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The Daily Puck: No Holes in this Net

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

-- Remember to set your lineups early Saturday as games start at 1 p.m. Eastern.

-- Whatever became of Alexei Kaigorodov? The touted prospect played in six games for Ottawa in 2006-07 after starring for Magnitogorsk Metallurg for six seasons. He went back to Metallurg and has spent the last four seasons there – he has five goals and 23 points in 30 KHL games this year.

-- Speaking of Russian players who just might be better off on the other side of the world, Nikita Filatov has been a healthy scratch in four of the last five games. He’s expected to play Saturday against Pittsburgh. Filatov has seven assists through 20 games, as his adjustment to the NHL continues. Former Pens player Alexei Morozov has crafted a great career in the KHL after meeting with lackluster NHL results. Just sayin’.

-- I half expected Sidney Crosby to throw one of the many hats that landed on the Consol ice Thursday after his third goal back into the crowd, grab a microphone and ask “Are you not entertained?” His gladiator-like performance the past couple weeks has been breath-taking. Say what you want about No. 87 – who was born on 8-7-87 – but he’s definitely one of a kind.

-- The Sedin twins mirror each other in points with 30 apiece. Daniel’s more valuable with 14 goals while brother Henrik has reverted back to his career ways with 27 assists and just three goals. Looks like 2009-10 was indeed the outlier career year for the taller Sedin and there’s nothing wrong with that.

-- Scott Gomez is officially “Gomez Hot” right now. He’s doubled his season goals output with two in his last two games. I might even have to activate him from my bench next week. I overpaid him at $16 in the Rotowire fantasy league, but think how the Habs must feel about taking over the $51 million deal he signed with the Ranger back in 2006.

-- Anze Kopitar has 22 points in 24 games after collecting 81 in 82 last year, but I haven’t heard much of a buzz surrounding him. In past years, he’s come out on fire. Perhaps consistency without knocking anyone over isn’t such a bad thing. Fantasy owners gotta love it.

-- Nice to see Pierre-Marc Bouchard back on the ice. Stay healthy, my friend.


Roberto Luongo – He stacked his pads and stuffed the Blackhawks Friday for his 53rd career NHL shutout.

Alex Tanguay – Back above the border (not the Mason-Dixon one), Tanguay’s got eight goals and 23 points through 26 games. Maybe he just doesn’t play well at sea level, as he did quite well in Colorado for many years.

Kevin Shattenkirk – Speaking of Colorado players, this blueliner deserves back-to-back daily mentions on the puck because he extended his rookie point streak to a franchise record eight games Friday. It won’t last, but enjoy the ride.

Justin Braun, Alec Martinez – If you’re looking to take a flier on other defenders that might get hot for a bit, check these two guys out. Braun has four points in four games. Martinez hasn’t done much since scoring four games ago in his NHL debut, but he’s been paired with Drew Doughty.


Ilya Kovalchuk – Now there’s a shocker, huh! He’s got 10 points in 24 games, but I’ve always considered Kovalchuk one of those greedy, selfish players who finds a way to put up his numbers by season’s end. If that holds true and another owner says enough is enough with the $100 million dollar man, buy him on the cheap.

Sergei Gonchar – I wonder when the Sens will officially regret giving Gonchar the big bucks. He’s one of my all-time favorite players, but his defense continues to decline. His offense has taken a hit, too. Gonchar has 14 points in 26 contests after totaling 50 points in 62 games a year ago. Remember, however, that he had a very slow start in Pittsburgh and once he adapted to a system (actually, there was no system with Eddie Olczyk), then he found himself and his stats (read Michel Therrien took over for Olczyk).

Alex Goligoski, Paul Martin – Pittsburgh’s spreading its points around, but Goligoski has seen his ice time drop in recent weeks. Martin has only five assists and no goals in the last 20 games. Should something happen to frontrunner Kris Letang, then the stock of these two guys would see a nice lift.

