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Monday, December 17, 2007
Icing It Down: Bad break for McCabe

By Tim Kavanagh
ESPN.com

With the rash of injuries to goaltenders this season, the plague took center stage over the weekend on ESPN.com's NHL section, and there was even a debate between scribes Scott Burnside and Damien Cox as to the cause of the injuries, whether it was too much contact with opposing forwards or too much wear and tear on the No. 1 starter. Their conclusion was inconclusive, philosophically enough, in that it was ruled that most of the injuries were circumstantial in nature, and there was no running theme to them.

I'd have to agree that the injuries we've seen have been pretty unique to each guy involved; after all, it'd take a very insidious, yet misguidedly wasteful espionage group to carry out any sort of conspiracy against the goaltenders of the NHL. Of course, we did add a new name to our injured goalie roster this week (and it's a biggie), so who knows?

It's Business Time

Manny Legace, G, Blues: After missing about two weeks, Legace returned to the ice on Thursday night, stopping 24 of 25 shots, and losing. Such can be the breaks, but the performance was encouraging for the ratios in spite of the loss. Unfortunately, this performance was followed by Sunday afternoon's shelling at the hands of the Flames, as Legace stopped just 16 of 20 shots in Andy McDonald's debut for St. Louis. In any case, Emanuel should be put back in your active lineup.

Sheldon Souray, D, Oilers: Three games, one goal, two assists, eight penalty minutes, nine shots on goal. One of the game's top fantasy defensemen is back, and he clearly hasn't missed a step. This is obviously big news for the Oilers (they won all three games), and for those of you who participate in the 2.1 percent of ESPN leagues where he's a free agent, make your move.

Alexander Frolov, LW, Kings: After missing 11 games, Frolov returned on Saturday night, skating nearly 16 minutes and finishing with two shots on goal. For concerned weekly-lineup leaguers, feel safe reinserting him in one of your active slots, as the Kings have four games this week, including one against the shaky goalies of Colorado and one against the shaky goalies of Nashville.

Michael Nylander, C, Capital:. A shoulder injury behind him, Nylander suited up for both weekend games for Washington, picking up an assist in each contest and skating about 15 minutes in each. He can be placed back into active lineups without any trepidation.

'Tis But a Scratch

Roberto Luongo, G, Canucks: When a first-round fantasy talent gets hurt, it's about the biggest thing to happen within this column. Unfortunately (for me only), it's a pretty boring injury that has befallen Luongo: a case of sore ribs. Now, I've bruised ribs before and it's pretty painful to twist your torso even slightly, so we shouldn't be giving Roberto any grief here, given the amount of torquing necessary to perform at his level as an NHL goaltender. Luongo's backup, Curtis Sanford, gave up 13 goals in the four games he started in relief, getting one win, and that is not something you want any part of as a fantasy owner.

Cory Stillman, LW, Hurricanes: In spite of a thrilling shootout victory, Carolina may have suffered a big loss on Saturday as Stillman left the game with a knee injury after colliding with Derian Hatcher, himself returning after missing two games with a knee injury. Preliminary reports have the winger missing a week of action -- look out for who replaces him on the line with Eric Staal and Erik Cole -- so deactivate Stillman for this week if you are in a weekly-lineup league and await any further news as it is promulgated.

Tomas Holmstrom, RW, Red Wings: Another high-scoring winger, another knee injury. Holmstrom missed two team games at the end of last week, which gave Daniel Cleary the opportunity to skate on the top line with Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, and he responded with a goal and two assists in those two contests. Cleary becomes extraordinarily valuable while this malady continues to afflict Holmstrom, so start him accordingly.

Mike Fisher, C, Senators: What a week for Fisher. First, there was the head butt he received from Scott Walker earlier in the week, then he leaves Saturday night's game against the Thrashers with a strained oblique muscle after just four shifts. While Fisher will stay home during the team's two-game road trip that starts on Tuesday, Antoine Vermette will in all likelihood take over his spot on the second line, as he did during Saturday's game, scoring a goal and two assists in that contest.

Martin Erat, RW, Predators: Erat missed the team's final two games of last week, and was placed on IR on Friday with a neck injury. Fortunately the injury is relatively minor, requiring just rest, so the winger should be back soon. In the meantime, rest him for one of your healthy wingers this week.

Lights Out

Bryan McCabe, D, Maple Leafs. As I noted in the Box Score Blog on Saturday, the Maple Leafs faithful had to be quite confident coming into that evening's matchup against the Canadiens, having won six of the past seven games. Not only did they lose the latest installment in the rivalry 4-1, but star defenseman McCabe sustained a left hand injury which will require surgery to repair. Official word on how long he'll be out of action has yet to come down, but a conservative estimate would have him out until February. Pavel Kubina stands to inherit some of McCabe's power-play duties, but the entire team will miss McCabe's offensive acumen while he's gone.

Marc-Andre Fleury, G, Penguins: This is a status update of last week's initial report, as we now know that Fleury will be out for the next six to eight weeks. This means that Dany Sabourin is your true No. 1 in Pittsburgh right now, with Ty Conklin serving as backup. I would second the notion, first raised by Tristan Cockcroft in the Fantasy Forecaster, that a trade for a better stopgap goaltender is likely; however, until that happens, Sabourin is a passable No. 2 fantasy option in net.

Tim Kavanagh is a fantasy hockey analyst for ESPN.com.