NHL Skinny: Calm before storm

Matt Romig
Yahoo! Sports
1st Chair: Ray Emery
2nd Chair: Martin Gerber
Skinny: The win-and-stay-in game is over. We know that much after Emery faced, and beat, the Flyers Tuesday despite losing his previous start. Coach John Paddock admitted not liking the rotation, but hasn't gone as far as naming a No. 1 yet. "I'll choose (a goalie) or it will evolve, one or the other," Paddock said. So it's still an audition, but give Emery the lead.
1st Chair: Chris Osgood
2nd Chair: Dominik Hasek, Jimmy Howard.
Skinny: Hasek and his hip flexor were played on the IR Wednesday. Anyone else eerily reminded of 2005-06 with the Senators? That year Hasek played his last game on Feb. 11 and the he's-back, he's-not-ready see-saw played out until the playoffs. Hasek has been out this year since Feb. 9. Osgood, meanwhile, blanked Colorado Monday for his first win since Feb. 2.
1st Chair: Martin Biron
2nd Chair: Antero Niittymaki
Skinny: The Flyers finally earned a point Tuesday, thanks in large part to the efforts of Biron, who stopped 33 of 35 shots and staged quite a duel with Ottawa's Ray Emery toward the end of regulation and overtime. Sure it was another loss, but forward R.J. Umberger credited Biron and called the game "something to build off," so it would seem Biron earned another start.
1st Chair: Johan Holmqvist
2nd Chair: Karri Ramo
Skinny: Holmqvist has earned points in four of five February starts with a respectable 2.59 goals-against average. Ramo won on Feb. 12, then sat on back-to-back nights, so it appears that coach John Tortorella isn't dying to give the kid an extended audition. That all changes, however, if a contender decides to deal for an experienced backup and targets Holmer, who almost certainly can be had.
1st Chair: Nikolai Khabibulin
2nd Chair: Patrick Lalime
Skinny: Khabibulin missed three games with a sprained knee, but is expected to start Wednesday against the Wild. Before the injury he posted a 1.68 GAA and .945 save pct. in four February starts. Lalime won two of his three starts while Khabibulin was on the mend.
1st Chair: Ty Conklin
2nd Chair: Marc-Andre Fleury
Skinny: Michel Therrien's original plan called for Fleury to make three of four rehab starts for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton before returning to the NHL. That fourth start is scheduled for Wednesday against Hershey. The stats that haven't counted in your fantasy league: Fleury has stopped 89 of 93 shots faced during his conditioning assignment. Conklin's numbers that count haven't been too shabby, either: 94 saves on 99 shots in his last three starts (two wins).
1st Chair: Chris Mason
2nd Chair: Dan Ellis
Skinny: Mason is in the midst of another performance lapse, having been pulled after allowing three goals on seven shots Feb. 14 followed by a 5-4 overtime loss Sunday. His February GAA is an unsightly 3.26. Ellis has won his last three starts and is turning up the heat again.
1st Chair: Niklas Backstrom
2nd Chair: Josh Harding
Skinny: No fallout from the unceremonious yanking Backstrom received Feb. 12. Coach Jacques Lemaire went right back to him for three straight. All three wound up in the loss column, though Michael Russo of the Minneapolis StarTribune points out that Backstrom stole a point in Tuesday's OT loss. Harding probably starts the second of back-to-backs Wednesday.
1st Chair: Cristobal Huet
2nd Chair: Carey Price
Skinny: Price built up considerable momentum with three straight wins, but the feel-good guy now is Huet, who bailed Price out Tuesday in Montreal's amazing 6-5 comeback win over the Rangers. The heat is by no means off Huet, but he's got some positive energy in his corner now.

We got rain here in Santa Monica, Calif. Tuesday. Barely measurable, but some out-of-towners were complaining. You don't come to Southern California to layer up. Jaroslav Modry – he of six points in 61 games for the Kings this season – was traded Tuesday. He'll head to Philadelphia, where he'll get used to wearing the overcoat. The two events are loosely tied. The trickle of rain Tuesday gave way to an absolute downpour overnight. And the Modry deal, the NHL's first inside of a week before the trade deadline, will almost certainly be followed by an avalanche of player movement.

