A five-goal night by the Mule. Yet another Peter Forsberg ‘I’m coming back; no, I hurt too much’ attempted return. Three fights – on three successive face-offs – in the first four seconds of a game. And a single-blow KO in a goalie fight.
Was there a full moon this week?
Maybe it’s the post All-Star yips. Or maybe guys really enjoyed their mid-season holiday. Whatever it was, it sure was entertaining.
Johan Franzen is just the 44th NHL player to net five goals in a single game and the first to do it since Marian Gaborik did it in 2007. He’s pacing toward 43 on the season. But talk about a trade-high moment – he could get hurt in his very next game. You and I both know his likelihood for injury is insanely high.
Peter Forsberg created a huge buzz and thousands of tweets about his potential return to the NHL. Fantasy owners immediately starting praying for the number-one waiver spot but guess what happened – yep, that surgically-repaired right foot started to hurt again. Geez, really? Never saw that coming.
The Bruins and Stars certainly weren’t thinking with either brain Thursday night. They needed bunk beds in both penalty boxes to accommodate the pugilists from not one, not two but three separate fights at the one second, two second and four second mark of the first period.
I think there’s a bit of bad blood there – don’t you?
But I’m pretty sure we saw history made when Brent Johnson delivered the goalie equivalent of a Gordie Howe hat trick – a shutout win, a fight and a clear-cut, one-punch KO of the Isles’ Swarovski twine tender, Rick DiPietro. And with a left hook, no less. Not bad for a righty.
I don’t think infamous goalie fighters like Billy Smith or Patrick Roy ever chalked up that kind of impressive performance.
Sure brings a whole new meaning to Big Johnson. Who knows what kind of t-shirts will come out of that?
Now let’s take a look at what else caught my eye this week.
Derick Brassard, C, Columbus (26 percent owned) – Brassard has sublime playmaking skills but his injury history had taken the edge off his game… until this season. His elite skills make him a fantastic power-play guy and the kind of center that Rick Nash needs. And right now, he has points (four goals, five assists) in six of his last seven games. That’s enough to make him a worthy back-fill for an injury. And if he can keep it up, he’ll be a worth a lot more than that.
Andrew Brunette, LW, Minnesota (11 percent owned) – I drafted Mr. Steady (or so I thought) with my sights on another 60-point season. But I dumped him after he delivered just 11 points in his first 26 games – a girl can only wait so long for her man to deliver. Of course, things started to improve for him almost immediately (no wise cracks, boys – we’ve both been there) and then they really picked up in 2011. He has points (seven goals, three assists) in seven in his last nine games and 14 points in 15 games in 2011. That’s roster worthy in almost every format.
Jason Demers, D, San Jose (15 percent owned) – The Sharks are desperate for someone – anyone – other than Dan Boyle to produce from the blue line. A trade is in the offing but until then, Demers is the latest candidate to step up on the blue line; he has three points and a plus-6 rating in his last four games. He’s definitely a short-term fantasy fix despite those tasty slappers and ripping wristers. Sure, he can join the rush. But his defensive awkwardness remains. Use him and then ditch him.
Cody Franson, D, Nashville (7 percent owned) – I just don’t know how the Preds keep doing this. They’re the factory for defensemen and Franson is just one more of the studs produced by the team. Sure, he still needs to work on his gap control and many more of the facets of defensive-zone work. But who cares when you drain seven points in his your last nine games?
Brad Marchand, C, Boston (12 percent owned) – I’m just waiting for the day this talented sparkplug gets his LW eligibility. He’s rolling on the port side of Patrice Bergeron’s line and he’s absolutely thriving there. He has nine goals in his last 13 games and 17 points in his last 14 games. His 14 goals overall put him ahead of teammate Nathan Horton and his plus-24 puts him squarely into the middle of the league’s top-10 in that category. His value is limited at pivot but it starts to climb quickly if he gets that extra eligibility. Keep an eye on it and be ready to pounce.
