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Blue Line Buzz: Weber is back in action

by | Rotowire.com
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(All statistics through Saturday, December 21)

No Peeking?

The debate continues as to whether Montreal star and current Norris Trophy holder P.K. Subban will be on the Canadian Olympic team. His game has been dissected, studied and every second of ice time analyzed with people seemingly either for his inclusion or vehemently against it, for some reason. Subban has always been a lightning rod for criticism, but some of this seems unfounded considering how he can simply dominate a game and keep possession in the offensive end.

Every mistake, no matter how minor, is broken down and cited. Canadian Olympic Team coach Mike Babcock feels he “needs to trust every player on the ice” and some worry about Subban's penchant for taking offensive risks, especially on the larger Olympic rink surface exists.

Subban's statistics aren't in question, with five goals and 27 points through 38 games. Then there is the fact that Canada has three presumptive right-side defensemen already in Shea Weber, Drew Doughty and Alex Pietrangelo. The debate over Subban's roster spot has captivated the North American hockey world, a debate that seems like it shouldn't even be happening given Subban's talent. His confidence can often be taken as cockiness and the term “brash” is used to describe his attitude on the ice; however, there is no denying the talent of Subban. As cited by many, the Team Canada brass is concerned with his risk taking, as noted by TSN's Darren Dreger.

This doesn't seem like it should be a question, but it is; a question that is creating discussion, a question that shouldn't even be a question according to Don Cherry.

As he mentioned in Coach's Corner during the first intermission of the Detroit-Toronto game on Saturday, Grapes is baffled as to why Subban isn't a lock.

Of course, what do I know? I'm not Canadian.

When you have one of the league's most dynamic players at your disposal and there is such a rampant debate about whether to include him on All-Star Team, something's afoot.

Can Subban become a U.S. citizen before February?

He's Back

While Nashville remains one of the league's worst offensive teams with 2.31 goals-per game, good enough for 25th out of 30 teams, Shea Weber is again one of the Predators' leading point-producers with 20 points through 30 games. He trails only career Predator David Legwand. Weber has been back to his prolific ways this past week with a five-game points streak that has him with two goals and five helpers over that span. Weber had a goal and an assist in Saturday's loss to Montreal in 29:40 of ice time. (Also of note in that game is that Roman Josi logged 29:10 for the Preds with seven shots on goal, but no points. Seth Jones played 7:49).

Weber producing isn't a shock to hockey poolies, but when he starts to crest, he's been highly consistent throughout his career. Save for the minus-10 rating this season, Weber has not had too many dry spells, unlike last season when it took him nine games to register a point and 15 to find the back of the net. He had three points in his first 15 games last season, but finished with 28 total in 48 games, leaving 25 points for the final 33 tilts. We don't have to tell you that Weber is an elite player, just don't discount the fact that he is on Nashville. If you can pry him from a greedy owner, go for it, just don't expect it to be easy.

Re-Green(e)ing

Mike Green's teammates in Washington have been one of the league's highest-scoring groups of late, seemingly abandoning all notions of defending at some points of contests. The Caps scored four goals and lost to New Jersey Saturday evening after potting five in a comeback win over Philadelphia last Sunday. Finally getting in on the act is the ever-vexing Mike Green, with points in three of the last four games and four of the last six, including his second goal of the season in that comeback win against the Flyers.

It took Green 24 games to find the back of the goal. 24 games. He's the last defender to pot 30 goals and led all NHL defensemen in tallies with 12 during last year's truncated campaign. (He was just one of four blue liners to notch double digit goals in the winter of 2013.) Green has been a frustrating player to own the last few campaigns, campaigns plagued by injury and inconsistency until he and the rest of the Capitals starting scoring goals like it was 2010 toward the end of last season. Green is too good of a player to stay as quiet as he had been. He's notched seven of his season's 18 points in the 14 games since he returned from a minor injury a week before Thanksgiving.

We know what Green is capable of doing, but he's seen some of his power-play time fall in the last week in favor of John Carlson. Carlson has been a streaky player this season but his seven goals are a solid number. However, Carlson has just two points over the last 11 games. While Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Ovechkin are scoring in droves, the Caps' defense can afford to be a bit more consistent. Both Green and Carlson should be targets for those seeking blue line help. Neither will set the league on fire, but Green has the track record of having done it before. Caveat Emptor.

