The hockey gods giveth, and the hockey gods taketh away. So sayeth Tim of the clan Kavanagh, and so now knoweth fans of the Avalanche of Colorado. It was just one week ago that the Avs were being heralded as a most worthy adversary, capable of upending anyone in the Western Conference after adding Peter Forsberg and Adam Foote to the mix, and welcoming Paul Stastny, Joe Sakic and Ryan Smyth back from injury. Then Saturday night, during just one period, they lost two of their top six forwards, likely for the rest of the season. More on that and the myriad of injury reports from this week below.
It's business time
Maxim Afinogenov, RW, Sabres: Recently I had a discussion with some associates regarding which pro sport had the best names; I'm not sure how you could even argue that any sport other than the NHL should win that crown, especially given the enjoyment of saying European names like Afinogenov or Olli Jokinen or Cristobal Huet, not to mention the bevy of French-Canadian doozies like Guillaume Latendresse and Pascal Leclaire. Anyway, Mr. Maxim made his return to live ice hockey action on Friday night after missing nearly two months with a groin injury. Like many of his mates in the Queen City, Afinogenov is not the powerhouse of production that he had been in years past. His 18 points in 39 games is well below the point-per-game rate at which he scored the past two seasons, and his minus-10 rating is a disgrace to even type. What all of this means is that Afinogenov is a buy-low candidate for someone who likes risk, as he'll skate on the second line and also get plenty of opportunity on the power play.
Rob Blake, D, Kings: Blake's ankle is healthy enough that he went back into active service this past Thursday, and it was just in time to save Jack Johnson from a beatdown at the hands of Ian Laperriere on Saturday night (more on the cause for Laperriere's anger below). Blake skated about 20 minutes in both games and added a goal on Saturday night, which should convince someone in the 27 percent of ESPN leagues where he is a free agent to pick him up.
'Tis but a scratch
Marian Hossa, RW, Penguins: Right now, Penguins general manager Ray Shero has to feel like the kid who buys an ice cream cone then drops it on the ground after stumbling on the way out of the ice cream shop. I know I'd be throwing all types of stuff against the wall if I was in his shoes after seeing Hossa tweak his knee after just 10 minutes on ice in a Penguins jersey. Luckily the injury appears to be fairly minor, and given the way Evgeni Malkin is playing, I don't think he even needs teammates. This just increases hockey fans' collective anticipation of the ridiculousness of a Malkin-Hossa-Sidney Crosby power play, and it looks like that anticipation will build until next week or so when the latter two are set to return. If you're a Hossa owner, give him a break this week, but be ready to re-insert him next week.
Chris Pronger, D, Ducks: 'Tis but a jab, in this case. Against the Blackhawks last Sunday, Pronger took a follow-through to the jaw, a blow that ended up requiring surgery. It's likely he'll be ready to suit up this week, so feel safe putting (or keeping) Pronger back into active service, especially considering the Ducks' four-game schedule this week.
Alex Tanguay, LW, Flames: Tanguay is still recovering from a neck injury sustained against the Wild a week ago, but has continued to practice with the team. The Flames next three games are at home, two this week, so he'll likely make his return during the homestand. However, if you have a replacement who is a sure thing to play in more games this week, go with the replacement.
Daniel Carcillo, LW, Coyotes: The consummate favorite for this year's Goon Newcomer Award will be out for the next two weeks after re-injuring his right knee. The guys I mentioned last week within the Chris Neil parcel -- Zach Stortini, Jared Boll, Riley Cote and George Parros -- are all still widely available if you need a boost in penalty minutes while Carcillo recovers.
Martin Havlat, RW, Blackhawks: Say goodnight, sweetheart. After Havlat reinjured his shoulder during this past Wednesday's game, it is likely he'll be shut down for the season. While the team will wait a week to make any official announcement, you need to make your move now, especially with the fantasy playoffs imminent. It's better to make the drop now and maybe have regrets if he ends up playing a few more games at the end of the season than to hold him and forgo picking up an active guy, only to have the team shut Havlat down a week from now. If this is it -- cue Huey Lewis -- then Havlat finishes with 10 goals, 17 assists and a plus-4 rating in 35 games played this season.
Ryan Smyth, LW, Avalanche: On Saturday night, a brutal, albeit clean, hit from the Kings' Jack Johnson sent Smyth careening into one of the most dangerous spots on a hockey rink, the end of the bench, where the glass above the boards forms a corner. After the hit, Smyth lay motionless on the ice and was carted off immobilized. Fortunately, CAT scans have shown nothing wrong with his head or neck. Unfortunately, there's a separation in Smyth's left shoulder and possibly a broken collarbone as well, according to a report on the Denver Post's Avalanche blog. This would rule Smyth out from returning this season unless the Avs make a long playoff run, and it certainly would exclude him from doing anything for the remainder of the fantasy season. If Smyth is now done for the season, he concludes the 2007-08 campaign with 14 goals, 19 assists and a minus-4 in 45 games.
Marek Svatos, RW, Avalanche: In the same contest where Smyth endured the brutal check that sent him off the ice, Svatos suffered a quite different, yet equally debilitating injury. After setting up Ruslan Salei's first goal with the Avalanche midway through the second period, Svatos crashed awkwardly into the boards and injured his knee. As of now, the official word is of the "we'll know more when the swelling subsides" variety, but the team has also announced that Svatos is out indefinitely. When the knee is too swelled up to diagnose, it never tends to be a great prognosis; as such, it's likely he will also not be able to suit up until sometime during the playoffs, which means his fantasy season is also over. If so, Svatos finishes with 26 goals, 11 assists and a plus-13 in 62 games played.
Tim Kavanagh is a fantasy hockey analyst for ESPN.com.