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Monday Daily Puck: Pittsburgh Receives Some Good News

John Toperzer

John Toperzer

John Toperzer writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

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Might there be good news on the horizon for a team swept by the Philadelphia Flyers over the weekend?

The Pittsburgh Penguins have totaled more than 400 man-games missed in 2013-14, 100-plus more games than the second most injury-plagued team in the NHL (the Detroit Red Wings).

James Neal and Chris Kunitz both sat out weekend tilts against Philadelphia, joining front-line players such as Paul Martin and Kris Letang in the press box.

But the team got some good news Sunday.

Kris Letang hasnít played since Jan. 27. Shortly thereafter, he was diagnosed as having had a stroke. We donít know too many details about the stroke, other than that he suffered from a small hole in his heart (known as a PFO). Typically, doctors perform a procedure to close the hole. Interestingly, Letang said at the time the medical staff was unsure if the PFO was the sole reason for his stroke.

Fast forward to Sunday. The defenseman completed six weeks of blood thinner treatment. He was cleared to participate in full practice Ė starting Monday. Letang didnít specify what neurologists said about his condition Ė Iím not sure Letang himself understands everything Ė but Sundayís news can only be taken positively by Letangís fantasy owners. Heíll need to improve upon his conditioning and get his timing back, but thereís an outside shot he returns for the last week or two of the regular season Ė the Penguins can certainly use him.

Pittsburgh forward, Beau Bennett, is close to returning from a broken wrist which has sidelined him since November. The promising winger saw some time alongside Sidney Crosby before he got hurt. Lee Stempniak has played fairly well on the Pensí top line recently, making it probable Bennett initially sees time elsewhere. Thereís a chance Bennett could skate on Evgeni Malkinís line while James Neal recovers from his second concussion in less than one year. Bennett might also serve as a winger on Brandon Sutterís unit.

Projected Goalie Starters (all times Eastern)
For updates on the projected goalies later in the day, check our Projected Goalies Grid

Minnesota Wild (Darcy Kuemper) at Boston Bruins (Tuukka Rask), 7:30 PM
Vancouver Canucks (Jacob Markstrom) at Tampa Bay Lightning (Ben Bishop), 7:30 PM
Winnipeg Jets (Ondrej Pavelec) at St. Louis Blues (Ryan Miller), 8:00 PM
Phoenix Coyotes (Mike Smith) at Los Angeles Kings (Jonathan Quick), 10:30 PM

Injury News For Teams Playing Monday

Minnesota Wild
Josh Harding, G - Although Harding (illness) was able to skate Tuesday, his return this season remains unlikely, Chad Graff of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. (3/12/2014)
Niklas Backstrom, G - Backstrom (abdominal soreness) was on the ice in pads Tuesday. "I know that he's still not feeling great, so he's going out there and keeping sharp just in case he can come back," head coach Mike Yeo told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. (3/12/2014)
Jason Zucker, LW - Zucker (lower body) has started skating on his own, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. (3/15/2014)
Brett Bulmer, LW - GM Chuck Fletcher said Bulmer will miss the next 6-to-8 weeks with a sprained ankle and knee, Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. (1/15/2014)

Boston Bruins
Adam McQuaid, D - The Bruins will shut down McQuaid (groin/hip) for the next two-to-three weeks. (3/5/2014)
Marc Savard, C - The Bruins are expected to place Savard (concussion) on Long-Term Injured Reserve, Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe reports. (7/6/2013)
Dennis Seidenberg, D - Seidenberg tore the ACL and MCL in his right knee and will be out for the remainder of the season, Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe reports. (12/28/2013)
Johnny Boychuk, D - Boychuk had X-rays on his foot after getting hit by a slap shot during Saturday's game, Amalie Benjamin of the Boston Globe reports. Bruins coach Claude Julien said Boychuk is hurting but not injured. (3/15/2014)

Vancouver Canucks
Daniel Sedin, LW - Sedin (hamstring) skated on Friday, and GM Mike Gillis doesn't think he is done for the season, Team 1040's Blake Price reports. (3/14/2014)
Ryan Kesler, C - Coach John Tortorella said Friday that Kesler has a sprained knee and is "out at least a couple of weeks." (3/14/2014)
Andrew Alberts, D - Coach John Tortorella said Alberts (concussion) has been slow to recover and shouldn't be expected to return anytime soon, Elliott Pap of the Vancouver Sun reports. (2/24/2014)
Brad Richardson, C - Richardson missed Monday's game against the Islanders with an undisclosed injury. (3/11/2014)
Mike Santorelli, C - Santorelli (shoulder) has undergone season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum, Brad Ziemer of the Vancouver Sun reports. (1/30/2014)
Hunter Shinkaruk, C - Shinkaruk will require major hip surgery and miss the rest of the WHL season, Elliott Pap of the Vancouver Sun reports. (12/27/2013)

Tampa Bay Lightning
Slater Koekkoek, D - Koekkoek has suffered a season-ending shoulder injury and will require surgery, the Windsor Star's Jim Parker reports. (3/7/2014)
Brian Lee, D - Lee (knee) is still only doing off-ice workouts. (11/9/2013)
Mattias Ohlund, D - Ohlund (knee) was placed on long-term injured reserve Tuesday, the Tampa Bay Times reports. (10/2/2013)

