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NHL Skinny: Green Goalies

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GOALIE HOT SEAT
NEW YORK RANGERS RED HOT
1st Chair: Henrik Lundqvist
2nd Chair: Kevin Weekes
Skinny: More than two weeks after Rangers fans made their decision, Coach Tom Renney joined the masses. Well, sort of. He stopped short of naming Lundqvist his top guy, but he's no longer calling Weekes his No. 1 goalie. Now, the coach says his No. 1 is whoever is starting on a given night. That hasn't been a mystery lately. Lundqvist started Saturday against Montreal – his seventh start in eight games – and was spectacular in leading New York to a 5-2 road win. The rookie leads all goalies in goals-against average (1.61) and is second in save percentage (.943). Weekes will get some work soon, but just to stay in game shape.
LOS ANGELES KINGS RED HOT
1st Chair: Jason LaBarbera
2nd Chair: Mathieu Garon
Skinny: Could Andy Murray's pulling of Garon in Friday's loss to San Jose signal the end of his goalie rotation system? Not so, says the coach. According to the Los Angeles Daily News, Garon will start at Dallas Wednesday despite his recent struggles and LaBarbera six-start win streak. Compare the numbers and this goalie battle is a no-contest. LaBarbera has more wins (6 to 2), a better GAA (1.70 to 3.43) and a superior save percentage (.938 to .869). But Garon supporters can point to the matchups, and LaBarbera has definitely lucked out in that category. Only one of his starts has come against an opponent with a winning record.
ATLANTA THRASHERS RED HOT
1st Chair: Mike Dunham
2nd Chair: Steve Shields
Skinny: What a mess. Atlanta has started five different goalies in 11 games, and they have combined to stop only 86 percent of shots faced while allowing 4.11 goals per game. Shields let seven unanswered goals slip past him in Thursday's 7-5 loss at Pittsburgh. The good news is that Dunham (groin) is back. He was activated for Saturday's game and should start Tuesday at Tampa Bay. As for rookie Kari Lehtonen, he's just now beginning a conditioning program on his road back from a groin injury.
CAROLINA HURRICANES HOT
1st Chair: Martin Gerber
2nd Chair: Cam Ward
Skinny: First Gerber got hurt and Ward took a commanding lead in this battle. Then the rookie got injured, allowing Gerber to establish a foothold. So where do we stand now? Carolina may be the hottest team in the league, and they have two solid goalies. Gerber has won four straight decisions and three straight starts, including victories over Boston and Ottawa. After allowing eight total goals in his first four starts, Ward slipped a bit, yielding 11 scores in starts against Philadelphia and Toronto. He's too good to sit for long, but the for foreseeable future Gerber will get the lion's share of the starts.
EDMONTON OILERS HOT
1st Chair: Jussi Markkanen
2nd Chair: Ty Conklin
Skinny: According to the Edmonton Sun, the Oilers may try to upgrade at goalie through the trade market. Two names being thrown around are Buffalo's Martin Biron and Olaf Kolzig of Washington. Barring a move, Markkanen is the clear-cut No. 1 for now. He's coming off two road wins, the latest a 23-save effort in a 5-1 win over Nashville. And his competition in training camp, Ty Conklin, was sent to Hamilton of the AHL to get his game – and confidence – back. If you're banking on a quick return for Conklin, think again. He has allowed seven goals in two games for the Bulldogs.
COLORADO AVALANCHE WARM
1st Chair: David Aebischer
2nd Chair: Peter Budaj
Skinny: So much for that goalie controversy in Colorado. This battle moved dangerously close to platoon territory two weeks ago, but Aebischer has distanced himself from the competition with four straight wins. He stopped 92.3 percent of shots he faced along the way. We haven't seen Budaj in a game since Oct. 22, when he allowed five goals in a loss at Vancouver.
MINNESOTA WILD WARM
1st Chair: Dwayne Roloson
2nd Chair: Manny Fernandez
Skinny: No surprise here. Minnesota has played 12 games, and Fernandez and Roloson have each received six starts. Fernandez is certainly the hottest of late as the winner of four of his last five starts. Roloson is coming off a hard-luck start at Columbus. He stopped 52 shots through the end of overtime and then turned aside six of seven shootout attempts before Trevor Letowski beat him for the game-winner. He has only started twice since Oct. 14, but fantasy owners familiar with this platoon know that it will all even out at the end.
DETROIT RED WINGS LUKEWARM
1st Chair: Manny Legace
2nd Chair: Chris Osgood
Skinny: Osgood stopped 23 of 25 shots Saturday in his first regular-season start for Detroit since the end of the 2000-01 season. Coach Mike Babcock has made comments that hinted at a brewing goalie competition, but he did characterize Saturday's appearance as a "charity start" for Osgood in comments made to the Detroit News. Legace will most certainly be back in net Tuesday, with the next logical start for Osgood coming when the team plays on back-to-back nights over the weekend.
PHOENIX COYOTES LUKEWARM
1st Chair: Curtis Joseph
2nd Chair: David Leneveu
Skinny: Brian Boucher has suffered a minor setback in his return from a groin injury. He was all set to make a rehab start for San Antonio when he felt a pop in his knee during practice Thursday. According to the East Valley Tribune, the goalie returned to Phoenix for an MRI, which showed no ligament damage. The revised plan has Boucher starting for the Rampage on Nov. 5. Doing just fine on his own, Joseph has allowed three or fewer goals in eight of nine starts on the season.
Well, we're already four weeks into the fantasy season. Hard to believe, really. There are still the layoff and rule changes to lean on as excuses, but by now you should have a good idea who your draft busts and steals are. My best picks? Probably Simon Gagne in the ninth round of our Yahoo! Sports league and Jason Spezza in the third and fourth rounds in two others. The worst? In hindsight I took Todd Bertuzzi too early twice and the late-round gambles on Ryan Malone didn't pan out. Send along your draft day hero/horror stories and I'll include the Yahoo! user consensus in next week's skinny:

