Streaks and injuries. We discuss them a lot in the Daily Dose and in conversations in general, yet on a jampacked Tuesday night, they seemed like the closest thing to a coherent “theme” available.
There’s a lot to unpack from last night, so I’d advise also scrolling through Rotoworld NHL’s news and headline pages (not to mention Pro Hockey Talk) to grab a comprehensive view. Really, it’s a pretty great idea to do both if you want to stay informed, anyway.
With that, let me try to hit on the high and low points.
-- John Gibson was placed on IR on Tuesday, with the Anaheim Ducks estimating that he’ll miss about six weeks. While Frederik Andersen is himself banged up at the moment, he did practice, and is the clear winner of this goalie battle more or less until 2015 rolls around (if not longer). Tough blow for Gibson owners, but at least he can be stashed on IR if you don’t have someone better in that spot.
-- Patrick Sharp is out indefinitely with an injury suffered during last night’s win against the Montreal Canadiens, who are starting to get exposed after an unsustainable run of comeback victories. Sharp was off to a heavy SOG start, so this is an extra bummer.
-- David Krejci remains in frustrating day-to-day injury limbo. With the Boston Bruins seemingly rallying with Zdeno Chara on the shelf, maybe they should see how long they can get away with their second-line/1B center being out of the lineup, too?
-- Keep an eye on Zach Parise's status, too, as he seemed to get banged up last night.
-- Ryan Murray suffered a lower-body injury, because it’s not really a day until a Columbus Blue Jackets player comes up with some kind of dispiriting ailment.
-- Where streaks collide: The Carolina Hurricanes have now won three games in a row … granted, the latest gave the Columbus Blue Jackets their sixth consecutive loss. (Aside: rather than wondering if deities hate Cleveland, perhaps this run of injuries means that some sort of force just generally dislikes Ohio? Then again, LeBron came back so …)
Anyway, as far as I can tell, there are at least two consistent threads to the Hurricanes’ winning streak: Cam Ward is winning and they’re noticeably out-shooting opponents.
Granted, their wins have come against the squalid Arizona Coyotes, a notably inconsistent (right now) Los Angeles Kings squad and this shambling corpse of a Columbus crew, but Carolina isn't likely to complain. Friday could be an interesting barometer, as while it's once again versus the Blue Jackets, Columbus gets a couple days to heal up.
(Or have anvils fall on the heads of more players, because good grief ...)
-- I really like Braden Holtby from a value perspective, yet it's tough not to blame him a little bit for the Washington Capitals' struggles. Spread the blame net wider to Justin Peters and maybe the most obvious concern is goaltending.
Simply put, 3-3-2 with an .891 save percentage is nowhere near good enough for Holtby, who one would think would be in line to make a lot more money than the piddling $1.85 million cap hit he's registering. At least, if he gets his act together ...
-- Thomas Greiss is the main reason the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Minnesota Wild in a battle of early powers (and organizations who seem like cousins in some ways, as Chuck Fletcher and Mike Yeo have some roots in Pittsburgh). I thought we'd see Greiss more this season, yet so far my "Marc-Andre Fleury will be surprisingly good at a convenient time, aka a contract year" prediction was more accurate. "MAF" is 7-2-0 with a .931 save percentage with three shutouts already, including two in a row.
That's impressive, but eventually the Penguins might slow down a bit when their goalies regress. Then again, with an 8-3 in this streak, it's clear Pittsburgh can bring the firepower when needed, as well.
-- The St. Louis Blues haven't exactly enjoyed the largest margins for error during their six-game winning streak. Two of the wins were shootouts, one was in OT. Two more were by one goal, so only one victory in this streak was by a considerable margin (and that came 2-0).
The Blues have been dealing with all kinds of ailments, so it's a bit much to ask them to dominate. Just some food for thought, though.
One extra nugget in that regard: Jake Allen could conceivably push Brian Elliott this season. He's 3-1-0 with two shutouts and a .959 save percentage.
I know people beat up on Elliott, but in an age in which teams hand goalies huge contracts even though the position can be really erratic, I'd rather go cheap like the Blues. It doesn't hurt when you have a "backup" as strong as Allen in case Elliott falters, either.
-- As excited as I was about the prospect of watching an already-dynamic Dallas Stars team with Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky, I also came into the season wondering about the team's balance. With their fifth loss in a row, Dallas is now at an unsettling sort of balance at 4-4-4.
(Aside: anyone worried about the sanctity of historic records/etc. in decrying a 3-2-1 point system should look at the Stars’ ridiculous record and ponder the purity that’s already been lost. Seriously, we’ve already hit a point of no return.)
Ultimately, the Stars have their obvious worth-it guys (Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, Spezza, Antoine Roussel in PIM and hits leagues maybe), useful-with-a-disclaimer types (Kari Lehtonen, because of a defense that might occasionally hang him out to dry) and everyone else. Anyone’s starting goalie should be a little worried when a dangerous team like Dallas comes up on the schedule, yet that doesn’t mean this is an automatic playoff team. I think they’ll be in more or less the same position as 2013-14: scratching and clawing to try to make the postseason.