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Blue Line Buzz: Weber is back in action

by | Rotowire.com
  •  

(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
Oscar Klefbom
Oilers' Klefbom Will Return Thursday
Oscar Klefbom, D, EDM
12/19/2014
News: Oscar Klefbom (foot) will return to the lineup Thursday against the Sharks, Jack Michaels of the Oilers Radio Network reports.
Analysis: Despite practicing Wednesday, Oscar Klefbom was expected to sit out Thursday's contest in an effort to provide him with more time to heal. However, after the injury didn't seem to compromise him during the morning skate, Klefbom was given the go-ahead to suit up following a two-game absence. He'll join Mark Fayne on Edmonton's second pairing.

Lee Stempniak
Rangers' Stempniak Undergoing Mumps Tests
Lee Stempniak, RW, NYR
12/19/2014
News: Lee Stempniak will undergo testing for the mumps virus and will be isolated from the Rangers for the next five days, Andrew Gross of The Record reports.
Analysis: Though Lee Stempniak hasn't been diagnosed with the virus, the Rangers aren't taking any chances after Tanner Glass and Derick Brassard both previously dealt with the mumps. Even if the tests don't reveal Stempniak's illness to be anything serious, the five-day timeline will force him to miss at least the Rangers' two games over the weekend. The Rangers could recall a forward from AHL Hartford to cover for Stempniak's absence.

Torrey Mitchell
Sabres Labeling Mitchell As Week-To- Week
Torrey Mitchell, C, BUF
12/19/2014
News: Torrey Mitchell's foot injury is considered to be a week-to-week concern, Bill Hoppe of the Olean Times Herald reports.
Analysis: With Torrey Mitchell yet to resume skating since leaving Monday's game with the foot injury, the Sabres aren't expecting him to return in the near future. He could be placed on injured reserve in the coming days as the Sabres look to add further depth at forward.

Cody McCormick
Sabres' McCormick Week-To-Week
Cody McCormick, C, BUF
12/19/2014
News: Cody McCormick (lower body) is considered week-to-week, Bill Hoppe of the Olean Times Herald reports.
Analysis: Cody McCormick has already missed the last three games with the injury and doesn't seem to be particularly close to a return. The Sabres could place him on injured reserve in the next few days to open up a roster spot for a healthy body at AHL Springfield.

Ben Scrivens
Desperate Oilers Stick With Scrivens Thursday
Ben Scrivens, G, EDM
12/19/2014
News: Ben Scrivens will man the net again Thursday against the Sharks.
Analysis: Ben Scrivens has turned in back-to-back credible outings for the Oilers against the Rangers and Coyotes, but he's been cruelly handed the loss on both occasions. If it's not Edmonton's horrid defense that lets him down, Scrivens has too often seen the Oilers' offense fail to provide him with much support. Simply put, the team is a disaster right now and could struggle mightily over the remainder of the season, making its goalie situation one to avoid whenever possible.

Derick Brassard
Rangers' Brassard To Skate Friday
Derick Brassard, C, NYR
12/19/2014
News: Derick Brassard (mumps) will resume practicing with the Rangers on Friday, Andrew Gross of The Record reports.
Analysis: The Rangers put Derick Brassard under a five-day isolation period after he was diagnosed with the mumps last Sunday, and it appears the virus is no longer wreaking havoc on his body. Though ostensibly healthy, Brassard is no sure bet to return to the lineup Saturday against the Hurricanes, as it will likely hinge on how he looks during Friday's skate. J.T. Miller has been absorbing most of Brassard's ice time over the last two games.

Stefan Noesen
Ducks' Noesen Resumes Skating
Stefan Noesen, RW, ANA
12/19/2014
News: Stefan Noesen (Achilles) posted on his personal Twitter account that he was able to resume skating Thursday.
Analysis: Stefan Noesen isn't projected to return until mid-to-late February due to the Achilles injury, so he still has significant hurdles to clear in the recovery process. He'll likely work out on his own for the next several weeks before the Ducks allow him to practice with AHL Norfolk.

Karri Ramo
Flames' Ramo Misses Practice With Illness
Karri Ramo, G, CGY
12/19/2014
News: Karri Ramo missed Thursday's practice with an illness.
Analysis: Coach Bob Hartley said that Karri Ramo called in sick prior to practice, but is expected to return to the ice for Friday's morning skate. He's slated to serve as the backup for Jonas Hiller later that evening against the Stars, but the Flames will bring a goalie up from the AHL ranks if Ramo fails to notice improvement with his condition by that time. Hartley said there's no indication at this time that Ramo is dealing with the mumps, but the Flames are taking precautions nonetheless, according to NHL.com's Aaron Vickers.

Jonas Hiller
Flames Rolling With Hiller On Friday
Jonas Hiller, G, CGY
12/19/2014
News: Jonas Hiller will receive the start in goal Friday against the Stars.
Analysis: With Karri Ramo absent from Thursday's practice due to an illness and uncertain to be availalbe Friday, it was an easy decision for coach Bob Hartley to tap Jonas Hiller for his third start in four games. While Hiller has been unable to snap a losing streak for the Flames that now sits at six games, he's at least outperformed the struggling Ramo recently, stopping a respectable 91.8 percent of the shots he's faced over his last four appearances. The Flames will play their second game of a back-to-back set Saturday, but if Ramo's not healthy by then, look for Hiller to get the call again.

Nick Foligno
Foligno Racks Up Three Points For Jackets
Nick Foligno, LW, CLB
8:39 PM
News: Nick Foligno scored two goals -- one on a power play -- and added a power-play assist in Thursday's 5-4 overtime loss to Washington.
Analysis: On the dark side of things, he went minus-1 and lost eight out of nine faceoffs. But hey, it's a three-point night, so let's not nitpick too much -- especially now that Nick Foligno's officially a point-per-game man, with 30 in 30.

 
 
 
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