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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
Garrett Mitchell
Capitals' Mitchell Inks Two-Year Deal
Garrett Mitchell, RW, WAS
6/3/2015
News: Garrett Mitchell signed a two-year, two-way contract with the Capitals on Tuesday, Alex Prewitt of the Washington Post reports.
Analysis: Garrett Mitchell has yet to suit up in the NHL, but has logged 224 career games with AHL Hershey. Last season, Mitchell scored four goals and tallied four assists while racking up 121 PIM for the Bears. He'll compete for a spot with the Caps during training camp, but he's mostly likely bound for the AHL again.

R.J. Umberger
Flyers' Umberger Coming Along
R.J. Umberger, LW, PHI
3:38 PM
News: R.J. Umberger indicated Monday that he's recovering well from March 19 surgery to repair his right hip and bilateral abdominal areas. "It's coming up on 11 weeks since my surgery and I couldn't be happier with the progress I'm making and the strength I'm getting back," Umberger said. "I basically totally rebuilt my core system. I'm strengthening my hip, my back, and it's been a good process."
Analysis: The procedure kept R.J. Umberger out for the Flyers' remaining 13 games, spelling a premature end to a 2014-15 season that saw the 33-year-old finish with a career-worst 15 points across 67 contests. Umberger qualified as a massive disappointment after he was acquired in exchange for one of the team's most popular stars in Scott Hartnell, but playing through the injury likely had much to do with his awful numbers. With Umberger feeling fresh heading into 2015-16, he should make for a respectable bounce-back target.

Jeff Petry
Habs' Petry Inks Six-Year Deal
Jeff Petry, D, MON
3:15 PM
News: Jeff Petry signed a six-year, $33 million contract with the Canadiens on Tuesday.
Analysis: Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin stated that re-signing Jeff Petry would be an offseason priority back in mid-May. Today's news has proven Bergevin is a man of his word, as the Canadiens now have Petry locked up through the 2020-21 season. The 27-year-old defenseman tallied 22 points this season, seven of which came in the 19 regular-season games he played in a Canadiens uniform after being dealt by the Oilers in early March. Petry also registered three points in his 12 playoff appearances with Montreal this season, averaging 22:17 of ice time per contest. He'll likely continue to play with Alexei Emelin as part of the Habs' second pairing next season.

Nate Thompson
Ducks' Thompson To Undergo MRI
Nate Thompson, C, ANA
2:51 PM
News: Nate Thompson played with a shoulder injury throughout the Ducks' playoff run, and will now undergo an MRI as a result.
Analysis: The same shoulder injury prevented Nate Thompson from suiting up for any of the four games of the Ducks' first-round sweep of the Jets. Thompson was, however, able to play with the ailment the rest of the way, starting with Game 1 of Anaheim's second round series against Calgary. The Ducks should provide an update on Thompson's status once they receive the results of his MRI.

Mackenzie Skapski
Rangers' Skapski (Hip) Out 4-5 Months
Mackenzie Skapski, G, NYR
9:14 AM
News: Mackenzie Skapski (hip) underwent arthroscopic surgery Tuesday to repair a labral tear in his right hip. He's expected to be sidelined 4-to-5 months.
Analysis: The 20-year-old will likely spend the entire offseason rehabbing in hopes of returning around the start of the 2015 season. Mackenzie Skapski made two appearances for the Rangers in 2014-15 but spent the bulk of the season at AHL Hartford, where he started 28 games and posted a 2.40 GAA with a .914 save percentage.

Philippe Desrosiers
Stars' Prospect Desrosiers Earns Top CHL Honor
Philippe Desrosiers, G, DAL
5:20 AM
News: The CHL has named Stars' prospect Philippe Desrosiers the CHL's Goaltender of the Year.
Analysis: Philippe Desrosiers finished the QMJHL season with a 2.50 goals against average and a .901 save percentage. It seems low, but in the high-scoring QMJHL that's an impressive mark from the Stars' 2013 second round pick. At just 19, he's not quite ready to be the solution to the Stars goaltending woes, but it's a bit of light out on the horizon for the franchise.

Maxime Fortunus
Stars Will Not Re-Sign Fortunus
Maxime Fortunus, D, DAL
5:13 AM
News: Maxime Fortunus revealed on Monday that the Stars organization has informed him that he will not be re-signed this summer, according to Sean Shapiro.
Analysis: Maxime Fortunus captained AHL Texas to their 2014 Calder Cup victory in one of three seasons he's spent as team captain. He was also a captain of the AHL All-Star team this season. The veteran defenseman posted nine goals and 25 assists in 65 AHL games, but has totaled just nine career NHL games. He'll certainly get signed, he doesn't figure to make an impact in fantasy hockey.

Pascal Dupuis
Pens' Dupuis Is Blood Clot Free
Pascal Dupuis, LW, PIT
12:54 AM
News: Pascal Dupuis is no longer dealing with the blood clots that ended his season prematurely, Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports.
Analysis: While the fact that Pascal Dupuis is "clot-free" is certainly encouraging, general manager Jim Rutherford stated that "there are other things from a medical point of view that have to be looked at." It seems as though Dupuis' future with the Penguins, and perhaps the NHL in general, remains uncertain.

Ryan McDonagh
Rangers' McDonagh In Walking Boot And On Crutches
Ryan McDonagh, D, NYR
12:43 AM
News: Ryan McDonagh is currently donning a walking boot and using crutches due to the broken foot he suffered in the Eastern Conference Final against Tampa Bay, Andrew Gross of The Record reports.
Analysis: He'll remain in a walking boot and on crutches for four weeks, at which point his broken foot will be re-evaluated. While a broken foot is certainly nothing to scoff at, if all goes well with the healing process, Ryan McDonagh should be ready for the Rangers' training camp in September.

Michael Dal Colle
Isles' Dal Colle Wins Memorial Cup
Michael Dal Colle, LW, NYI
6/1/2015
News: Dal Michael Dal Colle finished tied for the team lead in points as his junior team won the Memorial Cup, according to the Islanders website.
Analysis: Dal Michael Dal Colle has been everything the Islanders hoped for when they selected him with the 5th overall pick in the 2014 draft. He finished the season with 42 goals and 93 points and then added another eight goals and 23 assists in the playoffs. He is a player to watch in dynasty drafts.

 
 
 
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