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NHL Skinny: New Blue

Matt Romig
Yahoo Sports

GOALIE HOT SEAT
EDMONTON OILERS RED HOT
1st Chair: Mathieu Garon
2nd Chair: Dwayne Roloson
Skinny: Garon has appeared in four of the past five, starting three. Saturday's win was a spectacular 29-save effort that resulted in a win in the fourth round of a shootout. Roloson checked in with a solid shootout effort of his own Thursday in a 4-3 shootout win over Detroit.
DETROIT RED WINGS RED HOT
1st Chair: Dominik Hasek
2nd Chair: Chris Osgood
Skinny: After introducing the idea of a straight rotation, coach Mike Babcock stuck to his word last week, alternating Hasek and Osgood. With four games in six days on the horizon, there's no reason to think the Wings will deviate from the plan.
OTTAWA SENATORS RED HOT
1st Chair: Ray Emery
2nd Chair: Martin Gerber
Skinny: Gerber essentially has three straight wins. He made 31 saves Wednesday after Ray Emery checked out with a hip injury, but because the game-winning goal was scored less than two minutes in, Emery (one save) got the win. Gerber was fantastic Thursday against Pittsburgh and so-so Saturday vs. Atlanta, both wins. Just when it looked like Emery had taken over, the fight is back on.
COLORADO AVALANCHE HOT
1st Chair: Peter Budaj
2nd Chair: Jose Theodore
Skinny: OK, this one is back up for grabs, with Budaj the favorite following back-to-back wins over Nashville. He came within 21 seconds of recording Colorado's first shutout since March 6 on Thursday, but settled for a 2-1 road win. Theodore allowed three goals on 15 shots in his last start.
ATLANTA THRASHERS HOT
1st Chair: Kari Lehtonen
2nd Chair: Johan Hedberg
Skinny: Here's how coach/GM Don Waddell explains it: "For me, the most important thing is to play the guy who is hot." That's certainly not Lehtonen, who has allowed 6, 4 and 2 goals in three straight appearances, the last two coming in 32 minutes of relief action. Of course, Hedberg isn't exactly on fire, either, having dropped two straight decisions while allowing a combined nine goals. When in doubt, go with the guy who is supposedly the franchise goalie.
MONTREAL CANADIENS HOT
1st Chair: Cristobal Huet
2nd Chair: Carey Price, Jaroslav Halak
Skinny: We're going to keep the recently activated Huet in the No. 1 chair, but it's worth noting that Price will start Tuesday with Huet serving as backup for the second straight game. The Montreal Gazette is reporting that Huet is kinda ticked off about it, too. Price is being rewarded for back-to-back 4-1 victories, but Huet is obviously anxious to get back at it after missing two weeks with a groin injury.
DALLAS STARS LUKEWARM
1st Chair: Marty Turco
2nd Chair: Mike Smith
Skinny: Three straight Turco wins turned the burner down to simmer for Dallas' No. 1 and propelled the Stars into first place in the Pacific Division. Only those persistent trade rumors and the presence of the effective Smith on the roster keeps this "battle" alive on the hot seat.
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING LUKEWARM
1st Chair: Johan Holmqvist
2nd Chair: Marc Denis
Skinny: You can't play for coach John Tortorella and get pulled in back-to-back starts without landing on the hot seat. That said, confidence appears to be low in Denis, and the Tampa Tribune expects to see Holmqvist again Monday.
Scott Niedermayer returned for the Ducks Sunday, was in the starting lineup alongside Chris Pronger, led all Anaheim players with eight shots on goal and had a couple juicy scoring chances in overtime. As the shootout reached the sixth round, it seemed as if we were destined for some Niedermayer heroics, but alas Joe Thornton ended things with a laser shot that beat Jean-Sebastian Giguere. For what it's worth (not much), Ducks broadcasters mentioned that Teemu Selanne has been working out more lately. He could just be trying to avoid that pesky new baby weight. He could be prepping for a comeback. I'll just say this: If I'm a goal-starved fantasy owner carrying some dead weight on my bench, I'm signing Selanne (22 percent owned) and seeing how things play out until mid-January. It's worth the gamble, particularly in roto leagues with position limits where churning players in and out of your lineup isn't practical. Let's see what else we've got …

