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NHL Skinny: Look within

Matt Romig
Yahoo Sports

GOALIE HOT SEAT

MONTREAL CANADIENS RED HOT
1st Chair: Carey Price
2nd Chair: Jaroslav Halak
Skinny: Halak was over the flu Sunday, but then-coach Guy Carbonneau gambled and gave Price his third straight start. The results were favorable: 30 saves in a 3-1 road win in Dallas. Price has stopped 56 of the last 58 shots he's faced despite going only 1-2 in three March starts. Given Carbonneau's stance with Halak – win and stay in – you have to figure Price will go again Tuesday against Edmonton, assuming the same rules apply under Bob Gainey.


BUFFALO SABRES RED HOT
1st Chair: Patrick Lalime
2nd Chair: Ryan Miller, Mikael Tellqvist
Skinny: The acquisition of Tellqvist signaled two things: that the Sabres weren't expecting Miller back any time soon, and that management wasn't comfortable with the notion of Lalime backstopping a playoff charge. Lalime got hot though, winning back-to-back starts before hitting a bump in the road Saturday (6-3 loss in Ottawa). Expect Tellqvist (6-percent owned) to make his Buffalo debut Tuesday or Thursday.


COLORADO AVALANCHE RED HOT
1st Chair: Peter Budaj
2nd Chair: Andrew Raycroft
Skinny: Last week it was Budaj on a five-game losing streak. Now it's Raycroft's turn. Such is life stopping pucks in Denver. Budaj allowed only a power-play goal Sunday in a surprising 5-1 win over Chicago. He's still only 1-5 in his last six, but that win should be enough to buy another start.


OTTAWA SENATORS RED HOT
1st Chair: Brian Elliott
2nd Chair: Alex Auld
Skinny: The Senators have their No. 1 for next year after trading for Pascal Leclaire, but there's still motivation to see if Elliott is ready to be an NHL backup for a full season. He made his third straight start Monday after back-to-back home wins against Edmonton (26 shots, 24 saves) and Buffalo (30, 27). Nice rebound considering a week ago there were whispers he'd be demoted. The streamers in the crowd might want to give Elliott (21 percent owned) a look Wednesday against Tampa Bay.


ANAHEIM DUCKS RED HOT
1st Chair: Jean-Sebastien Giguere
2nd Chair: Jonas Hiller
Skinny: Coach Randy Carlyle said "we needed somebody to step up to the forefront" in explaining why Hiller got the start Sunday. That's a not-so-subtle dig at Giguere, who has just one win in four starts and has yet to make his traditional second-half surge. Hiller recovered nicely from giving up an early goal, but probably didn't do enough in a 3-2 loss to the Wild to take over the No. 1 chair.


PHILADELPHIA FLYERS RED HOT
1st Chair: Martin Biron
2nd Chair: Antero Niittymaki
Skinny: The folks in Philly are expecting Biron to start Tuesday against Buffalo, his former employers. He was solid in a win over Nashville on Saturday (32 shots, 31 saves) and was just a sharp two nights earlier when Niittymaki stumbled against Calgary. We're getting near the time when teams want to establish a clear No. 1 for the playoffs, so the slightest hiccup can be costly.


LOS ANGELES KINGS RED HOT
1st Chair: Jon Quick
2nd Chair: Erik Ersberg
Skinny: Quick's numbers are down in March (3.62 GAA, .868 save pct.), but he does have two wins in four games (three starts). Ersberg's only start this month was a two period flop (four goals allowed). The coming week will be critical for the Kings (Vancouver twice, San Jose, Boston). If you're juggling several goalies this is a good time to have your L.A. guys sit it out.


DETROIT RED WINGS RED HOT
1st Chair: Ty Conklin
2nd Chair: Chris Osgood
Skinny: Osgood allowed seven goals in Saturday's 8-2 loss to Columbus. It was the third time in five games that Ozzie allowed at least four goals in an appearance. Of course, one of those was a relief gig where Conklin allowed the first four in an 8-0 loss. Translated: There's not a ton of stability in the Detroit net right now.


CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS HOT
1st Chair: Cristobal Huet
2nd Chair: Nikolai Khabibulin, Antti Niemi
Skinny: Khabibulin could return to game action in a week to 10 days, according to the Chicago Tribune. Until then Huet has the No. 1 chair to himself, even if the exclusivity hasn't had desired results lately (4.13 GAA in last four).


TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING BLACKHAWKS HOT
1st Chair: Karri Ramo
2nd Chair: Mike McKenna
Skinny: One of these guys has to start if Mike Smith remains sidelined with post-concussion symptoms. That doesn't mean they need to be starting in fantasy leagues.


The real-life trade deadline has passed. Chances are the deadline in your little imaginary world has come and gone as well. If a player you're interested in is owned in your league, too bad. He'll be property of another owner as long as he or she sees fit to roster that player. That window has closed. Now is the time to sharpen your focus on your own roster. Check the standings. See where you need help. Are you starting the right players? Are there free agents that can give you a boost in your areas of need? You may get tired of hearing this phrase, but it's a numbers game, regardless of which fantasy sport is your thing. You can't get too hooked on brand names this time of year. October's sexy play might be March's drag on your roster.

Let's take a look at some recent developments with a focus on players who saw their values rise after the trade deadline.

