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The Daily Puck: Great White North

Kevin King

Kevin is a suffering Tottenham supporter living in Buffalo, New York, where also suffers from being a Buffalo Bills fan. He covers Major League Soccer and the English Premier League for Rotowire.

The Daily Puck
by Kevin King

- Congratulations to Russia for winning the World Juniors earlier in the week. No word if vodka is back on store shelves in Buffalo after it became a Russian teenage wasteland up here after their shocker over Team Canada.

- The concussion story in the NHL may finally get some play now with Sidney Crosby sidelined. Far, far too many good players are missing huge chunks of this season with concussions, and it's a story that hasn't gotten nearly the attention it deserves by the league.

- What's wrong with the Canucks? For only the third time since December 5th, they failed to take all three points away from a game on Saturday night, losing 2-1 in overtime to the Red Wings.

Atlanta (Ondrej Pavelec) vs. Carolina (Justin Peters), 1:30 p.m

Atlanta injuries:

Ben Eager (LW) - Suspended four games after a sucker punch to Toronto's Colby Armstrong on Friday night.
Evander Kane (C) - Will miss Sunday's game with nagging mid-body injury.
Jim Slater (C) - Will also sit out Sunday as he recovers from a concussion.
Fredrik Modin (LW) - Won't play Sunday due to popular Atlanta-diagnosed "undisclosed" injury.

Carolina injuries:

Jussi Jokinen (LW) - Will miss Sunday's game with lower body injury.
Joni Pitkanen (D) - Set to return for Sunday afternoon's game against the Thrashers after missing two mid-week games for the Canes.
Jiri Tlusty (D) - Out and on IR, but could be back within the next week after missing last nine games.
Cam Ward (G) - Not likely to go on Sunday because of undisclosed injury that has him as a "game-time decision" at best. Keep an eye on the goalie grid and comments section below to see the official starters as game-time draws closer.

Tampa Bay (Dan Ellis vs. New Jersey (Martin Brodeur), 5:00 p.m

Tampa Bay injuries:

Mike Smith (G) - Remains out, but could return to practice this week as the Lightning still do not appear to have any idea what to do about their goaltending situation.
Sean Bergenheim (LW) - Questionable for Sunday; Did not play Saturday against Ottawa because of an illness, and hard to envision him being ready with the quick turnaround on Sunday.

New Jersey injuries:

Matt Taormina (D) - Remains out with high ankle sprain.

Dallas (Kari Lehtonen) vs. Minnesota (Jose Theodore), 6:00 p.m

Dallas injuries:
Toby Petersen (C) - Place on IR earlier in the week with a bruised leg injury that doesn't appear to be too serious.
Matt Niskanen (D) - Doubtful for Sunday with laceration on the palm of his hand that he sustained earlier in the week.
Karlis Skrastins (D) - Doubtful for Sunday after sustaining a concussion earlier in the week.

Minnesota injuries:

Antti Miettinen (RW) - Very doubtful for Sunday's game as he battles the flu, and a leg injury that kept him sidelined on Saturday.
Niklas Backstrom (G) - Out for Sunday, and awaiting MRI results due early in the week to gauge the extent of a hip injury.

N.Y Islanders (Nathan Lawson) vs. Chicago (Corey Crawford), 7:00 p.m

Islander injuries:

Mark Eaton (D) - Out indefinitely after undergoing hip surgery earlier in the week
Rick DiPietro (G) - Out; Set to undergo further evaluations on a groin injury that he sustained on Monday.
Frank Nielsen (C) - "50/50" to play Sunday according to Isles' boss Jack Capuano after missing Saturday's game in Colorado with groin injury.

Chicago injuries:


San Jose (Antero Nittymaki) vs. Anaheim (Jonas Hiller), 8:00 p.m

San Jose injuries:

Joe Pavelski (C) - Doubtful for Sunday night, and has been sidelined for nearly two weeks with lower body injury.

Anaheim injuries:

Ryan Getzlaf (C) - Out for a few more weeks with sinus fracture.


Keaton Ellerby (D) - Recalled by Florida from Rochester (AHL)
Jack Johnson (D) - Signed seven-year extension with Kings that will keep him in L.A through 2017-18 season
Anton Khudobin (G) - Recalled by Minnesota from Houston (AHL)
Andreas Thuresson (RW) - Recalled by Nashville from Milwaukee (AHL)
Danny Syrvet (D) - Loaned to Adirondack (AHL) by Philadelphia


Who's Hot

Ryan Kesler (C) Vancouver - You could really put the entire Vancouver team on the "who's hot" list at this point, but USA hockey needs a boost after only claiming bronze in the World Juniors, so Kesler will make the cut. The ex-World Juniors rep for the USA has four goals and two assists while posting a plus-4 for in the last five games for the Canucks.
Ryan Miller (G) Buffalo - If not for a freakish disallowed goal in Colorado during the week, Miller would be on a five-game winning streak. The Sabres' defense hasn't really helped, as this is another case of Miller standing on his head to keep a team that frankly isn't that talented, in contention. He's stopped almost 32 pucks in those five starts.
Alex Goligoski (D) Pittsburgh - It may have taken 12 weeks for Goligoski to to recapture the unbelievable form that he enjoyed in the first week of the season, but he's back playing the point on the Pen's power-play, and has a goal and four assists in three games since being placed back on the man advantage.

Who's Cold

Chris Mason (G) Atlanta - Mason is all but handing every start over to Ondrej Pavelec, who Mason is now firmly just the backup for in the ATL. His stat sheet for the season is littered with starts where he has only stopped 65 to 75 percent of the shots he faces. At that rate, how long can he justifiably stay on the roster of the Thrashers, who are a genuine contender in the East?
Joe Thornton (C) San Jose - Thornton has killed his fantasy owners, as well as the Sharks, this week. Thornton has not gotten on the scoresheet in the New Year, and it may be time to try unload Thornton on an owner who still has faith in Joe, whose production is on a steady decline since November.
Simon Gagne (LW) Tampa Bay - Gagne is pointless in his last six for the Lightning, posting a minus-5 over that stretch. At best he is a reserve player now in fantasy leagues, after some projections had him in the 65-point range heading into the season.
Recommended Pickup

Marc-Andre Bergeron (D) Tampa Bay - If you are desperate on the blue line, pounce on Bergeron, who has been sidelined with a knee injury all season before signing on with the Lightning earlier in the week. Bergeron is set for a short rehab stint in the AHL, but he should jump right into a Bolts' power-play unit that ranks among the league's best when he completes his rehab stint.