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Saturday's Fantasy Roundup: Booth is back

by Matt Cubeta
Last Saturday we saw a few early season breakout performances, including a hat trick from Rangers rookie Derek Stepan, a Gordie Howe hat trick from Toronto's Kris Versteeg and a two-goal game from Detroit forward Valtteri Filppula. Since then, Stepan and Versteeg have gone without a point and Filppula has an assist in two games.

The point of telling you all this is that it is still extremely early in the season. It's hard to gauge what a player is going to produce for a full season after they've played in just 3-5 games. Is it possible Stepan scores 30 goals this season? Of course, but it's too hard to predict at this point. Should you be dropping Stepan? No, you have to see if the rookie emerges and can build off that early performance.

The same goes for anyone. Before giving up on any of your players, you have to give them at least 10-15 contests. If a guy is still struggling mightily after double-digit games, you might want to consider moving on, but even still, that player could end up turning his season around.

Like last Saturday, there were 12 NHL games on the schedule, with just six teams having the night off. From the fantastic comebacks to the spectacular goals, we've got it all.

Sidney Crosby owners were finally rewarded for spending a top-three pick on last season's 51-goal scorer -- he broke out with two power-play goals, an assist, a plus-1 rating, eight shots on goal and 2 PIM. It's safe to breathe again Crosby owners.

Marc-Andre Fleury is 0-3-0 with a 3.41 GAA and .850 save percentage in three starts this year. Brent Johnson made his third start and improved to 3-0-0 by stopping 29 of 30 shots. While Fleury is still the team's No. 1 goaltender, it is very interesting to see Pittsburgh giving them an equal time share to this point. Johnson could be a nice pickup in deep leagues, especially if you own Fleury.

• Reminder: Milan Michalek plays on Ottawa's top even-strength line and top power-play unit with Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson. He scored his second and third goals of the season against the Habs, including this tremendous tally below.

• Defensive breakout candidate Erik Karlsson notched his first point of the season -- a stellar goal set up by Daniel Alfredsson. Karlsson received a season-low 16:59 of ice, but he should still put together a solid season while being mentored by veteran Sergei Gonchar.

Tyler Seguin recorded his first NHL assist, setting up Michael Ryder for his first goal of the season.

Tim Thomas stopped 31 of 32 Devils shots and is making a strong case to be Boston's No. 1 goaltender. We'll see how Tuukka Rask responds in his next game. On the other side of the ice, Martin Brodeur continued to struggle out of the gate -- he also stopped 31 shots, but unlike Thomas, he surrendered four goals, all in the second period. Give him more time and show as much patience as possible with him.

Josh Bailey of the Islanders continues to impress -- he registered a goal and an assist in more than 20 minutes of ice time and now has 3 goals and 4 assists in five games. If you have an expendable player, make your move before it's too late. However, it's very possible Bailey's pace drops off considerably -- he only had 35 points last season and 25 in 2008-09. Then again, maybe he's this year's Matt Moulson

John Tavares returned to the ice after missing three games and scored an empty-net goal. Tavares received 18:48 of ice time and notched three shots on goal -- feel free to re-insert the youngster back into your starting lineup.

Chris Stewart, who had just two goals in the first two months of action last season, netted his third goal of the season on Saturday. Despite a recent dropoff in playing time (no less than 18 minutes of ice time in his first three games, but just 11:22 in his fourth contest and 16:51 on Saturday), Stewart remains a solid top RW in all leagues. Stewart also got into his first fight of the season and should approach the 73 PIMs he had last year.

David Booth (owned in 80 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) was arguably the player of the night, posting two goals, one assist, a plus-3 rating and nine shots on goal in Florida's 6-0 rout of Tampa Bay. People forgot about him on draft day because of his concussion injury last year, but Booth should eclipse 30 goals this year -- pounce on him if he happens to be available.

• Panthers captain Bryan McCabe tied a franchise record with four assists -- his first points of the season.

• Many people were hoping to have Pekka Rinne back in their lineup for Saturday, but Nashville turned to Anders Lindback for the third straight game. The Swedish goalie turned aside 31 of 34 shots, but took his first loss of the season when Washington's Brooks Laich scored the overtime winner. Lindback's value may be mostly useless in the near future, with Rinne expected to return on Tuesday when the Preds host the Flames.

Brent Burns deserves mentioning for his spectacular spin-o-rama, impossible angle, backhand power-play goal alone (if you thought Michalek's goal was a beauty, check this one out below). The 25-year-old defenseman now has two PPGs on the season and deserves to be owned in more than the 33 percent he's currently at in Yahoo! Leagues.

Marek Zidlicky played in his second game of the season for the Wild. He didn't record a point on Saturday, but he did have an assist in his first game on Thursday. Zidlicky is Minnesota's top defenseman, and while his plus/minus might not be too great this season, he should put up solid power play points to go along with his usual 40-plus total points from the blue line.

• After starting 35 games last season for the Blue Jackets, Mathieu Garon made his season debut against the Wild. He made 21 saves in a 3-2 victory -- including these two huge saves late in the game. Steve Mason is still the No. 1 in Columbus.

Patrick Sharp continued his stellar season, scoring his fourth and fifth goals -- one coming on the power play. Sharp could be looking to return to his 30-plus goal form from three years ago.

Drew Stafford is off to a nice start this season while filling in for the injured Jason Pominville. After scoring his second goal of the season, the Sabres forward now has 5 points in six games.

• Dallas winger Loui Eriksson, arguably the most underrated forward in fantasy hockey, tallied his fourth goal of the young season (he also chipped in his first assist). Eriksson has scored a combined 65 goals in the last two years and flies under the radar because of where he plays.

• Filling in as Detroit's top defenseman for the injured Brian Rafalski, Niklas Kronwall scored his second goal of the season -- the overtime winner against Phoenix. Kronwall could be a productive No. 2-3 defenseman on any fantasy squad until Rafalski returns.

• Take note: With Pavel Datsyuk playing wing alongside Henrik Zetterberg at center, the Russian superstar has now gained LW eligibility in Yahoo! Leagues.

• The Flames shook up their lines on Saturday: Matt Stajan has returned from his injury, and in his second game of the season, he centered the top line with Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay. Olli Jokinen (who has scored 30-plus goals in four of the last five seasons with Florida) was dropped to the second unit with Niklas Hagman and Brendan Morrison. Tanguay scored his first two goals of the season and had an assist; Matt Stajan notched three helpers; Jarome Iginla recorded his first points of the year -- a power goal and an assist; So far so good with the new lines.

Magnus Paajarvi, Edmonton's first round pick in 2009, recorded his first NHL points -- he potted a goal and an assist in the Oilers' 5-3 loss to the Flames. Keep an eye on the 19-year-old; he's extremely skilled and could build off this solid outing.

• After recording a hat trick on Friday night, Anthony Stewart scored his fourth goal of the season on Saturday against the Sharks. You probably don't have to scramble to the waiver wire just yet, but if Stewart keeps up the hot streak, he could be a solid all-round fantasy player -- similar to his brother Chris in Colorado.

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