NHL Skinny: California streamin'

Matt Romig
Yahoo! Sports


1st Chair: Jean-Sebastien Giguere(notes)
2nd Chair: Jonas Hiller(notes)
Skinny: Coach Randy Carlyle hinted at ditching the win-and-stay-in policy, perhaps because the Ducks have not won since Nov. 27 and the coach would like some say on who's between the pipes. That could be a silent endorsement for Giguere. He's been more effective in defeat lately than Hiller, who has allowed at least three goals in seven consecutive starts.

1st Chair: Jimmy Howard(notes)
2nd Chair: Chris Osgood(notes)
Skinny: Howard will start again Wednesday and at least for now Osgood isn't complaining about his diminished role. Since Ozzie recovered from the flu, Howard owns a 6-4 advantage in starts and a 4-0 edge in victories. Howard made 12 third-period saves Sunday, a 3-1 win over the Rangers that was tied until the final minutes.

1st Chair: Mike Smith(notes)
2nd Chair: Antero Niittymaki(notes)
Skinny: Smith recorded his first shutout of the season Saturday, which earned him a Monday assignment against the Caps. Niittymaki's .932 November save percentage has earned him a share of the workload, but it still looks like Tampa would prefer to have Smith find his form.

1st Chair: Vesa Toskala(notes)
2nd Chair: Jonas Gustavsson(notes), Joey MacDonald(notes)
Skinny: Coach Ron Wilson expect Gustavsson, who recently underwent a second heart procedure, to resume skating in the next few days. Allowing three goals in 20 minutes (including two in 20 seconds) in a relief role Saturday, Toskala once again gets a shot to do something other than kill fantasy ratios in an empty quest for wins.

1st Chair: Tim Thomas(notes)
2nd Chair: Tuukka Rask(notes)
Skinny: The Bruins are still calling Thomas the No. 1, but they are also quite happy about the deal that landed Rask, who is now 8-2-2 on the season. If you're a Thomas owner, his 47-percent owned backup is a necessary handcuff.

1st Chair: Semyon Varlamov(notes)
2nd Chair: Jose Theodore(notes)
Skinny: It's always a confidence game with Theodore and in that respect his back-to-back wins are a step in the right direction. That said, he was beneficiary of a couple low-stress starts (punchless Hurricanes; 8-2 laugher in Philly). The 72 saves on 76 shots still count though. Varlamov remains blissfully stuck on one regulation loss on the season. Only coach Bruce Boudreau's affinity for Theodore keeps this burner above simmer.

1st Chair: Pekka Rinne(notes)
2nd Chair: Dan Ellis(notes)
Skinny: This is why investing in a timeshare is risky business. Rinne had his seven-game winning streak, but back-to-back losses (60 saves on 67 tries) opened the door for Ellis to start on consecutive nights (4-1 win, 5-3 loss and early hook). We should see Rinne again Tuesday against the Canucks, but a loss there could throw this thing up for grabs again. We'll always have November, Pekka.

1st Chair: Steve Mason(notes)
2nd Chair: Mathieu Garon(notes)
Skinny: Mason and Garon will split starts in a mid-week set of games on back-to-back nights. Suggestion for Ken Hitchcock: start Mason at home. A Garon hot streak could force Mason to the bench as Columbus clings to the fringes of the playoff race. Last year's Calder winner is essentially a matchup play at best right now.

1st Chair: Martin Biron(notes)
2nd Chair: Dwayne Roloson(notes) (1a), Rick DiPietro(notes)
Skinny: Chris Botta has your DiPietro update for the week. Sounds like DP's final AHL tune-up could be slated for Dec. 15, which would be right on target with the Islanders' stated mid-December target date for a return to the NHL. I'm still intrigued enough here that I'd make an IR staff if roster flexibility allows it.

1st Chair: Ray Emery(notes)
2nd Chair: Brian Boucher(notes)
Skinny: Emery may be bothered by some nagging injuries and reports of a sour disposition probably won't shock the fantasy masses. Boucher got the start Monday in coach Peter Laviolette's second game behind the bench.

1st Chair: Ondrej Pavelec(notes)
2nd Chair: Johan Hedberg(notes)
Skinny: Hedberg started three of four for the Thrashers entering play Monday, winning all three including Saturday's shootout win in Florida. Given all we've been through with Kari Lehtonen(notes) over the years it's hard to believe the Atlanta roster can support two fantasy-worthy goalies, but the Thrashers do rank 3rd in the NHL in save percentage and both Pavelec and Hedberg deserve credit.

We're going to jump right into the bullets this week. When you add up preparing for the most critical weeks of the fantasy football season, trying to get a fantasy baseball preview magazine out the door on deadline and chugging forward with standard in-season basketball and hockey features, you get a perfect storm of fantasy chaos. Not fishing for sympathy here. I couldn't ask for a better job or a better crew to work with. Just asking for a little understanding when some of the regular features here (or on a certain list I "maintain") fall by the wayside.

Along those lines, here's one other programming note: Due to some planning sessions for our coverage of the 2010 Winter Olympics, this will likely be the last NHL Skinny until Dec. 21. We'll handle any breaking fantasy hockey news – particularly those relating to the ongoing goalie battles we track here weekly – in periodic Roto Arcade posts between now and then. With any luck I'll find a window to publish at least an abbreviated Skinny, but odds are we'll be dark next week.

