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The Daily Puck: It's Crunch 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

More than ever, fantasy poolies want to take advantage of who's hot at this time of the season. It's not unreasonable to expect someone like Tyler Ennis to outproduce Pavel Datsyuk the rest of the way. The Sabres are going to need everything they can get from Ennis just to secure a playoff spot, while the Wings can afford to rest Datsyuk. Don't bank on stars with nagging injuries on playoff teams that can afford to rest them.

Tampa Bay has two wins in its last 12 games (2-6-4). Seems like a team that opponents might want to match up against in the postseason. Questions will arise about 41-year-old goalie, Dwayne Roloson, and his stamina. Despite a 2-5-3 mark in March, Roloson's peripherals – a 2.64 GAA and .908 GAA for the month – aren't all that different than his overall numbers (2.65 GAA, .912 save percentage).

Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury on Friday recorded his fourth shutout in the last five years on the date of March 25. The year he failed to record a shutout on that date, the Pens didn't play -- March 25, 2010.

Go to the Penguins' home page and click on the links to watch Sidney Crosby's amazing stickhandling and shooting drill work. You won't be disappointed. I haven't seen Sid roof a back-handed shot like he did in the video since he used a nearly flat blade during the first few years of his career. Remember the one in Phoenix a few years back?

The Devils and Penguins combined for four shots, total, in the first period of Friday's game.

Excuse me, but aren't the Senators supposed to be a walkover team? Ottawa is not playing nice and wreaking havoc on fantasy teams. The Sens are 8-5 in March and haven't scored more than three goals in any of their eight victories.

Remember when some were clamoring for the heads of Roberto Luongo and Marc-Andre Fleury?

With one goal in 12 games with Pittsburgh, James Neal can't hit the side of a barn. He has, however, tallied two game-deciding shootout goals in the last three contests.

Who's Hot
(Feel free to add other players in the comments)

Drew Stafford – Two goals and an assist Friday gives him 28 goals and 45 points for the season.

Erik Cole – Two goals Friday. Cole was left for dead after last year but has found new life in Carolina (again).

Craig Anderson – Allowed one total goal against Capitals and Rangers last two games.

Who's Not

Steven Stamkos – He's got 43 goals for the season, but just five since January.

Recommended Pickup

Mike Comrie – Comrie is available in the vast majority of fantasy leagues. He could pick up some power-play points down the stretch with the Penguins searching for answers on the man advantage.

Probable Starting Goalies

Rangers (Henrik Lundqvist) at Boston (Tom Thomas), 1 p.m.
Colorado (Peter Budaj) at Los Angeles (Jonathan Quick), 4 p.m.
Philadelphia (Sergei Bobrovsky) at Islanders (Al Montoya), 7 p.m.
New Jersey (Martin Brodeur) at Buffalo (Ryan Miller), 7 p.m.
Tampa Bay (Dwayne Roloson) at Carolina (Cam Ward), 7 p.m.
Toronto (James Reimer) at Detroit (Jimmy Howard), 7 p.m.
Washington (Michal Neuvirth) at Montreal (Carey Price), 7 p.m.
Dallas (Kari Lehtonen) at Nashville (Pekka Rinne), 8 p.m.
St. Louis (Jaroslav Halak) at Minnesota (Nicklas Backstrom), 8 p.m.
Anaheim (Ray Emery) at Chicago (Corey Crawford), 8:30 p.m.
San Jose (Antti Niemi) at Phoenix (Ilya Byrzgalov), 9 p.m.
Calgary (Miikka Kiprusoff) at Edmonton (Devan Dubnyk), 10 p.m.

Rotowire Goalie Grid

Injury Roll Call


Shane Hnidy – Questionable, eligible to come off IR from shoulder when ready.

Mark Olver – Questionable, left Thursday's with head injury, likely out Saturday.
Ryan Wilson – Questionable, day-to-day with knee injury, also likely out Saturday.

Los Angeles
Justin Williams – Out, will miss remainder of season with shoulder injury.

Chris Pronger – Questionable, missed last seven with wrist injury, back practicing.

Andrew MacDonald – Out, will miss rest of seven with hip injury.
Mark Streit – Out, will not return in 2010-11.

New Jersey
Anton Volchenkov – Out, suffered a lower-body injury Friday in Pittsburgh.
Colin White – Out, also suffered lower-body injury against Penguins.
Zach Parise – Out, targeting a Wednesday return from season-long knee.

Jochen Hecht – Questionable, cusp of returning from upper-body injury.
Steve Montador – Questionable, missed Friday with lower body, game-time Sat.
Tyler Myers – Probable, chalk terrible turnover Friday to illness.
Patrick Kaleta – Out, not close to returning from knee injury.

Tampa Bay
Steve Downie – Probable, returned from ankle injury Friday with 12 PIMs.
Mattias Ritola – Questionable, missed Friday night with lower body.
Ryan Malone – Out, targeting return for Thursday against Pittsburgh.
Randy Jones – Out, still weeks away with ankle injury.

Jamie McBain – Probable, expected to return to action against Lightning.


Pavel Datsyuk – Out, Wings expected to rest Datsyuk again Saturday.
Jonathan Ericsson – Questionable, left Friday's practice due to illness.
Johan Franzen – Out, will miss Saturday with groin but practiced Friday.
Chris Osgood – Out, placed on long-term IR, eligible to return April 8.

Alexander Ovechkin – Out, missing week with undisclosed injury.
Mike Green – Out, no recent updates but is eligible to come off IR when ready.
Jason Arnott – Out, skating but no specific return date given.

Andrei Markov – Out, back skating with eye on returning in 2011-12.

Karlis Skrastins – Questionable, missed Wednesday with thigh injury.
Brian Sutherby – Questionable, missed four of five with back.
Adam Burish – Out, won't play Saturday against Nashville.
Nicklas Grossman – Out, will miss indefinite period with knee injury.

Francis Boullion – Out, not expected back in 2010-11.
Cal O'Reilly – Out, nearing return from broken fibula.
Steve Sullivan – Out, still out with groin injury.

St. Louis
Patrik Berglund – Questionable, likely out Saturday with lower body.

Cal Clutterbuck – Questionable, missed Friday practice and likely out.
Marek Zidlicky – Questionable, hamstring likely to keep him out Saturday.


Dave Bolland – Out, no timetable for return from concussion.
Patrick Sharp – Out, still missing weeks with knee injury.

San Jose
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Questionable, dealing with lower body, day-to-day.

Martin Hanzal – Out, lower body expected to keep him sidelined.
Lauri Korpikoski – Questionable, day-to-day with upper body.


Kurtis Foster – Out, will miss Saturday with undisclosed injury.


Ottawa -- Recalled goalie Mike Brodeur from AHL Binghamton.
Anaheim – Recalled Matt Beleskey from AHL Syracuse.