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NHL Skinny: Sterling Moves

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GOALIE HOT SEAT
OTTAWA SENATORS RED HOT
1st Chair: Martin Gerber
2nd Chair: Ray Emery
Skinny: Emery made his season debut Saturday and stopped 31 shots to beat Florida 4-1. What's next? How about a dramatic pause? No word yet on who starts in New Jersey. The big worry now for Gerber owners is monitoring how he performs with Emery on the bench. The arrangement didn't work out so well last year.
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS RED HOT
1st Chair: Vesa Toskala
2nd Chair: Andrew Raycroft
Skinny: The Leafs are worst in the league in shots against and only Atlanta has yielded more power-play goals. In other words: conditions couldn't be worse in net. Raycroft took a lead into the third period Saturday, only to face 16 shots and two power plays in an eventual 6-4 loss. Toskala was solid his last time out in a 3-2 win over Florida.
PHOENIX COYOTES RED HOT
1st Chair: Mikael Tellqvist
2nd Chair: Alex Auld, David Aebischer
Skinny: Coach Wayne Gretzky isn't blaming his goalies for the slow start in the desert. It doesn't take a Hall of Famer to see the 42 shots allowed to Detroit Saturday and realize there are bigger problems. A short list of widely available backups I'd rather own than anyone in the Phoenix mix: Mike Smith, Kevin Weekes, Ilya Bryzgalov, Chris Osgood.
LOS ANGELES KINGS HOT
1st Chair: Jason LaBarbera
2nd Chair: Jean-Sebastien Aubin
Skinny: LaBarbera finally got his first win of the season Friday, making a strong case for No. 1 status along the way. Rookie Jonathan Bernier is out of the picture, having been returned to juniors. Aubin is in the mix here, but LaBarbera is the guy the franchise wants to see succeed.
BOSTON BRUINS HOT
1st Chair: Tim Thomas
2nd Chair: Manny Fernandez
Skinny: Boston's other Manny got a huge confidence boost Saturday when he stopped all 26 shots he faced in a tight 1-0 win over the Rangers. The performance doesn't change the fact that Thomas is red hot, having stopped 96 percent of shots faced in four starts. If anything, this just gets Fernandez back in the picture.
COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS WARM
1st Chair: Pascal Leclaire.
2nd Chair: Fredrik Norrena
Skinny: Hard to argue with Leclaire's numbers (he's available in 10 percent of leagues, by the way). Sunday's loss was a bit of a disappointment, but the fact that he only faced 18 shots is further proof the Jackets are doing things right on defense. Nothing wrong with Norrena's play to date, either. He's just playing behind the league leader in shutouts (3) right now.
ATLANTA THRASHERS WARM
1st Chair: Johan Hedberg
2nd Chair: Ondrej Pavelec, Kari Lehtonen
Skinny: Lehtonen's groin injury will keep him out of action for 4-to-6 weeks, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Hedberg, still available in roughly 90 percent of Yahoo! leagues, gets a chance to right the ship. Interim coach Don Waddell plans to give rookie Ondrej Pavelec his first NHL start sometime during the team's seven-game road trip.
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING WARM
1st Chair: Johan Holmqvist
2nd Chair: Marc Denis
Skinny: Holmqvist got the start Saturday despite back-to-back shaky efforts and rewarded coach John Tortorella with a solid effort in a 6-2 win over Atlanta. Everyone gets well against the Thrashers. After starting 10 games last October, Denis has yet to take the ice for the anthems in 2007.
MONTREAL CANADIENS WARM
1st Chair: Cristobal Huet
2nd Chair: Carey Price
Skinny: Price now has two NHL starts on his record – one in Pittsburgh against Sidney Crosby and the other on the road in Ottawa against the unbeatable Senators. So much for breaking him in easy. Montreal hosts Atlanta next week. Can we give the kid a break?
PITTSBURGH PENGUINS LUKEWARM
1st Chair: Marc-Andre Fleury
2nd Chair: Dany Sabourin
Skinny: Not much in the way of internal competition here, but if Fleury doesn't get his act together on a consistent basis, Pittsburgh may well look outside the organization for help.
I get two types of email in my column inbox. Email category 1: Your Big Board stinks. I enjoy these letters. The Big Board is intended to be a legitimate draft guide and value-meter. But it's also a format that cries for debate. Do you take Luongo or Brodeur? Lidstrom's steady hand or Whitney's upside? Allow me one request though: If you're going to point out an oversight, suggest someone to drop off the list. Remember that 50 players represents only about 4 ½ rounds in a standard Yahoo! league. A lot of quality players are drafted late in the fourth round and on.

