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The Daily Puck: The Price is Right

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.

Around The Rink

-- C'mon, Joe Thornton suspended two games because of a blind hit and fined $77K? Speculation had it that he was suspended as a repeat offender, but his other three suspensions came sometime between 2000 and 2002. Hasn't the league seen him play? That's crazy enough, but I've got a plan that might make a whole lot of NHL fans happy. I'd like to see the league put suspension money into a fund that lowers next season's ticket prices for the team whose player gets suspended. After all, Sharks fans will likely miss the performance of one of its best performers. Why should they pay full price for a less than full roster? NHL ticket prices are generally out of control.

-- Center Jeremy Morin is expected to make his NHL debut with Chicago on Saturday.

-- I don't claim to be a Bruce Boudreau expert. I know he played in the AHL, but that's only because I've heard Pens announcer and former No. 1 draft pick Bob Errey recant stories that of how he and Boudreau were teammates about a thousand times. Nevertheless, how can a team as talented as Washington wilt like a shrinking violet in the playoffs year after year? How many lives does Boudreau get? Nine? Put former Pittsburgh coach Michel Therrien in as Caps coach and I guarantee they find better discipline and become a more formidable opponent overnight. Therrien probably wouldn't mind exacting a little bit of revenge on his old team, either.

-- Caps Goalie Braden Holtby stopped 4-of-4 shots in relief of Michal Neuvirth on Friday, earning his first NHL victory. It'd take injuries to both Semyon Varlamov and Neuvirth for Holtby to have fantasy relevance – something that doesn't sound too far-fetched.

-- Keeping with the Washington theme, Mike Green owners are resting more easily after seeing fantasy's No. 1 blueliner pot goals in three straight games – giving him four overall. They might've been overreacting to his "slow" start, however. Poolies do that, don't they? Green didn't tally Goal No. 4 until December 3rd last year – it took him 27 games and he still ended up with 19 goals and 77 regular season points.

-- I like how the NHL Network shows more than just the goals with its replays – until it's a shooter I have on three or four of my fantasy teams. Hockey doesn't usually make it onto ESPN unless there's a fight or something bad, like a Rick Rypien suspension. I admit I miss hockey (real hockey coverage) on the four-lettered network. If my bitterness shows through, so be it. Hockey wasn't bad on SportsChannel in the 1980's, either.

-- I wonder if the Penguins would've spent $9 million-plus for the next four or five years on Paul Martin and Zbynek Michalek if they knew what they had in Deryk Engelland and to a lesser extent, Ben Lovejoy. Not only that, but the team's top prospects are defensemen like Brian Strait and Simon Despres. Next to the Penguins logo on Wikipedia should be the phrase “lack of secondary scoring.”

-- If Jonas Hiller painted the grill on his goalie mask black like the rest of his helmet, it could double as a Darth Vader mask. OK, Puck Daddy calls it a "murdered out" goalie mask, but you get the idea.


Loui Eriksson – “Louie, Louie, oh baby, I gotta go.” Fantasy owners gotta go pickup Eriksson. He might be one of the five most underrated players in the NHL. Known more for his defense than anything else, the Swedish winger is off to a brilliant start with nine goals and 16 points in 12 games. It doesn't hurt that the entire Dallas squad seems to faring well, but Ericsson's shown he's no fluke, averaging 33 goals the last two years.
Carey Price – He won again Friday night, improving to 7-4-1 after going 13-20-5 last year. He's also lowered his goals-against average from 2.77 to 2.44 (and that was prior to Friday). It hasn't come easy, but Price finally looks like the goalie Montreal thought it had when he broke into the league in 2007-08.
Jimmy Howard – Howard won his second straight start Friday after missing nearly two weeks with a back ailment. He's stopped 55 of 57 shots on his western Canada tour. Detroit needs a healthy Howard to compete at an elite level.


Ilya Bryzgalov, Michal Neuvirth, Tim Thomas, and Thomas Vokoun were all pulled Friday night. Phoenix, Boston and Florida all play again Saturday, making for some interesting goalie decisions in the next 24 hours.

Recommended Pickup

Tuukka Rask – This is more of concession to goalies that few netminders play at the same level all season long. Tim Thomas had a rough night Friday, albeit against the highest scoring machine in the league. At some point you have to think Rask's value drops so low he becomes a player worth targeting by trade.

Projected Starting Goalies

St. Louis (Jaroslav Halak) at Boston (Tuukka Rask), 7 p.m.
Chicago (Marty Turco) at Atlanta (Ondrej Pavelec), 7 p.m.
Buffalo (Patrick Lalime) at Toronto (Jean-Sebastien Giguere), 7 p.m.
Minnesota (Niklas Backstrom) at Columbus (Mathieu Garon), 7 p.m.
Philadelphia (Sergei Bobrovsky) at Islanders (Dwayne Roloson), 7 p.m.
Ottawa (Brian Elliott) at Montreal (Carey Price), 7 p.m.
Florida (Tomas Vokoun) at Carolina (Cam Ward), 7 p.m.
Dallas (Kari Lehtonen) at Colorado (Peter Budaj), 9 p.m.
Pittsburgh (Brent Johnson) at Phoenix (Ilya Bryzgalov), 9 p.m.
Nashville (Pekka Rinne) at Los Angeles (Jonathan Quick), 10 p.m.
Detroit (Jimmy Howard) at Vancouver (Roberto Luongo), 10 p.m.
Tampa Bay (Dan Ellis) at San Jose (Antero Niittymaki), 10 p.m.

