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Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Flames net six goals, but little fantasy fire


One of the most effective ways of breaking out of a slump is to face another team in a similar slide, or in even worse shape. The Flames emerged, convincingly, out of their four-game losing tumble with a high-spirited 6-2 victory over the congruently floundering Canadiens. The six goals provided a much-needed boost in confidence, especially since the team averaged fewer than two goals per game during the aforementioned skid. But from a fantasy perspective, the victory wasn't as rejuvenating as some owners may have liked.

Mike Cammalleri and Rene Bourque had a goal and assist each, and Dion Phaneuf scored his seventh of the season, but two other tallies were of the shorthanded variety, compliments of Dustin Boyd and Mathew Lombardi. Nothing against Boyd or Lombardi, but fantasy assets they are not. Conversely, Jarome Iginla, Todd Bertuzzi and Curtis Glencross were all held off the scoresheet; in fact, Iginla finished the game with four shots and a minus-two rating. Calgary's captain has only three points in his past six games and two goals in all of 2009. He needs a change of pace and an upcoming three-game road trip, away from the pressures of home, could be just the antidote. The Flames visit Anaheim, Los Angeles and Phoenix during the next week before returning home to play Vancouver. The Kings are playing reasonably well of late, but the Ducks and Coyotes are only putting in mediocre performances. There's a good chance Iggy could take advantage and put up some better numbers.

As for the Canadiens, it's been a terrible February. They've allowed 19 goals in five games, four of them losses. And the latter half of January wasn't anything to brag about, either. The defensemen are taking the largest fantasy hit, particularly in the plus/minus category. Hence, outside of Andrei Markov, use your Montreal blue-liners sparingly until this team turns things around. There's little upside to having them active.

Ice Chips

The Rangers don't need to be told how it feels not to win. New York is experiencing a dreary slump of its own, further amplified by Monday's 3-0 loss to New Jersey (the first shutout of the season for Scott Clemmensen). The team hasn't won since January 27, allowing 21 goals in that span. Which brings us to Sean Avery. Impish rascal or full-blown jerk, the Rangers won a lot more games with Avery last season than they did without. Since clearing waivers on Monday, a short, positive, stint in the AHL with Hartford -- a Rangers affiliate -- could be all that's needed to get Avery back in the Big Apple. It'll happen sooner rather than later, now that they can get him from Dallas for half the cost. [e] The Lightning finally revealed the details regarding Mike Smith's upper-body injury. Tampa Bay's starting goaltender is suffering from post-concussion syndrome and won't return to the ice until next week, at the earliest. Don't expect to utilize him, effectively, until the last week of February. [e] Martin Brodeur slapped on the mask and faced a few shots from his Jersey teammates in practice on Monday. "I'll be in the best shape of my life when I do get back, that's for sure", he told Mike G. Morreale of NHL.com. Great, but we're still talking March. So Clemmensen remains useful for some time yet.

Victoria Matiash is a fantasy hockey analyst for ESPN.com.