One-timers: It'll take a Cristobal Huet(notes) slump to turn this back into a full-blown goalie battle, but Antti Niemi(notes) is at least back in the picture after a pair of impressive efforts. A Huet slump? Perish the thought. … Blues rearguard Carlo Colaiacovo(notes) has seven points (two goals) in his last eight games. … Cam Ward(notes) is expected to return to the Carolina goal on Wednesday. … Jackets forward R.J. Umberger(notes) followed up a six points in two games explosion by going scoreless as a minus-6 in a pair of Columbus losses. … Mike Knuble(notes) (15 points in 17) should return to the Washington lineup on Friday. … Andy Greene(notes) continues to hog the minutes on the Devils blueline and at just 15-percent owned he's still outperforming countless fantasy lineup staples out there. His assist Monday gave him 12 points in his last 16 games. … Roto Arcade favorite Niclas Bergfors(notes) has three goals in his last four. … If you don't feel like waiting out Daniel Carcillo's(notes) suspension, try kicking the tires on Steve Downie(notes) (points in three straight, four PIM).

BARGAIN BIN: Available in 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues
Joffrey Lupul(notes), LW/RW, Ana (54-percent owned) – We're bending eligibility rules here. Let's just call the 50 percent thing a guideline and continue. Lupul has been out for a while with back spasms, but returned Friday with two goals against the Wild. The timing of his comeback couldn't have been better. Just 24 hours earlier the Ducks had lost winger Teemu Selanne(notes) for 4-6 weeks with a broken thumb.

Lupul slid right into Selanne's spot alongside Corey Perry(notes) and Ryan Getzlaf(notes) on Anaheim's No.1 line. If you've owned Lupul in the past, you know he's capable of pockets of tantalizing production. Back in 2007 he racked up 18 points in a nine-game span. That was his best point-per-game season in his six-year career, but we're still waiting on even a 55-point full campaign. Red flags aside, Lupul's dual-wing eligibility is nice and the Perry-Getzlaf gold mine is a great place to dig for points.

MARKET MOVERS: Charting player values
Randy Jones(notes), D, LA – Though he hasn't had a double-digit season in goals since he departed Clarkson University in 2003, Jones has become a defenseman of interest in Los Angeles. His goal Thursday was his fourth since joining the Kings on Nov. 11. It's fairly starting that he's been able to maintain his points pace (nine in 12 games) without making much of a dent on the power-play (no points in last eight).

Erik Cole(notes), LW, Car – Cole had a hat trick Saturday and Eric Staal(notes) has a modest six points in five games. As we've mentioned here before those guys have a history of clicking together. Cole is a constant injury risk but the offensive upside is probably worth the gamble if you're starting three or more left wings in your format.

Wayne Simmonds(notes), RW, LA – Like Cole, Simmonds is a holdover from last week in this space. The point streak is now six games (four goals, four assists) and the 114-PIM pace is a nice bonus. Scott Parse(notes) has been along for the ride with six points in six.

Eric Fehr(notes), RW, Was – No, this is not a re-run of last week's Skinny. There are several questions to ask with guys in this section in terms of week-to-week decisions. First: Is he still widely available in Yahoo! leagues? Yes, Fehr is a free agent in 93 percent of Y! leagues. Next: Is he still hot? Heading into play Monday, Fehr has a six-game point streak (four goals, five assists). Finally, is there any reason to alter the recommendation? Nope, even with Alex Ovechkin(notes) back in the Washington lineup, Fehr remained on a line with productive second-line pivot Brendan Morrison(notes) (four points in last two).

Martin Erat(notes), RW, Nas – He has a three-game point streak (two goals, two assists) and now a plum assignment on a line with Steve Sullivan(notes) and Jason Arnott(notes). The 39-percent owned Arnott has 11 points in 10 games. Erat is also getting a power-play promotion, so there's a shot, albeit a small one, that he can turn this small pocket of production into a sustained streak.

Matt Duchene(notes), C, Col – You expect to see youngsters slump and eventually you'll see a headline about a demotion to the fourth line or a view from the press box. That's when players have a chance to show their mettle and so far Duchene has passed his test with flying colors. After a brief line demotion he responded with five goals and three assists in a six-game span. It's time to reinvest now that the rookie is available in 83 percent of Yahoo! leagues.

Chris Stewart(notes), RW, Col – Speaking of Duchene, he's developing some solid chemistry with Stewart, a 2006 first-rounder (No. 18 pick overall) who has 10 points in eight games. Duchene holds the edge in pure offensive upside, but the depth at center in fantasy pools may make Stewart the more attractive plug-and-play option.

Michael Rupp(notes), C, Pit – Give him 80 games and he'll give you 100 penalty minutes. A hat trick? Well, that was unexpected, but Rupp is on a nice little offensive run (four goals, one assist in last four) and is doing his best impersonation of a top-six forward.

Stephen Weiss(notes), C, Fla – If it's possible to remain under the radar while scoring 15 points in 11 games, then Weiss has pulled it off. He's still only 44 percent owned which will happen when you 1) play a position as deep as center, and 2) play for a team that gets as little national attention as the Panthers. Weiss will offer little to no help in the PIM department and a good plus/minus goal is neutral, but it's looking like last year's 19-point jump in production is for real.

Devin Setoguchi(notes), RW, SJ – He's been held without a point for seven straight games and is currently filling a third-line role for San Jose. Getting back together with Joe Thornton(notes) would change things in a hurry, of course, but right now the best thing Setoguchi owners can hope for is more power-play time for a unit that has been struggling at home of late.

Yahoo! Friends and Family League update
Rotowire's Janet Eagleson is enjoying her first Monday atop the standings as again a mere 9 ½ rotisserie points separate first from sixth place. Team Eagleson got big weeks from Mikko Koivu(notes) (3-3-6), Jason Pominville(notes) (3-2-5) and Miikka Kiprusoff(notes) (two wins, shutout), among others. Player activity included recent moves for Brian Pothier(notes), Sami Salo(notes), Randy Jones and Jordan Staal(notes).

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