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Blue Line Buzz: The Weekly Whip-Around

Dan Pennucci

Dan is a former sportswriter and English teacher. He has been covering hockey for Rotowire since 2002. Supports the New Jersey Devils, Washington Nationals and Chelsea FC.

In case you missed it while watching last Thursday's epic World Series Game 6, a contest of equally sloppy proportions took place in the NHL; Philadelphia and Winnipeg refused to allow baseball a monopoly on spotty defensive play and sketchy coaching decisions, as the Jets topped the Flyers 9-8.

Philadelphia saw themselves trailing 6-2 late in the second period, shortly after free-agent prize Ilya Bryzgalov allowed a goal on one of the first shots he faced, following his relief of starter Sergei Bobrovsky. The ensuing chaos bordered on the ridiculous much more than the sublime, as Philadelphia ran off five straight goals to secure a 7-6 lead early in the third period, only to see the Jets knot up the game 28 seconds later. The Jets then jumped ahead 90 seconds after their equalizer before Philly tied up the game only to see Winnipeg hammer home a late winner. Bobrovsky and Bryzgalov combined to allow nine goals on 25 shots.

One of the early season's more awkward yet massively entertaining moments came in the post-game interviews courtesy of Bryzgalov, whose self-pity in broken English will be something Philadelphia fans and the NHL media shall not soon forget. Bryzgalov essentially claimed he has no confidence whatsoever in his abilities; it's a good thing Philadelphia has him locked up for seven years. (Worth noting: Bryzgalov was sharp in Saturday's 5-1 win over Carolina).

On the more positive side of the stat lines, six players posted three points or better in Thursday's game with Philly's Danny Briere and teammate Kimmo Timonen each notching four.

Weekly Whip Around

- Kimmo Timonen has been intriguing of late with seven assists in his past four contests coupled with a plus-8 rating over that span. The crafty veteran will be seeing even more ice time while Chris Pronger recovers from a scary incident against Toronto last Monday when Pronger took a stick to the eye. The ice time of Timonen's teammate, Matt Carle, will also see a rise despite Carle's minus-7 rating in four games last week, where Carle added two assists.

- After missing 31 games with an injury last year, Alexander Edler is off to an outstanding start in Vancouver and likely was a value for owners in most drafts. Before injury last year, Edler had 33 points in 51 games and currently sits with two goals and seven assists through 11 contests. In the Canucks' 7-4 win over Washington Saturday, Edler notched two goals (one on the power play) and an assist, finishing a plus-3. Of Edler's nine points, seven have come in the last five games and he boasts four power-play points this season. Edler sees plenty of ice time with the Sedins, at both even strength and on the power play.

- St. Louis has been seeing a bump in production from budding star Kevin Shattenkirk, as the Connecticut native had three assists over two games against Vancouver and Calgary last week. As of Friday's loss to the Flames, Shattenkirk had six points in 10 games to go with a plus-3; however none of his six points have come on the power play.

- Florida's Dmirty Kulikov has been mentioned several times already in this column; the Russian is emerging in the season's early going with six assists in 10 games and a plus-3 rating. In his last four games, Kulikov has four assists and two of his season's six points have come on the power play. Currently, Kulikov is owned in just 36-percent of leagues and turned legal United States drinking age Saturday.

- Another Panther blue liner, Jay Garrison, also is joining in on the south Florida fun. Garrison has two goals and an assist the last two games following a four-game drought. Garrison is averaging 2.4 shots per-game with 2:21 of power-play time per contest, which, unfortunately, is fourth-best on the Panthers' roster for defenders. Garrison is owned in a mere six percent of leagues and, of his season's four goals, three are on the power play.

- Dallas is getting a surprise in production from Sheldon Souray, but the man they expected to carry the offensive load from the back end, Alex Goligoski, is mired in an early-season slump. After posting a goal and an assist in the season's first two games, Goligoski has two assists in nine games through Saturday's win over New Jersey. He grabbed his assist Saturday when he blocked a shot that rolled to Souray, who slammed home an empty-net goal, hardly an ideal assist. The helper ended a three-game stretch bereft of any points. Dallas has been a surprise, and given how Goligoski finished last year after his arrival on the Stars, one has to believe he'll find his groove. He is a prime buy-low candidate given his current struggles.