Email category 2: When is Yahoo! going to update position eligibility? There's no easy answer here, but I wanted to address since it's the category 2 mail that makes me want to throw my laptop off the Santa Monica Pier. Honestly I think I'd rather hear "I'm Chris Hanson from Dateline NBC" than "You've got mail." The short answer is: We're working on it. You should see some changes coming in the next week or two, and going forward we're getting a system in place that will allow us to stay on top of long-term position changes. I can't address individual player cases right now, as the assigning of positions is still not 100 percent under our control, but rest assured better times are ahead. Here's a quick weekend update.

WEEKEND UPDATE: Need-to-know info from the past few days
Things to do Monday: Consider taking a flyer on deep sleeper Brett Sterling. He scored his first NHL goal Saturday, but it was developments at practice Monday that merit attention. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, interim coach Don Waddell is breaking up Slava Kozlov and Marian Hossa. At first blush this is bad news for Kozlov owners. He'll slip to the third line. Meanwhile, Hossa teams with Sterling and Bryan Little on what used to be known as Atlanta's kid line. Sterling was a 55-goal scorer in the AHL a year ago. Little is also a talent but, at a position as deep as center, he deserves attention in only the deepest of leagues. The restructured lines should debut Tuesday. Keys to watch are Sterling's ice time and Atlanta's power-play configurations.

Forget what I said about: Torrey Mitchell. I warned that coach Ron Wilson was probably just sending Jonathan Cheechoo a message when he banished him from Joe Thornton's line. Sure enough, Cheechoo was cozying up with Thornton for a faceoff just three or so shifts into the game. Interestingly enough, however, the San Jose Mercury News is reporting that San Jose's top line consisted of Milan Michalek, Thornton and Jeremy Roenick at practice Sunday. Worth watching, as Wilson may be trying to fast-track Roenick's quest for 500 goals.

One-timers: The Washington Post says Caps coach Glen Hanlon is expecting to have Alexander Semin back in the lineup Wednesday. … Rookie defenseman Jack Johnson scored his first NHL goal Friday and led all Kings skaters with 25 minutes of ice time.

BARGAIN BIN: Top player available in 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues
Chris Campoli, D, NYI – Four assists Thursday and an assist on the game-winning goal in overtime Saturday. Not a bad weekend. Coach Ted Nolan might not be the easiest guy in the NHL to play for, but when it comes to his defenseman, his doghouse appears to have a one in, one out policy. For now the guy in trouble is Marc-Andre Bergeron, though even he may have a temporary reprieve (see below). Campoli has a lot of talent and appeared on the verge of a breakthrough last year before injuries intervened. Owned in only 12 percent of Yahoo! leagues, he'll probably outperform your No. 4 rear-guard the rest of the way.

MARKET MOVERS: Charting player values

Michael Peca, C, Cls – Desperate for a No. 1 center, the Blue Jackets auditioned Peca alongside Rick Nash and Nikolai Zherdev. He picked up two points in his debut on that line, but was held off the scoresheet in Sunday's loss.

Marc-Andre Bergeron, D, NYI – Darn near waiver wire material last week, Bergeron has new life now that Bryan Berard is day-to-day with a groin strain. Activate him again if you have him.

Peter Mueller, C, Pho – From the press box to a point streak, the kid has responded well to being a healthy scratch last week. The point streak is modest (2 games), but the kid has a ton of talent on a team desperate for scoring punch.

Chris Clark, RW, Was – The Washington Post is reporting that Clark is back on Alexander Ovechkin's opposite wing, with Viktor Kozlov the center. Clark has 60-point, 100-PIM upside with a downside of … well, look at his current stats.

Randy Jones, D, Phi – His four-game point streak was halted Saturday, but Jones still ranks sixth in the NHL in defenseman scoring.

John Madden, C, NJ – As with all New Jersey players, you have to realize that his production comes in the midst of a nine-game road grind. Not that Madden is struggling. In fact, he's off to a great start (6 points in 8 games) and is seeing time on the power play for the first time in recent memory.

Patrick Sharp, RW, Chi – With three points on the power play, Sharp is already halfway to establishing a new career high. The Blackhawks will continue to count on him for scoring while Martin Havlat is out of the lineup.

Niklas Hagman, LW, Dal – He's doing what 15-goal scorers do after opening with five goals in five games – he's not scoring for a while.

Ladislav Nagy, LW, LA – You never want to overreact to a slow start, but it's safe to call Nagy a bust in Los Angeles and pursue other options.

Yahoo! Friends and Family League
Last week's leader plummets all the way to 8th place. That's how things go this early in the season. The top spot stays under the control of the Fantasy Hockey Caf, however, as FHC – Ryan takes over. In a "only in the new NHL" statistical oddity, Ryan finishes the week with no goalie wins, but one shutout, courtesy of a Henrik Lundqvist shootout loss.

This week's transactions involved Ron Hainsey, Manny Fernandez, Ondrej Pavelec and Christopher Higgins among others.

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