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NHL Skinny: Net Changes

Matt Romig
Yahoo Sports

GOALIE HOT SEAT
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING RED HOT
1st Chair: Johan Holmqvist
2nd Chair: Marc Denis
Skinny: "He's a hot goalie, and we're going to go with him." Those were coach John Tortorella's words describing the recent play of Holmqvist, who has won four straight. Denis hasn't started a game since allowing six goals in an overtime loss on Nov. 4.
LOS ANGELES KINGS RED HOT
1st Chair: Mathieu Garon
2nd Chair: Dan Cloutier
Skinny: Coach Marc Crawford continues to let reporters (and fantasy owners) play the guessing game when it comes to his starting goalie. He's generally not telling, but it is telling that he gave Garon the start Saturday, just two nights after the goalie allowed seven goals in a loss to the Sharks. Garon was solid against the Wild, making 32 saves and only letting two points slip from his grasp in the sixth round of a shootout.
OTTAWA SENATORS RED HOT
1st Chair: Martin Gerber
2nd Chair: Ray Emery
Skinny: According to the Ottawa Sun, Emery (forearm) skated prior to Saturday's game and could be ready to return Monday against Montreal. Gerber let in another softie Saturday and appears to be losing the confidence of the guys on and behind the bench. Emery should get another shot when healthy and has a great chance at grabbing the No. 1 chair.
MONTREAL CANADIENS RED HOT
1st Chair: Cristobal Huet
2nd Chair: David Aebischer
Skinny: Unlike situations in San Jose and more recently Ottawa, Montreal coach Guy Carbonneau isn't ready to settle into a goalie rotation. He wants a hot goalie to emerge, and he wants to ride that guy. Sounds great, but first one of his guys has to heat up. Aebischer got back-to-back starts to close the week, but was yanked early Saturday. Huet has the better November numbers (1.28 GAA, .959 save pct.) and appears poised to get the next shot.
BOSTON BRUINS HOT
1st Chair: Tim Thomas
2nd Chair: Hannu Toivonen, Mike Brown
Skinny: Demoted goalie Hannu Toivonen was yanked from his second start with Providence of the AHL Saturday after allowing four goals on just 16 shots. It's getting harder and harder to envision him making a fantasy impact this season. Tim Thomas gets a boost and runs unopposed for now, but trade rumors continue to swirl, the name most frequently mentioned that of San Jose's Evgeni Nabokov.
NEW YORK RANGERS HOT
1st Chair: Henrik Lundqvist
2nd Chair: Kevin Weekes
Skinny: If only every game started in a shootout. Lundqvist beat Florida Wednesday and improved to 19-for-19 stopping shootout attempts. Regretfully, the sophomore keeper hasn't been as sharp with the ice full of skaters. He did, however, make his third straight start Saturday. Lundqvist posted a .917 save percentage in those starts that came on the heels of Weekes starting three in a row.
PHILADELPHIA FLYERS WARM
1st Chair: Antero Niittymaki
2nd Chair: Robert Esche
Skinny: The losses keep piling up for Niittymaki, who at least made it to overtime before falling to Buffalo Saturday. Esche, who has made only one short-lived appearance this month, seems due another start. Don't be surprised to see him get two starts on the upcoming road trip that begins in Pittsburgh and includes three West Coast stops.
SAN JOSE SHARKS WARM
1st Chair: Vesa Toskala
2nd Chair: Evgeni Nabokov
Skinny: Don't scrap San Jose's goalie rotation just yet. Yes, Evgeni Nabokov left Saturday's game with a sore neck. But with Toskala up next on Monday, Nabby gets three days off to recover, and the San Jose Mercury News is reporting that he'll be ready. Speaking of Nabokov, now is a good time to test his trade value in your league. Trade rumors just won't go away, and Nabby's value could take a hit if he lands in Phoenix or Boston.
PHOENIX COYOTES LUKEWARM
1st Chair: Curtis Joseph
2nd Chair: David LeNeveu
Skinny: Joseph deserved better after stopping 50 of 53 shots in back-to-back starts against San Jose and Dallas. Of course, Phoenix gave him only one goal of support, so CuJo walked away with nothing, save maybe a little more job security.
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS LUKEWARM
1st Chair: Andrew Raycroft
2nd Chair: Jean-Sebastien Aubin, Mikael Tellqvist
Skinny: Raycroft was on the verge of playing his way off the hot seat when he suffered a strained groin in Thursday's win over Boston. He still got the win, his fifth straight, but he missed Saturday's game. Raycroft told the Toronto Star that his groin felt no better or worse Saturday. Toronto if off until Thursday, but be prepared to start Aubin again if Raycroft can't go.
We're almost at the season's quarter pole, believe it or not. Seems like this season is still looking for its identity. Last year we had the shootout, Sidney Crosby, the invasion of the AHL stars (Ryan Miller, Eric Staal) and groin injuries. This year? What's the big story? Is it the rise of the Sabres? No, sorry Buffalo fans, you were too good last year. Evgeni Malkin? Maybe, but that buzz was there at the Olympics. The demise of the Flyers is big news, but that hardly defines a season.