Dr. Quincey, Avalanche Defenseman

The list of league leaders for shots-on-goal by defensemen has rather obvious names atop it: P.K. Subban, Dustin Byfuglien, and Dion Phaneuf, to name a few. One name jumping out to owners is that of Colorado's Kyle Quincey, who is averaging just over three shots per-game. Quincey has two goals and four assists through 10 games with three power-play points. He has always been thought of with having offensive upside (see his 38-point season with Los Angeles in 2008-09) and is owned in less than half of all leagues (49-percent). While shots on goal don't translate directly into production (see Dennis Seidenberg), throwing pucks on goal with a talented group of forwards seeking deflections or waiting on rebounds is highly beneficial to Quincey.

This scoring rate very well could continue for Quincey on a high-flying Colorado team boasting a boatload of skilled forwards primarily because of Quincey's situational ice time. Quincey is seeing an average of 2:20 per-game on a power play currently operating at a 30-percent success rate through Friday; Quicney's ice time on the power play is second to Erik Johnson's 3:06. It is worth noting is that those two defenders are the only players seeing over 30 seconds per-game on the man-advantage in Denver.

Changing Oil

It is hard to decide what piece of information concerning the Edmonton Oilers is more shocking: Ryan Whitney being injured or the Oilers having opted to keep 2011 No. 1 overall pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins with the big club rather than sending him due south to Red Deer and the WHL. Whitney is out for at least three weeks with a knee injury while Nugent-Hopkins is one of a handful of 2011 first-round draft picks remaining in the NHL with Colorado's Gabriel Landeskog, Philadelphia's Sean Couturier and (likely) Tampa Bay's Brett Connolly being several others.

What is slightly shocking about Edmonton, other than Nikolai Khabibulin's resurgence, is the emergence of Cory Potter on the blue line. Potter's name has popped up the last 10 days as the trendy pickup and of his six points (1-5-6), five of them have come on the power play. Edmonton has no shortage of dynamically talented youngsters; RNH, Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle are superbly suitable power-play linemates. Through eight games, Potter is averaging 4:02 of his total 21:01 on the man-advantage. Potter had played just nine NHL games entering this season between the Rangers and Pittsburgh, notching a mere two career points. Potter's teammate, Cam Barker, is clocking in around 3:00 on the power play, but Barker's first point of the season came in Friday's win over Colorado, and he has done little with the opportunities presented to him, unlike Potter.

Don't be surprised when Potter's pace falls off, but Potter is in a tremendous situation given the talent surrounding him in northern Alberta. However, there is no track record for this type of production by Potter.

So Long, Slava

Los Angeles had been playing some outstanding hockey before their shutout at the hands of New Jersey last Tuesday and loss to Phoenix Saturday, having notched three straight shutouts. Los Angeles also boasts a strong blue line; a blue line that was dealt a blow when Drew Doughty missed two weeks recently due to injury. The young man called up to replace Doughty emphatically announced his presence to the league last Thursday.

Slava Voynov bagged two goals and added an assist in the Kings' 5-3 win over Dallas, his first points in the NHL. The goals showed Voynov's versatility, as the first one was a power-play marker that saw him pinch in to finish from close range while the second tally was a bomb from the blue line. Voynov's reward for sparking the win: re-assignment to Manchester and the AHL.

With Doughty returning to action (no points in 20:07 during Saturday's overtime loss to Phoenix), Voynov was optioned back to the AHL in order to receive minutes he otherwise would not in Los Angeles, finishing his initial NHL stint with three points in five games. We cannot see Voynov spending an entire season in the AHL, as his offensive talent can only help the Kings. (He registered 52 points in 79 games with Manchester last year). Los Angeles has several veterans on their blue line such as Willie Mitchell and Matt Greene to go along with stars Doughty and Jack Johnson, but Voynov will play again for the Kings this season.

Questions, comments and suggestions for future articles are welcome. Contact Dan Pennucci at and follow him on Twitter @DVNucci42.

Question of the week: Who is the most frustrating defender on your roster this season?