|GOALIE HOT SEAT
|PITTSBURGH PENGUINS RED HOT
1st Chair: Marc-Andre Fleury
2nd Chair: Ty Conklin, Dany Sabourin
Skinny: Despite doing everything asked of him and more during Fleury's injury absence, Conklin couldn't overcome one obstacle: He's not the former No. 1 overall draft pick designated as the team's goalie of the future. So we're back to Fleury, who recorded a shutout Wednesday in his second straight start. "That's our philosophy – we go with guys who are playing well, especially in net," coach Michel Therrien told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Thanks for everything, Ty.
|WASHINGTON CAPITALS RED HOT
1st Chair: Olaf Kolzig
2nd Chair: Cristobal Huet, Brent Johnson
Skinny: Olaf Kolzig got the start Wednesday, but the Washington Post reports that Huet, who won't dress against Buffalo due to back spasms, should be ready to start Saturday in Boston. Huet has stopped 38 of 40 shots in winning both of his starts since coming over from Montreal. Kolzig seems to realize that his 18-year run in the Washington organization is coming to an end. We could very well see more of Huet down the stretch, assuming his balky back cooperates.
|OTTAWA SENATORS RED HOT
1st Chair: Martin Gerber
2nd Chair: Ray Emery
Skinny: Saying he thought his goalie was "really good" in a loss to the Ducks, coach Bryan Murray is going back to Gerber for Wednesday's game against the Sharks. It will be Gerber's third straight start. Departing coach John Paddock had some choice words for Emery, who appears to be in the doghouse (again) as much for past transgressions as his recent poor play.
|PHILADELPHIA FLYERS RED HOT
1st Chair: Martin Biron
2nd Chair: Antero Niittymaki
Skinny: Biron was yanked Tuesday. Niittymaki got the hook Sunday. For the purposes of this battle, those two cancel each other out. Since the All-Star break Biron has started 12 times to Niittymaki's seven, and Biron owns a better GAA (2.41 to 3.52) and save percentage (.919 to .882). Still Biron's job to lose.
|NASHVILLE PREDATORS HOT
1st Chair: Dan Ellis
2nd Chair: Chris Mason
Skinny: Rotation mode has been put on hold as Ellis started the last two and three of four. Ellis stopped 53 of 55 shots in recording back-to-back road wins in Dallas and Edmonton to start the month. Mason's struggle for consistency has been a season-long affair. The presumptive No. 1 at the beginning of the season has won consecutive starts only three times in 2007-08.
|TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING HOT
1st Chair: Mike Smith
2nd Chair: Karri Ramo
Skinny: Smith stopped Sidney Crosby on a breakaway and was near-perfect in Tuesday's 2-0 loss to Pittsburgh. He and Marc-Andre Fleury took shutouts into the final minutes before the Pens finally tallied and put it away with an empty-netter. Ramo figures to get his first post-deadline start when Tampa plays three road games in four nights beginning Thursday.
|CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS HOT
1st Chair: Patrick Lalime
2nd Chair: Nikolai Khabibulin, Corey Crawford
Skinny: Potential goalie of the future Crawford gets the start for Chicago Wednesday, his first such opportunity since February of 2006. Khabibulin's back spasms have not let up. He's still listed as out indefinitely. Lalime has looked perfectly capable of keeping Chicago in the Western Conference playoff hunt.
|MONTREAL CANADIENS WARM
1st Chair: Carey Price
2nd Chair: Jaroslav Halak
Skinny: Halak could get his first start of the season Thursday in Phoenix, according to the Montreal Gazette. "I'm sure there are some goals he would like back," coach Guy Carbonneau said in reference to Monday's 6-4 loss. Price did look lost all night, never more so than when Jody Shelley's dump-in bounced past him for a go-ahead goal.
|DETROIT RED WINGS WARM
1st Chair: Dominik Hasek
2nd Chair: Chris Osgood
Skinny: Hasek hit his Friday return goal (losing to San Jose), then made it back-to-back starts in a 4-2 win over Buffalo Sunday. According to the Mlive.com Red Wings blog, Hasek will start two of three games the rest of the way. That leaves Osgood with just five starts and puts fantasy owners in a tough spot. Five more starts might not justify a roster spot, but with Hasek's health concerns, how do you cut the insurance loose?
|MINNESOTA WILD WARM
1st Chair: Niklas Backstrom
2nd Chair: Josh Harding
Skinny: Backstrom brings a string of six straight starts (three wins) into Thursday's game in Carolina. The Wild are at Carolina, then at Atlanta before returning home to play San Jose, all in a four-day span, so we'll probably get at least one Harding start in there.
