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The Daily Puck: Devil of a Time

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. Eastern

Trevor Gillies needs shock therapy.

-- Leave the Phoenix Coyotes alone. If Winnipeg wants a franchise, move the Thrashers. Maybe the Coyotes can chip in with Shane Doan, but hasn't that team been through enough the last couple years? I feel for my buddy in Phoenix's front office. The situation's got to wear on him.

-- The Devils' Travis Zajac one-upped the Gordie Howe Hat Trick on Friday. Zajac, who scored a goal, drew a rare fighting major for his tussle with Pittsburgh's Kris Letang. The New Jersey centerman also won 14 of 18 draws. Perhaps his biggest impact, however, was getting rid of Letang for the second and third periods of the game. Letang was ejected from the contest for not having his jersey tied down during the fight, an automatic ejection.

-- Speaking of automatic kick-outs, have any players gotten the boot for illegally-curved sticks in 2010-11 or doesn't the rule apply anymore since Jaromir Jagr moved to the KHL?

-- All of those trade rumors about Ales Hemsky and he gets hurts again anyhow. We should've known better.

-- Right now, the Stars are the winners in their trade with Pittsburgh. Alex Goligoski has played well in Big D with his Big O. If you didn't know better, you'd think Matt Niskanen was the prize for the Pens and James Neal was the thrown in.

-- Ilya Kovalchuk has six game-winning goals in his last 12 games.

-- The Devils are 19-2-2 in their last 23.

-- David Steckel, who played for Washington in the Winter Classic and blindsided Sidney Crosby (accidentally or on purpose), apologized for the incident through ex-teammate Deryk Engelland. Looking at the way Crosby hobbled off the ice after the Steckel hit and the long walk from the 50-yard line to the Heinz Field football locker room, the Penguins should have been more cautious with the face of the NHL. It was pretty obvious Sid was hurting from 24/7. Maybe he should have sat out a game or 10, rather than compounding matters vs. Tampa Bay. I don't blame Steckel for the situation.

-- How does one sprain an ankle during a fight? Watch Taylor Hall's spat with Derek Dorsett and you'll find out. Hall needs one more fight to tie Wayne Gretzky and that's enough.

-- The West should field 10 playoff teams and the East, six. We could have a North American Idol bonus round. Don Cherry, Mike Milbury and Barry Melrose could be the celebrity judges. The race in the West is so underrated while the East is just bleh.

-- Friday's post-win press conference with John Tortorella shows that the Rangers coach can speak without looking and sounding like he's ready instantaneously combust every time he speaks.

Who's Hot

Tyler Kennedy – Kennedy potted his career-high 15th goal. OK, that might not be so great but have you seen the Penguins try to score lately?

Lubomir Visnovsky – Defensive hat tricks have a way of putting players here. My hockey buds and I used to joke about his first name – great name, BTW – when I still laced them up. Where has the last decade gone?

Dan Ellis – 3-0-1 in four starts with the Ducks. He won't make anyone forget Jonas Hiller, but he's playing well for his new team.

Jonathan Toews – But every real fantasy hockey follower knows that.

Who's Not

Jordan Staal – Two assists in the last six games with Pittsburgh struggling to put points on the board. Staal's true value doesn't translate to fantasy leagues, but that's all fantasy owners have to go on.

Recommended Pickup

Chris Campoli – A good waiver-wire pickup on a hot Blackhawks team.

Probable Starting Goalies

St. Louis (Ben Bishop) at Islanders (Al Montoya), 1 p.m.
Buffalo (Ryan Miller) at Philadelphia (Brian Boucher), 1 p.m.
Vancouver (Roberto Luongo) at Los Angeles (Jonathan Quick), 4 p.m.
Pittsburgh (Marc-Andre Fleury) at Boston (Tim Thomas), 7 p.m.
Chicago (Marty Turco) at Toronto (James Reimer), 7 p.m.
Montreal (Carey Price) at Tampa Bay (Dwayne Roloson), 7p.m.
Florida (Tomas Vokoun) at Atlanta (Steve Mason), 7 p.m.
Detroit (Jimmy Howard) at Phoenix (Ilya Bryzgalov), 8 p.m.
Edmonton (Devan Dubnyk) at Colorado (Brian Elliott), 10 p.m.
Dallas (Andrew Raycroft) at San Jose (Antti Niemi), 10:30 p.m.

