Bieksa plays hero... disappointing from Campbell, Keith & Ladd... hidden gems to watch at WC... Salo's dudes sore... heartwarming stuff from Josh Gorges
Kevin Bieksa played hero last night as he had 2+1=3 to keep the Canucks fighting for one more game, at least. He's been chipping in quite a bit lately as he has 3+4=7 in his last seven.
Hard to call out Brian Campbell as he did return a few weeks early from that broken clavicle but his assist last night was his first point of the playoffs... they're going to need more from him if they do advance.
We've been a little disappointed in Duncan Keith's production in the playoffs as after having one helluva season for a blueliner (14+55=69, plus-21, 51 PIMs & 213 shots) that was only overshadowed by Mike Green, Keith has been pretty ordinary in the playoffs with only 1+4=5 and a minus-3 in 11 games.
After the past two regular seasons where he's put up 38 & 49 points and had a lot of people talking up his breakout potential (not us), Andrew Ladd has followed those up with 4+2=6 in 28 games combined over the past two playoffs. We think its pretty clear that this guy has trouble with consistency and after five years and no breakout, the chances that it's ever going to come are pretty remote.
Over at the World Championships, we mentioned a bunch of players that we're keeping an eye on yesterday, those were guys that most fantasy GMs have heard of, today and tomorrow we'll dig a little deeper to look for some hidden gems:
Roman Josi, 19, D, Switzerland - the Predators 2nd rounder from 2008 is playing in his second WC, he's been to four WJC, has logged three full seasons in the top Swiss league and he's only 19. He was the top scoring junior aged player in Switzerland with 21 points in 26 games and then followed that up with 6+7=13 in 15 playoff games. He's probably ready for a new challenge, perhaps the Preds will bring him over to NA next season.
Sami Vatanen, 18, D, Finland - Made every highlight reel at this year's WJC with a couple of beauty goals but it's not all style and no substance for the Ducks 2009 4th rounder as he put up 7+23=30 in 55 games in the SM-Liiga this year which is a hefty total for an 18-year old dman. He's small, only listed as 5'9" & 163, but those numbers and cracking the WC roster at 18 means we'll be watching him closely.
Frederik Andersen, 20, G, Denmark - the undrafted 20-year old was the MVP of the Danish league this past year and has a lot of prior international experience but his performance in Denmark's opening game of the tournament where they upset the Finns behind his 36 saves (on 37 shots) is likely to catch the NHL scout's attention and he could get him drafted this June. It would be nice to see him take on some stiffer competition over a full season and he's made comments that he'd like to come to North America and test himself in the minors.
Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson, 19, F, Sweden - not unknown but we didn't profile him yesterday as he was a late addition to the Swedish roster, but that didn't stop him from putting up three points in their tourney opener yesterday. We're very high on his fantasy prospects as he's already played three seasons in the SEL and was 2nd in scoring amongst junior aged players this year. Expected to make the jump to Edmonton next year and we'd bet that he won't need any time in the AHL.
Jori Lehtera, 22, F, Finland - he made a brief cameo in NA in 2009 when he played 14 games in the AHL for Peoria but he didn't have much success and went back to Finland this past year where he was the leading scorer and MVP of the SM-Liiga. We'd love to see him give NA another shot and stick it out for a season but he'll likely spend another few seasons living the high life over in Europe.
Sami Salo took a shot to the dudes last night and was taken to the hospital for some treatment, no word on what the prognosis was... but I think I speak for everyone when I say, yikes.
Jaroslav Spacek has been cleared to return to action tonight after missing the last nine games with a mystery illness.
Andrei Markov was on the ice yesterday doing some light skating and the interweb is wild with speculation that he's going to make a return soon... that would be pretty crazy but hockey players are crazy so you never know.
What's distracting us today?
- More information than you could ever possibly want to know about Mike Comrie from Puck Daddy.
- Thrashing the Blues is a very odd combination St. Louis Blues / Atlanta Thrashers blog. They posted some choice words by Atlanta Hawk Joe Johnson. Makes you appreciate our NHL players a little bit more, doesn't it?
- Another great reason to watch the Worlds.
- Some serious trash talking by UFC fighter Josh Koscheck to the Hab fans.
- (Mostly) for our American friends... some Inside Hockey goodness from the guys at CBC. First, a feature on Captain Serious Jonanthan Toews. Second, if you're not a fan of Josh Gorges after watching the video below you must not have a heart: