but he's going to be a factor. Consider him in deep leagues.

Marek Zidlicky, Devils: For what it's worth, Zidlicky is the lone defenseman on the Devils' top power play unit, a unit that regularly defers to Ilya Kovalchuk. Zidlicky has run the system the Devils are using under new assistant coach Matt Shaw. Just temper your expectations. Those in more shallow leagues may want to look at other players than Zidlicky.

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Player News
Pekka Rinne
Preds Expected To Start Rinne On Saturday
Pekka Rinne, G, NSH
11/23/2014
News: Pekka Rinne is expected to be the starter in net for Saturday's game against the Panthers.
Analysis: After backup Carter Hutton got the starting nod Thursday against Ottawa, it would be a monumental surprise if Pekka Rinne wasn't in the net Saturday night. A winner of six of his last seven games, Rinne is expected to match up against the Panthers' Roberto Luongo.

Brad Marchand
Bruins Move Marchand To IR
Brad Marchand, LW, BOS
11/23/2014
News: Brad Marchand (undisclosed) was placed on injured reserve Saturday.
Analysis: The retroactive placement on IR doesn't change Brad Marchand's situation much, as he'll be eligible to return to action at any point after Saturday's game since he last played Nov. 15. The Bruins continue to view him as day-to-day, but moving him to IR will at least allow the Bruins to bring a healthy forward into the lineup.

Devan Dubnyk
Coyotes' Dubnyk Will Start Saturday
Devan Dubnyk, G, ARI
11/23/2014
News: Dubnuk will start in net for Saturday's game against the Sharks, Sarah McLellan of the Arizona Republic reports.
Analysis: Devan Dubnyk will get the start Saturday in the first of two games on consecutive nights for the Coyotes. Dubnyk has played well in his last two starts, winning both and allowing just one total goal.

Martin Hanzal
Coyotes' Hanzal Doubtful For Saturday
Martin Hanzal, C, ARI
11/23/2014
News: Martin Hanzal (lower body) is doubtful for Saturday's game against the Sharks, Sarah McLellan of the Arizona Republic reports.
Analysis: Martin Hanzal took part in the team's morning skate Saturday, so it originally looked like he was going to be able to suit up against the Sharks, but now it looks like he'll have to wait for Sunday's matchup with the Ducks instead.

Andrew Shaw
Blackhawks' Shaw Likely To Sit Saturday, Sunday
Andrew Shaw, C, CHI
11/23/2014
News: Andrew Shaw, who has been ruled out for Saturday's game against the Oilers, is doubtful to play Sunday against the Canucks as well.
Analysis: Andrew Shaw wasn't on the ice for Saturday's morning skate, more than likely dashing his chances of playing Sunday since he won't have skated in consecutive days. His absence could enable the newly-recalled Phillip Danault to receive some regular run in the Blackhawks' bottom six.

Antti Niemi
Sharks Niemi On Tap For Saturday Start
Antti Niemi, G, SJ
11/23/2014
News: Antti Niemi was the first goalie off the ice at morning skate and looks to be the starter for Saturday's game against the Coyotes, David Pollak of the San Jose Mercury News reports.
Analysis: Antti Niemi's been burned for five losses his last six times out, but he's been a victim of poor support from his offense in his last two defeats. He's been roughly middle-of-the-pack as far as fantasy goalies go through 15 appearances this season, as he carries a 7-6-2 record, 2.56 GAA and .917 save percentage into Saturday's contest. Niemi will have a great chance at turning the tide against the 8-10-2 Coyotes, who sit behind the Sharks in sixth place in the Pacific Division.

William Nylander
Leafs Prospect Nylander Dealing With Head Injury
William Nylander, RW, TOR
11/23/2014
News: William Nylander was hit in the head by a skate Saturday while playing with MODO of the Swedish Hockey League, Chris Johnston of Sportsnet reports.
Analysis: The eighth overall pick in this past June's NHL Entry Draft, William Nylander cemented himself as the Leafs' top prospect after narrowly missing out on making the squad out of training camp. The team ultimately decided to send him back to his club team in Sweden, where he's excelled to the tune of five goals and 14 points over 12 games. The 18-year-old will likely be held under evaluation for a concussion following Saturday's incident, but it's too early to speculate how much time he might miss.

Curtis Lazar
Sens' Lazar Won't Play Saturday
Curtis Lazar, RW, OTT
11/23/2014
News: Curtis Lazar (undisclosed) will not play Saturday against the Blues, Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun reports.
Analysis: Head coach Paul MacLean said Curtis Lazar could play Saturday if he needed to, but the team would rather be cautious with him. The nature of Lazar's injury is still unknown, but it sounds like a good bet that he'll be back in the lineup Monday against the Red Wings.

Alex Burrows
Canucks' Burrows Not Practicing
Alex Burrows, LW, VAN
11/23/2014
News: Alex Burrows (upper body) wasn't present for Saturday's practice.
Analysis: Linden Vey was taking his spot on the second line at practice, seemingly indicating Alex Burrows is far from a safe bet to play Sunday versus the Blackhawks. The forward was previously a surprising scratch from Thursday's game with the injury.

David Perron
Perron Will Play On Top Line For Edmonton
David Perron, LW, EDM
6:11 PM
News: David Perron will take the place of the injured Benoit Pouliot (foot) on the top line for Edmonton, according to the Oilers web site.
Analysis: Pouliot is expected to miss at least a month's worth of action so David Perron will be the beneficiary and get bumped up to play with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle. Perron has been a bit of a disappointment this season after being very productive last year with Edmonton. Perhaps playing with more talented linemates will ignite his season.

 
 
 
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