Rotowire Goalie Grid

Injury Roll Call

St. Louis

Nikita Nikitin – Questionable, has missed the team's last couple weeks of action with lower body injury.
Jaroslav Halak – Questionable, nearing a return from a cracked bone in his right hand.


Michael Haley – Questionable, missed Wednesday with a knee injury, could return with Gillies out.
Kevin Poulin – Out, walking without crutches after knee injury and is expected to be healthy for 2011-12.
Trevor Gillies – Out, serving first game of 10-game suspension for hit on Cal Clutterbuck on Wednesday.


Jordan Leopold – Questionable, missed Thursday with an upper body injury.
Jeff Carter – Questionable, late scratch Thursday with flu, check updates for status.


Alexander Edler – Out, now not expected back before the playoffs.
Kevin Bieksa – Out, looking to return sometime during five-game road trip that starts Saturday.
Chris Higgins – Out, looking to debut during upcoming road trip.

Los Angeles

No recently updated injury news.

Chris Kunitz – Questionable, has missed the last 11 games but could return Saturday; check updates.
Eric Godard – Out, serving 10th game of 10-game suspension.


Steve Kampfer – Out, missing time with concussion symptoms.
Andrew Ference – Out, could begin skating as soon as Sunday after missing time with lower body injury.


No recently reported injury news.


No recently reported injury news.

Jaroslav Spacek – Out, expected to miss another month or so with knee injury.

Tampa Bay
Marc-Andre Bergeron – Probable, looking to play Saturday after missing last game with back injury.
Steve Downie – Out, lower body injury is expected to keep on shelf for at least Saturday's contest.
Vincent Lecavalier – Questionable, listed as a game-time decision with a mid-body injury.
Mike Lundin – Out, skating but not ready to return from abdomen injury.

Byron Bitz – Out, expected to miss rest of season due to sports hernia complications.


Ondrej Pavelec – Questionable, full participant in practice Friday and could return Saturday.
Alex Burmistrov – Questionable, unlikely to play Saturday but nearing return from foot.


Brian Rafalski – Questionable, missed Thursday with a back injury, check updates.


Martin Hanzal – Questionable, was a late scratch Thursday with lower body.
Ed Jovanovski – Out, hopes to start skating within the next week.


Theo Peckham – Out, missing time with concussion.
Nikolai Khabibulin – Probable, ready to return from eye issues.
Taylor Hall – Out, will miss the rest of his rookie season with a high ankle sprain.
Ales Hemsky – Out, one report says he'll miss 2-3 weeks while others say his season's in jeopardy.


Ryan O'Byrne – Out, skating after needing 100 facial stitches and could return within the next week.


Niklas Grossman – Questionable, missed Friday and unlikely to play Saturday.
Brad Richards – Questionable, probably not going to come back until late next week.

San Jose

Dan Boyle – Questionable, missed Thursday but is getting closer to a return from upper body.
Antero Niittymaki – Questionable, close to coming back from groin, check updates.


Alex Plante – Defenseman recalled by Edmonton from AHL Oklahoma City.
Martin Gerber – Assigned by Edmonton to AHL Oklahoma City.
Richard Petiot – Assigned by Edmonton to AHL Oklahoma City.
Brett MacLean – Recalled by Phoenix from AHL San Antonio.
Peter Mannino – Assigned by Atlanta to AHL Chicago.
Ian Cole – Recalled by St. Louis from AHL Peoria.
Tyson Strachan – Assigned by St. Louis to AHL Peoria.
Matt Bartkowski – Recalled by Boston from AHL Providence.