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The Daily Puck: A Look at Saturday's Slate

John Toperzer

John has written for since 2003 and serves as the beat writer for the Pittsburgh Penguins and Pittsburgh Pirates. He’s worked for the Pirates for 17 years, written for the Penguins’ Web site as the first game-day editor, and rooted for the Steelers dating back to the Immaculate Reception.

Projected Goalie Starters

Islanders (Rick DiPietro) at Philadelphia (Brian Boucher), 7 p.m.
Nashville (Pekka Rinne) at Detroit (Chris Osgood), 7 p.m.
Pittsburgh (Brent Johnson) at Carolina (Cam Ward), 7 p.m.
Rangers (Martin Biron) at Toronto (Jean-Sebastien Giguere), 7 p.m.
Florida (Tomas Vokoun) at Montreal (Carey Price), 7 p.m.
Boston (Tim Thomas) at Ottawa (Brian Elliott), 9 p.m.
Atlanta (Ondrej Pavelec) at St. Louis (Jaroslav Halak), 8 p.m.
Chicago (Corey Crawford) at Minnesota (Nicklas Backstrom), 8 p.m.
Buffalo (Ryan Miller) at Dallas (Kari Lehtonen), 8 p.m.
Columbus (Steve Mason) at Colorado (Peter Budaj), 9 p.m.
Tampa Bay (Dan Ellis) at Phoenix (Ilya Brygalov), 9 p.m.
Washington (Michal Neuvirth) at Calgary (Miikka Kiprusoff), 10 p.m.
Anaheim (Jonas Hiller) at San Jose (Antero Niittymaki), 10:30, p.m.
New Jersey (Martin Brodeur) at Los Angeles (Jonathan Quick), 10:30 p.m.

For more up-to-date info, check out our Projected Goalies Grid.

Injuries for Teams Playing Saturday

Islanders vs. Philadelphia


Michael Grabner – Will miss this weekend's games, could come back Wednesday.
Robbie Schremp – Sent to AHL for conditioning stint, hasn't played this year due to back injury.


Michael Leighton – Progressing and hoping to return from back surgery in late November.

Nashville vs. Detroit


Marcel Goc – Out for at least another week with a shoulder injury.
Matthew Lombardi – Remains week-to-week with a concussion
Ryan Suter – Won't come back at least until after Saturday's game.


Jonathan Ericsson – Won't play on Saturday but is getting closer to a return.
Jimmy Howard – Out on Saturday because of back spasms.
Kris Draper – Out until late November.
Brian Rafalski – Out Saturday and isn't yet sure if he'll accompany team to Canada for road trip.

Pittsburgh vs. Carolina


Eric Godard – Missed team's last two games with an illness and has only played three times all season.
Zbynek Michalek – Looking for a return from a shoulder injury in early November, perhaps on Nov. 6.
Jordan Staal – Hoping for a return on Wednesday, Nov. 3 in Dallas, but nothing is certain.


Jiri Tlusty – Returned from a knee injury Friday and played five minutes for the ‘Canes.

Rangers vs. Toronto


Derek Boogaard – Day-to-day with hand infection, missed Friday's game.
Marian Gaborik – Apparently out for another week or two, no new news the last couple days.


Kris Versteeg – Missed Thursday as a game-time decision with bad back, likely game-timer Saturday.
Colby Armstrong – Out at least for the next month after injuring tendon in hand.

Florida vs. Montreal


No recent injury news


Andrei Markov – One of the most highly anticipated returns of any NHLer will happen Saturday night.

Boston vs. Ottawa


Marc Savard – Completed a good skating session Friday, but still no contact or possible return date.
Marco Sturm – Still on long term IR, but skating this week without setback from knee surgery.
Johnny Boychuk – Out for the next three weeks with a forearm fracture.


Pascal Leclaire – Hasn't skated for several days, recovery has stagnated, no specific return date.
Jason Spezza – Could return Saturday after missing last four games with wonky groin injury.
Filip Kuba – Still likely weeks away from a return but could join team's morning skate on Saturday.

Atlanta vs. St. Louis


Bryan Little – Day-to-day after leaving Friday's game with facial lacerations.
Freddy Meyer – Didn't play Friday night and is day-to-day with lower-body injury.

St. Louis

Carlo Colaiacovo – Questionable for Saturday after suffering head injury Thursday night.
Cam Janssen – Nearly returned from concussion on Thursday, game-time decision Saturday.
Roman Polak – Out indefinitely with wrist injury that will require surgery.

Chicago vs. Minnesota


Marian Hossa – Will miss at least the next couple weeks with an upper-body injury.
Brian Campbell – Out Saturday, earliest potential return date is next Wednesday.


Cam Barker – Didn't play Thursday but would likely have extra motivation against ex-mates Saturday.
Guillaume Latendresse – Missed Friday's practice with groin injury and is questionable for Saturday.
Pierre-Marc Bouchard – Back skating and could return from concussion sometime in November.
Antti Miettinen – Out indefinitely after suffering a concussion against Los Angeles on Monday.

Buffalo vs. Dallas


Jason Pominville – Failed neuro-pysch test, missed Friday and likely out Saturday but return nearing.
Andrew Sekeja – Returned to action Friday and saw more than 19 minutes of action.


No recent injury news

Columbus vs. Colorado


Jan Hejda – Missed Thursday's game with calf injury and could sit out several more.
Kristian Huselius – Out Saturday , current thinking is that he could return next week from foot injury.