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

Recent Injury News

St. Louis vs. Boston

St. Louis
Carlo Colaiacovo – Out Saturday, placed on IR Wednesday with a concussion.
Barret Jackman – Out Saturday, placed on IR Friday with knee injury.
Nikita Nikitin – Out Saturday, could return on Sunday or Wednesday from a broken wrist.
Roman Polak – Out Saturday, no timetable for a return from an injured wrist that will require surgery.


Marc Savard – Out Saturday, no timetable for a return.
Marco Sturm – Out Saturday, no timetable for a return.
Johnny Boychuk – Out Saturday, out another two weeks with broken forearm.

Chicago vs. Atlanta

Marian Hossa – Out Saturday, could return Sunday from an upper body injury.
Dave Bolland – Out Saturday, currently on IR with back ailment.

Bryan Little – Out Saturday, missed Wednesday's game with a concussion.
Brent Sopel – Questionable Saturday, scratched Thursday with a sore back.
Freddy Meyer – Out Saturday, took part in practice Friday but no announced return date.

Buffalo vs. Toronto

Ryan Miller – Questionable Saturday, missed second straight game on Friday with lower body injury.
Drew Stafford – Questionable Saturday, left Friday with upper body injury.
Nathan Gerbe – Out Saturday, will miss at least two weeks with a broken jaw.

Dion Phaneuf – Out Saturday, expected to miss 4-6 weeks after successful leg laceration surgery.
Colby Armstrong – Out Saturday, expected to miss another month with injured tendon in hand.

Minnesota vs. Columbus

Chuck Kobasew – Out Saturday, won't play Sunday either due to groin injury.
Marek Zidlicky – Probable Saturday, played Friday night after being considered a game-time decision.
Pierre-Marc Bouchard – Out Saturday, setbacks slowing his recovery from concussion.
Guillaume Latendresse – Out Saturday, expected to miss additional time with groin injury.
Antti Miettinen – Questionable Saturday, not expected to play due to “mild” concussion.

Kristian Huselius – Out Saturday, not expected back until mid-November at the earliest.
Mike Commodore – Probable Saturday, activated from IR on Friday though he's played in just two gms.

Philadelphia vs. Islanders

Andreas Nodl – Likely Saturday, sat out Thursday but practicing with Mike Richards and Eric Wellwood.
Michael Leighton – Out Saturday, shooting for a November 22 return from back ailment.
Daniel Briere – Out Saturday, will come back from suspension on Sunday.

Trent Hunter – Questionable Saturday, missed practice Friday as maintenance day, didn't play Thursday.
Kyle Okposo – Out Saturday, no new updates on Okposo, who's not expected back before December.
Milan Jurcina – Out Saturday, out 1-3 weeks with hamstring injury.
Mark Streit – Out Saturday, no new updates on Streit, hoping for a February return.

Ottawa vs. Montreal

Milan Michalek – Out Saturday, will participate in Saturday's hockey drills and could return Thursday.
Filip Kuba – Out Saturday, return from a broken leg pushed back until Wednesday.

Tomas Plekanec – Questionable Saturday, missed Friday's game with an illness.

Florida vs. Carolina

Jay Garrison – Questionable Saturday, reinjured groin and missed Thursday practice, day-to-day.
Joni Pitkanen – Out Saturday, out Friday with upper body injury, further evaluation needed.

Dallas vs. Colorado


No reported injuries

Ryan Wilson – Questionable Saturday,missed Thursday's game with leg injury, day-to-day.
David Koci – Out Saturday, has yet to play in 2010-11 due to broken jaw.
Peter Mueller – Out Saturday, recent news has him at least coming back at some point this year.
Craig Anderson – Out Saturday, skating but no timetable for a return from knee injury.
Kyle Cumiskey – Out Saturday, not expected back for at least the next week from concussion.

Pittsburgh vs. Phoenix

Jordan Staal – Out Saturday, recovering from broken hand and not expected back til mid-December.
Sidney Crosby – In Saturday, two goals Friday night after bruising his knuckles in fight Wednesday.

Kurt Sauer – Out Saturday, not expected to play all season because of whiplash-like symptoms.

Nashville vs. Los Angeles

Ryan Suter – Out Saturday, could return to action when the Preds come home next week.
Martin Erat – Out Saturday, also out for team's road trip, suffering from upper body injury.

Los Angeles
No injuries reported

Detroit vs. Vancouver

Chris Osgood – Out Saturday, Joey McDonald serving as Jimmy Howard's backup in goal.
Kris Draper – Out Saturday, not expected back until late November from groin injury.
Brian Rafalski – Out Saturday, back practicing but not expected to play until November 11.

Guillame Desbiens – Out Saturday, suffered broken hand in fight Thursday and out indefinitely.
Dan Hamhuis – Out Saturday, hasn't played since October 17 due to bruised foot.
Ryan Parent – Questionable Saturday, missed two-game road trip during week.
Alexandre Bolduc – Out Saturday,

Tampa Bay vs. San Jose

Tampa Bay
Victory Hedman – Questionable Saturday, missed Thursday's game but X-rays on foot negative.
Dominic Moore – Out Saturday, could return from groin injury Tuesday.
Matt Smaby – Questionable Saturday, hasn't played since October 24 due to ankle injury.
Martin St. Louis – Likely Saturday, played on Thursday despite being a game-time decision.
Simon Gagne – Out Saturday, not expected back for a good while from head injury.
Steve Downie – Questionable Saturday, coach says he won't play while Downie says he's a game-timer.

San Jose
Joe Thornton – Out Saturday, serving first of two-game suspension.
Derek Joslin – Out Saturday, still on injured reserve with thumb injury.