WEEKEND UPDATE: Need-to-know info from the past few days

Is Jeremy Roenick worth owning in your fantasy league? How about Luc Robitaille? Historically, both players could be counted on for scoring, particularly on the power play. This year has been another story. Roenick has only one point since opening night and Robitaille has three points with the man advantage all season. It's a numbers game, really. While these guys have recently been placed on a line together for the first time, it's not the team's top scoring line. When it's time for a Los Angeles power play, it's the line of Pavol Demitra, Alexander Frolov and Michael Cammalleri that gets first crack at scoring. Friday Roenick and Robitaille both got less than a minute of ice time on the power play. The duo saw increased time Saturday, but could manage only three shots combined in 32 minutes of action. If you own either player, now is the time to move on. Sure, Roenick is still shaking off the effects of a hard lick he took earlier in the season, but even at full speed he won't out produce the likes of Frolov, Demitra or Craig Conroy.
It was back to normal for the Penguins Saturday. After a brief sojourn in the win column, Pittsburgh returned to its losing ways in familiar fashion – by blowing a two-goal lead and taking costly penalties in a 5-3 loss at Carolina. Change is on the way. But for now, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, those changes won't involve ousting Coach Ed Olczyk. Rather, help may arrive soon. The Pens are reportedly set to recall defenseman Ryan Whitney and center Erik Christensen from Wilkes-Barre of the AHL, perhaps as early as Monday. Whitney, the 5th overall pick in the 2002 draft, scored 41 points as an AHL rookie last season and was out of the gate strong with five goals and nine assist in the early going this year. Through Sunday, Christensen ranked third in the AHL in points with nine goals and 10 assists in nine games. Both players have the talent to see action with a top line or defense pairing once they join the fold. These players won't land in the fantasy pool until after their NHL debuts, which gives Yahoo! owners a chance to scout Tuesday's game at New Jersey, assuming they play. Needless to say, power play time for Whitney and a line pairing with Sidney Crosby or Mario Lemieux for Christensen would make both players intriguing prospects.
Seems nobody can stay healthy these days, and that includes goalies. While their long-term values are minimal with an established No. 1 in place, several backups can provide a short-term boost for fantasy owners in need of goalie help. Alexander Auld should get a few starts with Vancouver goalie Dan Cloutier sidelined with a concussion. Auld won all three of his starts earlier in the season with solid numbers across all categories. Another rookie, Boston's Hannu Toivonen, will get a couple of starts while Andrew Raycroft rests with a strained hamstring. Toivonen made 36 saves in a 2-1 win over Toronto Thursday, but dropped an overtime decision against New Jersey Saturday. Speaking of those Devils, Scott Clemmensen may only get one more start with Martin Brodeur talking comeback, but it's an advantageous matchup at home against the Penguins. And in San Jose, third-string netminder Nolan Schaefer stood tall for the Sharks in a shootout win over Calgary Saturday. Evgeni Nabokov may be back Wednesday against Nashville, but San Jose won't rush him with Schaefer coming off back-to-back wins.

