Scott Gomez and Jussi Jokinen were left off the American and Finnish Olympic rosters when they were announced earlier this month. Since then, both players have been playing some of the best hockey of their careers.
For Gomez, it was more like a last ditch effort to get the Olympic call. In the five games leading up to the announcement, he had nine points. After it became known he would not be a member, Gomez put up goose eggs for a couple of games before getting back on track with eight points in his past eight games. With 18 points in 34 games to start the year, it was hard to justify him being considered for the Olympics. But 35 points in 49 games would make for a tougher decision.
It’s common for teams to make a player a healthy scratch and get a positive response from him after, but it is often overlooked in fantasy leagues that players sometimes thrive after being left off their country’s hockey team. Like healthy scratches, it doesn’t work with everybody, but some players really get the message.
It surprised me Jussi Jokinen was excluded from the Finnish team, given that he’s having a decent season and is one of the best shootout specialists in the world. But he has that “I’ll show you” attitude and has posted 13 points in the 12 games since the announcement. With that surge, his decent season has become a career season, because he is on track to finish with 59 points, four better than his personal best from four years ago.
Another example is Alex Kovalev, who wasn’t a part of Russia’s initial announcement, but has since been added as a “substitute.” How did he win over the Russian brass? By tallying 16 points in 16 games, including a five-point effort against the Flyers.
Two other big examples include Vincent Lecavalier (13 in 12 games) and Jeff Carter (16 in 13). We’ll never know if it’s because the weight has been lifted from their shoulders or if they’re now playing with a chip on them, but whatever the reason, the numbers are definitely going up.
This hasn’t been true in all cases, though. Calgary rearguards Dion Phaneuf and Jay Bouwmeester were putting up ugly numbers before Team Canada’s announcement and they’ve been stinking it up ever since.
It’s tough to say how long the adrenaline will last with the guys who are clearly out to prove something. But ride the wave of production while you can and hope it’s enough to put some jump back into their careers for good.
Farm Report: After a very disappointing training camp, Colorado prospect Ryan Stoa, who was a pre-season Calder favorite of mine, has finally found his way. He has done a complete about-face in the American League and is having a monster 2010: in his past 15 AHL games, he has 11 goals and 18 points. He had nine points in 26 prior to that run. Put him back on your radar for next year. He’s currently up with the Avs and has a point in two games in this recall.
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