Around the Rink
After the Tim Thomas debacle a couple years back, it's nice to see a smooth, news-free White House visit from the Blackhawks, who were honored by President Obama for their Stanley Cup win on Monday. Visit Walter Reed, pose with the president and move on. That's how you do it.
It's kind of beyond belief how bad the Sabres are right now. Two wins and an overtime loss in 16 games – that's legendary awfulness. They've traded their best player (though it was a good deal), their goalie is sure to be next, and you can be sure that contenders will look to mine the Buffalo roster for useful players like Matt Moulson, Steve Ott, Drew Stafford and Henrik Tallinder. I imagine the Sabres would love to move Tyler Myers, too, as he isn't coming close to earning his $6 million salary and $5.5 million cap hit, but they may have a hard time finding a taker for the big defender, as he's under contract for another five seasons after this one.
On the flip side, the Eastern Conference's most surprising team has been the Lightning, who've ridden unexpectedly solid netminding to first place in the Atlantic Division. Ben Bishop's been a revelation, going 9-2-0 with a 2.15 GAA and .925 save mark in the early going – impressive numbers that may fall off a little over the course of the year, but with the continued support of Tampa's explosive offense, the biggest goalie in NHL history should keep being one of the better ones in fantasy.
Projected Goalie Starters (all times Eastern)
For updates on the projected goalies later in the day, check our Projected Goalies Grid.
Stars (Kari Lehtonen) at Bruins (Tuukka Rask), 7:00
Islanders (Evgeni Nabokov) at Capitals (Braden Holtby), 7:00
Senators (Robin Lehner) at Blue Jackets (Sergei Bobrovsky), 7:00
Flyers (Steve Mason) at Hurricanes (Justin Peters), 7:30
Blues (Jaroslav Halak) at Canadiens (Carey Price), 7:30
Oilers (Devan Dubnyk) at Panthers (Jacob Markstrom), 7:30
Flames (Reto Berra) at Wild (Josh Harding), 8:00
Canucks (Roberto Luongo) at Coyotes (Mike Smith), 9:00
Sabres (Ryan Miller) at Sharks (Antti Niemi), 10:30
Injury News for Teams Playing Tuesday
Free and clear
Loui Eriksson, RW (concussion) – Feeling better; could be back in Tuesday
Johnny Boychuk, D (undisclosed) – Scratched Saturday; no word yet on Tuesday
Brian Strait, D (upper body) – Placed on IR Monday
Lubomir Visnovsky, D (concussion) – Still not practicing
Alexander Ovechkin, RW (upper body) – Practiced Monday; likely back Tuesday
Craig Anderson, G (neck) – Sitting out Tuesday, but sounds like it's not serious
Erik Condra, RW (leg) – Likely out 'til the weekend
Boone Jenner, C (leg) – Out for a matter of weeks
Nathan Horton, RW (shoulder) – MRI scheduled for this week
Steve Downie, RW (concussion) – Out of the hospital and doing well
Vincent Lecavalier, C (face) – Expected back in there Tuesday
Radek Dvorak, RW (lower body) – Practiced Monday; could play Tuesday
Anton Khudobin, G (lower body) – Progressing, but slowly; skated Monday
Jeff Skinner, LW (upper body) – Missed practice Monday to get checked out again; return up in the air
Tim Gleason, D (undisclosed) – Sat out Saturday; no word on Tuesday yet
Brenden Morrow, LW (upper body) – Placed on IR on Monday
Magnus Paajarvi, LW (upper body) – Could play Tuesday
Travis Moen, LW (face) – Back at practice Monday
Brandon Prust, LW (shoulder) – Skated in practice Monday
Daniel Briere, RW (concussion) – Skated with the team Monday
Devan Dubnyk, G (ankle) – Will be back in net Tuesday
Justin Schultz, D (groin/ribs) – Out again Tuesday
Taylor Hall, LW (knee) – Expected back during road trip that starts Tuesday
Richard Bachman, G (groin) – Got hurt Saturday, and wasn't playing well even before that
Jesse Joensuu, RW (back) – Skating with the team; like Hall, expected back on this trip
David Perron, RW (neck) – Placed on IR on Saturday
Tim Thomas, G (leg) – Won't be activated for Tuesday's game, but traveling with the team
Mark Giordano, D (ankle) – Out 5-7 weeks yet
Lee Stempniak, RW (foot) – On IR; week-to-week
Chris Breen, D (abdomen) – Could be back this week at some point
Charlie Coyle, C (knee) – Aggravated the injury, but supposed to be minor
David Booth, LW (undisclosed) – Sent on AHL conditioning assignment
David Schlemko, D (lower body) – Sat Saturday; questionable for Tuesday
Rotislav Klesla, D (lower body) – Expected back sometime this week
John Scott, RW (suspension) – Two more games on his suspension
Joel Armia, RW (hand) – Back at practice in AHL; could be up with Sabres later this year
Brent Burns, LW (mouth) – Suited up and skated Monday, but still not back at practice
Erik Karlsson, D, OTT – After a slow start to the year, Karlsson's started lighting things up. He's got seven points over a four-game streak and a total of 13 points in his last nine contests, resuming his position as the most valuable defenseman in fantasy. The only knock on him right now is his minus-2 rating.
Kyle Okposo, RW, NYI – Okposo's been consistently productive all year, but never more than over the last two games, as he ripped off five assists in a back-to-back set against Boston and Ottawa. The last time Okposo skated minutes like this, he put up 52 points – and he was just 21 years old that season.
Dennis Wideman, D, CGY – With Mark Giordano out, Wideman's seen his responsibilities on offense grow, and he's answered the bell with six assists in his last five games to go with a plus-5 rating. At 30 years old and on a team that's not very good, Wideman is incredibly positioned for one of the best seasons of his career.
Brooks Laich, C, WAS – Usually good for a consistent 40 to 50 points, Laich's managed just two points (both goals) in 14 games this season. Over the last six games, he has no points, a minus-5 rating and just five shots on goal. This despite skating very consistent minutes – more than 15 every game, with some power-play time. Fortunately, he's the kind of guy you can cut to the wire without having major regrets.
Ville Leino, LW, BUF – Well, the first thing you need to know is that he plays for Buffalo. But Leino's done next to nothing since his return from a rib injury, skating in four games, taking zero shots on goal and notching one assist. If you're stashing him, the bench is where he should stay 'til he starts creating more offense.
Marc Staal, D, NYR – After a promising return to the ice last year (11 points in 21 games), Staal suffered a broken orbital bone, and he simply hasn't been the same since returning. After another quiet effort Monday – just 16:23 of ice time and a minus-1 with no shots – Staal owns just two points in 14 games on the season and is a whopping minus-11. He's got some offensive upside and has typically been a strong defender, but injuries have derailed him, at least temporarily.
Mikael Granlund, C, MIN – Fantasy owners have been surprisingly slow to take to Granlund despite the 21-year-old's hot start to the year – a goal (just scored Sunday) and 10 assists in 15 games. The ninth overall pick in the 2010 draft and a star in his native Finland, Granlund has elite playmaking ability and has secured a consistent second-line spot with plenty of power-play usage. If your format rewards power-play points, he's one of the few players on the wire who can offer significant help in that respect, not to mention a dark horse for a 60-point season.