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The Daily Puck: Pipin' Hot

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

Wouldn't it be ironic if the weather in Calgary was too cold for the Heritage Classic on Sunday after being too warm for the Winter Classic on New Year's Day? Crazy.

-- The Maple Leafs got a great haul for Tomas Kaberle, but if I'm a Joe Colborne fantasy owner I have to be disappointed he's going to Toronto – and I know at least one Colborne owner.

-- Erik Johnson proves that not even No. 1 overall defensemen project linearly. He's slumped this year, but he's just 22. It almost always takes a while for blueliners to break out, just so happens it won't be with St. Louis for this ex-Bluesliner.

-- It's hard to make heads or tails out of the Craig Anderson/Brian Elliott trade. There's little reason to pick up either goalie, given the uncertainty surrounding both teams. Neither Anderson nor Elliott has played well this year, though both could be capable netminders on decent teams.

-- Peter Mueller is owned in 33 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Whether that's a relevant number based on his chances of coming back in the final eight weeks is hard to say, but the number is too high, in my opinion. Part of that 33 percent probably comes from fantasy team owners who haven't looked at their team since October.

-- Fellow Daily Puck writer, Anthony Fiorentino, doesn't think his Devils have a chance in hell of making the playoffs. Here's the breakdown. If New Jersey gains 36 points in its last 24 games, then they'll match the final 88-point totals of last year's seventh and eighth seeds. That means the Devils have to go 18-6 or 16-4-4, for example, to reach the magic number. They're 14-1-2 in their last 17, so we'll see what happens.

-- Wonder if Vancouver will wait out its injuries on the blue line or make a move? Pittsburgh has a healthy, offensive defenseman in Alex Goligoski to dangle.

-- Speaking of the Penguins, GM Ray Shero must factor in Sidney Crosby when considering trades. Does he think Crosby will come back this year? Conventional wisdom dictates he'll sit tight if he doesn't think No. 87's coming back. The team would have a tough time making a deep run without both Crosby and Malkin, especially with Boston and Philadelphia strengthening their squads.

Who's Hot

Anton Stralman – He's got four points and a plus-5 rating in his last six games. Stralman has more hits (16) during that span than in his prior 33 contests and makes for a nice pump-and-dump pickup.

Niklas Backstrom – He has five wins, a 1.75 GAA and a .941 save percentage since late January. Looks like the games off to rest his knee has paid dividends.

Who's Not

Dwayne Roloson continues to pile up wins, but when he's bad, he's really bad. Rolly's got a 2.84 GAA and a .904 save percentage over the last 30 days, neither of which helps.

Henrik Lundqvist is another netminder not helping out much. He's got a 2.97 GAA and a .890 save percentage the last month. Of course, he's too good to sit, and he played well Friday. No suggestion to cut him, just pointing out he isn't playing well.

Cam Fowler's a great rookie, but is it possible that he can be a minus-7 in the two games since I traded for him?

Recommended Pickup

Provided Rich Peverley keeps up his scoring pace he should be usable in fantasy formats. Peverley has 14 goals and 34 points in 59 games but carries a minus-16 rating. The former Thrasher figures to drop the porous plus-minus tag with the Bruins.

Probable Starting Goalies

Atlanta (Ondrej Pavelec) vs. Edmonton (Nikolai Khabibulin), 3:30 p.m.
New Jersey (Johan Hedberg) vs. Carolina (Cam Ward), 7 p.m.
Los Angeles (Jonathan Quick) vs. Islanders (Nathan Lawson), 7 p.m.
Ottawa (Craig Anderson) vs. Toronto (James Reimer), 7 p.m.
Florida (Scott Clemmensen) vs. Tampa Bay (Dwayne Roloson), 7:30 p.m.
Anaheim (Curtis McElhinney) vs. St. Louis (Ty Conklin), 8 p.m.
Phoenix (Ilya Bryzgalov) vs. Nashville (Pekka Rinne), 8 p.m.
Dallas (Kari Lehtonen) vs. Vancouver (Roberto Luongo), 10 p.m.
Colorado (Peter Budaj) vs. San Jose (Antti Niemi), 10:30 p.m.