200 miles north of Washington, along Amtrak's Northeast Regional line, Andy Greene has been quite active for the Devils, snagging the overtime winning goal Saturday against Green's Captials, batting a puck out of mid-air off a Braden Holtby rebound. The goal was his third point of the evening as he also grabbed two power-play assists, extending a point streak to three games (2-3-5). Greene won't be on Team USA for Sochi, but the former Miami University star appears on pace to challenge the 37 points he notched in the 2009-10 season.

Greene has surpassed expectations thus far and can be a savvy addition to most rosters if he's still kicking around on waivers. He's seeing power-play time with the team's first unit (Marek Zidlicky (two goals Saturday), Jaromir Jagr, Patrik Elias and Travis Zajac). Greene has not gone more than two tilts without a point since early November. Greene also has been steady defensively and jumping into plays at the right time. He scored the equalizing goal in Friday's overtime loss to Anaheim on a perfectly-timed pinch.

Random Penguin

The Penguins are running away with the Metropolitan Division (which isn't that great of a feat) but the squad is dealing with injuries on the blue line to Paul Martin, Brooks Orpik, Kris Letang (due back Dec. 27), Rob Scuderi and the suspension of Deryk Engelland (also due back on Dec. 27). Scooping up those minutes on the blue line is Matt Niskanen (who scored in Saturday's win over Calgary) and 19-year old Olli Maatta.

Maatta is one of the team's brighter defensive prospects and has been enjoying top-pairing minutes with the MASH unit that is the Penguins' blue line. He's been producing too, with five points over the last seven games, playing over 20 minutes in each of the last five contests and a season-high of 28:06 against the Rangers on Wednesday.

Maatta has the talent to produce but has sparingly seen the opportunity, especially when the Penguins have their full complement of defensemen. Maatta will likely be returned to a secondary role once the Pens start getting players back from injury and suspension but he is certainly worth monitoring. There simply aren't enough assurances that Maatta will see regular ice time.

Remember Me?

Remember when the Flyers threw a four-year, $21 million contract at Mark Streit this past summer? The team in dire need of defensive help signed a 35-year old known for his offensive ability. Streit had been all but invisible the first two months of the season, much like the Flyers themselves, however both have found their stride.

While the Flyers are in the midst of a packed Metropolitan Division, Streit has been one of their top point-producers in recent weeks, riding a four-game points streak that's seen him grab two goals and three helpers. Of his season's 16 points, 10 of them have come since November 21. Streit has been a streaky player throughout his career, but he has produced. He's eating power-play time alongside a resurgent Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek and has a track record of producing. Given's Streit's history, the odds are that the season's first two months are the aberration, just expect a few ebbs from the aging Swiss master.

Question of the Week: P.K. on Team Canada? Why or Why Not?

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Player News
Mike Mottau
NHLer Mottau Calls It A Career
Mike Mottau, D, FLA
8/19/2014
News: Mike Mottau announced his retirement from professional hockey Tuesday, Joe Haggerty of CSNNE.com reports.
Analysis: The Massachusetts native was exploring the option of playing with AHL Providence to stick with his hometown Bruins organization, but decided he was content to spend more time with his family. Mike Mottau, 36, appeared in 321 career NHL games with the Rangers, Flames, Devils, Islanders, Bruins and Panthers, with his most productive seasons coming in the late-2000s with New Jersey.

Josh Harding
Wild's Harding Cleared For Training Camp
Josh Harding, G, MIN
8/19/2014
News: Wild GM Chuck Fletcher said Josh Harding is "a go" for training camp, Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. "Everybody seems to be feeling pretty good, and at this stage, all of our players who were banged up at the end of the season are feeling better. Josh has felt good. Right now we're not expecting any issues for anybody with respect to passing training camp medicals."
Analysis: With an 18-7-3 record, 1.65 GAA and .933 save percentage, Josh Harding was playing as well as any goal in hockey before a setback in his treatment for multiple sclerosis sidelined him after the end of December. Because he's missed large chunks of both of the last two seasons while dealing with the effects of the illness, fantasy players shouldn't look to invest heavily in Harding. Even if healthy, he's no lock to open the season as the regular starter in goal for the Wild with Niklas Backstrom and Darcy Kuemper still around.

