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Scott Pianowski

Red-Light District: Dustin Byfuglien marks his territory

Scott Pianowski
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A modest six games were on the Thursday slate but it's enough for us to stroll through the RLD, looking for available fantasy talent and tracking all the goalie movements, good and bad.

Fantasy owners used to dig Dustin Byfuglien(notes) because he was a sneaky, rule-bending pick – a steady if unspectacular scoring forward who still carried defense eligibility. But the Byfuglien we see nowadays is worth your fantasy attention even without the blue-line tag that used to push him over the top.

The Blackhawks like Byfuglien on the power play because of his size, toughness and quick release; teams can't seem to clear this wide body out of the slot. He's already collected two power-play goals through seven games (including one Thursday) but the fantasy community has been slow to respond – the underrated power forward remains available in 70 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Finally comfortable with the position change and surrounded by the best teammates he's had in his brief career, Byfuglien looks primed for a career season; start thinking about 25-30 goals, 100 penalty minutes and well over 200 shots. Get in on this story while there's still time, gamers.

Alexander Ovechkin is going to look good with any line pairing, but maybe he really took a liking to his new chaps Thursday night. Ovechkin skated most of the evening with Mike Knuble(notes) and Brendan Morrison(notes) and the result was tasty – No. 8 went for two goals and 13 shots, while Knuble and Morrison assisted on both tallies. I'll sign off on Morrison as a short-term rental while this trio stays together, and the steady Knuble should already be owned in any sort of competitive group.

The Red Wings might be just another good club in the Western Conference this year as opposed to one of the true bullies on the block, but we still have to take this offense – and this power play – seriously. Tomas Holmstrom's(notes) modest ownership count (25 percent) surprises me a bit; he's parked in the slot on Detroit's first PP unit and he's off to a solid start in 2009 (four goals). Give Homer a little extra ice time with Johan Franzen(notes) down and we might see 25 scores go up on the board.

Buy Ryan Malone(notes) if you can, and if you already have him, hold for the moment (or trade him to me). His game got untracked during a scoreless effort against New Jersey a week back (six shots), and since then he's lit the lamp five times in three starts (and a sixth goal rang off the post midway through the loss at Ottawa). He's playing confidently, he loves to shoot the puck, he likes to hit and be hit; this is the player the Lightning thought it was getting last year.

Goalie Watch: It just goes down as an "L" in the box score but you couldn't fault Evgeni Nabokov(notes) at Washington. He made 32 stops and had absolutely no chance on three of the four goals. … Jose Theodore(notes) had a sharp first period (stopping 12-of-13 shots) before a back problem forced him out of the game. Semyon Varlamov(notes) finished up and kicked out all of the 15 shots San Jose sent his way. … Chris Osgood's(notes) night looks good in the summary but I'm a little concerned about the long-term prognosis. The Detroit defense is allowing far too many rebounds and chances from point-blank range; Osgood's going to have a difficult time with the percentage stats if this continues. … Mike Smith(notes) didn't have a chance at Ottawa; the Senators had at least four clean breakaways and too many other shots came without any Tampa Bay defensive presence whatsoever. The Lightning blue liners should be ashamed of their effort here. Nonetheless Smith hasn't played well in his four starts, and it's no surprise Antero Niittymaki(notes) will get the call Saturday against Pittsburgh.

Where would Craig Anderson(notes) go if you redrafted from scratch tonight? He's got three pretty road victories in a row (Montreal, Toronto, Boston), and that comes on the heels of an overtime loss at Chicago. He's the real deal. … Carey Price(notes) was downright embarrassed on the first Colorado goal and he probably should have handled the rebound on Ryan O'Reilly's(notes) game winner. My hometown fantasy club needs Price to have a big season and I'm officially concerned at this point. … Cristobal Huet(notes) had a much-needed bounce-back game after the nightmare against Calgary, not that the Predators taxed him much (just 14 shots). … Dave Tippett has the Coyotes playing inspired hockey and that makes Ilya Bryzgalov(notes) a sneaky play. The Glove is to a 4-1 start with a sterling .952 save percentage and 1.17 goals-against average. Phoenix has three home games coming in the next eight days but the slate isn't easy; Boston and Detroit come calling, followed by an improved Los Angeles club.

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