Adam Foote – Missed two games this week with concussion, questionable for Saturday's tilt.
David Koci – Close to returning from broken jaw but still out Saturday.
Craig Anderson – Out indefinitely but the good news is that he won't need surgery.

Tampa Bay vs. Phoenix

Tampa Bay

Dominic Moore – Missed Wednesday's game with groin injury and is questionable for Saturday.
Matt Smaby – Day-to-day with illness, missed Wednesday's game against Pittsburgh.
Simon Gagne – On injured reserve with head injury but doesn't have concussion.


Derek Morris – Left Thursday's game with lower-body injury and is questionable for Saturday.
Martin Hanzal – Still on IR with lower-body injury, due back within the next week or so.

Washington vs. Calgary


Boyd Gordon – Didn't return to ice Wednesday as thought and has missed last four games.
Marcus Johansson – Missed Wednesday's game with a hip injury and not expected back Saturday.
Tom Poti – Didn't play Wednesday, could be a game-time decision on Saturday.
Semyon Varlamov – Out Saturday, joined AHL team with Caps traveling on current road trip.


David Moss – Close to returning from shoulder injury but missed Thursday's game.
Adam Pardy – Has only played in two games with shoulder injury, didn't play Thursday.
Ales Kotalik – Still out with knee injury and hasn't started skating yet. Has shed knee brace.

Anaheim vs. San Jose


Cam Fowler – Didn't play Friday and is likely a game-time decision on Saturday.
Matt Beleskey – Out Saturday after suffering a concussion and could miss several games.

San Jose

Derek Joslin – Resumed practicing on Thursday, but won't play Saturday.

New Jersey vs. Los Angeles

New Jersey

Jacob Josefson – Sat out Friday with sore hand but could return on Saturday.
Mark Fraser – Out Saturday but moving closer to a return.
Brian Rolston – Skated lightly this week and is shooting for a mid-November return.
Matthew Corrente – Suffered broken hand Thursday while earning 29 PIMs and out at least four games.
Anton Volchenkov – Didn't play Friday night but could come back Saturday, likely game-time decision.

Los Angeles

Wayne Simmonds – Questionable for Saturday's game, decision will be made following game-day skate.
Drew Doughty – Has missed five games with concussion but could come back Saturday. Check updates.

Around The Rink

Ondrej Pavelec is expected to start Saturday for the first time since suffering from a fainting spell and ensuing concussion. Good to see him back between the pipes.

Evgeni Malkin left the ice before the end of Friday's game with an undisclosed injury. He skated less than 17 minutes Friday night. He's missed time with shoulder injuries in the past – head nod to teammate John Leclair – but this almost sounds more like a groin.

Marty Turco was scary bad on Friday. Personally, I don't see how an elite team like the Blackhawks can make it through its Stanley Cup “hangover” season with Turco as the primary goaltender. Whether Corey Crawford can handle the load remains to be seen. I could see Chicago making a trade at some point.

The Edmonton Eskimos scored a touchdown last night against the aforementioned ‘Hawks. It's nice to see the always reliable Ales Hemsky back helping fantasy poolies after missing most of last season.

Cam Ward has stopped 40-plus shots in three games already. Every season there are a few tenders that outperform last year's stats. I like Ward to continue that trend this year. Mind you, I realize his 2.72 GAA isn't great, but his .925 save percentage shows how he's really playing. Tim Thomas could do it, too, but I've never trusted him 100 percent. I don't know whether having Tuukka Rask around helps or hurts. Cam Ward has no such accomplished backup. Arturs Irbe? Oh, that's right, Justin Peters.

Deryk Engelland of the Pittsburgh Penguins might be the best pugilist no one's heard of. Another former Penguin, Paul Bissonnette, was that way too, before earning more of a rep in Phoenix.

Claude Giroux really looks like he's on his way to becoming an elite fantasy performer.

Keith Ballard is on track to return next week after missing time with concussion-like symptoms.


Jeff Skinner – Carolina's better known as Jeff Gordon country than Jeff Skinner territory, but it certainly looks like Skinner is set to make a name for himself. He had two goals and an assist Friday night and seems set to stay in the NHL all season long, unlike El Nino Niederreiter.
Alex Auld – Thanks for playing, Alex. Auld got his first start of the season Friday night and responded with a 30-save effort in a 3-1 win. He should make another start sometime around American Thanksgiving.


Scott Gomez – One goal and three points through 10 games after putting up 59 points in 78 contests a year ago. He's taken only 12 shots after compiling 271 and 180 in the last two years, respectively.
Steve Sullivan – One lone assist and a minus-3 rating in his last six after a hot start.
Kris Letestu – Another reason not to overreact to hot start's by unknowns. Letestu profiles more as a responsible two-way player than as a fantasy producer. Keep an eye out for Dustin Jeffrey if looking for a Pens player. He had seven points in six games with the Baby Pens prior to Friday night.

Recommended Pickup

Wayne Gretzky – Oh wait, he's too busy attending Giants World Series games at AT&T park as his son tries out a career in pro ball. In lieu of Gretzky, we'll go with Teddy Purcell (in deep leagues, obviously). Purcell's got six points in nine games and with Simon Gagne out, he should continue getting opportunities. Purcell is owned in only two percent of Yahoo! leagues, so if you need a temporary fill-in, consider Purcell.