NHL Skinny: Reunited

Matt Romig
1st Chair: Curtis Joseph
2nd Chair: Mikael Tellqvist
Skinny: Joseph made his third start in four nights Saturday and was stellar in a 1-0 loss to the Wild. "I like what he's doing right now, and I'll stay with him," coach Wayne Gretzky told the Arizona Republic. Tellqvist hasn't started since allowing seven goals to the Penguins on Jan. 27.
1st Chair: Sean Burke
2nd Chair: Mathieu Garon
Skinny: Garon was activated for Saturday's game at Florida in time to serve as backup for Burke, who blanked the Panthers with 40 saves. There's no questioning where fans stood on the Garon-Dan Cloutier battle, but Burke has been just good enough to win over what remains of the faithful.
1st Chair: Ed Belfour
2nd Chair: Alex Auld
Skinny: Belfour has a 3.40 goals-against in four post-All Star starts. He was pulled Saturday after just 14 minutes and was replaced by Auld, who allowed four of the Kings' seven goals in a 7-0 rout. Auld has not started since Jan. 18.
1st Chair: Tomas Vokoun
2nd Chair: Chris Mason
Skinny: Coach Barry Trotz has said he'll use a two-games-to-one ratio when distributing starts, with Vokoun getting the extra nod. The coach added that it might be more like one-to-one sometimes and more like three-to-one at others. Thanks, coach.
1st Chair: Ty Conklin
2nd Chair: Fredrik Norrena, Pascal Leclaire
Skinny: Conklin failed to build any momentum after beating Vancouver Jan. 30. He fell 5-2 to the Oilers the next night and was pulled 34 minutes into Friday's 6-2 loss at Calgary. It's a race to return between Norrena and Leclaire, with the winner getting first shot at backstopping a longshot playoff run.
1st Chair: Johan Holmqvist
2nd Chair: Marc Denis
Skinny: "He's playing and he's playing a a bulk of the games right now and he deserves it," coach John Tortorella said of Holmqvist, winner of eight of his last nine starts. Still no No. 1 tag, however. Tortorella told the Tampa Tribune that he lets the players make those decisions through their play. Whatever. It says here that Holmqvist is the No. 1.
1st Chair: Antero Niittymaki
2nd Chair: Robert Esche, Michael Leighton
Skinny: Esche started Saturday, but was pulled just seven minutes in after experiencing neck spasms. Niittymaki played well in relief to earn his second win in three starts after a 15-game losing streak. No word yet on just how long Esche might be sidelined.

This one wasn't hard to see coming. After nearly four months atop the Yahoo! Friends and Family League, Team Romig has taken a tumble. I'm not going to say complacency had completely taken over, but I probably spent as much time gloating over my standing in the league in this space as I did fine-tuning my roster. Sure, I hit the available players page every now and then, but the conclusion was always the same: Dude, you've got a double-digit lead and Milan Michalek on your roster. Milan Michalek! All the while I'm ignoring a shrinking lead, mounting injuries in goal and the fact that Michalek, no longer skating with Joe ThorntonorPatrick Marleau, has become a poor man's Taylor Pyatt. I really should be better at this.

Truth be told, I'm still not all that worried. I've slipped a bit in the goalie cats, but I expect that to turn around now that J.S. Giguere is back in action. Of course, it doesn't help that Nikolai Khabibulin has remembered he plays for the Blackhawks and Evgeni Nabokov gets no offensive support from the Sharks. Can someone get Nabby and Roger Clemens in a support group together, and make sure they both have their calendars clear for a July intervention at Randy Johnson's place? We'll continue to follow the Friends and Family league here – I won't hide from it – while addressing the rest of the weekly happenings on hockey:

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

Long-time Ottawa linemates Jason Spezza, Daniel Afredsson and Dany Heatley were reunited for much of the third period in Saturday's 3-2 shootout loss to the Islanders. End of story? Not so fast. Senators coach Bryan Murray told the Ottawa Sun that he's still not sure what do to with his top scoring trio. Spezza, Alfredsson and Heatley will most certainly play together at times, but matchup concerns, particularly on the road, could lead to further shuffling. "It's something I'm wrestling with," Murray said.

For the record, Spezza started Saturday's game with Peter Schaefer and Mike Fisher on his wings. That left Patrick Eaves and Antoine Vermette out in the cold. Both had nice pockets of production recently and briefly lined up alongside Spezza, but haven't been a factor in 3-4 games. Center Chris Kelly hasn't hit the scoresheet in seven games. He's a nice two-way player, but his time with Afredsson and Heatley is dwindling and it's time to cut him loose. Fisher and Schaefer are short-term upgrades if Murray decides to spread the wealth and leave Spezza off the No. 1 line. More on this as it develops.

Speaking of reunions, center-starved fantasy owners should take note of Craig Conroy's arrival back in Calgary. In case you missed it, the Kings shipped Conroy to the Flames last Monday in exchange for center Jamie Lundmark and draft picks. The early returns are positive: 2 goals, 2 assists, plus-2, 1 PPA in three games. Can he keep that up? You bet. Remember that Conroy had his best fantasy season to date – 75 points and a plus-24 in 81 games in 2000-01 – while centering Jarome Iginla in Calgary. And that was when Iginla was just getting started. That year he recorded his first 30-goal season. The following year he scored a career-best 52.

