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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
James Sheppard
Sharks Activate Sheppard
James Sheppard, LW, SJ
12:58 AM
News: James Sheppard (knee) has been activated from his rehab assignment at AHL Worcester, David Pollak of the San Jose Mercury News reports.
Analysis: After appearing in two rehab games for Worcester over the weekend, James Sheppard was given clearance to return to the NHL club, with whom he'll make his season debut Tuesday versus the Bruins. He's set to man the Sharks' third line, with Andrew Desjardins and Tomas Hertl flanking him on the wings.

Raffi Torres
Sharks' Torres Will Avoid Second ACL Surgery
Raffi Torres, LW, SJ
12:55 AM
News: Raffi Torres (knee) will not require a second operation on his torn ACL, David Pollak of the San Jose Mercury News reports.
Analysis: It's a fortunate bit of news for Raffi Torres, and while he's now in line to return earlier than originally anticipated, he's still looking at a lengthy recover timetable. Rather than opting for surgery, Torres will instead work on strengthening the muscles around the injured right knee, a process that will likely last two months or longer. Torres will train in his native Toronto before visiting the Sharks staff for a checkup at some point in November or December.

Pekka Rinne
Preds Likely To Go With Rinne On Tuesday
Pekka Rinne, G, NSH
12:48 AM
News: Pekka Rinne is expected to return to the net Tuesday versus the Coyotes, NHL.com's Robby Stanley reports.
Analysis: The Predators received a highly-impressive outing from backup Carter Hutton during the team's most-recent tilt with the Blackhawks, but he's no threat to cut into Pekka Rinne's workload. The two-time Vezina Trophy nominee has certainly put himself under early consideration for that honor again through his first four starts in 2014-15, going 3-0-1 with a 1.22 GAA and .948 save percentage.

Patrik Nemeth
Stars Place Nemeth On IR
Patrik Nemeth, D, DAL
12:44 AM
News: Patrik Nemeth (arm) was placed on injured reserve Tuesday.
Analysis: The move to injured reserve was a foregone conclusion for Patrik Nemeth, after he was ruled out for the remainder of the regular season following surgery for a serious arm laceration. The Stars hope that Nemeth will be able to contribute at some point during the team's potential playoff run, but such a decision would hinge entirely on how much progress the blueliner makes in the coming months.

Valeri Nichushkin
Stars' Nichuskin (Groin) Moved To IR
Valeri Nichushkin, RW, DAL
12:40 AM
News: Valeri Nichushkin (groin) has been placed on injured reserve.
Analysis: Valeri Nichushkin has already been out for over a week with the lower-body ailment, so the move to IR doesn't come as much of a surprise. It's uncertain how much longer the Stars will be without the services of Nichushkin, but the youngster was able to get in a skate Monday, Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News reports, suggesting a return to practice may be in the offing. Fortunately for Nichushkin, none of the Stars' other wing options have made a strong case over the last few games to take over his top-line role on a permanent basis.

Ryan Stanton
Canucks' Stanton Moved To IR
Ryan Stanton, D, VAN
12:37 AM
News: Ryan Stanton (lower body) has been placed on injured reserve.
Analysis: The injury will be retroactive to Oct. 17, keeping Ryan Stanton out for at least the next three games. Frank Corrado was recalled from AHL Utica over the weekend to replenish Vancouver's depth on defense.

Ryan Miller
Canucks Return Net To Miller On Tuesday
Ryan Miller, G, VAN
12:31 AM
News: Ryan Miller will be in the net Tuesday versus the Stars, Brad Ziemer of the Vancouver Sun reports.
Analysis: Ryan Miller received his first rest of the season in the Canucks' previous game against the Lightning on Saturday, will backup Eddie Lack taking the loss in his stead. The 34-year-old Miller figures to be rested later in the week when the Canucks play another back-to-back set, but the three-year, $18 million contract he signed in the offseason ensures he'll see a large workload this season. He's been generally excellent in his first three turns with the Canucks, winning all of his starts and posting a 1.95 GAA and .927 save percentage.

Ondrej Pavelec
Jets Rolling With Pavelec On Tuesday
Ondrej Pavelec, G, WPG
12:23 AM
News: Ondrej Pavelec will get the starting nod Tuesday versus the Hurricanes, Ken Wiebe of the Winnipeg Sun reports.
Analysis: Ondrej Pavelec's been the recipient of some poor offensive support by his mates to saddle him with a 1-3-0 record, but his 2.61 GAA and .906 save percentage through five games aren't world-beating, by any means. Just as was predicted heading into the season, Pavelec looks like one of the league's weakest starting netminders, though he should be a fine fantasy play Tuesday against Carolina, the NHL's only winless team.

Radko Gudas
Bolts' Gudas Doubtful For Tuesday
Radko Gudas, D, TB
12:12 AM
News: Radko Gudas (lower body) is doubtful to play Tuesday versus the Flames, Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune reports.
Analysis: Radko Gudas was generally expected to return to action in time for Monday's tilt with the Oilers, but he hasn't quite progressed as quickly as the Bolts had anticipated. While a long-term absence looks to be off the table for the blueliner, he'll still head off to the press box for his fourth consecutive contest.

Jonathan Drouin
Bolts' Drouin Quiet In Debut
Jonathan Drouin, LW, TB
12:07 AM
News: Jonathan Drouin (thumb) turned in a quiet outing in his NHL debut Monday against the Oilers, attempting one shot on goal and finishing with a minus-1 rating over 16:10 of ice time.
Analysis: Jonathan Drouin was activated from his rehab assignment at AHL Syracuse on Sunday, but was expected to sit out Monday's game, until an injury to Alex Killorn (undisclosed) ushered the youngster into the lineup. With both Killorn and Ryan Callahan (upper body) doubtful to play Tuesday versus the Flames, Drouin will slot into the Bolts' top-six forwards for a second straight game. It shouldn't take long for the much-hyped Drouin to cement himself as a mainstay on the top two lines and the team's power play.

 
 
 
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