Niklas Backstrom
Wild's Backstrom Good To Go For Camp
Niklas Backstrom, G, MIN
8/19/2014
News: Wild GM Chuck Fletcher said Niklas Backstrom (abdomen, hip) is feeling good and and will be ready to participate in training camp, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.
Analysis: Any way you spin it, Niklas Backstrom had a miserable 2013-14 campaign, as the veteran netminder suited up for 21 games and posted a lousy 3.02 GAA and .899 save percentage before undergoing season-ending abdominal and hip surgery. Though he's ostensibly healthy, Backstrom is now 36 and doesn't appear poised to enter the season as the club's starter, especially with Darcy Kuemper and Josh Harding still around. His sizable contract may be the only thing keeping him around.

Jonas Hiller
Flames' Hiller: Fully Recovered From Appendicitis
Jonas Hiller, G, CGY
8/19/2014
News: GM Brad Treliving said Jonas Hiller is "100 percent" recovered from the appendicitis attack that sidelined him in July, NHL.com reports.
Analysis: The incident prevented Jonas Hiller from working out for about three weeks, but he's since returned to the ice to resume his usual pre-camp routine in his native Switzerland. Hiller, 32, is the heavy favorite to serve as the Flames' No. 1 goalie this season after inking a two-year contract with Calgary on the first day of free agency.

Ryan Malone
Free Agent Malone Pleads No Contest
Ryan Malone, LW, TB
8/19/2014
News: Ryan Malone pleaded no contest Tuesday to his DUI charge stemming from an April arrest, but did agree to a pretrial diversion program for the cocaine possession charge he received in the same incident, Matt Baker of the Tampa Bay Times reports.
Analysis: The diversion program will help Ryan Malone's chances of getting the felony drug charge dismissed if he completes the required criteria. Malone's pending legal issues have made teams reluctant to extend a contract offer just yet, but several clubs are said to be interested in the 34-year-old. Once he completes the program and completes community service for his DUI charge, Malone should latch on with a team.

Nick Petrecki
Ex-Shark Petrecki Signs AHL Deal
Nick Petrecki, D, SJ
8/19/2014
News: Nick Petrecki signed a one-year AHL contract with Rochester on Tuesday.
Analysis: Nick Petrecki spent most of the past season with AHL Worcester of the San Jose organization, before joining Rochester in a late-season loan. In total, the former first-round selection totaled a goal, three assists and 82 PIM in 49 minor league games. He'll function as a depth player for the Buffalo organization.

Eric Selleck
Coyotes Ink Selleck To AHL Contract
Eric Selleck, LW, FLA
8/19/2014
News: Eric Selleck signed a minor-league contract with AHL Portland on Tuesday.
Analysis: Eric Selleck, 26, is a longtime AHL vet who offers much physicality on the checking line. He's totaled at least 160 penalty minutes in each of his last four seasons in the minors, but won't have great odds of earning a promotion to Arizona at any point.

Clarke MacArthur
Sens Extend MacArthur Five Years
Clarke MacArthur, LW, OTT
8/19/2014
News: Clarke MacArthur inked a five-year, $23.25 million extension with the Senators on Tuesday, Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun reports.
Analysis: Clarke MacArthur was already under contract for $3.25 million for this season, so the new five-year deal won't kick in until 2015-16, keeping him under team control through the end of the 2019-20 campaign. The 29-year-old totaled a career-best 24 goals, 78 PIM and plus-12 rating in his first season in Ottawa, and will be counted on to fill a top-line role long-term on the left wing.

Steve Mason
Flyers' Mason Returns To Ice
Steve Mason, G, PHI
8/18/2014
News: Steve Mason (finger) returned to the ice Monday for the first time since breaking his finger three weeks ago, Frank Seravalli of the Philadelphia Daily News reports.
Analysis: With training camp still a month away, the expectation is that Steve Mason will be healthy enough by that time to participate in full activities. After having to fight for his job as the No. 1 goalie a season ago, Mason will be the team's unquestioned top option between the pipes after going 33-18-7 with a 2.50 GAA and .917 save percentage in 2013-14.

Mark Borowiecki
Sens' Borowiecki Receives Three-Year Extension
Mark Borowiecki, D, OTT
8/18/2014
News: Mark Borowiecki and the Senators agreed to terms on a three-year, $3.3 million contract Monday, Ken Warren of the Ottawa Citizen reports.
Analysis: Mark Borowiecki was already set to enter the upcoming season with a guaranteed NHL contract for the first time in his career, so the extension just give him some more long-term security with the Senators. The 25-year-old hasn't shown much of a knack for scoring with the Senators or at AHL Binghamton over the last several seasons, but with regular playing time, he could rank among the league's PIM leaders on the blue line.

 
 
 
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