The deal couldn't have come at a better time for Conroy. He was languishing with the Kings with only 16 points and a minus-13 rating in 52 games. His arrival in Calgary also coincided with Iginla's return from the IR. Iggy is having arguably the best season of his career. Conroy, available in about 70 percent of Yahoo! leagues, is happy to be along for the ride. The biggest loser in the deal is center Matthew Lombardi, who had nearly reached 50 percent ownership in Yahoo! leagues, but who now finds himself banished to third-line duties alongside Tony Amonte and Marcus Nilson.

One-timers: It looks like Carolina defenseman Frantisek Kaberle will return to the lineup Tuesday. He was a top 25 scoring defenseman last season and is available in about 70 percent of Yahoo! leagues. … As expected, defenseman Bryan Berard returned to the Columbus lineup Wednesday. Though he has yet to register a point in two games, he should remain in your fantasy crosshairs.

BARGAIN BIN: Top player available in 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues
Ryane Clowe, RW, SJ – He's been a Skinny regular for several weeks now, but I'm mounting one final push to get his ownership percentage over the 50 percent mark. Since joining Joe Thornton on San Jose's No. 1 line, Clowe has nine goals, nine assists and 25 penalty minutes in 13 games. As I mentioned last week, the Sharks want some grit on Thornton's wing, and Clowe has succeeded this year where Mark Bell (flop) and Mike Grier (more valuable elsewhere) have faltered. I don't see Clowe's role changing barring a rapid collapse in San Jose.

MARKET MOVERS: Charting player values

Nicklas Backstrom, G, Min – The St. Paul Pioneer Press says goalie Manny Fernandez will miss up to another three weeks with a knee injury. Backstrom and his 1.94 goals-against average remains in charge for the short-term.

J.P. Dumont, RW, Nas – The Dumont-Jason Arnott-Steve Sullivan line has been red-hot lately. The only widely available member of the trio is Dumont, who is averaging a point per game over his last 15. Good need-based add here, as 13 of those points came on helpers.

Tomas Holmstrom, LW, Det – That he's hot isn't big news. It's been several weeks now, but the data says he's unowned in 20 percent of Yahoo! leagues, so it's worth a look. With two goals and an assist Friday, Holmstrom has six points in his last three games.

Mark Streit, D, Mon – We've seen a few of these defense-forward swing guys the last few seasons, but none have amounted to much in fantasy leagues (unless you count Sergei Fedorov's controversial defense eligibility of a few years back). Well, you can add Streit's name to the mix now. Normally a fourth-liner when playing up front, Streit found himself starting on Saku Koivu's line Sunday. He has goals in three of his last four games and points in four straight. Not a bad risk-reward pickup for a No. 4 defense slot.

Darren Haydar, RW, Atl – If you think Sidney Crosby is running away with the NHL scoring race, take a gander at the list of top AHL point-getters. With 89 points in 49 games, Haydar has a 19-point cushion on his closest pursuer. Just how safe that margin is depends on how long he sticks with the Thrashers on this go-around. Haydar played nine minutes Saturday in his NHL season debut.

Brandon Bochenski, RW, Bos – The Boston Globe speculates that Bochenski, acquired via trade from Chicago Saturday, might start Tuesday's game on a line with Marc Savard and Glen Murray. The concussion suffered by Marco Sturm created an opening there.

Ales Hemsky, RW, Edm – Had to figure this one was coming. After struggling for much of the season, Hemsky has two goals and eight assists in his last four games.

Jamie Lundmark, C, LA – The player going the other way in the Conroy to Flames swap was Lundmark, who took a team-high six shots Thursday and has goals in back-to-back games exiting the weekend.

Martin Gerber, G, Ott – Wins in three straight starts have not gone unnoticed. After Gerber made 35 saves in a win over Washington last week, coach Bryan Murray made a point of saying he'll try to get his backup more work. He's a legitimate fantasy No. 3 starting 20 percent of Ottawa's games.

Nathan Paetsch, D, Buf – Mentioned his power-play value here last week, and Paetsch responded by extending his streak of games with a power-play assist to four games. That was snapped Saturday, but Paetsch remains a solid No. 4 rearguard option.

Ryan Miller, G, Buf – The Sabres goalie has dropped three straight starts, all three coming on the road and all three coming in games Buffalo led after two periods. Not a full-blown goalie battle here yet, but Martin Biron started and won back-to-back starts last week.

Jean-Sebastien Aubin, G, Tor – Coach Paul Maurice might have been serious when he said Andrew Raycroft may start every game for the remainder of the season. Aubin spent all but one period of January action in baseball cap mode.

Robert Lang, C, Det – Make it seven straight games without a point for Lang, who logged only 13:14 of ice time in Friday's win over St. Louis.

Yahoo! Friends and Family League
I've said all I'm going to say about developments this week. Hey, it could be worse. I dropped to third at one point last week.