BARGAIN BIN: Top players available in 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues

  • Mike Comrie, C, Pho
    On Oct. 23 Comrie was a healthy scratch for the first time since his rookie season. At the time he was riding a nine-game goalless streak, and his minus-3 rating was poor enough to force Coach Wayne Gretzky to sit him out. He responded with a goal and two assists in his return to the lineup, then tallied two more Thursday against Calgary. His benching well behind him, Comrie led all Phoenix forwards with 6:21 of power-play ice time Sunday. The 25-year-old now has seven points in his past five games.

MARKET MOVERS: Charting player values

Olaf Kolzig, G, Was – After four games of allowing 40-plus shots against, the Caps finally said enough is enough. According to the Washington Post, a new forechecking system was implemented before Wednesday's game at Buffalo. The result: Kolzig faced a season-low 17 shots in the team's first road win.

Kristian Huselius, LW, Fla – The Palm Beach Post speculates that Huselius' modest two-game point streak may be a sign of more dramatic production to come. He had two assists against Pittsburgh and a goal Thursday at Philadelphia. Teammates have singled him out as a guy with skills to thrive in the new NHL.

Ian Laperriere, C, Col – Well on his way to a career high in points, Laperriere has tallied seven points in his last six games. His plus-9 rating and 27 penalty minutes are a welcome bonus.

Sean Brown, D, NH ‐ Initially expected to be a short-term injury replacement for Colin White, Brown has blossomed into one of New Jersey's most productive defensemen. He had two assists Saturday, one on the power play, and has six points in his past five games.

Andy McDonald, C, Ana – The Ducks are injury-riddled, which is why McDonald's production has been so critical. Playing on a line with rejuvenated winger Teemu Selanne and Todd Fedoruk, McDonald scored twice Sunday and now has five goals in his past five games.

Milan Michalek, RW, SJ – He logged nearly 20 minutes of ice time Friday, recording a goal and an assist against Los Angeles. His modest point streak continued Saturday, and the winger now has four points in his last three games.

Ales Hemsky, RW, Edm – Hemsky showed some great improvement in international play during the lockout. Not much yet on the goal-scoring front, but the speedy winger has a goal and six assists in Edmonton's past four games.

Jon Sim, LW, Phi – Sim was a bust out of the gate after putting up huge scoring numbers in the preseason. Lately, he's rediscovered that scoring touch. He found the net twice Friday and beat Dominik Hasek Sunday for his fourth of the year.

Martin Rucinsky, LW, NYR – He'll miss two to four weeks after injuring his knee in the third period of Saturday's game. Expect rookie Petr Prucha to see more ice time while Rucinsky in on the mend.

Tomas Vokoun, G, Nas – He lost back-to-back starts, then lost his cool. After Saturday's 5-1 loss against Edmonton, he blasted some teammates for their poor play.

Bill Guerin, RW, Dal – It just keeps getting worse for Guerin. Benched last week for taking stupid penalties, he left Saturday's game in the first period with back spasms. Guerin has one point in his last six games.