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Sunday, February 22, 2009
Who will replace Ryan Miller?


A high-ankle sprain is not an injury you want your top fantasy goaltender to sustain, but Ryan Miller owners will have to figure out how to handle without the ailing goalie. Miller hurt his left ankle after a collision with Scott Gomez behind the Sabres' net Saturday night, and although X-rays were negative, he will be out indefinitely.

Patrick Lalime replaced Miller and promptly surrendered two goals on 13 shots, but the Sabres held on to beat the Rangers 4-2. Miller owners should rush to pick up Lalime, but expecting him to outright replace Miller in your lineup is not reasonable. Sure, Lalime should provide some wins and palatable ratios, but Miller is the fifth-ranked goaltender on ESPN.com's Player Rater. You just can't replace that kind of production. (The Martin Brodeur/Scott Clemmensen situation is an anomaly, I assure you.)

Although Lalime has lacked confidence since he fell out of favor in Ottawa, this could provide an opportunity for him to show he can still block shots in an NHL net. That is not the expected outcome, though, and every Miller owner should hatch a Plan B. If you can't get a Chris Mason or even a Yann Danis off waivers, Jhonas Enroth might be your best backup plan.

Enroth is a largely untested Swedish netminder playing his first season of North American hockey with Buffalo's AHL affiliate in Portland. After being drafted by the Sabres in the second round of the 2006 NHL entry draft, Enroth continued to play in his native Sweden, where he finished last season with the best ratios in the Elitserien, or Swedish elite hockey league. He is considered Buffalo's top prospect, and some say he'll unseat Miller as the starter before Miller's lofty contract expires in six years. He has responded well to being the No. 1 goalie in Portland and could be a nice surprise if Lalime can't find his groove while Miller heals.

Ice chips

Mats Sundin's return to Toronto appeared to be scripted, as he finished the game with the shootout winner and first-star honors as the Canucks won 3-2. The fantasy angle to the game, though, has to be the continued play of Alex Burrows with the Sedin twins. Burrows scored his seventh point in four games. He also tends to notch a lot of penalty minutes. … Maybe Cristobal Huet is finally putting things together. An injury to Nikolai Khabibulin has allowed Huet to start for the Blackhawks on a consistent basis, and he is riding a four-game win streak with just six goals allowed after a 3-1 win over Dallas. … Give my colleague Victoria Matiash some credit for calling Alexei Kovalev's three-point performance on Saturday in Montreal's 5-3 win over Ottawa. Read Saturday's blog to hear more about how you need to start collecting the Canadiens' top players. … Note how Chris Campoli smartly pinched on two plays to give himself two assists in his Senators debut. Campoli is an offensively gifted player who never got a chance to show his skills on Long Island. Scoop him up as your No. 4 defenseman. … Playing with fellow 2008 first-round draft pick Mikkel Boedker and sophomore Martin Hanzal, Viktor Tikhonov has started to shine. In five February games, he has six points, including a goal and assist in the Coyotes' 6-3 drubbing of L.A. … Scott Clemmensen appears to have turned back into a pumpkin just in time to make it easier for fantasy owners to drop him once Martin Brodeur returns to the Devils. It's time to stop kidding ourselves about Clemmensen's continuing to start on a regular basis and realize that Marty will start almost every game once he is ready. Clemmensen has been an absolute savior to the fantasy teams that lost Brodeur and scooped him up, but it's time to let go. Clemmensen allowed four goals in a 4-0 loss to the Islanders on Saturday and has allowed 13 goals in his past three games. … Tomas Vokoun recorded his third shutout in his past six starts as the Panthers downed Boston 2-0. The Panthers will make a playoff run, and Vokoun is a good trade target on an underrated team. … Speaking of shutouts, Pekka Rinne recorded his fifth of the season in a 1-0 overtime win against the equally stellar Chris Mason and the Blues. The Nashville goalie is now the Preds' unquestioned No. 1 (Dan Ellis, who?) and needs to be owned in all formats. … Although Steve Sullivan didn't score against the Blues, it's worth pointing out he had his first three goals of the season in the two games before Saturday's contest. If you need a Hail Mary acquisition for goals, he's your man. … Owen Nolan continues to be the leader for a Marian Gaborik-less Wild team. He had two goals and an assist as Minnesota downed Detroit 5-2. His injury risk makes him difficult to own in fantasy leagues, but check to see whether he is available in yours. … Jimmy Howard's first game this season with Detroit was forgettable. He'll be back as a contender for the starting gig next season. … Mike Richards' torrid pace of late continues. He scored a short-handed goal for the third straight game as the Flyers fell to Pittsburgh 5-4. Richards added two assists in the contest and has certainly reinvigorated Mike Knuble and Simon Gagne to the point where they are worth starting again. … If it's not too late in your league, it's time to get on the Andrew Ebbett train. Playing with Teemu Selanne and Bobby Ryan on the Ducks, Ebbett has eight points in the 10 games since Selanne returned from injury. … Joe Pavelski extended his points streak to six games in San Jose's 3-1 win over Atlanta.

Sean Allen is a fantasy baseball and hockey analyst for ESPN.com. You can e-mail him here.