WEEKEND UPDATE: Need-to-know info from the past few days
Things to do Monday: There is some work to do in the wake of Friday's trade between the Ducks and Blues. Let's start in St. Louis, where Andy McDonald made his Blues debut Sunday on a line with Paul Kariya, his former teammate in Anaheim. Seems like old times. Kariya set up McDonald's fifth goal of the season in the first period, then Kariya and McDonald both picked up helpers on a Brad Boyes goal in the second. For you what-have-you-done-for-me-lately owners out there, McDonald scored 163 points in 164 games with Anaheim from 2005-2007 and scored 10 goals, including four in the finals, during the Ducks' Stanley Cup run this spring. If you own McDonald, this move is a blessing. He needed a jump-start. If you don't – the 5-foot-11 center is untouched in the free agent pool in 30 percent of leagues – he should be a plus player and a point-per-game performer over the last four months and should be owned in most formats.

Heading to Anaheim is Doug Weight, a guy who has completely flown off the radar after playing on the fantasy fringes the last few seasons in St. Louis. Weight had picked up his play of late with four goals and an assist in his last four games before the trade. Fantasy wise, the deal to Anaheim may have been a best-case. He landed on a line with Todd Bertuzzi and Bobby Ryan and picked up an assist Sunday in about 12 minutes of ice time. He's relevant again in 15-plus team leagues or leagues that utilize a three-center format. Ryan, by the way, had 10 goals in 25 games with Portland of the AHL before returning to the Ducks' roster Sunday. He now has two goals in five NHL games this season and is worth at least keeping an eye on.

Forget what I said about: No retractions this week, which means either last week's Skinny was spot-on, or I didn't review it closely enough in light of this week's developments. So we'll squeeze two more endorsements in this space today. Joffrey Lupul (55 percent owned) has six goals and four assists in his last four games. One hat trick can be written off. Two hat tricks in a week is a bona-fide arrival (or re-arrival for those of you with fond memories of his Anaheim days). He's not done. Also, Aaron Voros (4 percent owned) had another Aaron Voros night Friday with a goal, an assist and a 10-minute misconduct against Anaheim. Voorhees, as I like to call him, now has three goals, an assist and 31 penalty minutes in seven December games and there are unconfirmed reports he chain-sawed a cotton candy vendor to death at Staples Center Saturday. Voros is every bit as valuable right now as Coyotes tough guy Daniel Carcillo (88 percent owned).

One-timers: The Denver Post reports there's a one percent chance that Joe Sakic could play Monday or Wednesday. … Chicago rookie Patrick Kane broke a 13-game goal-scoring drought Saturday in Buffalo – his home town. How cool is that? … According to the News & Observer, Cory Stillman (leg) should return to the Carolina lineup Tuesday. It was initially reported he wouldn't play until after Christmas. … For what it's worth, the Rangers' new top line is Martin Straka-Scott Gomez-Jaromir Jagr. Chris Drury is centering the second line with Nigel Dawes and Brendan Shanahan. … Mark Recchi has three points in three games as a member of the Thrashers.

BARGAIN BIN: Top player available in 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues
Dany Sabourin, G, Pit – This one wasn't hard. There's a simple numbers game at work here. In a standard 12-team fantasy league, with each team ideally carrying three relevant goalies, it's not difficult to deduce that the available goalie pool isn't teaming with starters. Well, as of Sunday, Sabourin remained available in about 55 percent of Yahoo! leagues. He's the clear No.1 in Pittsburgh with Marc-Andre Fleury out up to two months with an ankle injury. The Penguins could still address the goalie situation with a trade or waiver move, but until that happens – and frankly, it's not likely – Sabourin is the guy. He has pretty solid numbers (.902 save percentage, 2.90 goals against) that get even better when you consider that eight of his 12 starts have come on the road.

MARKET MOVERS: Charting player values

Josh Harding, G, Min – Already a winner in back-to-back starts, Harding may get a shot at three straight Tuesday. Starter Niklas Backstrom has been sick, and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune is reporting that Jacques Lemaire may let Harding start against Nashville. On Backstrom, Lemaire said, "I know he can do better." Interesting.

