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The Daily Puck: Dropping Saturday's Puck

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

Whether or not Vincent Lecavalier's retaliatory slash on P.K. Subban was justified, I'm sure glad no one every sticked me like that when I played. Talk about a welt. Ouch.

-- Antoine Vermette should be suspended just for being a bad skater. An out-of-control Vermette slid into Brian Rafalski's knee and once again hurt the fragile Detroit defender. Rafalski has 40 points in only 52 games. Wow.

-- Michal Neuvirth reasserted himself with a 33-save, 3-0 shutout of New Jersey on Friday night. Are the Caps peaking too early or can they carry their momentum into the postseason? Right now they are the beast of the East.

-- The Coyotes are 6-0 on the road against Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver. It's almost like someone is calling the franchise back home to Canada. Hockey can work in Phoenix, move the Thrashers.

Who's Hot

Jason LaBarbera – Makes 46 saves in a 3-1 win at Vancouver on Friday night, despite starting for just the third time in nine weeks.

Christian Erhoff – Nineteen goals, really? He's a solid all-around rear guard but I never saw a 20-goal season coming. Neither did Alexander Edler, but then again, he's hurt and the probable reason Erhoff has 19 scores.

Mike Ribeiro – The centerman has six goals and 15 points in his last 14 games in a relatively quiet 60 point-plus campaign.

Who's Not

Patrik Hornqvist – He's got one stinking goal in his last 12 games. Thank goodness for his game misconduct cheap shot worth 15 PIMs on Thursday. I never thought I would be saying such a thing. The shooting savant has but two shots in the last four games.

Erik Johnson – My boy Erik Johnson has a minus-8 rating in his last six games. So that's why I'm dropping in the standings.

Marc-Andre Bergeron – Things aren't coming so easy for Bergeron after he tallied two assists in his first game back. He's pointless in his last eight with a minus-4 rating.

Recommended Pickup

Ryan McDonagh – Pat yourself on the back if you knew the Rangers defenseman leads the NHL in plus-minus over the last month (plus-10) and has five assists. He is zero percent owned in Yahoo! fantasy leagues. He's doing better than Erik Johnson and Marc-Andre Bergeron.

Probable Starting Goalies

Columbus (Steve Mason) at Minnesota (Niklas Backstrom), 2 p.m.
Islanders (Rick DiPietro) at Florida (Tomas Vokoun), 7 p.m.
Atlanta (Ondrej Pavelec) at Buffalo (Ryan Miller), 7 p.m.
Boston (Tim Thomas) at Toronto (James Reimer), 7 p.m.
Tampa Bay (Dwayne Roloson) at Ottawa Craig Anderson), 7 p.m.
Detroit (Jimmy Howard) at Nashville (Pekka Rinne), 8 p.m.
Philadelphia (Sergei Bobrovsky) at Dallas (Kari Lehtonen), 8 p.m.
Colorado (Brian Elliott) at Edmonton (Devan Dubnyk), 10 p.m.
Anaheim (Daniel Ellis) at Los Angeles (Jonathan Quick), 10:30 p.m.
St. Louis (Jaroslav Halak) at San Jose (Antti Niemi), 10:30 p.m.

Rotowire Goalie Grid

Injury Roll Call


Kristian Huselius – Out, continues to miss with lower-body injury.
Chris Clark – Out, still hopes to return before season's end.


Marek Zidlicky – Out, ruled out for Saturday with lower-body injury.
Cam Barker – Out, not close to returning from lower body.
Guillaume Latendresse – Out, will miss Saturday with an aggravation of a previous lower-body injury.


Trevor Gillies – Out, seven games into a 10-game suspension.
Shawn Mattias – Out, expected to play during team's upcoming five-game road trip.
Evgeny Dadonov – Out, will test his finger Saturday after missing nearly two months of action.
Jacob Markstrom – Out, will miss rest of season after undergoing successful knee surgery.



Johan Hecht – Questionable, missed Wednesday with an upper-body injury.
Derek Roy – Out, could return in May from quad injury, should the Sabres still be playing.


Andrew Ference – Questionable, missed Thursday but could return from lower body Saturday.
Brad Marchand – Out, will missed second game of two-game suspension Saturday.


Mike Komisarek – Questionable, missed Thursday and unlikely to go with lower body Saturday.

Tampa Bay

Steve Downie – Out, still missing time with ankle injury.
Ryan Malone – Abdomen, skating with non-contact red jersey.


Craig Anderson – Questionable, dealing with minor lower-body injury, could play Saturday.


Pavel Datsyuk – Questionable, lower body injury after Rick Nash hurt, walking gingerly, 50/50 for Saturday.
Jiri Hudler – Out, will not play Saturday due to illness.
Chris Osgood – Out, will skate Saturday in anticipation of returning to game action next week.
Brian Rafalski – Questionable, GM Ken Holland said he thinks Rafalski will play Saturday, we say 50/50.
Ruslan Salei – Questionable, team not sure if Salei will go Saturday after attending birth of child.


Joel Ward – Questionable, optimistic about playing through lower body Saturday.


Chris Pronger – Out, expected to miss another three weeks with small fracture to hand.


Adam Burish – Out, has missed the last three games with lower body.
Loui Eriksson – Questionable, missed Thursday and no real updates for Saturday – not good.


Erik Johnson – Probable, expected to play after taking shot off leg.
Milan Hejduk – Questionable, missed Wednesday and has played poorly when healthy lately.


Theo Peckham – Out, couple days away from returning after concussion.
Ryan Whitney – Out, season is officially done due to ankle after hot start to season.
Shawn Horcoff – Out, hairline ankle fracture, hopes to return in about one week.


Jonas Hiller – Out, making progress from vertigo but no set date for a return.
Los Angeles
Kyle Clifford – Out, will not play Saturday due to upper body.

St. Louis

Nikita Nikitin – Questionable, skating and close to returning from upper body.
Phil McRae – Questionable, also back skating and could return any game now.

San Jose

Niclas Wallin – Questionable, missed Wednesday but could return against Blues, day-to-day.
Dany Heatley -- Out, will miss second game of two-game suspension Saturday.


Tyson Strachan – Activated off IR by St. Louis.
Nathan Oystrick – Assigned to AHL Peoria by St. Louis.
Michael Duco – Assigned to AHL Rochester by Florida.