Winnipeg Jets
Chris Thorburn, RW - Thornburn is out indefinitely with a fractured talus, according to Ken Wiebe of the Winnipeg Sun. (3/16/2014)
James Wright, C - Coach Paul Maurice said that Wright is dealing with an ankle sprain and will be out indefinitely. (3/3/2014)
Grant Clitsome, D - Clitsome has undergone season-ending back surgery, Ken Wiebe of the Winnipeg Sun reports. (1/17/2014)
Mark Scheifele, C - Coach Paul Maurice said Scheifele (knee) has recovered as anticipated thus far. (3/14/2014)
John Albert, C - Albert (upper body) wonít play Wednesday against the Canucks, Ken Wiebe of the Winnipeg Sun reports. (3/12/2014)
Jim Slater, C - Slater is day-to-day with a lower-body injury, Ken Wiebe of the Winnipeg Sun reports. (3/16/2014)
Ondrej Pavelec, G - Pavelec (lower body) will be out at least two games, according to TSN.ca. Al Montoya will start in his place. (3/15/2014)

St. Louis Blues
T.J. Oshie, RW - Oshie's fiance is expected to give birth to their child Monday, and while Oshie said he'll play against the Jets if all goes well, there's a chance he misses the game, Lou Korac of NHL.com reports. (3/16/2014)
Magnus Paajarvi, LW - Paajarvi has an upper-body injury and will not be available Saturday vs. the Predators, NHL.com's Lou Korac reports. (3/14/2014)
Vladimir Tarasenko, RW - Tarasenko will undergo surgery on his right hand, the Blues' official site reports. (3/16/2014)
Jordan Leopold, D - Coach Ken Hitchcock said Leopold (ankle) will be out for another 10-14 days, NHL.com's Lou Korac reports. (3/4/2014)

Phoenix Coyotes
Martin Erat, RW - Erat (upper body) will not play Saturday against Calgary, according to the Arizona Republic's Sarah McLellan. (3/15/2014)
Martin Hanzal, C - Hanzal (lower body) will not play Saturday against Calgary, reports the Arizona Republic's Sarah McLellan. (3/15/2014)
David Schlemko, D - Schlemko (lower body) returned to Phoenix on Monday and is expected to miss the final three games of the team's road trip, Sarah McLellan of the Arizona Republic reports. (3/10/2014)

Los Angeles Kings
Jonathan Quick, G - Quick (illness) was able to practice Sunday, the LA Kings Insider reports. (3/16/2014)
Dustin Brown, RW - Brown (illness/lower-body injury) did not practice Sunday, Jon Rosen of lakingsinsider.com reports. (3/16/2014)

Hot

Tobias Enstrom: The defenseman looked like a 50-point lock for seasons to come when he totaled 50 and 52 points in 2009-10 and 2010-11, respectively. Things havenít worked out that way for the short-of-stature and long-of-stick Enstrom. He limped into Sundayís action with 21 points in 68 games, but scored a goal and added two assists. It never ceases to amaze me how some veterans with decent track records turn it on near the end of down seasons to make their totals respectable. Could Enstrom be one of those guys?

Alexandre Burrows, Henrik Sedin: The two slumping Canucks awoke for at least a day, Sunday. Burrows scored his first power-play goal in 69 games, collecting three points (1G, 2A) against the Panthers. Sedin, meanwhile, was as consistent as they come prior to 2013-14. That hasnít been the case this season, however, and the Sedin-assist brother registered just his third multi-point game Sunday (0G, 2A) since November.

Claude Giroux: After beginning the season with seven assists in 15 games, the Flyers captain has totaled 62 points in his last 52 games. He has four goals and 12 points in eight games since being left off the Canadian Olympics squad and shows no sign of slowing down. His play over the weekend was instrumental in the teamís success over Pittsburgh.

Cold

Martin St. Louis: He skated more than 20 minutes Sunday without registering a shot. In seven games for the Rangers, St. Louis has totaled two points Ė both assists. New York was certainly expecting more from the reigning Art Ross Trophy winner. The Rangers are in a dogfight for the playoffs and could use all the help little Marty St. Louis can provide.

Mikko Koivu: The Minnesota center had 35 points in 43 games when he injured his ankle. Since returning, Koivu has but two helpers in six games. Thereís a good chance he picks up the pace once he transitions from a two-month absence, especially with a rare 5-game week ahead for the Wild. Fantasy owners have to hope that resurgence starts now.

Vladimir Tarasenko: An injured hand will keep him out of the rest of the regular season. Tarasenko finishes with 21 goals and 43 points in 64 contests. On the bright side, fellow promising young talent, Dmitrij Jaskin has been recalled to take his place. The 20-year-old Jaskin has two points and 22 hits in nine games for the Blues.

Michael Del Zotto: A change of scenery hasnít suddenly inspired del Zotto. The defender has three assists in 17 games for the Nashville Predators. For the season, he has just 14 points in 59 games.

Recommended Pickup

Patrick Maroon: The importance of penalty minutes as a fantasy category can be debated, but itís a category which can be gained upon with a few well-placed roster moves. Maroon has an NHL-leading 27 PIM in March to go with 17 hits and three points (1G, 2A). If Radko Gudas is available, go with the defenseman over Maroon. Gudas collected 14 hits and six penalty minutes in his first two games back from injury.

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