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NHL Skinny: Speak of the Devil

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GOALIE HOT SEAT

COLORADO AVALANCHE RED HOT
1st Chair: Andrew Raycroft
2nd Chair: Peter Budaj
Skinny: Raycroft silenced Jose Theodore and the Caps on Friday, making 28 saves in a 4-1 win. That should buy him some goodwill after Theodore aired some dirty laundry in advance of the game. Rayzor has started four straight now, but with Colorado in the midst of a six-game road trip, Budaj should get some action soon.


OTTAWA SENATORS RED HOT
1st Chair: Brian Elliott
2nd Chair: Alex Auld
Skinny: Elliott's last three starts have been disastrous: pulled in first period at Minnesota, three allowed in first period of 5-2 loss to Vancouver, pulled early in Montreal on Saturday. In his defense, turnovers and atrocious defense played a role. You still have to figure Auld will remain a backup as long as Ottawa considers itself in evaluation mode for the 2009-10 season.


ANAHEIM DUCKS RED HOT
1st Chair: Jean-Sebastien Giguere
2nd Chair: Jonas Hiller
Skinny: The Ducks always split their back-to-backs between goalies. So it was telling when Hiller started on consecutive nights twice in January, and equally noteworthy when Giguere started twice on the road over the weekend. The win over Columbus on Saturday was huge, so pencil in Giguere for Tuesday in Buffalo.


PHILADELPHIA FLYERS RED HOT
1st Chair: Martin Biron
2nd Chair: Antero Niittymaki
Skinny: Biron's fourth straight start was an adventurous one. He allowed five goals in a 5-4 loss to the Penguins, none more critical than the game-winner that was scored with Biron 20 feet from his own net. Remember it was the flu, not poor play, that bumped Niittymaki from the No. 1 chair. He could get another shot, but for now we have to classify Biron (winner of 3 of 4) as the go-to guy.


LOS ANGELES KINGS RED HOT
1st Chair: Jon Quick
2nd Chair: Erik Ersberg
Skinny: The 6-3 home loss to Phoenix was disappointing, particularly considering it was on the heels of a key road win in Anaheim. Quick was in net for both, with Ersberg fed to the Sharks in between. The Kings are on the road for five straight in a tight window. We'll see both goalies, but it's wise to avoid either guy in Philadelphia, Detroit and Chicago.


DETROIT RED WINGS HOT
1st Chair: Ty Conklin
2nd Chair: Chris Osgood
Skinny: In a light week for the Red Wings, it looks like we'll see Conklin on Wednesday against San Jose and Osgood on Friday against the Kings. Osgood needs to respond well to his mental breather to avoid dropping out of the picture entirely here.


CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS HOT
1st Chair: Cristobal Huet
2nd Chair: Nikolai Khabibulin
Skinny: If you want to make a case against goalie timeshares, take a look at what Huet has done with five consecutive starts: 4 wins, 1 shutout, .937 save percentage. He'll get a chance to stay in that rhythm as long as Khabibulin is sidelined with a groin injury. Coach Joel Quenneville seems to be open to allowing one guy to take over, but he likely won't let an injury be the deciding factor.


BUFFALO SABRES WARM
1st Chair: Patrick Lalime
2nd Chair: Ryan Miller, Jhonas Enroth
Skinny: The 10-percent owned Lalime is the starter for the foreseeable future with Miller out with a high-ankle sprain. If Lalime gets off to a solid start, you're looking at a nice goalie bargain for the stretch run. If he falters, the Sabres could look to veterans like Manny Legace or Kevin Weekes.


NASHVILLE PREDATORS WARM
1st Chair: Pekka Rinne
2nd Chair: Dan Ellis
Skinny: Rinne deserved better than just one win after stopping 64 of 66 starts in back-to-back starts against the Blues, but had to settle for a shutout win and a 2-1 overtime loss. Ellis got a sacrificial start in Detroit, and the result was a predictable 6-2 defeat. We're getting close to sensible figures, but it's still a mystery why Ellis (60 percent) is owned in more leagues than Rinne (57 percent). Rinne holds an 11-3 edge in starts since the AS break.


ST. LOUIS BLUES LUKEWARM
1st Chair: Chris Mason
2nd Chair: Chris Holt
Skinny: Mason has allowed one or fewer goals in six of his 10 February starts. The schedule has been favorable, yes, but at just 43-percent owned you have to view Mason as a bit of a bargain, even if you do have to play the matchups.


We've got a big week coming up in fantasy hockey. We'll see how the Rangers respond to Tom Renney's firing, we'll see how much rust Martin Brodeur accumulated in four-plus months on the shelf and we'll see Daniel Briere, for better or worse, for the first time since early December. On top of that, we'll get a look at Patrick Lalime as a possible long-term (relatively speaking) No. 1 for Buffalo. And there's a little thing called the trade deadline looming. Should be an interesting few weeks.

Before we look ahead, however, let's give a quick glance over the shoulder to catch up on some recent developments.

Weekend UpdateNeed-to-know info from the past few days

All signs are pointing to aThursday return to action for Devils goalie Martin Brodeur. The team has yet to announce a starter for the game against the Avalanche, but it looks like a sure thing that Brodeur returns at some point on New Jersey's three-game homestand. I hate to go Rotisserie 101 on our seasoned readers, but if you want Brodeur's return to count for your team, you need to activate him off the IR the day before he returns. Since a player dropped to waivers remains on your roster the day he is dropped, you can't clear room for an IR player and activate him on the same day. The exception here is when you have another IR-eligible player on your active roster. In that case you can do a direct day-of-game swap.