Anton StralmanMarc Methot has proven to be a better option, when healthy, than Stralman. The Swedish blueliner collected 34 points in 73 games last year, but has six in 20 so far in 2010-11. Furthermore, his penchant for day-to-day health issues is enough to drive a Zamboni off the cliff.

Andrew Brunette – Is this the fantasy end of the road for the power-play specialist? Does the return of Pierre-Marc Bouchard give Brunette his ninth life? Brunette had 10 goals and 26 points by this time a season ago, but currently has just four goals and 11 points.

Recommended Pickup

Mike Knuble – You might want to kick the tires on Knuble, as he’s back healthy and doesn’t have to worry about Tomas Fleischmann in the mix for playing time. He has points in his last two games and was a big second-half performer in 2009-10. Plus, he likely won’t cost much to acquire.

Probable Starting Goalies

New Jersey (Johan Hedberg) at Philadelphia (Sergei Bobrovsky), 1:00 p.m.
San Jose (Antti Niemi) at Montreal (Carey Price), 2:00 p.m.
Pittsburgh (Marc-Andre Fleury) at Columbus (Mathieu Garon), 7:00 p.m.
Atlanta (Ondrej Pavelec) at Washington (Semyon Varlamov), 7:00 p.m.
Boston (Tim Thomas) at Toronto (Jonas Gustavsson), 7:00 p.m.
Buffalo (Ryan Miller) at Ottawa (Brian Elliott), 7:00 p.m.
Colorado (Peter Budaj) at Tampa Bay (Dan Ellis), 7:30 p.m.
Minnesota (Jose Theodore) at Dallas (Kari Lehtonen), 8:00 p.m.
Florida (Tomas Vokoun) at Phoenix (Ilya Bryzgalov), 8:00 p.m.
Carolina (Cam Ward) at Nashville (Anders Lindback), 8:00 p.m.
St. Louis (Jaroslav Halak) at Edmonton (Nikolai Khabibulin), 10:00 p.m.
Detroit (Chris Osgood) at Los Angeles (Jonathan Quick), 10:30 p.m.

Rotowire Goalie Grid

Injury Roll Call

New Jersey vs. Philadelphia

New Jersey
Patrik Elias – Probable, played 14 minutes and added an assist Thursday after missing a skate Saturday.
Olivier-Magnan Grenier – Out, hasn’t played since suffering a lower-body injury in mid November.
Matt Taormina – Out, he hasn’t played since mid November, either, since suffering a foot injury.
Mark Fraser – Out, he’s been out of the lineup since breaking his hand in mid October.
Anssi Salmela – Out, practicing with team but has no return date from knee injury.
Bryce Salvador – Out, continues to sit out with concussion.
Martin Brodeur – Out, may skate on his own Saturday, but it’s his elbow that’s hurt.
Jacob Josefson – Out, still missing time after suffering hand injury at the end of October.
Zach Parise – Out, hopefully he’s doing better in his Yahoo! Fantasy league than his Devils are doing.

Michael Leighton – Out, rehabbing from back injury in the AHL.
Daniel Carcillo – Out, practicing but not yet playing following a knee injury.

San Jose vs. Montreal

San Jose
Kent Huskins – Questionable, considered day-to-day until he plays, missed Thursday’s win.
Devin Setoguchi – Out, hasn’t played in the last week after suffering an undisclosed injury.
Niclas Wallin – Out, hasn’t played since the end of November due to a leg injury.
Jason Demers – Questionable, also has missed the last week of action with an upper body.
Andrei Markov – Out, it’s time to cut bait on Markov in non-keeper leagues, needs knee surgery.

Pittsburgh vs. Columbus

Mike Comrie – Questionable, not expected to play, hasn’t practiced with undisclosed injury this week.
Evgeni Malkin – Probable, missed Friday’s practice as a maintenance day.
Maxime Talbot – Questionable, results haven’t been reported on injured right foot, sounds doubtful.
Jordan Staal – Out, two weeks away from making his season debut.

Marc Methot – Questionable, practiced Thursday but didn’t play in Friday’s blowout loss.
Kristian Huselius – Out, still a couple weeks away from returning with an ankle sprain.

