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Scott Pianowski

Red-Light District: Franzen down, Lucic can see

Scott Pianowski
Roto Arcade

You might have noticed 30 NHL teams in action Saturday night (you know, all of them). Here's a wrap of the action from a fantasy perspective.

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Johan Franzen's breakout season is on hold for now - he left Saturday's game with a knee injury in the second period and he's set to have an MRI Sunday. A crying shame, as Franzen picked up right wing eligibility recently and has been dynamic from the opening drop of training camp. The Red Wings aren't in a position where they need to rush Franzen back, so I can't imagine he'll be involved much (if at all) on the four-game road swing this week.

So Milan Lucic decides to start playing with contact lenses in, and on the second game of this experiment he tosses up three goals and an assist? Yeah, I guess being able to see might help your performance. "It's like going from ordinary TV to high-definition TV," Lucic told the Associated Press. Boston's power forward already had our attention as a possible PIM grabber, but Saturday's breakthrough makes us wonder what the upside really is here. Two of his points came on the man-advantage.

I thought Cam Ward looked a little spotty in the overtime loss at Los Angeles a week ago, but that's old news because he absolutely stood on his head stealing Saturday's game against the Islanders (57 saves). Take that, Michael Leighton.

Pascal Leclaire left Saturday's game with an ankle injury early in the second period. Fredrik Norrena, who's a reasonable backup, played the rest of the way.

A couple of shutouts fell in the NHL Saturday but neither one generated a fantasy ripple because of who recorded them. Start with Brian Boucher who stopped 22 shots at Tampa Bay in a fairly routine night against a floundering Tampa Bay club. It's telling that the No. 1 start in this game was Tampa's Mike Smith, who was busy from the jump (42 saves). Boucher will be back on the bench when the Sharks host Pittsburgh and Detroit this week.

St. Louis fill-in Ben Bishop stopped 12 Florida shots before a lower-body injury knocked him out; Marek Schwarz (five saves) finished up. Neither guy will mean anything to us shortly, because Chris Mason (appendectomy) could be back this week and Manny Legace's hip injury probably isn't a major deal.

In deeper groups it's time to get Mason Raymond on the radar. The Vancouver left winger has a five-game scoring streak going (3-3-6, 21 shots), and he's fitting in nicely on the power-play (where he scored twice Saturday). Two percent owned, Y! Nation? I realize left wing is deep this year, but this guy deserves more than that.

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The Niklas Backstrom hiccup Thursday wasn't a big deal; he was brilliant against Columbus and improved to 5-0-1 with a pretty 1.97 goals-against. Head coach Jacques Lemaire isn't worried about riding his starter too hard - he's told Backstrom that he'll continue to play every night until the netminder decides he needs a day off.

Is Rick DiPietro hurt? Lacking in confidence? Steamed about something? Hard to say, but something is going on with the Islanders. DiPietro got pulled after a period Saturday - Scott Gordon says it was injury-related - and the perennially-unexciting Joey MacDonald played the last 40 minutes in the 4-3 loss (14 saves, two goals).

Peter Budaj stopped 29 of 30 in the win over the Sabres, his third win in a row. With Budaj steadying the ship, you can go ahead and drop Andrew Raycroft for the moment.

Mikael Tellqvist was decent in the loss to Calgary (32 stops on 35 shots), but the fact that he didn't stand on his head means we'll probably see Ilya Bryzgalov back between the pipes against Pittsburgh Thursday.

Injuries have forced some line shuffling in Buffalo, and Jason Pominville is feeling the brunt of it - he's now paired with Daniel Paille and Clarke MacArthur. With that in mind, it's no major shock that Pominville hasn't scored in his last three games.

Another day, another power-play marker for Todd Bertuzzi, who's doing all he can to mock the critics (myself included). I'm still betting on this guy playing less than 70 games.

Niklas Kronwall is always a tough fantasy call because you know he's not going to jump in front of Nicklas Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski on the power play. Kronwall did just about nothing on offense for the first seven games before breaking through against the Black Hawks Saturday (1-2-3). Kronwall's surroundings should push him to around 30 points, but his true upside won't be realized until the veterans in front of him get hurt or opt to retire.

Patrick O'Sullivan has two-position eligibility and a five-game scoring streak going - the time missed from the holdout hasn't held him back one iota. The Kings don't offer a lot on defense, but this is a fun team to watch, anyway.

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With seven quick points and two power-play goals (along with 24 shots), yeah, Mark Streit was worth the dough on Long Island. I'll be stunned if he doesn't go over 50 points, at minimum. His supporting cast is going to be a drain on his plus-minus, but he's making up for it with a little extra chippiness (eight penalty minutes).

Peter Mueller isn't doing a lot so far (just 3-0-3 and 17 shots through seven games), but he did grab wing eligibility and he's still getting plenty of power-play ice. I'm fully confident the results will pick up.

Tomas Plekanec didn't get on the scoresheet Saturday despite a whopping 13 shots. Buy low while the numbers (1-2-3) are down.

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