Boucher, Timonen shine in Classic preview

by Matt Cubeta /
Fantasy Forecast for Tuesday, December 15

In a 2010 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic preview, Flyers goaltender Brian Boucher proved to be the difference as he stopped 26 shots in a 3-1 victory against the Bruins.
Boucher, who's filling in for the injured Ray Emery, is expected to be the starter in the New Year's Day game and for now is worthy of a pickup in almost all deeper leagues. Despite having a 4-7-0 record, Boucher sports a 2.39 goals-against average, and you can expect the wins to increase as the Flyers improve as a team under new coach Peter Laviolette.

Philadelphia defenseman Kimmo Timonen erupted for 2 goals and an assist to go along with a plus-3 rating and five shots on goal. Timonen, known primarily for his passing skills, recorded his first 2-goal game since March 17, 2007, when he was a member of the Nashville Predators. Bruins defenseman Dennis Wideman left the game injured in the second period and did not return for the third.

The offensive star of Monday night had to be Florida Panthers forward Nathan Horton. The right wing recorded his second career hat trick -- scoring once shorthanded, once on the power play and once at even strength. Horton also added an assist in Florida's 7-1 pounding of the Islanders. He has 11 goals and 21 assists in 34 games this season.

Predators left wing Steve Sullivan also notched a hat trick Monday night, leading Nashville to a 5-3 victory over the Blue Jackets. Sullivan absolutely owns Columbus -- he has 16 goals and 27 assists in just 39 games against them. "I didn't know that," said Sullivan. "I thought my only good stats were against Nashville, before I got here." Put it this way -- on Dec. 31 make sure you have Sullivan in your starting lineup when these two teams meet again.

Steve Mason continues to be a risky play for fantasy owners. Just two starts after recording his first shutout of the season, the second-year goaltender was torched for five goals on 32 shots. Keep him on your bench until he shows a consistent turnaround.

On the other hand, Thrashers netminder Johan Hedberg might find himself between the pipes a little more often for John Anderson. After stopping 46 shots and both shootout attempts in a 3-2 win against the Rangers Monday, Hedberg could create a goaltending dilemma with Ondrej Pavelec. Hedberg is 9-3-0 with a 2.19 GAA.

A positive note for the Rangers: Center Brandon Dubinsky was activated from IR after missing 13 games. Coach John Tortorella finally decided to break up the only good thing going in New York, splitting up Marian Gaborik and Vaclav Prospal. Dubinsky found himself centering Gaborik and Christopher Higgins on the top line, while Prospal moved back to the wing, with Chris Drury at center and Ryan Callahan on the other wing. Tortorella changes his lines so often it's hard to say what will happen in the Rangers' game against the Islanders on Wednesday. Either way, Dubinsky is a top-six forward and his value increases significantly if he sticks with Gaborik's line.

Has anyone been paying attention to what Andrei Kostitsyn has been doing lately? The Canadiens forward had 2 goals and an assist Monday night, giving him 6 goals and 4 assists in his previous eight games. Coincidentally, his brother Sergei was recalled Nov. 23 (eight games ago), and while Sergei only has 3 assists in those eight games, Andrei clearly plays better when his brother is in the lineup.

Ed Jovanovski returned to the lineup for the Coyotes after being suspended for two games -- he had 2 assists in 20:36 of ice time in Phoenix's 3-2 loss to the Red Wings; use him as you normally would.

After being selected the NHL's First Star of the Week, Kings goalie Jonathan Quick took his first loss in four starts, allowing three goals on 28 shots against the Canucks on Monday. Quick leads the NHL in games started (32), and is expected to be back between the pipes Tuesday in Edmonton. Los Angeles center Jarret Stoll left the game midway through the third period with an apparent groin injury -- no details were provided.

Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury is 14-3-0 in 18 games against the Flyers over the last four seasons. It ties him with Martin Brodeur for the most wins by any goalie against Philadelphia since the start of the 2006-07 season. On Tuesday, the Flyers visit Pittsburgh.

While Jarome Iginla has not scored in a season-high six straight games and only has 1 goal in the past 10, he has dominated the Blues over his career -- 21 goals and 38 assists in 49 games. Iginla and the Flames are in St. Louis on Tuesday.