Tyler Kennedy, C, Pit – Here I go again. Kennedy spent stretches Thursday and Saturday on Sidney Crosby's right wing. The results: two goals (one a game-winner), two assists and one point on the power play. Of course we know Pittsburgh's lines change by the hour and Crosby, for all his brilliance, really has never elevated the play of his linemates the same way a Joe Thornton might, but Kennedy's elevation to the Pens' No. 1 line has to be monitored. Obviously earning right wing eligibility would help, too.

Rostislav Olesz, LW, Fla – With Ville Peltonen out at least a month with a broken foot, Olesz figured to get more time alongside Olli Jokinen on Florida's No. 1 line. He picked up his fifth goal of the season Sunday.

Antoine Vermette, LW-C, Ott – With Mike Fisher out with a muscle strain, Vermette stepped up Saturday with a season-best three-point effort. Decent short-term add here with Fisher out at least two more games.

Slava Kozlov, LW, Atl – Ilya Kovalchuk and Marian Hossa have been broken up – for now, anyway – which could boost Kozlov's fortunes. He'll be reunited with Hossa.

Radim Vrbata, RW, Pho – A holdover from last week, Vrbata (10 percent owned) has a four-game point streak, tallying three goals and four assists in the span. Going back further, the right wing has eight goals in 10 games. Not shockingly, center Martin Hanzal has seven assists in four games.

Jason Jaffray, RW, Van – He made his NHL debut last week and did so with a goal and an assist against Anaheim. Not much on the scoresheet in two games since, but he did drop the gloves in overtime against Edmonton Saturday. Mason Raymond also has three points in his last three games after rejoining the Canucks.

Bill Guerin, RW, NYI – Wake-up time? Guerin, only 62 percent owned after scoring 36 goals a year ago, has three goals and an assist in his last four games.

Alex Auld, G, Bos – Tim Thomas is back and will resume No. 1 duties, but Auld (4-1 with a .955 save pct. and 1.40 goals-against in Dec.) remains a possible fantasy No. 3 as Boston no doubt won't want to tax Thomas.

Sergei Kostitsyn, LW, Mon – Someone will eventually click on Saku Koivu's right wing, right? Kostitsyn made his NHL debut in that slot Thursday. According to the Montreal Gazette, that makes seven right wings who have auditioned in that role. Kostitsyn has an assist and is a plus-1 in two NHL games.

Andrei Kostitsyn, LW, Mon – Sergei's brother has a five-game point streak (three goals, three assists). If you could combine the two, you'd have a Bargain Bin special. As it is, the brothers Kostitsyn are relevant primarily in deeper leagues.

Ales Hemsky, RW, Edm – I have to be honest: We're almost three months into the season and every time I look at an Edmonton box score, I totally forget weather it's Hemsky or Shawn Horcoff that I own. The answer, every time, is Horcoff, but there are days I wish it was Hemsky, who has 15 points in his last 12 games. Both players are available in about 20 percent of Yahoo! leagues and that number should be closer to zero.

Colby Armstrong, RW, Pit – After a production spike that coincided with a reunion with Sidney Crosby, Armstrong has gone five games without a point and is a minus-5 in the stretch. Further proof that any and all Penguins related advice (see above) in this column should be ignored.

Rick Nash, LW, Cls – Really just an advisory that Nash is banged up following a December 5th cross check. What exactly is sore? Nash says it's his hamstring, groin and lower back. OK, really his entire left side. Maybe the only time when one of those team-issued "left side of body injury" reports are actually accurate.

Yahoo! Friends and Family League
It's another week atop the standings for McLarney from Rotowire, who gets Jason LaBarbara and Tomas Holmstrom back from injury this week. We've got a trade, too, between RW Pucks and Pylons (an exasperated Janet Eagleson has now lost Bryan McCabe and Dan Boyle to wrist injuries and Marc-Andre Fleury to a bad ankle – if you share any players with the Pucks and Pylons, you need to be very concerned about extremities) and second place Bada Byng, who gets Christopher Higgins and Tomas Kaberle.

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League type:
Free Yahoo League
League size:
10 players
Draft time:
Sep 3 9:00 am