RotoWire Partners

The Daily Puck: Better Balance in the West

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.

December 22 Daily Puck
by John Toperzer, RotoWire Writer

Around the Rink

Telltale sign that the Western Conference is better balanced than the East. Combine New Jersey’s and the Islanders’ point totals of 20 and 18, respectively, and the 38 points would only tie eighth-place Boston (38) in the Eastern Conference standings. Combine the two worst Western point totals, Calgary (31) and Edmonton (29), and they’d be in first place by 15 points over Dallas’ 45. The real shocker here is that the Stars are in first place in the Western Conference.

Ryan Whitney nearly potted his first goal of the season for Edmonton on Tuesday after tallying 24 assists. His shot from the point was re-directed by Dustin Penner, however, preventing Whitney from scoring his first goal in 32 contests. Logan Couture’s total of 18 goals and seven assists might be referred to as “Cy Young” numbers. What do you call Whitney’s total – Ross Ohlendorf numbers?

Speaking of Couture, he leads the Sharks with the aforementioned 18 goals, four more than Dany Heatley. Is it possible Couture is cannibalizing some of Patrick Marleau’s prime TOI or scoring opportunities? Couture and Marleau both have 25 points and Couture holds a plus-9 rating while Marleau is struggling with a minus-15.

Rob Scuderi netted his first goal as a member of the Kings on Tuesday. Scuderi signed with Los Angeles after winning the Cup in Pittsburgh in 2008-09. He hadn’t scored since Oct. 4, 2008 in Pittsburgh’s season opener – a span of 185 regular-season games. Good for him.

Alexander Ovechkin has two goals in his last 18 games. Ovechkin went for $83 in the Rotowire Staff league.

Get ready for more Dan Ellis, Lightning fans. With Mike Smith on the shelf for the next 2-3 weeks, Ellis figures to see plenty of pucks. Ellis (9-5-4) holds a 3.11 GAA and .879 save percentage. He’ll get plenty of starts, but will his numbers help or hurt fantasy teams?


Dustin Penner – He has four goals and 15 points in nine December contests. Penner’s also registered 32 hits during that span. He’s got to be one of the most underrated players in the NHL.

Ryan Kesler – Kesler’s scored six goals in the last two weeks and has 16 this season. He’s on pace to break his career-high of 26.

Marc-Andre Fleury – In the last 30 days, Fleury leads all NHL goalies with 10 wins. He’s also posted a 1.55 GAA and .948 save percentage.


The Philadelphia Flyers – Their last game was on Dec. 20 and they won’t play against until Dec. 28. How does the NHL come up with a schedule like that?

The New Jersey Devils – Let the Martin Brodeur trade speculation ramp up. Where would be a good destination for him? Chicago, but the cap won’t allow that. Tampa Bay.

Recommended Pickup

Evgeny Dadonov – The Florida winger has two goals and five points in his last three contests. He’s likely available in nearly every fantasy league and could provide a quick boost while he’s hot.

Probable Starting Goalies
Florida (Tomas Vokoun) at Pittsburgh (Marc-Andre Fleury), 7:00 p.m.
Tampa Bay (Mike Smith) at Islanders (Dwayne Roloson), 7:00 p.m.
Vancouver (Roberto Luongo) at Detroit (Jimmy Howard), 7:30 p.m.
Nashville (Anders Lindback) at Chicago (Corey Crawford), 8:30 p.m.

RotoWire Goalie Grid

Injury Roll Call

Florida vs. Pittsburgh

Radek Dvorak – Out, on injured reserve since Dec. 7 with shoulder injury, no timetable for return.
Rostislav Olesz – Out, on IR with broken finger but back skating with team, likely day-to-day.
Cory Stillman – Out, won’t require back surgery but no word on when he might play.

Mike Comrie – Out, hip injury may require surgery and explains early season poor play.
Jordan Staal – Out, Penguins keeping hush-hush despite Staal pushing past original 6-week prognosis.
Alex Goligoski – Probable, missed practice Tuesday as part of a maintenance day.

Tampa Bay vs. Islanders

Tampa Bay
Ryan Malone – Questionable, not expected to play Wednesday because of upper body injury.
Mattias Ritola – Out, doctors searching for medication that lets him play.
Steve Downie – Out, high ankle sprains have a way of lingering.
Mike Smith – Out, knee sprain expected to keep him out 2-3 weeks.

Mark Eaton – Questionable, could return Wednesday after sitting with groin injury.
Rick DiPietro – Out, placed on IR with knee injury Tuesday.
Trent Hunter – Out, on definite leave with Grade 3 knee sprain.
Mike Mottau – Out, will miss rest of season with hip tear.
Kyle Okposo – Out, skating but no recent update regarding shoulder injury.
Doug Weight – Out, on IR with back injury.
Matt Martin – Out, will miss Wednesday due to suspension.

Vancouver vs. Detroit

Mason Raymond – Out, another week or two away from returning with thumb injury.

Mike Modano – Out, looking for a February return from a wrist injury.

Nashville vs. Chicago

Patric Hornqvist – Probable, expected to play Wednesday after missing last two games.
David Legwand – Questionable, took part in optional Monday skate but is day-to-day, check updates.
Steve Sullivan – Questionable, left early in third-period of Saturday’s game and didn’t return.

Viktor Stalberg – Probable, expected to play Wednesday after missing Sunday with upper body.
Marian Hossa – Out, not expected back from lower-body injury until after Christmas.
Patrick Kane – Out, coach Quenneville says Kane won’t go Wednesday against Nashville.


Josh Green – Recalled by Anaheim from AHL Syracuse.
Johan Harju – Recalled by Tampa Bay from AHL Norfolk.

Check out my sports photos at