There's a surprising amount of goalie help out there. Buffalo's starter for the foreseeable future will be either Patrick Lalime (20-percent owned) or Mikael Tellqvist (6-percent owned). The Sabres have won two of three and are getting healthy up front with Thomas Vanek back in the lineup. Laugh all you want, but Martin Gerber (39-percent owned) can help some fantasy teams down the stretch. He was very sharp against the Ovechkin-less Caps on Thursday, though not as effective Saturday in a 4-1 loss to the Oilers. The Leafs have quietly won five of eight. Other semi-available goalies who should be rostered in most leagues include Pekka Rinne (70-percent owned), Yann Danis (21 percent), Chris Mason (56), Kari Lehtonen (39) and Dwayne Roloson (54).

In case you slept through the trade deadline – and frankly, the way the first several hours unfolded Wednesday, we can't blame you – Bill Guerin is Sidney Crosby's new right wing. In two games alongside the pivot 17 years his junior, Guerin has one goal and three assists, with one helper coming on the power play. Guerin can still finish, and you have to assume the opportunities will continue to come, whether he's playing with Crosby or Evgeni Malkin. Go take a look and see if the 48-percent-owned old-time can help your forward corps. Fifty-nine percent owned Chris Kunitz is still slightly ahead of a point-per-game pace in five games as a Penguin.

One-timers: It looks like we'll have to wait until after Tuesday's practice to learn the extent of Martin Havlat's lower-body injury. No doubt his fantasy owners are conditioned to prepare for the worst. … Matthew Lombardi has three points in three games since joining the Coyotes at the trade deadline. … Kings right wing Teddy Purcell has a five-game point streak (2 goals, 3 assists), the first of his career. … Nathan Horton is expected to miss 2-4 weeks after surgery on his finger. Brett McLean will center Horton's line. … Kings defenseman Kyle Quincey has power-play points in four straight games.

BARGAIN BIN: Top players available in 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues
Erik Cole, LW/RW, Car (41-percent owned) – Cole scored 30 goals in 60 games in Carolina's Stanley Cup season and had 61 points and 76 penalty minutes as an encore. He regressed a bit last season, then completely bottomed out this year after joining Edmonton via free agency. Now back in a Hurricanes sweater thanks to a deadline deal, he has a chance to rekindle some of that magic from his days alongside Eric Staal. Saturday's four-assist outburst won't be the norm, but Cole does have a healthy two goals and four assists since the deadline. The dual wing eligibility is nice, as is the fact that Carolina seems serious about making a playoff run. Scan your roster and see if Cole would be an upgrade over your RW2 or LW2.

MARKET MOVERS: Charting player values

Manny Malhotra, C, Cls – Check out these numbers over the last 11: four goals, eight assists, plus-5, six PIM. Relevance is probably limited to those leagues that start three or more centers, but Malhotra is making the most of his time centering Rick Nash on the Jackets' top line.

Alex Burrows, LW, Van – Burrows didn't go anywhere at the trade deadline – he signed a contract extension, in fact – good news for owners in the 41 percent of leagues that employ the left wing. He scored again Monday, his sixth goal in his last eight games. Skating with Sedins has its privileges.

Daniel Carcillo, LW, Phi – As you've likely read, Carcillo and the Flyers sure seem like a match made in heaven. In his second game in a Philadelphia sweater, the 24-year-old wing played 10-plus minutes, logging an assist and seven minutes in penalties. That's about what you can expect. He'll keep up the PIM pace and should be good for a slight uptick in points and plus/minus.

Yann Danis, G, NYI – Do you have to consider the Islanders the underdog just about every time they take the ice? Probably. But the win column is only one category. Danis, only 21-percent owned, is actually the No. 3 fantasy goalie over the last month, thanks to outstanding ratios (2.00 GAA, .938 save pct.). New York is on the road for six straight so we could see some of Joey MacDonald, but Danis remains an asset for owners in need of a ratio push.

Steve Sullivan, LW/RW, Nas – This column is a lot easier when I can leave a player in the stock watch in back-to-back weeks, and most of the time it's not a copout. Sullivan, just 34 percent owned, has 12 points in nine games, including six in back-to-back games before the trade deadline. If he keeps it up I hope I don't have to keep him here. There's no need to "upgrade" players owned in 65 percent or more of leagues.

Kris Letang, D, Pit – One thing I don't like to do is shuffle players between the stock falling and rising categories. Letang did land near the bottom of this column after sitting as a healthy scratch, but he got the message and the Penguins shuffled some pieces around, so he's back on the fantasy radar. Letang (27-percent owned) has four points in four games and is back on special teams.

Mark Recchi, RW, Bos – Like Guerin, Recchi still knows where to do and what to do with the puck on his stick. Two goals in his second game with the Bruins was a nice splash, but he failed to hit the scoresheet in his other two since joining Boston at the deadline.

Tuomo Ruutu, LW, Car – He had five points on all-you-can-eat night Saturday for the Hurricanes and followed it up with a goal (disclaimer: empty-net) Monday against the Rangers. He's the No. 26 skater in the fantasy pool over the past month.

Yahoo! Friends and Family League update
Matt Buser of busersports.com makes it two straight weeks atop the standings after a brief dip. He got a nice boost from that initial Olli Jokinen, Jarome Iginla breakout. Two teams are in close pursuit and five are in striking distance. Transactions in recent days involved Anton Babchuk, David Booth, Brendan Bell, Kyle Quincey and Blake Wheeler among others.

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League type:
Free Yahoo League
League size:
10 players
Draft time:
Aug 30 9:00 am
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