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The Daily Puck: It's Only Blue for Green

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

*First puck drops at 1 p.m. EST

-- Let's just say for a moment that Evgeni Nabokov ends up on the Red Wings, what does that do for Jimmy Howard? It could be said that he'll do better because he'll be better rested. It could also be said that he could sit more times than not and lose a big chunk of his fantasy value. Howard has played worse than the average starting goalie over the course of the last two months. In December, he went 6-4-1 with a 2.90 GAA and 902 save percentage. This month, the second-year starter has a 3-1 mark, 3.94 GAA and 887 save percentage. Is his own injury hurting his game? Pavel Datsyuk's? You've got to think he'll do better down the road once the team is healthier. Still, Howard fantasy owners have to hope another team grabs Nabokov.

-- Ottawa's Chris Neil took a stick blade to the face and left Friday's game. No word on his status, but he could miss a fight or two the next couple games.

-- Peter Forsberg had 30 points in 23 games during the 2009-10 season for Modo Hockey Ornskoldsvik. He had 14 points (1, 13) for the Avs in 2007-08. The Brett Favre of the NHL will practice with Colorado on Saturday. IF he's able to play, he's worth consideration in fantasy pools.

-- Jordan Staal could be the best two-way forward in the NHL at some point in his career but he'll never be rated No. 1 from a fantasy perspective. His case might represent the biggest gap between fantasy hockey and "real" hockey.

-- Tomas Vokoun is 8-8, 2.31 GAA and 930 save percentage on the road. At home, 8-7-3, 2.69 GAA, 916 save percentage. Strange. He'd look good in Washington, but the Panthers don't need Michal Neuvirth or Semyon Varlamov on the way back. Be prepared for plenty of trade rumors.

-- I'm sad Vincent Lecavalier is 30 years old. He's won a Cup but never turned into the elite dominant force projected for him. I just wanted more from him. Maybe expectations were unrealistic.

-- The Penguins played without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin for the first time since 2006 on Thursday and were shut out in New Jersey. The Pens may have even been the more boring of the two teams.

-- Speaking of Crosby, his fantasy owners have to be getting more than a bit concerned. Originally diagnosed with a mild concussion that would cost him about a week, the team is going to be extra careful with his recovery. I wouldn't be surprised to see him out until March, but that's just a guess, from one concussed person to another.

-- Why are guys like Dominic Moore, Jarko Ruuttu and Erik Christensen lethal in the shootout and otherwise average? Same goes for the reverse on Malkin, why can't he score?

Who's Hot

Jamie Benn – The 21-year-old forward has nine points (4, 5) during a six-game point streak. Some felt he actually peaked as a rookie, when he scored 22 goals and 41 points in 82 games. Not so. Benn has 13 goals and 33 points through 45 as a sophomore.

Tyler Ennis – The rook has six points in his last four, putting him on the hot list. But, Ennis has two three-game point streaks totaling 10 of his 25 points. In other words, he has just 15 points in 41 games, aside from those six games. Streaky.

Who's Not

Andrew Raycroft – The Dallas backup surrendered seven goals on 19 shots Friday night. Starting backups is a tricky proposition in fantasy, especially because they usually get the crap assignments.

Mike Green – He has four goals in his last 30 games and 21 points in 41 games. It's too late to extract top trade value from him, might as well play out the string with Green. He still has value on the blue line, just not first-round quality.

Recommended Pickup

Evgeni Nabokov – He'll be available Jan. 25 on waivers in Yahoo! leagues. Put that claim in. He probably won't play much early on, considering his long layoff, but he could be a valuable add down the stretch. Of course, it would probably be better if he ends up on the Red Wings and not the Sens.

Probable Starting Goalies

New Jersey (Martin Brodeur) at Philadelphia (Brian Boucher), 1 p.m.
Chicago (Corey Crawford) at Detroit (Jimmy Howard), 2 p.m.
Boston (Tim Thomas) at Colorado (Craig Anderson), 3 p.m.
Washington (Braden Holtby) at Toronto (J.S. Giguere), 7 p.m.
Rangers (Marty Biron) at Atlanta (Ondrej Pavelec), 7 p.m.
Carolina (Cam Ward) at Pittsburgh (Marc-Andre Fleury), 7 p.m.
Anaheim (Jonas Hiller) at Montreal (Carey Price), 7 p.m.
Columbus (Mathieu Garon) at St. Louis (Ty Conklin), 8 p.m.
Los Angeles (Jonathan Quick) at Phoenix (Ilya Bryzgalov), 8 p.m.
Calgary (Miikka Kiprusoff) at Vancouver (Roberto Luongo), 10 p.m.
Minnesota (Niklas Backstrom) at San Jose (Antti Niemi), 10:30 p.m.