Atlanta vs. Washington

Evander Kane – Questionable, practiced Friday after missing Thursday’s game, day-to-day.
Fredrik Modin – Questionable, no recent news from rib injury and unlikely to play Saturday.

Tom Poti – Questionable, missed Thursday’s game with a nagging groin injury.
Tyler Sloan – Out, on injured reserve with an undisclosed injury.

Boston vs. Toronto

Marco Sturm – Out, looking at a mid December return to Boston (or Los Angeles).

Dion Phaneuf – Out, getting closer and closer to a return from lacerated calf.
Mike Brown – Out, expected to miss the next 4-6 weeks with a broken finger.

Buffalo vs. Ottawa

Tim Connolly – Questionable, skated on his own Wednesday and could be back next week.
Rob Niedermayer – Out, minor knee surgery will keep him out for a while longer.

No reported injuries.

Colorado vs. Tampa Bay

Kyle Cumiskey – Out, on IR with concussion suffered at the end of October.
TJ Galiardi – Out, four-week recovery time would put him back on ice around Dec. 18.
Peter Mueller – Out, concussion prognosis hasn’t improved, might be a lost season for the forward.
Chris Stewart – Out, not expected back from a broken hand until sometime in January.

Tampa Bay
Mattias Ritola – Questionable, missed Thursday’s game with inner-ear injury, day-to-day.
Steve Downie – Out, high ankle sprain will force him out indefinitely.
Vincent Lecavalier – Out, recovery from hand surgery puts him back in late December.

Minnesota vs. Dallas

Chuck Kobasew – Probable, expected to make first appearance back on Saturday after groin injury.
Guillaume Latendresse – Out, hoping for a return prior to the end of the regular season.
James Sheppard – Out, rehab from a knee injury keeps him out on a long-term basis.

Mark Fistric – Out, eligible to return from IR but didn’t play Thursday.

Florida vs. Phoenix

Chris Higgins – Questionable, missed Thursday’s game with a foot infection.
Cory Stillman – Questionable, sat out Thursday’s contest with back spasms.
Rostislav Olesz – Out, on IR with a broken finger.
Bryan Allen – Out, missing extended time with a broken bone in his foot.

No reported injuries.

Carolina vs. Nashville

No reported injuries.

David Legwand – Probable, early news this week said he was shooting for Saturday return.
Pekka Rinne – Out, looking at 2-4 weeks with a left knee injury.

St. Louis vs. Edmonton

St. Louis
David Perron – Out, weeks away from returning with concussion.
T.J. Oshie – Out, one month into his three-plus month recovery period from ankle surgery.
Roman Polak – Out, wrist surgery will keep him out until early January, at least.

Ales Hemsky – Questionable, played Wednesday, sat Thursday, check updates for Saturday.
Ryan O’Marra – Out, one week into three-week recovery time from shoulder injury.

Detroit vs. Los Angeles

Chris Osgood – Probable, expected to start Saturday after missing extended time with groin.
Kris Draper – Probable, expected to make his season debut Saturday in LA.
Mike Modano – Out, hoping for a return from wrist injury prior to end of regular season.

Los Angeles
Willie Mitchell – Out, nearing return from wrist injury but not expected back Saturday.
Scott Parse – Out, hip injury will keep him out until at least February.
Alexei Ponikarovsky – Out, could return within the week from broken finger.


Brayden Schenn – Kings assigned Schenn to Brandon of the WHL.
Jay Rosehill – Recalled by Toronto from the AHL Marlies.
Aaron Voros – Placed on IR with the flu.
Matt Beleskey – Recalled by Anaheim from AHL Syracuse.
David Hale – Senators assigned Hale to Binghamton of the AHL.
Mark Dekanich – Recalled by Nashville from AHL Milwaukee.
Ian Cole – Recalled By St. Louis from AHL Peoria.
Matt Roy – Lightning assigned Roy to AHL Norfolk.
Johan Harju – Recalled by Tampa Bay from AHL Norfolk.

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