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The Daily Puck: Oh Brother!

John Toperzer

John Toperzer

John has written for since 2003 and serves as the beat writer for the Pittsburgh Penguins and Pittsburgh Pirates. He also contributes with a Daily Puck article every Monday. He’s worked for the Pirates for 15 years, written for the Penguins’ Web site as the first game-day editor, and rooted for the Steelers dating back to the Immaculate Reception.

Around the Rink

*Puck drops at 1 p.m. Est.

The eight-headed beast in the East has arisen. Alexander Ovechkin collected his first four-point game of the season Friday and potted his first power-play score since October. It won't be surprising to see him lead the league in scoring the rest of the way.

-- Evgeni Malkin finally recovered from a left knee injury and sinus infection, only to see his right knee hurt by the mammoth Tyler Myers on Friday. He'll be re-evaluated Saturday after getting an MRI. Incredibly, the Pens are 10-1 in games without Malkin, 8-3-1 without Crosby and 4-1 without either.

-- As great as Vancouver is playing, the true test comes in the playoffs. How many Cups have the Canucks won?

-- The Blues' Andy McDonald (concussion) played for the first time in two months Friday, picking up assist and finishing plus-2 in 18:21 TOI. The Center position is deep in fantasy hockey, but McDonald is worthy of consideration not only for his offensive production, but also for his faceoff wins and shots.

-- I regretted keeping Patrice Bergeron over David Krejci in a keeper league up until mid-December. Since then, Bergeron has 14 goals and 29 points in 23 games. Now I wish I would've kept both guys. Fantasy owners are never happy.

-- In the eyes of many, penalty minutes are pretty much a stupid fantasy category. That said, adding a couple fighters midway through the season is a great way to unearth points in the standings. Teams in the bottom half of the standings lose interest in the standings. It's an easy way to make up ground.

Who's Hot

Nicklas Backstrom – The Caps' center scored two goals and assisted on two more Friday night. If Ovechkin gets hot, Backstrom figures to benefit as much as anyone on Washington. Look for a tick up on secondary scoring in D.C., too.

Daniel Sedin - Don't look now, but Henrik's brother is leading the NHL in scoring. Could Sedin brothers go back-to-back with Art Ross Trophies? Daniel Sedin has 28 goals and 69 points, and is currently riding an eight-game point streak (1, 10).

Who's Not

Dany Heatley - Heatley has four goals and 10 points in 14 games since the start of the calendar year. Heatley's one of the finest natural goal scorers in the NHL, but he's on pace for his lowest goal total ever – he has 19 in 52 games. The 30-year-old forward potted 50 goals back-to-back for Ottawa but hasn't found the going so smoothly in San Jose.

Dustin Byfuglien - Byfuglien hasn't recorded a point in his last 12 games. It's possible his weight is dragging him down, but Big Buff's taken 58 shots during his dry spell. Chances are he misses Tobias Enstrom a bit, who's due back in 1-3 weeks.

Michal Frolik – Only 10 players have taken more shots than Frolik in the last month. Unfortunately, Frolik hasn't scored on any of his 48 opportunities, has just two assists and a ghastly minus-10 rating.

Recommended Pickup

Brad Marchand – He's fourth in the NHL with eight goals in the last month and leads the league with a plus-16 rating over that time. There's a chance that poolies might be buying high on Marchand, but he's available in plenty of fantasy leagues and is a perfect pump-and-dumper.

Probable Starting Goalies

San Jose (Antti Niemi) at Boston (Tim Thomas), 1 p.m.
Rangers (Henrik Lundqvist) at Montreal (Carey Price), 2 p.m.
Anaheim (Curtis McElhinney) at Colorado (Craig Anderson), 3 p.m.
Atlanta (Ondrej Pavelec) at Carolina (Cam Ward), 7 p.m.
Toronto (James Reimer) at Buffalo (Ryan Miller), 7 p.m.
Ottawa (Robin Lehner) at Islanders (Kevin Poulin), 7 p.m.
Edmonton (Nikolai Khabibulin) at Columbus (Steve Mason), 7 p.m.
Dallas (Kari Lehtonen) at Philadelphia (Brian Boucher), 7 p.m.
Detroit (Jimmy Howard) at Nashville (Pekka Rinne), 8 p.m.
Minnesota (Niklas Backstrom) at Phoenix (Ilya Bryzgalov), 8 p.m.
Los Angeles (Jonathan Quick) at Calgary (Miikka Kiprusoff), 10 p.m.

Rotowire Goalie Grid

Injury Roll Call

San Jose vs. Boston

San Jose
Logan Couture – Probable, expected to return from illness Saturday.
Antero Niittymaki – Out, tweak groin during Friday's practice.

