GOALIE HOT SEAT
FLORIDA PANTHERS RED HOT
1st Chair: Tomas Vokoun
2nd Chair: Craig Anderson
Skinny: Vokoun will start again Tuesday, and why not after his 3-0 shutout win over Colorado on Sunday. When the puck drops it will be his fourth start in five games and he'll bring a .951 December save percentage into the game in Nashville. It's a waiting game now for Anderson, who is paying the price for one five-goal blemish on his game log.
NASHVILLE PREDATORS RED HOT
1st Chair: Dan Ellis
2nd Chair: Pekka Rinne
Skinny: Can't complain about Ellis' December numbers (1.24 GAA, .957 save pct.), unless you fault him for getting only six goals of support in four starts. The wins are equally hard to come by for Rinne, whose last two victories have come via 1-0 shutouts. Rinne (three Dec. shutouts) is probably too hot to sit Tuesday, but the Preds still refer to Ellis as the No. 1.
LOS ANGELES KINGS RED HOT
1st Chair: Jason LaBarbera
2nd Chair: Erik Ersberg , Jon Quick, Jonathan Bernier
Skinny: If you're invested in any of the above, click here to state your case for your guy. Coach Terry Murray has doubts that Quick is ready to play in the NHL, but we'll see him again Tuesday against Columbus, according to the Los Angeles Daily News.
OTTAWA SENATORS RED HOT
1st Chair: Martin Gerber
2nd Chair: Alex Auld
Skinny: There's no hot hand here. Gerber is coming off a win, but he allowed some softies in Saturday's 5-4 overtime win over Dallas. Auld has yielded 14 goals in his last three starts, all defeats. We're not sure who we'll see Tuesday, and frankly both are better benched against a Philly team that has scored at least five goals in four straight home games.
CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS HOT
1st Chair: Cristobal Huet
2nd Chair: Nikolai Khabibulin
Skinny: Huet has won four straight, allowing a total of three goals. Khabibulin is 3-0 with a .920 save pct. since returning from injury. The team's official stance is that both will play, and neither netminder has given the team reason to reduce his workload. Expect a near even timeshare until one of these guys blinks.
WASHINGTON CAPITALS HOT
1st Chair: Brent Johnson
2nd Chair: Jose Theodore, Simeon Varlamov
Skinny: Johnson had a run of four solid starts (5 total goals allowed) before a shaky 5-4 win over the Islanders and a face-plant against Philadelphia (3 allowed on 13 shots). He'll start again Tuesday, according to the Washington Post. There are some cries for giving Varlamov a longer look, but in the meantime this is Johnson's job to lose.
VANCOUVER CANUCKS WARM
1st Chair: Curtis Sanford
2nd Chair: Cory Schneider, Roberto Luongo
Skinny: Sanford's start Monday was his third straight and fourth in five games. So much for Schneider taking over if Luongo's injury was long-term. Consider Luongo week-to-week (he's still not practicing) and give whoever is between the pipes a slight upgrade if Mats Sundin can invigorate the offense as planned.
ATLANTA THRASHERS WARM
1st Chair: Kari Lehtonen
2nd Chair: Johan Hedberg
Skinny: Lehtonen returned with last place at stake and made 36 saves in a 4-3 win over Tampa Bay. It was his first game action in nearly two months. The short-term plan is to start Lehtonen on Monday and Hedberg on Tuesday on Long Island. Lehtonen, for what it's worth, is available in about 65 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS WARM
1st Chair: Steve Mason
2nd Chair: Pascal Leclaire
Skinny: Mason's ownership figure has crept up to 62 percent, and maybe the seven percent who own Chris Mason just made an add/drop error. Columbus' Mason isn't exactly piling up the wins, but all but one of his last nine starts have been useful for fantasy purposes, and the lone exception was a road test in San Jose that was decided late. Outside of a few hot streaks (and his status as a former first-round pick), there's nothing in Leclaire's history to suggest he'll mount a strong challenge.
ST. LOUIS BLUES LUKEWARM
1st Chair: Manny Legace
2nd Chair: Chris Mason, Ben Bishop
Skinny: Mixed results for Legace in his weekend return after 10 days off due to a concussion. He beat Minnesota 4-2 on Saturday, but hit the showers early in Sunday's ugly 6-3 loss to Boston. Mason's six-game losing streak didn't help his stock here.