Rotowire Goalie Grid

Injury Roll Call

Alex Burmistrov – Out, placed on IR with foot injury.
Fredrik Modin – Out, placed on IR with upper-body injury.

Gilbert Brule – Questionable, expected to come off IR Saturday after missing since Jan. 6.

New Jersey
Martin Brodeur – Questionable, backed up the Moose Friday and could play Saturday, check updates.

Ryan Carter – Questionable, missed Friday's game with upper-body injury.

Los Angeles
Jack Johnson – Questionable, expected to play Saturday but missed Friday's practice with undisclosed.
Marco Sturm – Questionable, missed Wednesday's game and status for Saturday unknown.

Mark Streit – Out, skating w/team during optional practices, still hopes to return in 2010-11.
Matt Martin – Out, will miss his fourth game of a four-game suspension Saturday.

Chris Campoli – Out, will miss Saturday's game with a lower-body injury.
Matt Carkner – Out, played through lower-body Wednesday but will sit out Saturday.
Sergei Gonchar – Questionable, has missed practice last couple days and likely out Saturday.
Daniel Alfredsson – Out, off since Feb. 7 w/back, two-week estimate would have him back soon.
Pascal Leclaire – Out, says he could return before season's end from lower-body injury.

Colby Armstrong – Questionable, returned to practice Friday after missing time with blurred vision.
Mike Brown – Questionable, practiced Friday for first time in a while, considered day-to-day.
Jean-Sebastien Giguere – Out, missed Friday's practice with lower-body.
Jonas Gustavsson – Out, practiced Friday for first time since undergoing heart procedure.

Dmitri Kulikov – Out, about a week away with ankle injury.

Tampa Bay
Matt Smaby – Questionable, has missed last two games due to illness.

Jonas Hiller – Out, will miss Saturday while on IR with dizziness, fatigue symptoms.

St. Louis
Jaroslav Halak – Out, also will miss Saturday while on IR, eligible to return from hand injury Tuesday.
Carlo Colaiacovo – Questionable, left Friday's game with an undisclosed injury.

Ed Jovanovski – Out, placed on IR with an undisclosed injury.

Marcel Goc – Questionable, not expected to play with upper-body injury Saturday.
Anders Lindback – Questionable, illness has him unlikely to serve as backup Saturday.
Steve Sullivan – Questionable, missed Friday's practice but is expected to play Saturday.
Francis Bouillon – Out, concussion symptoms dissipating after more than a month.

Niklas Grossman – Out, will miss Saturday but could return to action as soon as Tuesday.
Brad Richard – Out, won't play Saturday but may also return Tuesday.
Jamie Benn – Out, Stars are hoping Benn will be healthy enough to go against the Devils on Feb. 22.

Dan Hamhuis – Out, recovering from a concussion by starting light workouts.
Andrew Alberts – Out, recovering from wrist surgery and will miss another month-plus.
Keith Ballard – Out, team is hoping for a late February return from knee injury.
Kevin Bieksa – Out, will miss about three weeks with broken foot.

Adam Foote – Out, should be close to returning from leg injury.
Matt Duchene – Out, will miss indefinite time period with injury to hand.

San Jose
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Questionable, left Friday's game with an undisclosed injury.
Antero Niittymaki – Out, has played just two games since December.


Kris Newbury – Assigned by Rangers to AHL Connecticut.
Mike Vernace – Assigned by Tampa Bay to AHL Norfolk.
Mark Dekanich – Recalled by Nashville from AHL Milwaukee.
Francis Lessard – Recalled by Ottawa from AHL Binghamton.
Jason Demers – Assigned by San Jose to ECHL Stockton.
Benn Ferriero, Matt Irwin – Recalled by San Jose from AHL Worcester.

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