Our sympathies go out to Joe Sakic, who almost lost a finger (seriously) in a freak snowblower accident. Here’s the lesson we’ve all learned from this, and it applies to just about anything in life: when a piece of heavy machinery is jammed, do not ever use your hand to clear the jam. Even if the damn thing appears to be shut down, don’t do it, because wacky stuff happens. Get well soon, Joe, and hopefully we’ll be talking about your big comeback in March.
Hey, things aren’t totally lost in Florida after all. Nathan Horton goes down in a freak leg laceration injury (seriously guys, what’s with all the bizarre injuries lately?) and the Panthers mix things up by putting together a surprisingly effective new combination of Radek Dvorak, Stephen Weiss, and Gregory “Don’t Suspend Me, Dad!” Campbell. How long will this combination stay together? Well, considering the Panthers don’t have any sort of big-game scorers in the long-term, expect to ride it out for a few weeks until the chemistry eventually disappears.
Early in the season, Wayne Gretzky touted Martin Hanzal as one of his best-skating and hardest-working forwards, and a few weeks ago, the Great One talked with Hanzal about working on his offense. It seemed to work as Hanzal, already an effective defensive forward, has exploded with one of the best Decembers in the NHL. He’s still in relative obscurity in Phoenix so see if you can grab him for a short-term boost.
Martin St. Louis is on fire. Yeah, he’s been hot recently (six-game point streak). Now, what’s motivating St. Louis? Is it happiness because he’s glad to finally be rid of Barry Melrose? Is it desire to get the hell out of Tampa, where a new adventure occurs every day between ownership and everyone below (hell, Oren Koules and Len Barrie probably even swap out the mops that the facilities folks use)? Is it a feeling of responsibility for righting the franchise under new coach Rick Tocchet? Whatever it is, St. Louis is trying his damndest to put the team on his shoulders and run with it. After breaking through against Montreal to end a nine-game losing streak, the Bolts are looking to that as their turnaround night. Will it work? Put it this way — if you have any Lightning players on your roster, now’s the time to ride it out because it will be the only time this season when they’ve got an opening to pull this out of a nosedive.
Joey McDonald, we hardly knew you. Rick DiPietro’s getting ready to finally return, but does he really want to? Seriously, why not feign injury and just stay home and play video games all day? Grab DiPietro if you desperately need a starter in net, but don’t expect many wins out of him. His save percentage shouldn’t be too bad, though, as he’ll be facing a barrage of shots on a nightly basis.
Lee Stempniak, one of the few shining lights on a dreary St. Louis team, was moved to Toronto where he was to become one of the few shining lights on a dreary Toronto team. Well, someone forgot to tell him that because he’s only got a handful of points since landing in The Centre Of The Hockey Universe. Stempniak may still have some fantasy clout, so now’s the time to unload him for pretty much anything.
Don’t cry for Cristobal Huet (and don’t call him Sloppy Seconds unless you want Gary Bettman on your back). Sure, he’s getting forced out of the starter position because Nikolai Khabibulin is back, but really, can we feel bad for a guy who’s getting paid more than $5 million to sit on his butt? That’s the best job in the world! Heck, I’d even take 10 per cent of that for Huet’s gig. If you own Huet, he’s still got some value, though — you have to think that Khabibulin’s trade value has increased since he started playing well and some team will make a move for the impending UFA.
As for the man replacing Huet in Washington? Jose Theodore thought he caught a break when Brent Johnson went down to injury. Only problem is that Johnson seems to be okay. Take heart, Theodore owners; maybe the return of all-star blueliner Mike Green or veteran Sergei Fedorov will somehow make Johnson revert to being inconsistent.
The Week Ahead
- Joel Quenneville returns to the scene of the crime Friday night as he guides his blazing Blackhawks into Colorado, the home of his previous team. As great as the Hawks have been since Quenneville took over for Denis Savard about six minutes into the season, this will be a tough task with Colorado starting to round into form with four straight wins at home and a 4-1-1 mark in its past six games overall. The offense has finally kicked it up a notch for the ‘Lanche, with the team potting at least four goals in all six of those games, including a season-high tying six tallies in a win over the Kings Tuesday. Part of the reason for the resurgence of the Colorado offense is that Milan Hejduk has shaken off his slump. After managing a mere five points in 13 November games, he’s drained a pair of goals and added two assists in the past two games. If someone was dump enough to dump him in your league, pounce now or forever lose your chance.
- When will San Jose suffer a regulation loss at home? Currently 15-0-2 at the HP Pavilion, the Sharks get a veritable laugher Saturday night at home against the struggling Blues, and then head out on the road for the rest of the week. The next legitimate threat to their home ice dominance comes on December 20 when the Rangers dip their toe into the Shark tank.
- Also on Saturday, the Isles visit the Blue Jackets. How’d you like to be a scalper at this gem of a game?