The Daily Puck
Andrew Fiorentino, RotoWire Writer
Around the Rink
I missed the debut of 24/7 on HBO last night, but I did see the Rangers clock the Penguins with a four-goal third period, just three days after they annihilated the Capitals 7-0. They Rangers are playing as well as anyone right now, but the loss of Ryan Callahan will loom big, even with the return of captain Chris Drury.
For those of you who did see 24/7, how did you like it? I hope it hits On Demand later today so I can catch up. Looking forward to getting that inside view of what goes on behind the scenes in the NHL.
One guy who won’t miss playing with the Capitals: Tomas Fleischmann. With Wednesday’s third-period hat trick, he’s got 10 points in seven games with the Avalanche. It may be no coincidence that Washington stopped winning after they traded him – but then again, it may be a coincidence.
By the way, if I had a choice, I wouldn’t start any non-elite goalie against Colorado, your NHL goals-per-game leader.
It only took him 19 seasons, but Nicklas Lidstrom recorded his first career hat trick Thursday. With 26 points in 30 games this year, it doesn’t look like his age (he’s 40) has slowed him one bit. That guy has been a fact of life in the NHL for me – I was not yet three years old when he was drafted in ’89 – and I consider him one of the best defensemen to ever play the game. Congrats, Liddy.
The Devils actually won a game – via shutout, no less - and against a good Western Conference team! And Ilya Kovalchuk scored two goals! In other news, several pigs have sprouted wings and taken flight from Newark International Airport. New Jersey is now comfortably ensconced as the second-worst team in the NHL, a good five points ahead of the Islanders. The Coyotes were on the losing end, and now they have to go up to Madison Square Garden to face the Rangers, who are 8-0 on the second of back-to-backs.
Best low-speed chase of the year? Best low-speed chase of the year. The Thrashers deserve to sell more tickets after a perfectly hilarious publicity stunt like that.
Projected Goalie Starters
For updates on the projected goalies later in the day, check our Projected Goalies Grid.
Phoenix (Jason LaBarbera) at Rangers (Martin Biron), 7:00 ET
Carolina (Cam Ward) at Atlanta (Ondrej Pavelec), 7:00 ET
Boston (Tim Thomas) at Montreal (Carey Price), 7:00 ET
Anaheim (Curtis McElhinney) at Islanders (Rick DiPietro), 7:00 ET
Los Angeles (Jonathan Quick) at St. Louis (Ty Conklin), 8:00 ET
Ottawa (Pascal Leclaire) at Minnesota (Jose Theodore), 8:00 ET
San Jose (Antero Niittymaki) at Dallas (Kari Lehtonen), 8:30 ET
Toronto (Jean-Sebastien Giguere) at Calgary (Miikka Kiprusoff), 9:30 ET
Columbus (Steve Mason) at Edmonton (Nikolai Khabibulin), 9:30 ET
Recent Injury News for Teams Playing Thursday
Ryan Callahan, RW (hand) – Out six weeks after breaking hand Wednesday
Derek Boogaard, LW (shoulder) – Won’t play Thursday
Jay Harrison, D (upper body) – Won’t play Thursday
Thrash, Mascot (grand theft Zamboni) – Arrested, but may return Thursday
Mark Stuart, D (finger) – Out six weeks
Teemu Selanne, RW (groin) – Missed Wednesday and unlikely to play Thursday, but will be a game-time decision
Todd Marchant, C (face) – Played Wednesday, so he seems to be fine
Mark Eaton, D (groin) – Out a week or two
Mike Mottau, D (eye) – Cleared for physical activity; probably two weeks away
Radek Martinek, D (arm) – Will play Thursday
Milan Jurcina, D (hamstring) – Will play Thursday
Matt Greene, D (upper body) – Won’t play Thursday
Marco Sturm, LW (knee) – Return target is Dec. 23
Erik Johnson, D (knee) – Won’t play Thursday and could be out long-term
Alex Pietrangelo, D (upper body) – Questionable for Thursday
Andy McDonald, C (concussion) – Placed on IR
Alexei Kovalev, RW (illness) – Missed practice Tuesday, but probably should be good to go Thursday
Pascal Leclaire, G (lower body) – Practiced with no problems Wednesday and is Thursday’s likely starter
Matt Carkner, D (ankle) – Will be out Thursday after being cut by a skate in Tuesday’s practice
Matt Cullen, C (groin) – Won’t play Thursday, but could return Friday
John Madden, C (upper body) – Practicing, but Thursday status unclear
Kent Huskins, D (undisclosed) – Skated in Wednesday’s practice, but remains out
Douglas Murray, D (lower body) – Practiced Wednesday, but missed second straight
Devin Setoguchi, RW (undisclosed) – Returned Wednesday, but still not playing well
Kari Lehtonen, G (back) – Morning skate went well; he’ll start Thursday
Toby Petersen, C (hand) – Returning to the lineup Thursday after missing six straight
Brenden Morrow, LW (face) – Will play Thursday after breaking his nose Monday
Krys Barch, RW (foot) – Appears to be fine, but still on IR and out for Thursday at least
Mike Komisarek, D (finger) – Has missed three straight
Jared Boll, RW (back) – Missed Wednesday’s game, his third straight; Thursday unsure
Derek Dorsett, RW (leg) – Got hurt Wednesday, so likely out Thursday
Derek MacKenzie, C (groin) – Placed on IR retroactive to Dec. 11
Jim Vandermeer, D (ankle) – Out a couple weeks
Anders Lindback, G, NAS – I don’t often (ever?) feature goalies here, which is unkind of me. Lindback deserves a mention, though, as he’s red hot, posting wins in five of his last six starts. All he's done this month in Pekka Rinne's absence is give up nine goals in six games with a .950 save percentage and two shutouts.
Paul Stastny, C, COL – Few have enjoyed the arrival of Tomas Fleischmann like Stastny has. One of my favorite players in the league, Stastny has racked up four goals and six assists over his six-game points streak.
Henrik Zetterberg, C, DET – Four-assist games will land you on this list. Zetterberg’s got eight points in his five games since a miserable minus-4 performance against San Jose earlier this month. That’s a good way to rebound.
Ilya Kovalchuk, LW, NJD – Huh? Yes. Kovalchuk has quietly turned his scoring on of late, collecting six points in his last five games. Unfortunately, he’s still minus-5 in that span, but hey, it’s a positive sign.
Alex Ovechkin, LW, WAS – Alexander The Great has morphed into Alexander The Good of late, his inconsistent play a big factor in the Caps’ seven-game losing streak. He’s goalless in four straight, with just one assist.
Mike Green, D, WAS – Really, I could list the entire Capitals team, but I’m going to rein myself in here. Green has no goals and one assist over his last 11 games.
Steve Mason, G, CLM – This month, Mason has one good game, one passable game, and two unmitigated disasters. We’re all still waiting for 10-shutout Mason to return; he may never.
Tomas Fleischmann, LW, COL – I repped him at the top and I’m going to rep him again here. Fleischmann is owned in less than one-third of Yahoo! leagues. That is ridiculous. The guy is getting major minutes for the best offense in the NHL and could score at a point-per-game pace from here on out. He should be universally owned.