GOALIE HOT SEAT
1st Chair: Jean-Sebastien Giguere(notes)
2nd Chair: Jonas Hiller(notes)
Skinny: Coach Randy Carlyle hinted at ditching the win-and-stay-in policy, perhaps because the Ducks have not won since Nov. 27 and the coach would like some say on who's between the pipes. That could be a silent endorsement for Giguere. He's been more effective in defeat lately than Hiller, who has allowed at least three goals in seven consecutive starts.
DETROIT RED WINGS RED HOT
1st Chair: Jimmy Howard(notes)
2nd Chair: Chris Osgood(notes)
Skinny: Howard will start again Wednesday and at least for now Osgood isn't complaining about his diminished role. Since Ozzie recovered from the flu, Howard owns a 6-4 advantage in starts and a 4-0 edge in victories. Howard made 12 third-period saves Sunday, a 3-1 win over the Rangers that was tied until the final minutes.
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING RED HOT
1st Chair: Mike Smith(notes)
2nd Chair: Antero Niittymaki(notes)
Skinny: Smith recorded his first shutout of the season Saturday, which earned him a Monday assignment against the Caps. Niittymaki's .932 November save percentage has earned him a share of the workload, but it still looks like Tampa would prefer to have Smith find his form.
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS RED HOT
1st Chair: Vesa Toskala(notes)
2nd Chair: Jonas Gustavsson(notes), Joey MacDonald(notes)
Skinny: Coach Ron Wilson expect Gustavsson, who recently underwent a second heart procedure, to resume skating in the next few days. Allowing three goals in 20 minutes (including two in 20 seconds) in a relief role Saturday, Toskala once again gets a shot to do something other than kill fantasy ratios in an empty quest for wins.
BOSTON BRUINS HOT
1st Chair: Tim Thomas(notes)
2nd Chair: Tuukka Rask(notes)
Skinny: The Bruins are still calling Thomas the No. 1, but they are also quite happy about the deal that landed Rask, who is now 8-2-2 on the season. If you're a Thomas owner, his 47-percent owned backup is a necessary handcuff.
WASHINGTON CAPITALS HOT
1st Chair: Semyon Varlamov(notes)
2nd Chair: Jose Theodore(notes)
Skinny: It's always a confidence game with Theodore and in that respect his back-to-back wins are a step in the right direction. That said, he was beneficiary of a couple low-stress starts (punchless Hurricanes; 8-2 laugher in Philly). The 72 saves on 76 shots still count though. Varlamov remains blissfully stuck on one regulation loss on the season. Only coach Bruce Boudreau's affinity for Theodore keeps this burner above simmer.
NASHVILLE PREDATORS WARM
1st Chair: Pekka Rinne(notes)
2nd Chair: Dan Ellis(notes)
Skinny: This is why investing in a timeshare is risky business. Rinne had his seven-game winning streak, but back-to-back losses (60 saves on 67 tries) opened the door for Ellis to start on consecutive nights (4-1 win, 5-3 loss and early hook). We should see Rinne again Tuesday against the Canucks, but a loss there could throw this thing up for grabs again. We'll always have November, Pekka.
COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS WARM
1st Chair: Steve Mason(notes)
2nd Chair: Mathieu Garon(notes)
Skinny: Mason and Garon will split starts in a mid-week set of games on back-to-back nights. Suggestion for Ken Hitchcock: start Mason at home. A Garon hot streak could force Mason to the bench as Columbus clings to the fringes of the playoff race. Last year's Calder winner is essentially a matchup play at best right now.
NEW YORK ISLANDERS WARM
1st Chair: Martin Biron(notes)
2nd Chair: Dwayne Roloson(notes) (1a), Rick DiPietro(notes)
Skinny: Chris Botta has your DiPietro update for the week. Sounds like DP's final AHL tune-up could be slated for Dec. 15, which would be right on target with the Islanders' stated mid-December target date for a return to the NHL. I'm still intrigued enough here that I'd make an IR staff if roster flexibility allows it.
