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Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Shanny shows little rust in return

If the old guy felt at all rusty, he certainly didn't show it.

Many folks, including yours truly, viewed Brendan Shanahan's midseason return without high fantasy expectations. It all seemed a little sad and desperate, in fact. A sliver shy of 40, Shanahan surely had lost a step; other teams (including the Rangers) reportedly weren't interested in his services.

At the very least, it would take a good chunk of time for the veteran to warm up. Yeah, well, so much for that. It was obvious to anyone who watched Monday's game between New Jersey and Nashville that Shanahan still very much belongs in this league. And he's still more than capable of making a discernible impact. Hey, when you're wrong, you're wrong.

Eighteen years after leaving his first NHL team -- he was drafted by New Jersey in 1987 -- Shanahan rejoined the Devils with the enthusiasm of a rookie. He needed less than 22 minutes to score his first goal and, unsurprisingly, it came on the power play. That's where the bulk of his fantasy value lies. Shanahan will get a regular shift with the man advantage, and he will continue to score. The guy can, and will, shoot from anywhere. He registered six shots on net in about 14 minutes of ice time, all told, and judging from the goal, those hands look as magical as ever. A career line that includes more than 1,300 career points (nearly half of them goals) doesn't come by accident.

Although Shanahan's fantasy value deteriorates significantly at even strength, that position isn't set in stone either. Skating on the fourth line with Bobby Holik and Mike Rupp in his debut, Shanahan might be due for a promotion once he fully gets up to speed. One possibility is having Shanahan take over David Clarkson's spot on the third line with Brian Rolston and John Madden. It could be a dynamic fit and would turn him into even more of a fantasy gem than he is right now.

No matter what line he's on, if Shanahan is available in your league, give him some thought. Should he stay healthy, 25 to 30 points to finish off the year would not be an outrageous expectation.

Ice chips

Manny Legace
Manny Legace started Monday's game, but he didn't finish it.
Carey Price says he's feeling 100 percent and is ready to return. Montreal's No.1 goalie likely will start between the pipes Tuesday night in Atlanta; at the latest, he'll go Wednesday night in New Jersey. Price really wants to play in the All-Star Game but won't be allowed to if he's not healthy enough to perform for the Habs this week. That's pretty decent incentive for him. … What a way to snap a losing streak! Recent struggles aside, nothing was getting by Carolina's Cam Ward on Monday night. Stopping all 35 shots versus the Maple Leafs, the often-erratic netminder produced one of his best performances of the year, ending his five-game losing skid. It was Ward's second shutout of the season. … St. Louis won the game against the mighty Bruins but lost its starting goaltender. Manny Legace left midway through the first period because of an undisclosed leg injury. Chris Mason took over and performed well enough for the Blues to tally the 5-4 shootout victory. No word yet on how bad Legace's injury is, or if he'll be able to suit up against Chicago on Wednesday. … So what's it called now? Brett McLean filled in for an injured Ville Peltonen on the ridiculously named "CPR line" alongside Radek Dvorak and Gregory Campbell. All three stayed off the scoreboard in Florida's 3-2 shootout loss to Buffalo. Peltonen is out after taking a knee-on-knee hit from Evgeny Artyukhin. Don't expect to see him Wednesday against Dallas, either. … Speaking of that hit, Artyukhin was suspended for two games for that display of nastiness. He'll be back in Tampa Bay's lineup after the All-Star break. … The Sabres were without Teppo Numminen for the first time since he underwent surgery to fix a broken jaw. Don't count on seeing the defenseman back anytime soon; he's out indefinitely. … The Lightning might be a disappointment this season, but Vincent Lecavalier is doing his best to turn things around in the second half. Lecavalier scored twice and added an assist in Tampa Bay's 4-2 win against Dallas, bringing his January numbers to 14 points in 10 games. … Clearly motivated by Jeff Carter's solo hold on first place for most goals, Alex Ovechkin tied the mark, then took over the lead, with his 30th and 31st goals of the season. Only Kyle Okposo ruined Jose Theodore's quest for his second shutout of the year, as Washington beat the Islanders 2-1. … Marek Zidlicky is performing well on the power play of late. The defenseman scored two goals with the man advantage in Minnesota's 4-1 win over Chicago. He also had an even-strength assist. Zidlicky has four power-play goals thus far in January, and eight points altogether. … Vancouver's Pavol Demitra left Sunday's game against Columbus after hurting his groin. His status for Tuesday's match in San Jose is unknown; keep him on your bench for now. … Sami Salo will make his return to the Canucks' lineup against the Sharks after missing about a month because of a rib injury. Keep the excitement to a minimum; it's only a matter of time before the ever-delicate defenseman gets hurt again.