On the fantasy front, it seems the story of the season is the blurring of goalie roles. Truth be told, there are enough Hot Seat candidates to push that section off the page. We've even pulled Atlanta's mess out of the Hot Seat and into the weekend lead just to save space. You have to be thankful if you drafted guys like Martin Brodeur or Marty Turco, because it seems that no job is safe outside New Jersey or Dallas. Goalie updates and more are featured in our weekly roundup:

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

You could make a strong case for all three members of Toronto's No. 1 line to be featured in this week's Bargain Bin. They're all available in more than half of Yahoo! leagues and they're all producing like guys who deserve a roster spot. The hottest of late is left wing Alexei Ponikarovsky. A 20-goal scorer a season ago, Ponikarovsky has two goals, six assists and a plus-7 rating during his four-game point streak. Chances are he's out-performing your No. 2 left wing.

The other two members of the line are actually getting less fantasy attention. Center Nik Antropov has four goals and an assist in his last three games, with four of those points coming in the two games that followed Mats Sundin's injury. He's a solid short-term option in deeper leagues. Finally, the assists keep coming from Kyle Wellwood. He's got four helpers, including three on the power play, in his last two games. He's a good need-based add here for the long haul. The kid is a legitimate playmaker.

If you're one of the roughly 25,000 Kari Lehtonen owners out there in Yahoo! leagues, now would be a good time to grab backup Johan Hedberg – assuming he's still available. Atlanta's problems go deeper than goalie play. Ill-advised penalties and costly turnovers have been a problem. But Lehtonen hasn't made the key stops like he did in October. After sitting out three straight games early this month, Lehtonen had a solid relief appearance in a comeback win over Ottawa. But he has stumbled twice since then, allowing five goals in each of his last two starts.

Hedberg still hasn't lost in regulation yet this season, though he did allow four goals in just 30 minutes in that win over Ottawa. Coach Bob Hartley has a few days to think about his goalie situation before the first of back-to-backs on Friday. It's a good bet that Hedberg will get the call on one of those nights, and if he outperforms Lehtonen, we could have a new No. 1, or a timeshare at the very least.

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

  • Chris Clark, RW, Was – He's scoring points in bunches, which is generally how things can go when you lineup opposite Alexander Ovechkin. Already this season, Clark has point streaks of four and six games. And with the Caps improved this year, guys like him are no longer plus-minus killers. Clark can slide into the No. 2 right wing position on a good number of fantasy teams.

MARKET MOVERS: Charting player values

Petr Tenkrat, RW, Bos – Tenkrat was regularly Boston's most dynamic player in Saturday's 4-3 win over Ottawa. The Czech winger played 10 minutes and scored a goal in his first NHL game since 2002.

Todd White, C, Min – Steady in real life, steady in fantasy. That pretty much describes Minnesota's second-line center. White had an assist Sunday and has at least a point in seven of eight games (3 goals, 8 assists).

Keith Ballard, D, Pho – He's back in the lineup, which is step one. Step two is regaining the form that had him on the verge of a 40-point, 100-PIM season in his rookie campaign. Easier said than done on this atrocious Phoenix squad, but he's worth monitoring, as he's available in all but a few leagues.

Nikita Alexeev, RW, TB – The forgotten man fantasy wise on the NHL's hottest line, Alexeev has two goals and four assists in Tampa's last three games. The party should continue as long as he's skating alongside Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier.

Ryan Craig, C, TB – Back when the rest of the Lightning were in a slumber, Craig was their best skater. Then he got hurt, and Tampa's forwards caught fire. His return may have gone virtually unnoticed fantasy-wise, but in two games he has a goal, assist and a fighting major.

Chris Neil, RW, Ott – Last year's 200-PIM guy is on pace for another 205 minutes in the sin bin this year. He's also picking up the pace offensively, with two goals and two assists in Ottawa's last two games.

Glen Murray, RW, Bos – So much for that "Muzz is done" advice I gave my editor a few weeks back. Murray has come alive of late, scoring twice Saturday for his sixth point in five November games.

Petr Nedved, C, Phi – He was waived by perhaps the worst team in hockey. Not exactly a ringing endorsement of his fantasy value. But Philly is woefully thin at center right now and Nedved is back – and productive. In 21 minutes of ice time Saturday, Nedved had three assists, giving him four points in two games since rejoining the Flyers.

Taylor Pyatt, LW, Van – Tough to see him land here, as he was our Bargain Bin feature two weeks ago. But for now Pyatt's value takes a tumble as Markus Naslund was reunited with the Sedin twins Saturday. Pyatt did score a goal on the power play, but his production has to take a hit on a line with Ryan Kessler and Josh Green.

Mark Bell, LW, SJ – Enticing, yes. But promise of ice time with Joe Thornton or not, there are plenty of available left wings who won't fall into a seven-game pointless funk. Time to look for other options.

Jon Sim, LW, Atl – Sim went scoreless for a fifth straight game Saturday. To make matters worse, he played only 2:17 after taking a bonehead holding penalty early in the game.

Marc-Andre Bergeron, D, Edm – Don't bother scanning the injury report. Bergeron was a healthy scratch Sunday for the second straight game.

Yahoo! Friends and Family League
We have a new leader, Rotowire's Maingot. He has some injury issues with Sundin and Afinogenov, but one of the league's best goalie tandems with Toskala and Turco.