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Figuring out goaltending can be the bane of a poolies existence

Andrew Raycroft, cast off by Bruins in the off-season, has been excellent this season, greatly rewarding poolies who took a chance on him. But just as Raycroft was proving his old team made a big mistake, he gets hurt and as poolies scrambling to the wires to claim J.S. Aubin.

Meanwhile, in the other crease, Tim Thomas, pegged as the backup this year, was yanked after yet another sub-par performance. His replacement off the bench was Brian Findlay because Hannu Toivonen, supposedly the No. 1 goalie, has been so bad this year that Boston banished him to the minors, giving his owners the fickle finger of fate in the process.

Platoons have always been the bane of poolies, and clearly teams like Ottawa, Florida and Philadelphia will stick to that plan, much to the chagrin of poolies who own targets on those teams.

And while it's near impossible right now to figure out who might eventually survive the crease crisis in Beantown, we will take a shot at predicting survivors on other teams.

In Atlanta, Johan Hedberg did a fine job subbing for the struggling Kari Lehtonen. But it's Lehtonen who will start the majority of games for the Thrashers this season.

Henrik Lundqvist is another top goalie under-performing in the early going. But no matter how well Kevin Weekes plays, the job will be Lundqvist's in the long run.

The same is true in Anaheim, where Jean-Sebastien Giguere is still No. 1 despite his struggles and the fine play of backup Ilya Bryzgalov. Ditto in Columbus, where Pascal Leclaire could develop into one of fantasy hockey's better goaltenders.

There are some backups who probably will get long-term promotions, like Mathieu Garon of the Kings, who has greatly outperformed Dan Cloutier. We also like David LeNeveu's chances in Phoenix where coach Wayne Gretzky prefers him to Curtis Joseph.

Grab LeNeveu off the waiver wire if he's available.

Elsewhere, Jose Theodore will beat out Petr Budaj for the majority of starts in Colorado; Cristobal Huet will out-play David Aebischer in Montreal; and Curtis Sanford will watch from the bench as Manny Legace gets pummeled with shots in St. Louis.

Injury Update

Brian Boucher picked up his first shutout of the season Sunday but is in no way a threat to Nikolai Khabibulin (broken finger) in Chicago. The Bulin Wall is expected back this week and will put Boucher back on the bench where he belongs.

The Canadiens' best player, Christopher Higgins (ankle), is on the shelf for six weeks. Rookie replacement Guillaume Latendresse picked up a point in each of his first two games on the top line with Saku Koivu and Michael Ryder.

A broken hand couldn't keep Brent Sopel out of the Kings lineup but a broken ankle now certainly sideline him indefinitely. Drop Sopel right away.

Waiver Watch

Injuries in Columbus have forced the Blue Jackets to take a good look at defenceman Ron Hainsey on the power play. With three points on the weekend, Hainsey has also earned a peek from poolies in deeper leagues that don't include plus-minus stats.

Mats Sundin's elbow injury hasn't slowed the Leafs down, and Kyle Wellwood has filled the vacated centre spot admirably. Wingers Alexei Ponikarovsky and Nik Antropov are red hot as well. We especially like Ponikarovsky's chances of being a contributor all season long.

Lee Stempniak, hiding in the weeds of St. Louis, is also a viable option for poolies looking for scoring. Goals in consecutive games on the weekend have given him eight on the season.


Greg Dennis can be reached at cp.pool(at)

Some suggestions on players to add or avoid in your hockey pool this week:

Who's Hot

1. RW Alexei Ponikarovsky, Maples Leafs. Stepping up in Sundin's absence.

2. D Filip Kuba, Lightning. Two goals and two assists in three games last week.

3. LW Alex Tanguay, Flames. Four helpers has Calgary fans finally smiling.

4. LW Chris Neil, Senators. Four points from a pugilist is a huge week.

5. G Dominik Hasek, Red Wings. Two shutouts show he can still dominate.

Who's Not

1. D Marc-Andre Bergeron, Oilers. The former power-play leader is now in the press box.

2. RW Mark Bell, Sharks. The pre-season noise is now a resounding clank.

3. RW Brian Gionta, Devils. Hellish pointless streak reaches seven games.

4. D Roman Hamrlik, Flames. He's plus-5 in last four, but team needs his offence.

5. D Sheldon Souray, Canadiens. Another sorry week for the power-play leader.


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