Daniel Paille – Out, suspended four games for a hit on Thursday.

Rangers vs. Montreal

Chris Drury – Out, will miss Saturday's game with knee injury.
Ruslan Fedotenko – Out, expected to miss 3-4 weeks after undergoing appendectomy surgery.

James Wisniewski – Questionable, missed Friday's practice with flu and is day-to-day this weekend.
Michael Cammalleri – Out, will not play this weekend due to shoulder injury.

Anaheim vs. Colorado

Jonas Hiller – Out, fatigue is the reason listed for Hiller's expected miss Saturday.
Ryan Getzlaf – Out, traveling with team but target date remains February 9.

Ryan O'Reilly – Questionable, could return Saturday from shoulder, check updates.
Peter Mueller – Out, skated for a second straight day Thursday but a ways away.
David Jones – Out, back skating so he shouldn't miss too much time with shoulder injury.

Atlanta vs. Carolina

Freddy Meyer – Out, will likely miss Saturday due to head injury.
Tobias Enstrom – Out, expected to miss another 1-3 weeks.

Jussi Jokinen – Out, looking at 1-2 weeks with a lower-body injury.

Toronto vs. Buffalo

Darryl Boyce – Questionable, likely out Saturday after suffering facial injury Thursday.
Mike Brown – Out, will miss a couple weeks with an upper-body injury.

Patrick Kaleta – Questionable, day-to-day with hand injury, check updates.

Ottawa vs. Islanders

Matt Carkner – Questionable, traveling with team but not expected to play Saturday with lower body.
Pascal Leclaire – Out, apparently not making any progress with a suspected groin injury.

Blake Comeau – Out, will miss Saturday with a concussion suffered Wednesday.
Rick DiPietro – Out, will sit out 4-6 weeks with facial injuries suffered during goofy fight.
Mark Streit – Out, has been shooting since early Jan. – but not slappers – and still might return this year.

Edmonton vs. Columbus

Dustin Penner – Questionable, day-to-day w/flu, both Jordan Eberle and Linus Omark returned Friday.

Rostislav Klesla – Out, back skating but won't be back for another week or so.
Nikita Filatov – Questionable, still missing games with a neck injury.

Dallas vs. Philadelphia

Krys Barc -- Questionable, likely to miss a few games with scratched retina.
Marc Fistric – Questionable, could be a game-time decision with illness.
Raymond Sawada – Questionable, left Thursday's game early with head injury.
Adam Burish – Out, placed on IR with injury to face.

Jody Shelley – Questionable, didn't play Friday in win over Nashville.

Detroit vs. Nashville

Pavel Datsyuk – Questionable, inability to shoot hard could less his impact when he initially comes back.
Tomas Holmstrom – Questionable, missed Friday's game and says he really can't shoot puck hard yet.
Mike Modano – Out, may be able to return before mid-March.

Jordin Tootoo – Out, back skating with team but will need a week or two to get back into game shape.

Minnesota vs. Phoenix

Cam Barker – Probable, expected to return from eye injury Saturday.
Matt Cullen – Questionable, missed Friday's practice with an undisclosed injury and is day-to-day.
John Madden – Probable, also missed Friday but is expected to go Saturday.

Ed Jovanovski – Questionable, didn't play in Thursday's blowout loss, day-to-day with upper body.
Michal Rozsival – Questionable, chronic day-to-day status, wait til he comes back to activate.
Vernon Fiddler – Out, practiced Thursday but isn't expected to suit up Saturday.

Los Angeles vs. Calgary

Los Angeles
Marco Sturm – Out, making progress but will miss his seventh straight game Saturday.

Niklas Hagman – Questionable, missed Thursday with undisclosed, no word on status for Saturday.


Chris Mason – Activated by Atlanta off IR.
Drew McIntyre – Sent to AHL Chicago by Atlanta.
Ben Bishop – Recalled by St. Louis from AHL Peoria.
John McCarthy – Assigned by San Jose to AHL Worcester.
Alex Stalock – Assigned by San Jose to AHL Worcester, hurt also.
Francis Wathier – Recalled by Dallas from AHL Texas.
Sami Salo – Assigned by Vancouver to AHL Manitoba for conditioning.
Jonas Gustavsson – Loaned to AHL Marlies for conditioning.
Ben Scrivens – Goalie assigned by Toronto to ECHL Reading.
Tobias Enstrom – Placed on IR by Atlanta on procedural move.
Zach Hamill – Recalled by Boston from AHL Providence.
John Moore – Defenseman recalled by Columbus from AHL Springfield.
Lance Bouma – Forward recalled by Calgary from AHL Abbotsford.
Kris Newbury – Assigned by Rangers to AHL Connecticut.

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