NEW JERSEY DEVILS LUKEWARM
1st Chair: Scott Clemmensen
2nd Chair: Kevin Weekes
Skinny: Nothing new to report here, but we'll leave the burner on to give us a place to point out that Martin Brodeur could be a month ahead of schedule in his return from elbow surgery.
DETROIT RED WINGS LUKEWARM
1st Chair: Ty Conklin
2nd Chair: Chris Osgood
Skinny: Osgood's groin is a concern, and there's a chance an IR stay is in his future. It's an odd bit of timing in that Conklin's nine-game winning streak in 2007-08 began on Dec. 20 and was precipitated by an injury to No. 1 Marc-Andre Fleury in Pittsburgh.
One of the great things about life on the West Coast is the 4:00pm PT start time. You're in the office, you're starting to drag and then there it is, like a shot of Red Bull, the early East Coast game. Today, as I finish this column, it's the Penguins-Sabres from Buffalo. The Sabres lead 1-0, but even though he's without a goal at this point, watching Evgeni Malkin ply his trade provides a nice adrenaline boost. Of course it helps to have a television perched on your desk and a job description that makes it OK to scream, "What channel is Versus on again?" across the newsroom. Fantasy geekdom does have its benefits.
I bring up the East Coast-West Coast thing only because I just read that the Pens had to take a bus to Buffalo due to inclement weather. We take a lot of things for granted out here alongside the Pacific. A 12-month golf season, year-round shorts weather and random celebrity sightings are a few examples. It all comes at a price, of course. The $13 cocktail, unbelievable real estate prices and only two NHL rinks (one if you exclude the monstrosity that is the Staples Center) within 400 miles all come with the territory.
I'll take the good with the bad, of course. For all of you dealing with the cold snap back east, I can only wish you warmth and safety for the upcoming holidays. Here's hoping that Mother Nature allows you to connect with friends and family. Let's get to the Skinny before fattening up on holiday fare.
Weekend UpdateNeed-to-know info from the past few days
• Teemu Selanne suffered a scary injury Friday. Considering some of the fairly gory details, Selanne is probably fortunate to only miss four to six weeks as reported. Even luckier if he returns sooner than that as the Ducks are hoping. The upshot here is that we should get an extended look at Bobby Ryan on Anaheim's first power-play unit. He's option number one, and he did score a power-play goal on Monday, giving him man-advantage points in two straight games. In standard formats, you can probably find a more productive RW option on the waiver wire (or on your bench). Managers in deeper leagues should roll the dice on Ryan's offensive upside and see what he does with the opportunity.
• Bad news got worse for Columbus over the weekend when it was revealed that Calder candidate Derick Brassard will miss the remainder of the season after injuring his shoulder in a fight Thursday. There's upside here, too. Brassard was owned in about one in five Yahoo! leagues, the result of a hot start that saw the rookie score 19 points in his first 18 games. Only six points followed in his next 13, and we all know how his first career fighting major turned out. Rookies are prone to production lapses anyway, so the Brassard injury while unfortunate from a hockey sense gives fantasy owners incentive to make what was probably a wise move anyway. It's time to look elsewhere. As for the Jackets, the Columbus Dispatch speculates that Doug Weight deal makes sense or we may see Nikita Filatov back in the NHL after the junior championships.
One-timers: There are whispers of a goalie controversy in Colorado, where No. 1 Peter Budaj has lost three straight starts while Andrew Raycroft has a modest three-game winning streak. … James Wisniewski returned to the Blackhawks' lineup with three points in two games. He was a healthy scratch Dec. 20 to avoid working on back-to-back nights. … Hard to call it a controversy with both goalies playing at such a high level, but Manny Fernandez (11-2-1) should be owned in more than 54 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Fernandez holds a slight 5-4 edge in December starts over Tim Thomas. … Sharks winger Jonathan Cheechoo should see at least one more game of top-six duty with Milan Michalek ruled out for Tuesday's game against Vancouver.