Vinny Prospal, LW, NY Rangers (13 percent owned) – Vinny played his first game of the season on Thursday night. And while he looked rusty after missing 53 games, he did lead the Rangers in shots with five, one of which found twine. He’s about to turn 35 and he’s coming off knee surgery. But he’s going to skate with Marian Gaborik at even strength and that could result in some easy points.
Teddy Purcell, RW, Tampa Bay (11 percent owned) – Just look who’s the spark that’s firing up Simon Gagne and Vincent Lecavalier. This undrafted Newf is on fire right now with three goals and four assists in his last three games. Ryan Malone is hurting; Teddy will get every chance to shine.
James Reimer, G, Toronto (11 percent owned) – I mentioned him last week and what did he go out and do this week? Only register a shutout and pretty much seal up the starter’s gig going forward. That is unless the Leafs actually thing think they’re going to get trade value out of Jean-Sebastian Giguere by playing him a lot. I’d be starting Reimer if I was Ron Wilson… the Leafs play a whole lot better in front of Reimer than they do with anyone else.
Mikael Samuelsson, RW, Vancouver (55 percent owned) – OK, so this guy has come by his Logo Hunter nickname honestly. You know – grab the puck, skate to some insanely wide angle and fire the puck into the goalie’s chest. Lots and lots of times. He can really boost your SOG but right now, he’s actually delivering more than that. He has six points in his last four games and it looks like he’ll get a shot at replacing the injured Alexander Edler on the point on the Orca’s PP. That may not last all that long but at least the shooting angles will be better. Then again, he might become a shin pad assassin instead. At least his current 50-point pace should improve and that might provide you with some multi-category value.
Devin Setoguchi, RW, San Jose (21 percent owned) – This guy is fast and physical, and he owns a seeing-eye shot. But after exploding for 31 goals and 65 points two years ago, Gootch fell off the map last season – and most of this one, too. But it looks like the chemistry he found last postseason with Ryan Clowe and Joe Pavelski has returned over the last four games and those pheromones have produced a four-game, six-point streak. It may not last. But it might. And he’s a cheap pickup right now.
Mats Zuccarello, LW/RW, NY Rangers (4 percent owned) – Christmas came early for the Norwegian Hobbit. Since his call-up on Dec. 23, Zuccarello has delivered a surprising 13 points in 19 games – that’s a 56-point pace. And right now, he’s on a three-game, five-assist streak and that includes three on the power play. He may be miniscule but he has an uncanny ability to absorb pressure and use it as a catalyst. And his hockey sense is off the charts – it’s almost a “sixth sense” it’s so intuitive. I fear for him long-term but then again, he’s only slightly smaller than Marty St. Louis. And look what he’s managed to accomplish.
Dan Hamhuis, D, Vancouver (15 percent owned) – Don’t get me wrong – I really like this steady, boy-next-door. Some people think he’ll get Alexander Edler’s prime-time ice and he just might. But Edler wasn’t just an offensive player – he ate up big minutes in an all-round role. Hamhuis is the perfect guy to cover that loss and that means his limited offense might just tail off completely. Use his five points in his last seven games to your advantage and trade him. He has talent but he’s just too good in his own zone for the Orcas to use him in any different way.
Back to the Big Johnson.
I loved his post-game reaction – the guy was as humble as anything, saying he didn’t mean to hurt anyone. I believe him – he doesn’t profile like crazy man Hextall or lumberjack Smith.
I do smell a new category in the All-Star Skills Competition, though? It’d be guaranteed to lift people out of their seats.
Just don’t get me started on that so-called “fantasy draft” last Friday night. Fun, yes but it wasn’t a fantasy draft. Mind you, Eric Staal picked his team like a poorly-educated fantasy owner. Buddies, hometown boys and c’mon – Cam Ward as the top pick? Hmmm… can you spell over-draft?
Until next week.