Wild forward Martin Havlat may be turning a corner -- he completed a five-game road trip with 2 goals and 5 assists. If his owners gave up on him early this season, grab him for Tuesday's tilt against the Blue Jackets.

Philadelphia (Brian Boucher) at Pittsburgh (Marc-Andre Fleury), 7 p.m. ET (VERSUS, TSN2, RDS)
Calgary (Curtis McElhinney) at St. Louis (Chris Mason), 8 p.m. ET
Tampa Bay (Mike Smith) at Nashville (Pekka Rinne), 8 p.m. ET
Columbus (Steve Mason) at Minnesota (Niklas Backstrom), 8 p.m. ET
Washington (Jose Theodore) at Colorado (Craig Anderson), 9:30 p.m. ET
Los Angeles (Jonathan Quick) at Edmonton (Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers), 9:30 p.m. ET

Dan Boyle, D, San Jose: Is day-to-day with a lower body injury.
Braydon Coburn, D, Philadelphia: Is day-to-day with a sprained ankle.
Derek Dorsett, RW, Columbus: Is out four weeks with a broken hand.
Jonathan Ericsson, D, Detroit: Is day-to-day with a left knee injury.
Josh Harding, G, Minnesota: Is day-to-day due to an illness.
Darren Helm, C, Detroit: Is day-to-day with a wrist injury.
Patrick Kane, RW, Chicago: Is day-to-day with a facial injury.
Jason Spezza, C, Ottawa: Placed on IR with a knee injury.
Jarret Stoll, C, Los Angeles: Is day-to-day with a groin injury.
Dennis Wideman, D, Boston: Is day-to-day with an undisclosed injury.

Carolina Hurricanes: Placed D Aaron Ward on waivers.
Detroit Red Wings: Recalled C Kris Newbury from Grand Rapids (AHL).
Los Angeles Kings: Recalled F Corey Elkins from the Manchester (AHL).
Minnesota Wild: Placed C Andrew Ebbet on IR; reassigned C Nathan Smith to Houston (AHL).
San Jose Sharks: Reassigned F Frazer McLaren and F Jamie McGinn to Worcester (AHL).
Vancouver Canucks: Recalled D Aaron Rome from Manitoba (AHL).
Washington Capitals: Recalled D Karl Alzner and C Kyle Wilson from Hershey (AHL); assigned C Mathieu Perreault to Hershey (AHL).

I am wondering if it is time to give up on Saku Koivu this season. I'm in a very deep rotisserie league (20 teams, three starting spots for centers, plus another space for one on the bench). I thought he might do well in Anaheim this season and give me maybe 50 points, around what he got last year. However, so far Koivu has 11 points in 23 games and just isn’t looking that good. Now that Teemu Selanne is out for a month, this could affect him, too. Since it is such a deep league there is not a lot available in free agents except Ryan Potulny, who spiked my interest with his 8 points in only 13 games and has an opportunity with a few Oilers out injured. Koivu is 9-percent owned while Potulny is only 1-percent owned. It may be risky, but do you think it could be a good move? I'd hate to see Potulny get scooped up and have a great season knowing I could have had him.
Thanks for any help.
-- Brent

Even though Koivu has lost his Finnish linemate for the time being, I think you might be jumping ship on the veteran center at the wrong time. Koivu appears to be finding new chemistry with youngsters Bobby Ryan and Dan Sexton. In Koivu's previous three games he has 2 goals and 3 assists to go along with an astonishing plus-7 rating. While he has played in 27 games, let's not forget that this is Koivu's first time playing for a new team since joining the NHL with the Canadiens -- he may have needed some extra time to get comfortable in Anaheim. If your league counts penalty minutes, an added bonus from Koivu are his 18 PIMs on the season, as well.

On the other side, Potulny has struggled lately. Yes he has 5 goals and 3 assists in just 16 games for the Oilers, but in his last six games he has just 1 assist. Potulny also has some talented centers ahead of him on the depth chart in Edmonton -- Sam Gagner, Andrew Cogliano and Shawn Horcoff. While none of these players are jumping off the score sheet this season, I think it's safe to say Potulny has the least amount of promise. Potulny is 25 years old and as a former third-round draft pick, I don't think the expectations are too high for him.

Being that you're in such a deep league, if you dropped Koivu someone would grab him immediately. Keep the former first-round pick and you can expect him to finish the season right around his normal 50-60 points.
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