BARGAIN BIN: Top players available in 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues
Andrew Ladd, LW, Cal (14-percent owned) – We've seen plenty of Ladd in this space over the past few seasons, and that's not necessarily a good thing. The Skinny favors widely available players, which means that while Ladd has shown flashes, he's never reach anything close to universal acceptance in fantasy circles. Well here we are in another one of those hot streaks – three goals and 11 assists in nine December games. Go ahead and roster him if you're in the market for assists. But get ready to jump ship when the next dry spell hits.
Alexei Ponikarovsky, LW, Tor (17-percent owned) – If you want a hot line to ride, try any member of the Ponokarovsky (seven points in three games)-Nik Antropov (nine points in four games)- Matt Stajan (five points in two games) unit. While we're at it, what has gotten into the Maple Leafs, who scored 18 goals on their three-game road trip.
MARKET MOVERS: Charting player values
Martin St. Pierre, C, Bos – With Boston dealing with a number of injuries up front (Marco Sturm, Patrice Bergeron), there's an opportunity for St. Pierre, a three-time 20-goal scorer in the AHL who made his season debut Sunday. He'll only have deep league value, but he did break in with an assist against St. Louis and there's plenty to go around with the Blues averaging more than 4 ½ goals per game in December.
Scott Hartnell, LW, Phi – Left wing production isn't as hard to come by as it used to be, but it's still hard to ignore two hat tricks in a 10-day span from a player available in about 40 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Of course he did the same thing last year (hat tricks on Jan. 10 and Jan. 19) and then had only 15 points in his final 36 games. The penalty minutes (25 in last nine games) probably won't dry up even if the production does. Upgrade Joffrey Lupul while you're at it.
David Krejci, C, Bos – If he hadn't fired a blank on Dec. 10, he'd be holding his own with teammate Phil Kessel with a 15-game point streak. You'll find Krejci available in about 30 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Twelve points in his last five games has him on a point-per-game pace on the season and things, believe it or not, could pick up with Bergeron sidelined.
Pavel Kubina, D, Tor – It's really easy to dismiss Maple Leafs defensemen as under-producing plus-minus drags, but at least recently Kubina has been a worthwhile asset. The 11-year veteran has six points, four on the power play, and is a healthy enough plus-four over that span. Given his penalty minute upside he's certainly rosterable in more than 60 percent of leagues.
Richard Park, RW, NYI – As our friends at RotoWire recently pointed out, Park is getting a shot on a retooled Islanders power play. New York was blanked Saturday, but in the three games prior Park had three goals, two assists and three points on the aforementioned power play.
Loui Eriksson, LW, Dal – If goals are your category need, then Eriksson may just be your guy. His recent hat trick and six goals in four games has opened eyes, but even before that explosion Eriksson had gone more than two games without a goal only once since his first tally on Oct. 18. Consistency counts.
Matt D'Agostini, RW, Mon – Just five-percent owned, D'Agostini is keeping pace with some of the game's premier snipers. His goal Sunday was his sixth in 10 games and his 22 shots in his last five games signals a high activity level in the offensive zone.
Jeremy Williams, RW, Tor – If you count his AHL totals, Williams now has 16 goals in 25 games this season. The last five have come at the NHL level, with his goal Monday making it five goals and six points in six games with Toronto.
Ryan Whitney, D, Pit – You might not see him in back-to-back games for a while and even Whitney isn't sure what his power-play role will be right away, but it does appear to be a certainty that the Pens' defenseman will make his season debut Tuesday. He picked up an assist on the man-advantage Saturday in a rehab game with Pittsburgh's Scranton branch.
Alexander Semin, LW, Was – Semin will miss Tuesday's game, and based on first-hand accounts this could be a long-term thing. The points pace is nice, but we weren't ready to sign up for another season of this day-to-day waiting game.
Yahoo! Friends and Family League update
Is there any stopping Janet Eagleson? RotoWire's once snake-bit owner makes it three weeks in the top spot, thanks in part to solid weeks from Derek Roy (2g, 3a, plus-3) and Kimmo Timonen (5a, 10 PIM). And was that Marian Gaborik we saw in uniform? Players who caught the attention of owners league-wide last week included David Backes, Michael Ryder, Braydon Coburn, Slava Kozlov and Miroslav Satan.