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The Daily Puck: Opportunities in Chicago

Ben Rauscher

Ben Rauscher

Ben Rauscher writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

The Daily Puck
by Ben Rauscher, RotoWire Writer

Around the Rink

Once upon a time in a November not so long ago, Brian Burke and Anaheim Ducks couldn't find a trade partner for their backup goalie, Ilya Bryzgalov, so they waived him. Anaheim intended on running with then-elite netminder J.S. Giguere... Fast forward to today and Burkie still has Giguere, but on another team and Bryzgalov recorded his second shutout of the season Sunday night, along with his 14th win of the year. There are clear-cut winners in this deal (see Bryzgalov, Phoenix Coyotes), and losers (see Burke, Anaheim). Oh - and all fantasy owners continue to love the return on Bryzgalov who is arguably the most consistent goalie over the past couple of seasons.

I have always liked Alex Steen - mostly because of the legacy his father Thomas left after his reign as a Winnipeg Jet (and now a Winnipeg city councillor). Steen started with so much promise in Toronto, but wasn't suited to his evolving (er, inconsistent) role. A late-season surge with the Blues last year made him fantasy relevant again, and he has rolled with it this season too. Sunday night in Vancouver, he was the star of the ice by scoring twice and notching an assist on the other St Louis goal to power the Blues to a 3-2 win over the host Canucks - a very tough place to win.

Yes - that means that the Blues snapped their five-game winless streak and Jaroslav Halak finally found the win column again.

Five power-play goals all in the span of 13:19 of the first period left the score 3-2 for the host Blackhawks on Sunday night. The goalies (Miikka Kiprusoff and Corey Crawford) then shut the doors even though both teams continued to play undisciplined hockey. The final was 4-2 on Dave Bolland empty-net goal (and second of the game).

Unfortunately, even though Chicago won the game, they lost star Patrick Kane to a first-period (first shift) injury. Fantasy owners and Blackhawk fans stay tuned for more information.

Chris Kelly scored a hat trick Sunday against the host Rangers... A shorthanded effort started it up for the Senator, and he followed that up with one at even strength (the game-winning goal) and ended the night with an empty-netter. Kelly doubles his goal output with this performance.

Sergei Bobrovsky won Sunday night and was named the game's second star. What exactly is the plan in Philly when Michael Leighton comes back to assume the mantle of starting goalie? We will find out soon enough as Leighton is now on his rehab assignment. Who gets the Christmas gift of number one goaltender is a question vested fantasy owners are chomping at the bit to find out - I'd go with Bobrovsky!

HOT

Milan Hejduk is riding a seven-game point streak where he has potted five goals and five assists, but the Avalanche have a 2-3-2 record over the span. Regardless, Hejduk has 30 points in only 26 games and is on pace for one his best seasons since 2002-03 (where he scored 98).

Taylor Hall has been playing some fundamentally sound hockey for the Edmonton Oilers with six goals, a pair of helpers and a plus-6 rating. The fact that he is playing plus-hockey shows that he is a complete player - understanding his role on both ends of the ice. He is a minus-2 on the season, but remember this is for the Oilers, who have a goal differential of -23 (70 goals for, 93 goals against).

It wasn't so long ago that I was putting this guy in the recycle bin, but Jarome Iginla has found his game again and is currently riding a four-game point streak (2G, 3A)... he has also recorded points in nine of his last 12 games (8G, 5A).

Lars Eller, the other player involved in the Jaroslav Halak deal, appears to be finding his groove with the Montreal Canadiens. While his goal and pair of assists over the last three games is nice, he has shown his grit by notching a minor penalty in five of the last six games. There is certainly room to grow, and he is showing that he is capable of doing that.

Ryan Malone is on a four-game point streak with two goals and four assists and has scored half of his season's 20 points in his last nine games.

COLD

With 13 points through 22 games, it appeared the Tim Connolly was on his way to better last season's career high 65 points. Unfortunately, another injury (this time a groin strain) has sidelined the fragile forward and derailed the year. Maybe he can get back on track, but history is against Connolly here.

One goal in his last NINE games puts Ilya Kovalchuk firmly on the cold list.

Without a goal in his last five games, and only a pair of helpers, it is clear that Steven Stamkos has hit the proverbial wall. Out goes the talk of 50-in-50, and he is losing ground to the surging Sidney Crosby.

Three goals and one assist over the last 10 games isn't terrible, but it is certainly below what Claude Giroux was producing earlier this year.

Recommended Pick-up

With right-winger Marian Hossa on the shelf for a minimum of three weeks with a lower-body injury (groin?) and now Patrick Kane (another RW) out at least day-to-day, there is an opportunity for either Jack Skille or Troy Brouwer to step up. Skille is the better add at this time.

Projected Goalies

Toronto (Jonas Gustavsson) @ Washington (Michal Neuvirth), 4pm EST
New Jersey (Johan Hedberg) @ Pittsburgh (Marc-Andre Fleury), 4pm EST
Dallas (Kari Lehtonen) @ Columbus (Mathieu Garon), 4pm EST
Nashville (Anders Lindback) @ Atlanta (Ondrej Pavelec), 4pm EST
San Jose (Antti Niemi) @ Detroit (Jimmy Howard), 4:30pm EST

Injury Roll Call

Toronto @ Washington

Maple Leafs:

Dion Phaneuf - Probable, expected to be active for Monday's game in Washington after recovering from left leg surgery.
Mike Brown - Out, broken finger and not fantasy relevant.

Capitals:

Jason Chimera - Out, with a mouth injury?!?
 
New Jersey @ Pittsburgh

Devils:

Bryce Salvador - Out indefinitely with a concussion.
Anssi Salmela - Out indefinitely recovering from knee surgery.
Mark Fraser - Out, expected to return early in the new year from hand surgery.
Zach Parise - Out, may not return this season after suffering a major knee injury.
Jacob Josefson - Out, expected to return late January from hand surgery.
Matt Taormina - Out, no timetable for return from an ankle injury.
Martin Brodeur - Questionable, likely to return in the next week.

Penguins:

Jordan Staal - Out indefinitely with multiple injuries/infections.
Mike Comrie - Questionable, a lower-body injury has slowed his season down.
Evgeni Malkin - Questionable for Monday's game against New Jersey with a knee issue.
Alex Grant - Out, on injured reserve with wrist and neck injuries.
 
Dallas @ Columbus

Stars:

Toby Petersen - Out, will miss Monday's game with a hand injury.

Blue Jackets:

Kristian Huselius - Out, injured reserve with a high ankle sprain and an unknown timetable to return.
 
Nashville @ Atlanta

Predators:

Pekka Rinne - Out, expected back from arthroscopic knee surgery in January.
David Legwand - Out, injured reserve with a lower-body injury.
Matthew Lombardi - Out, injured reserve suffering from a concussion.

Thrashers:

Evander Kane - Doubtful for Monday's game with a knee injury.
Fredrik Modin - Out indefinitely with an upper body injury.
 
San Jose @ Detroit

Sharks:

Kent Huskins - Doubtful for Monday's game with an upper-body injury.
Niclas Wallin - Doubtful for Monday's game with a leg injury.
Jason Demers - Out, injured reserve with an upper-body injury.
Devon Setoguchi  - Out, injured reserve with an upper-body injury.

Red Wings:

Mike Modano - Out, injured reserve recovering from wrist surgery (career ending?)

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