As for Brodeur's workload going forward, I've heard some whispers that we might see something resembling an even timeshare down the stretch. I'm not so sure about that. Brodeur is a guy who likes to play every night. Backup Scott Clemmensen was hockey's invisible man before Marty suffered that elbow injury in November. The Devils will prefer to have Brodeur use the final 22 games of the regular season, not the first round of the playoffs, to get in his rhythm. For his part Clemmensen gave fantasy owners a huge boost, but his ratios have been only average over his last 10 starts (2.69 GAA, .903 save percentage). Brodeur will certainly get a night off over the weekend (New Jersey plays Saturday and Sunday), but after that it will be mid-March until the Devils have back-to-backs on the schedule. By then it could be business as usual for Brodeur.

Ruslan Fedotenko had quite an eventful three-game stretch for the Penguins beginning Thursday against Montreal. He had two assists that night, then exploded for two goals and an assist in that wild 5-4 win over the Flyers on Saturday. Sunday was a bit of a dud, but that can be forgiven considering the emotions involved the previous day, not to mention road games on back-to-back days. Fedotenko is getting a look on Pittsburgh's top line under new coach Dan Bylsma and for two of the last three games he has sure looked like he belongs. He's only five-percent owned, which at a position like left wing makes him a nice bargain. Of course we've been looking for Sidney Crosby's next productive wing since back when Nils Ekman arrived in town. Anyone still own him in a dynasty league? Didn't think so.

One-timers: Sergei Gonchar (68-percent owned) has four points in five games since rejoining the Penguins lineup. … A recent hat trick gives Carolina center Matt Cullen (5-percent owned) 18 points in his last 16 games. … Chris Campoli (3-percent owned) picked up two assists in his Ottawa debut. … Daniel Cleary (17-percent owned) has points in four straight and 10 in his last 10. … Steve Sullivan has three goals in his last three games and is one Nashville potential UFA who could be moved at the deadline. …

BARGAIN BIN: Top players available in 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues
Tim Connolly, C, Buf (31-percent owned) – Connolly has switched gears over his last seven games, dishing out seven assists after piling up nine goals in his previous eight. Put everything together and you have 19 points in 20 games since the All-Star break. We've discussed Connolly plenty, most recently in Janet Eagleson's latest Frozen Fantasy. It's not a question of skill with Connolly, unless you consider staying off the IR a skill (and a lot of people do). But we're not dishing out long-term, multi-million dollar deals here – we're cutting someone loose to sign the hotter hand. There are a lot of teams out there that would get a C2 or C3 boost with Connolly on board.

MARKET MOVERS: Charting player values

Kari Ramo, G, TB – There's been talk that Tampa Bay may shut down goalie Mike Smith for the remainder of the season. Ramo was solid Sunday in stopping 40 of 43 shots in a 4-3 win over Boston. This is far from an ideal situation – the Lightning have allowed 40 shots or more in three straight – but at times chasing wins calls for desperate measures.

Pavel Kubina, D, Tor – Nine points in eight games is worth investigating, even if Kubina is only available in about 34 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Five of those points have come on the power-play, and you know how we feel here about points that count twice. Kubina could be traded before the deadline, which under the right conditions could boost his value.

Tomas Plekanec, C, Mon – Montreal is a team in need of a roster-wide wakeup call, and one of those slumbering guys who could help fantasy teams down the stretch is Plekanec. He flirted with 30 goals a season ago, but has disappeared into fantasy oblivion in 2008-09. Until recently, that is. He's responded to two games as a scratch with five goals and eight points in his last five. That's a start.

Kurtis Foster, D, Min – He's now practicing with Minnesota after picking up six points in six games during a rehab stint in the AHL. When he finally returns from that leg fracture he suffered in March of 2008, it will be nearly 12 months since his last NHL game. Give him time to get up to speed, but don't wait too long if the points begin to trickle in.

Bryan Little, C, Atl – He's on a 36-goal pace for the season. Little won't get there, of course, but he's making up time lost due to injury with four goals and seven points in his last four. He's only 36-percent owned, thanks to all that time lost.

Dominic Moore, C, Tor – Check out the assist leaders over the last month and you've got Moore among the leaders with 12, tied with Pavel Datsyuk and ahead of guys like Joe Thornton and Mike Ribeiro. He also has 28 penalty minutes. Give him a look if you need assists/PIM and give Steve Ott a shot if your need is goals/PIM.

Joe Pavelski, C, SJ – Pavelski has points in six straight and 13 of 16. His play this season has allowed San Jose to stick its two big guns on the same line, so Patrick Marleau owners owe Pavelski a thank you.

Alex Burrows, LW, Van – A stint on the Sedin line has agreed with Burrows, as the undrafted four-year vet has seven points in four games. Add the offensive spike to a hearty 86 penalty minutes on the season and you have an attractive free agent in fantasy circles. These things can be fickle, however. I'm sure we said the same thing about Taylor Pyatt at least once over the past 12 months.

Kris Letang, D, Pit – He seems to be the odd man out with a new coach behind the bench and a returning star (Gonchar) on it. He's been a healthy scratch lately and looks to be expendable in all but the deepest of leagues.

Yahoo! Friends and Family League update
We have a new leader as Rotowire's Maingot takes over atop the standings, albeit with a narrow half-point lead over Matt Buser from busersports.com. Team Romig finally has its savior in goal and it is … Patrick Lalime! Hey, you can't say I'm not trying. Recent transactions involved Erik Cole, Jaroslav Spacek and Tuomo Ruutu, among others.

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