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Saturday, February 2, 2008
The Vicky Files: Is Emery in the doghouse?

By Victoria Matiash
Special to ESPN.com

Super Bowl Sunday is upon us, and in my opinion, the biggest story isn't the perfection of the New England Patriots. It isn't whether another Manning can win a Super Bowl. Or even if "Spygate" will hang over the whole thing. It's halftime. Ever since the "wardrobe malfunction", the NFL has chosen "safe" acts for its biggest stage. This year, it turned to "American Idol" judge Paula Abdul, who -- many, many years ago -- had a music career. Now, she wasn't the most gifted singer or dancer, nor was she the most attractive musician, but somehow, she maintained a career long enough that she got the producers of one of America's top shows to buy into her. Her behavior on that show often is cringe-worthy, but it's nothing compared to what she is up to now. You see, Ms. Abdul wants to pre-tape her routine, because, ummm, she is too nervous to perform live. I would change the channel either way, live or taped, but taping allows the "fixing" that likely will be needed because of her years away from singing. If she shows her (likely) rust in other ways, that, too, can be fixed. This isn't the first time she has acted like a prima donna. She has a long, sordid history, but nevertheless. If she is able to get away with this, I will officially wonder if the world has gone mad. I don't get it.

In other spoiled-brat news, Ray Emery also made a distasteful splash this week. The goaltender was "substantially fined" by the Senators for arriving late at practice in New York (he went to the wrong arena). In addition, his bad attitude, born of frustration, has become common knowledge. Two peas in a pod, you would think -- but unlike Abdul, Emery is actually good at what he does.

Do you still have the same opinion on Ray Emery now that he's in the doghouse with management and Martin Gerber has posted much better numbers? Personally, I don't think Emery's head is in it anymore. Even though he has become available in our league, I think even Patrick Lalime has a better future.
F. from Euclid, Ohio

Unsurprisingly, this wasn't the only note this week concerning my thoughts on the Senators' "bad boy". All season, I've predicted Emery eventually will emerge as Ottawa's No. 1, and based on talent, I'm stubbornly sticking with that position. But he has to sort his poor attitude out now. After not playing for a week and a half, the team is giving him the opportunity to pull himself together for Saturday night's game against the Maple Leafs. This is Emery's opportunity to prove he's not a head case, once and for all, and he knows it. If he performs well, consecutive starts could be in order. Hopefully, this week's disciplinary action serves as some sort of wake up call.

Team management certainly is praying for as much, since Gerber hasn't exactly been blowing anyone away, either. He allowed 13 goals in his past four games -- hardly spectacular, and not the performance you would expect from someone with a golden opportunity to earn the starter's position with one of the leagues' best teams. But as I've said all year, Gerber simply isn't consistently good enough. Slam Emery any which way, but he still is the better goaltender, and it's difficult to find fault with his competitive spirit. Whether they admit it or not, the Senators know he will give them the best shot at the Cup, and that's all there is to it.

As for Lalime, he easily could become Chicago's No. 1 if Nikolai Khabibulin is traded before the deadline. Now's the time to snag him, if he's available.

My offense has carried me all year long in a 12-team H2H league. I'm a little overloaded at goalie because there isn't one or two I trust. Currently I have Martin Gerber, Ray Emery, Cam Ward, Antero Niittymaki and Marc-Andre Fleury stashed on the IR. There aren't a lot of good skaters to pick up, but guys like Derek Roy, Daniel Carcillo, Erik Cole, Dan Boyle and Braydon Coburn are available. Do you see any way I can cut the fat at goalie to add depth? Otherwise, Brent Burns and Niklas Backstrom are my two "worst" players. Would you switch either with anyone mentioned? Thanks for any advice!
Andrew from Philadelphia, Pa.

First of all, Andrew, pat yourself on the back for establishing such an enviable position. Your goalie collection certainly is rare and impressive. But now is the time to pare it down. Keep the Gerber/Emery tandem intact until the Senators put their faith in one of them (as mentioned above), then cut the "loser" loose. I would let either Ward or Niittymaki go immediately, and of the two, the Philly netminder is far more expendable. Ward is carrying a hot hand again, and the Hurricanes will rely on him to take them into the postseason. Niittymaki, however, is struggling of late, and fellow Flyers netminder Martin Biron is not. Offer Niittymaki, in trade, to Biron's owner for someone decent. This move has a low risk; once Fleury is healthy again, you can completely reassess for the last few weeks of the season.

Goalies aside, I would drop Burns for Boyle in a heartbeat. Boyle is healthy again and looks to be in prime form. He already had four points in his first three games back from injury. If you have any other vacant roster spots and desire penalty minutes, Carcillo is back on the ice and looking to fight.

What numbers do you see Teemu Selanne putting up the rest of the way? Twenty goals? I would love to hear your projections.
Brad from Nashville, Tenn.

Before making any predictions, I would like to establish several educated suppositions:

1. The top line of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Todd Bertuzzi will remain intact.

2. Selanne will play on the second line with Chris Kunitz and Doug Weight.

3. Selanne will skate on the Ducks' second power-play unit immediately, before eventually being moved to the first.

Should all these postulations prove true, I forecast Selanne will produce at a point-per-game pace. Considering the stage of the season, this brings us to approximately 26 points -- evenly balanced between goals and assists. Therefore, I believe Selanne will score 13 goals, give or take. If he ends up playing with Bertuzzi, bump that total up slightly. Regardless, he is a great asset on any fantasy roster, and those who have waited patiently will reap the benefits. Just don't expect him to ignite the score sheet immediately. Regardless of fitness, it's going to take him some time to regain his "game legs".

Victoria Matiash is a fantasy hockey analyst for ESPN.com. You can send her e-mails for potential use in "The Vicky Files" by clicking here.