Fantasy-wise the Modry deal had little impact. OK, no impact. But future trades almost certainly will. As I mentioned here last week, the players involved are rarely the guys impacted. Calgary wouldn't acquire Mats Sundin and slot him for third-line duty and penalty killing. Likewise, the prospects coming back in a Sundin deal probably won't make a splash this year. Sure a few guys might arrive NHL-ready, but in most cases the players to scoop up after a deal are the NHL-ready prospects already in a team's system or the second- or third-line players who get a bump. All I can say is be ready. Consider this the calm-before-the-storm version of the Skinny …

MID-WEEK UPDATE: Need-to-know info from the past few days
Things to do ASAP: Watch Wednesday's Wild-Blackhawks game. Failing at that, at least give the box score a glance. The game marks the return to action of Jason Williams, the Chicago right wing who has been out since late November with the standard groin-hernia malady that affects so many. With Williams quarterbacking the Blackhawks power play, Chicago ranked in the top 10 in the NHL. They since dipped to the bottom 10, and coach Denis Savard appears ready to hand the keys back to Williams. Right wing is a deep position, but in his final 16 before the injury, Williams had 19 points, 12 on the power play. That's good enough for a No. 2 RW slot in most leagues. He's available in about 87 percent of Yahoo! leagues, but a lot can change if he makes a splash Wednesday.

Forget what I said about: Samuel Pahlsson remains one of the game's elite checking-line centers, but the Temmu Selanne-line experiment is over, so his fantasy value is pretty much non-existent (again). … Four goalies switched seats in the goalie hot-seat, so apparently last week's projections weren't spot-on. By the way, for those of you who have emailed, "Red Hot" refers to how volatile the battle is. "Red Hot" is prime for a change while "Lukewarm" would signify the starter is in good shape. We're not trying to say which tandems are hot and which are not.

One-timers: Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa (35 percent owned) begins an AHL conditioning assignment Wednesday. He could stay there through Sunday or Vancouver could declare him ready sooner. Refresher: He was a 40-point, 100-PIM guy a season ago. … The Kings have recalled defenseman Peter Harrold, who had 43 points in 49 games for Manchester of the AHL. … Ryan Smyth has zero points in three games since rejoining the Colorado lineup. … Islanders rearguard Freddy Meyer is plus-5 during a modest three-game point streak. … Erik Johnson had a five-assist week from the St. Louis blueline. …

BARGAIN BIN: Top player available in 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues
Darcy Tucker, RW, Tor – A name you might hear a bit as the trade buzz builds, Tucker is on a bit of a roll with six goals, one assist and 22 penalty minutes in his last seven games. His career upside is 60 points and 100 penalty minutes, but he should be a bigger factor on special teams (he had 36 power-play points two seasons ago, four this year) and could pick up the pace and chase 25 goals this season.

MARKET MOVERS: Charting player values

Derek Meech , D, Det – Nicklas Lidstrom's injury gave Red Wings fans a 54-minute preview of what life will be like – for the next three weeks, anyway – without their star defenseman. One guy who stepped up was Meech, who saw more than 11 minutes of power-play time and picked up a man-advantage assist in the 4-0 win over Colorado. Brian Rafalski was out, of course, so he'll certainly reclaim some of those PP minutes when he returns from the IR.

Michael Ryder, RW, Mon – In theory he's way too talented to be a connoisseur of press-box popcorn. In practice, however, Ryder has a hard time consistently staying in the Montreal lineup. Here's a guess that two goals and an assist in Tuesday's miracle comeback against the Rangers will keep him on the ice for the time being.

Ryan Carter, C, Ana – Carter is one of the guys in the mix to center Teemu Selanne and Todd Bertuzzi. He has four goals in six games in his audition to remain a top-six forward in Anaheim.

Brandon Dubinsky, C, NYR – He's got five points in three games and is, at least for now, the latest guy trying to inject some life into Jaromir Jagr as the slumbering wing's center. On the other wing is Sean Avery, who has four goals in four games. Both of Jagr's currently linemates are widely available.

Daniel Carcillo, LW, Pho – The concern, at least from a fantasy perspective, was that he'd return from his behavior modification stint in the AHL as a softie. Doesn't look like it. Carcillo has three points in five games since returning to Phoenix and has also loaded the PIM column with 32 penalty minutes in the last two games.

Sam Gagner, C, Edm – Gagner is filling the Shawn Horcoff vacuum quite nicely so far with two goals, eight assists and seven PIM during a seven-game point streak.

James Wisniewski , D, Chi – Let's see how Wisniewski's power play role is impacted by the return of Jason Williams, but his production has been solid of late. Before getting blanked Tuesday he had a four-game point streak with six points, two PPP and a plus-4.

Andrew Ladd, LW, Car – If you subscribe to the somebody-has-to-score theory of finding free agent help, Ladd should be a favorite. With Cory Stillman traded and Rod Brind'Amour hurt, Ladd has stepped up with points in six of seven and eight points overall.

Tomas Holmstrom, RW, Det – The February totals so far: only two points and no goals in 10 games.

Yahoo! Friends and Family League
Another week atop the standings for Rotowire-Maingot, who got another stellar week in goal from the trio of Legace, Conklin and Toskala. Still anybody's race. Players given fantasy tryouts this week include Ryan Suter, Jason Pominville, Martin Straka, Brent Seabrook and Jimmy Howard.