PHILADELPHIA FLYERS WARM
1st Chair: Ray Emery(notes)
2nd Chair: Brian Boucher(notes)
Skinny: Emery may be bothered by some nagging injuries and reports of a sour disposition probably won't shock the fantasy masses. Boucher got the start Monday in coach Peter Laviolette's second game behind the bench.
ATLANTA THRASHERS LUKEWARM
1st Chair: Ondrej Pavelec(notes)
2nd Chair: Johan Hedberg(notes)
Skinny: Hedberg started three of four for the Thrashers entering play Monday, winning all three including Saturday's shootout win in Florida. Given all we've been through with Kari Lehtonen(notes) over the years it's hard to believe the Atlanta roster can support two fantasy-worthy goalies, but the Thrashers do rank 3rd in the NHL in save percentage and both Pavelec and Hedberg deserve credit.
We're going to jump right into the bullets this week. When you add up preparing for the most critical weeks of the fantasy football season, trying to get a fantasy baseball preview magazine out the door on deadline and chugging forward with standard in-season basketball and hockey features, you get a perfect storm of fantasy chaos. Not fishing for sympathy here. I couldn't ask for a better job or a better crew to work with. Just asking for a little understanding when some of the regular features here (or on a certain list I "maintain") fall by the wayside.
Along those lines, here's one other programming note: Due to some planning sessions for our coverage of the 2010 Winter Olympics, this will likely be the last NHL Skinny until Dec. 21. We'll handle any breaking fantasy hockey news – particularly those relating to the ongoing goalie battles we track here weekly – in periodic Roto Arcade posts between now and then. With any luck I'll find a window to publish at least an abbreviated Skinny, but odds are we'll be dark next week.
• One-timers: It'll take a Cristobal Huet(notes) slump to turn this back into a full-blown goalie battle, but Antti Niemi(notes) is at least back in the picture after a pair of impressive efforts. A Huet slump? Perish the thought. … Blues rearguard Carlo Colaiacovo(notes) has seven points (two goals) in his last eight games. … Cam Ward(notes) is expected to return to the Carolina goal on Wednesday. … Jackets forward R.J. Umberger(notes) followed up a six points in two games explosion by going scoreless as a minus-6 in a pair of Columbus losses. … Mike Knuble(notes) (15 points in 17) should return to the Washington lineup on Friday. … Andy Greene(notes) continues to hog the minutes on the Devils blueline and at just 15-percent owned he's still outperforming countless fantasy lineup staples out there. His assist Monday gave him 12 points in his last 16 games. … Roto Arcade favorite Niclas Bergfors(notes) has three goals in his last four. … If you don't feel like waiting out Daniel Carcillo's(notes) suspension, try kicking the tires on Steve Downie(notes) (points in three straight, four PIM).
BARGAIN BIN: Available in 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues
Joffrey Lupul(notes), LW/RW, Ana (54-percent owned) – We're bending eligibility rules here. Let's just call the 50 percent thing a guideline and continue. Lupul has been out for a while with back spasms, but returned Friday with two goals against the Wild. The timing of his comeback couldn't have been better. Just 24 hours earlier the Ducks had lost winger Teemu Selanne(notes) for 4-6 weeks with a broken thumb.
Lupul slid right into Selanne's spot alongside Corey Perry(notes) and Ryan Getzlaf(notes) on Anaheim's No.1 line. If you've owned Lupul in the past, you know he's capable of pockets of tantalizing production. Back in 2007 he racked up 18 points in a nine-game span. That was his best point-per-game season in his six-year career, but we're still waiting on even a 55-point full campaign. Red flags aside, Lupul's dual-wing eligibility is nice and the Perry-Getzlaf gold mine is a great place to dig for points.
MARKET MOVERS: Charting player values
Yahoo! Friends and Family League update
Rotowire's Janet Eagleson is enjoying her first Monday atop the standings as again a mere 9 ½ rotisserie points separate first from sixth place. Team Eagleson got big weeks from Mikko Koivu(notes) (3-3-6), Jason Pominville(notes) (3-2-5) and Miikka Kiprusoff(notes) (two wins, shutout), among others. Player activity included recent moves for Brian Pothier(notes), Sami Salo(notes), Randy Jones and Jordan Staal(notes).