Rotowire Goalie Grid

Injury Roll Call

New Jersey vs. Philadelphia

New Jersey
Nick Palmieri – Out, suffered upper-body injury in Thursday's win over Pittsburgh.
Zach Parisi – Out, recent news has him still looking at a possible late March return.
Bryce Salvador – Out, may miss entire season because of concussion.
Matt Taormina – Out, ankle surgery has him likely out for the remainder of the season.

No recently-reported injury news.

Chicago vs. Detroit

No recently-reported injury news.

Daniel Cleary – Out, was on skates Friday for the first time since suffering injury.
Pavel Datsyuk – Out, looking to return in early February from broken wrist.

Boston vs. Colorado

No recently-reported injury news.

Tomas Fleischmann – Out, will miss remainder of season while dealing with pulmonary embolism.

Washington vs. Toronto

Michal Neuvirth – Questionable, left Tuesday's game with injury, check updates.
Semyon Varlamov – Questionable, missed practice Wednesday, day-to-day, check updates.
Alexander Semin – Questionable, chances are that he misses Saturday with thigh injury.
Tom Poti – Out, not expected to play at least until Jan. 24.

Colton Orr – Questionable, missed practice Friday with head injury, day-to-day, could go Saturday.
Fredrik Sjostrom – Probable, expected to return from leg injury Saturday.

Rangers vs. Atlanta

Brandon Prust – Questionable, day-to-day with shoulder injury.
Ryan Callahan – Out, looking for an early February return from broken hand.
Brandon Dubinsky – Out, may return sooner than expected from left leg stress fracture.
Ruslan Fedotenko – Out, out 2-4 weeks with shoulder injury.

Evander Kane – Questionable, missed Thursday and is considered day-to-day, check updates.
Andrew Ladd – Questionable, missed Friday's practice with illness and is day-to-day.
Jim Slater – Questionable, did not play Thursday due to a concussion.
Fredrik Modin – Out, placed on IR with undisclosed injury Wednesday.

Carolina vs. Pittsburgh

No recently-reported injury news.

Sidney Crosby – Out, still not symptom-free from concussion.
Evgeni Malkin – Out, has sinus infection in addition to left knee injury.

Anaheim vs. Montreal

No recently-reported injury news.

Jeff Halpern – Questionable, missed Friday and isn't expected to play Saturday.
Max Pacioretty – Probable, returned Friday and collected two points.
Michael Cammalleri – Out, placed on IR with shoulder injury.

Columbus vs. St. Louis

No recently-reported injury news.

St. Louis
Barret Jackman – Questionable, day-to-day with lower body injury.
Carlo Colaiacovo – Out, will miss about two weeks on IR with eye injury.
Andy McDonald – Out, practiced for second straight day Friday after missing time with concussion.
David Perron – Out, passed baseline concussion test and has resumed physical activity.

Los Angeles vs. Phoenix

Los Angeles
Scott Parse – Out, returned to the ice Thursday but not expected back until late February.
Marco Sturm – Out, placed on IR with knee tendinitis.

Ed Jovanovski – Questionable, almost returned Thursday, could play Saturday, check updates.
David Schlemko – Out, placed on IR with undisclosed injury.

Calgary vs. Vancouver

Mikael Backlund – Probable, Backlund played Friday night and scored a goal.

Andrew Alberts – Out, could miss 2-3 weeks with separated shoulder.
Sami Salo – Out, team unsure if he'll play at all this season due to Achilles injury.

Minnesota vs. San Jose

Jose Theodore – Questionable, expected to serve as backup to Backstrom on Saturday.

San Jose
Ryan Clowe – Out, leg injury more serious than originally thought.
Antero Niittymaki – Out, placed on IR with groin injury.


Evgeni Nabokov – Placed on waivers by Red Wings. Will any team claim him?
Marcel Mueller – Assigned by Toronto to AHL Marlies.
Brian Fahey – Assigned by Washington to AHL Hershey.
Kyle Wilson – Assigned by Columbus to AHL Springfield.

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