A few housekeeping notes: The default trade deadline in Yahoo! leagues is Thursday, March 6. If you're going to fleece someone for stretch-run talent, you'd better get the deal offered and accepted before midnight Thursday. Also if you're in a head-to-head league, this is it: the final weekend before the playoffs. If ever there was a time to churn players (not that I'd ever condone that) to pull off an extra category win, this is it. If you need help getting in the playoffs, that is. Here's hoping the games still matter for you. There's plenty of time to worry about baseball later. On to the Skinny …
MID-WEEK UPDATE: Need-to-know info from the past few days
Things to do ASAP: Might as well ride Florida goalie Craig Anderson while he's hot. Sunday he set a modern NHL record for saves in a shutout by turning away 53 Islanders shots in a 1-0 win. Twenty-nine of those stops came in a sublime second-period performance. About 48 hours later he made 40 saves in a 1-0 win at Boston to tie Miikka Kiprusoff in season shutouts with two. Though no decision has been announced for Thursday's starter, the folks at the Palm Beach Post state that it would be a "shock" if Anderson wasn't in net against the Penguins. Makes sense. When breaking the news to a starter that he's sitting for a third straight game, explaining that his backup stopped 93 straight shots in back-to-back road wins should go a long way toward smoothing things over. Going back further, by the way, it's 133 of 134 shots. Tomas Vokoun has been just fine. Before the All-Star break his goals-against average was .915. In 14 starts since it's .916. All it will take is one Anderson misstep – whenever that may come – for the Panthers to go right back to their guy.
Following up on last week's action items, Carey Price remains available in close to 30 percent of Yahoo! leagues. There's no excuse for what's going on in those leagues. Someone having password problems? Are Western Conference-only leagues suddenly all the rage? Honestly sometimes I don't get our audience. New Tampa Bay goalie Mike Smith also remains bargain-bin eligible at 47-percent owned. His numbers are off in Florida – as they should be – but I still think he's worth a No. 3 goalie spot on someone's roster in your league. The Skinny's other post-deadline marquee upgrade was Steve Bernier, who went cold in back-to-back games before rebounding with two assists Tuesday. He now has five points in four games with Buffalo.
One-timers: Colby Armstrong has two points in three games with the Thrashers and Erik Christensen is minus-4 with no points. … Looks like Martin Havlat will have season-ending shoulder surgery, not that most fantasy owners hadn't already effectively ended his season. … Peter Forsberg played close to 20 minutes Tuesday on a line with Milan Hejduk and Joe Sakic in his Avalanche re-debut. … Youngster Gilbert Brule has been promoted to Columbus' No. 1 line, but so far the offense has sputtered. … Promising points-PIM winger Daniel Carcillo (knee) skated Tuesday, but his immediate playing future remains in doubt. … Flyers center Mike Richards will return no earlier than March 15.
BARGAIN BIN: Top player available in 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues
Joe Pavelski, C, SJ – Since arriving in San Jose, defenseman Brian Campbell has four points in four games. Joe Thornton has seven points since the deadline deal. But the Sharks player who may benefit the most fantasy-wise is Pavelski, who has taken up a spot alongside Campbell on the Sharks' No. 1 power play unit. Since Soupy's arrival, Pavelski has three goals and five points in those four games. Three of those points have come with the man advantage.
MARKET MOVERS: Charting player valuesDoug Weight
, C, Ana – Weight picked up a power-play assist Monday in his first game in almost a month. Against the Senators he centered Teemu Selanne
and Chris Kunitz
. That's as good an assignment as this veteran playmaker could ask for.
, D, Buf – Buffalo still has plenty of weapons up front, so somebody should pick up some points on the blueline now that Brian Campbell is gone. So far that's been Lydman, who has five points in four games. Fellow rearguard Nathan Paetsch
deserves a similar upgrade.
, RW, Buf – Still in Buffalo, Afinogenov is fresh off a three-point night. That gives him two goals and two assists in three games since missing close to two months with a groin tear.
, LW, Car – Reborn in Carolina, Samsonov is streaking with five goals and three assists in five games. He now has 21 points in 24 games with the Hurricanes, matching Eric Staal
's output in the same span.
, RW, Was – His three-assist performance Monday could be the breakout performance the Capitals have been looking for. Or it could have been an anomaly like just about everything else when a game results in a 10-2 final.
, RW, Phi – Lupul (available in about 60 percent of Yahoo! leagues) could be playing by the weekend after mending his right ankle sprain. He has 18 goals and 39 points in 44 games.
, RW, Chi – No reason to downgrade as he now has a six-game point streak with three goals and six assists.
, C, Mon – Hovering at about 25-percent unowned, Plekanec is streaking again with five goals and two assists in his last three games.
, C, SJ – With trade speculation in the rear-view mirror, Marleau has picked it up with four points in four games. The 11th center drafted on average in Yahoo! leagues is now a free agent in about 48 percent of pools.
, D, Det – Healthy again, he's got four assists in two games. Brian Rafalski returned Wednesday, but there's no reason to expect Kronwall's production to drop. He's a free agent in 60 percent of leagues.
Yahoo! Friends and Family League
Rotowire-Maingot maintains a 0.5-point lead. As many as six teams have a shot, including a Pucks and Pylons squad that was left for dead earlier in the season. Transactions this week involve Craig Anderson, Sergei Samsonov, Mike Komisarek and Brian Rolston among others.