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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
Eddie Pasquale
Caps Sign Pasquale
Eddie Pasquale, G, WAS
12:15 AM
News: Eddie Pasquale has signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Capitals, NHL.com reports.
Analysis: Eddie Pasquale, who was acquired from the Jets on June 28, slots in as a depth goalie for the Caps behind Braden Holtby and Justin Peters. Out of the gate this season, look for Pasquale to split time at AHL Hershey with Philipp Grubauer.

Tomas Hertl
Sharks' Hertl Fine After Knee Scare
Tomas Hertl, C, SJ
12:14 AM
News: Tomas Hertl said the tenderness in his knee that he first experienced in Tuesday's practice isn't anything to worry about, David Pollak of the San Jose Mercury News reports.
Analysis: Tomas Hertl said that he only felt the sensation in his knee because he had been off the ice for more than a month. He'll likely take the next couple days off to rest before continuing his offseason workouts again.

Dany Heatley
Heatley Signs With Ducks
Dany Heatley, LW, ANA
7/9/2014
News: Dany Heatley has signed a one-year, $1 million contract with the Ducks, TSN.ca reports.
Analysis: The 33-year-old Dany Heatley -- who notched 12 goals and 28 points in 76 games with the Wild this past season -- isn't the elite goal-scorer he once was, but he'll provide the Ducks with an experienced option at left wing. Keep an eye on who he ends up skating with in training camp, as Heatley could see increased production with Anaheim if he ends up on a scoring trio.

Sidney Crosby
Crosby Dealing With Wrist Issue
Sidney Crosby, C, PIT
7/9/2014
News: GM Jim Rutherford acknowledged Wednesday that Crosby is dealing with a right wrist injury, but indicated that it has yet to be determined whether the star center will require a procedure to address the issue, the team's official site reports. "Sidney Crosby has been undergoing treatment on a right wrist injury that he suffered during the season," Rutherford noted Wednesday. "Sid is continuing to get medical advice to determine the best path moving forward, including the possibility of arthroscopic surgery."
Analysis: While there had been reports that Sidney Crosby was slated to have arthroscopic surgery on his right wrist in the next few days, Rutherford indicated that a final decision on that front has yet to be made. With that in mind, Rutherford added that the team expects to have a decision on how to handle Crosby's injury "by early next week."

Cory Schneider
Devils, Schneider Come To Terms On Seven-Year Deal
Cory Schneider, G, NJ
7/9/2014
News: Cory Schneider signed a seven-year, $42 million extension with the Devils on Wednesday, Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record reports.
Analysis: After entering his first season in a timeshare in goal with franchise icon Martin Brodeur, Cory Schneider quickly established himself as the Devils' No. 1 netminder of the present and future. He finished with elite ratios (1.97 GAA, .921) and likely would have garnered more Vezina buzz had a middling Devils attack not stuck him with a so-so 16-15-12 record. With Schneider set to enter his age-29 season, the Devils will likely have him for the peak years of his goaltending abilities during the life of his contract.

Patrick Kane
Kane Signs 8-Year Extension With Chicago
Patrick Kane, RW, CHI
7/9/2014
News: Patrick Kane has signed an eight-year contract extension with the Blackhawks that runs through the 2022-23 season, NHL.com reports.
Analysis: Along with Patrick Kane, the Hawks inked teammate Jonathan Toews to a deal with the same terms, with TSN.ca reporting that the duo's contracts carry an average annual value of $10.5 million, starting next season. The 25-year-old Kane, who is coming off a season in which he recorded 29 goals and 69 points in 69 regular season games, remains one of the league's most dynamic wingers and Wednesday's signings ensure that the Hawks' organization will continue to roster one of the league's top forward duos for the long haul.

Jonathan Toews
Toews Inks Extension With Chicago
Jonathan Toews, C, CHI
7/9/2014
News: Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane have both signed eight-year contract extensions with the Blackhawks that run through the 2022-23 season, NHL.com reports.
Analysis: TSN.ca reports that the duo's contracts carry an average annual value of $10.5 million, starting next season. While that represents a big chunk of the team's salary cap, the deals ensure that the Hawks' two franchise cornerstones up front will remain with the organization for the long haul. The 26-year-old Jonathan Toews is coming off a season in which he scored 28 goals and added 40 helpers in 76 games, while maintaining his status as one of the league's top two-way pivots.

Richard Bachman
Bachman Signs With Oilers
Richard Bachman, G, EDM
7/9/2014
News: Richard Bachman has signed a one-year contract with the Oilers, the team's official site reports.
Analysis: Richard Bachman, who saw action in three games with the Oilers last season, will reprise his role as a depth goalie for the team. The 26-year-old is coming off a 2013-14 campaign in which he recorded a 26-19-6 record, with a .908 save percentage and 2.99 GAA for AHL Oklahoma City.

Mattias Ekholm
Ekholm Signs Two-Year Deal With Preds
Mattias Ekholm, D, NSH
7/9/2014
News: Mattias Ekholm has signed a two-year, $2.075 million contract with the Predators, the Tennessean reports.
Analysis: Mattias Ekholm, who was a restricted free agent, will thus avoid arbitration by inking the one-way deal with Nashville. He's coming off a rookie campaign in which he recorded nine points in 62 games for the Preds.

Mac Bennett
Montreal's Bennett Ticketed For Hamilton
Mac Bennett, D, MON
7/9/2014
News: Mac Bennett, who is participating in Montreal's development camp, is expected to play for Hamilton of the American Hockey League this season, the Montreal Gazette reports.
Analysis: Mac Bennett is a 2009 draft pick who decided to play a full four-year collegiate career at the University of Michigan. The four years gave Bennett time to add strength and weight to his frame.

 
 
 
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