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Picking a sidekick in NHL fantasy pools doesn't always work out

Not always the case, ace. False expectations abound in Pittsburgh where too many players lucky enough to skate with Sidney Crosby have proved they couldn't drop a puck down a well.

How do you go 22 games on the Penguins' top unit and not score a single goal? That's what Colby Armstrong did to start the season, most of it playing with Crosby. Armstrong's great potential has dissolved into great disappointment.

He's not the only stud turned dud.

Nils Ekman, over from the Sharks, was Crosby's right-winger when the season opened and, rightly so, poolies on draft day were on him like a rash.

But now they're just scratching their heads, trying to figure out how Ekman could only score two goals in his first 12 games as the Kid's sidekick. What looked like a promising 50-60 point campaign is now stalled with injury at 15 points.

Happily for those poolies smart enough to draft Mark Recchi, this veteran is now flourishing on Crosby's right side. The left wing is now occupied by Evgeni Malkin, who would be highly valued no matter where he played.

Before Malkin had the spot it belonged to Ryan Malone, who has one goal and that one point in his last nine games.

The abysmal production defies all reason save for an understanding of how some players can make poolies go bonkers.

Injury Update

It's awfully tough replacing a fallen superstar like Jarome Iginla (knee). Fortunately, it looks like the Flames' leading scorer isn't badly hurt and could return in a week or two. Darcy Tucker (foot) is another sniper on the mend but the Leafs winger should also be back before too long.

The prognosis isn't as good in Anaheim.

Ducks star Chris Pronger (broken foot) will miss at least a month after blocking a shot last week. The league's top offensive defenceman is impossible to replace but, with Francois Beauchemin (spleen) also out a minimum four weeks, poolies should keep an eye on Anaheim's Sean O'Donnell.

He'll get a fair share of power-play time now.

He's better than a point-per-game performer when healthy but after missing 19 games with an ankle injury Martin Havlat (groin) is on the shelf again.

There's no telling the severity of this injury yet, but Havlat owners - and anyone with Blackhawks, for that matter - should keep their fingers crossed.

Columbus forward Anson Carter (shoulder) picked a bad time to get hurt as he was just starting to turn around a miserable season. We'll see if he can pick it up again in two-three weeks, but poolies should search for a permanent replacement.

Waiver Watch

Considering his inconsistent play, it's quite possible Shane Doan is available as a free agent. He's scored six goals and added five assists in his last eight games so go ahead and grab the Coyote while he's hot.

As a warning, though, he didn't get a single point in his eight games before that. They don't come much streakier than this guy.

In pool terms, it appears Nedved is not dead.

Petr is now alive and well in Edmonton, claimed off waivers from the Flyers last week and immediately thrust into a scoring role with the struggling Oilers.

We won't recommend the 35-year-old centre just yet, but will note

that he scored a power-play goal in his first game and is playing with

fellow Czechs Ales Hemsky and Petr Sykora.

Mike Comrie could be destined for a top spot in the Senators' lineup following his trade from the Coyotes. For now Chris Kelly is filling in nicely for the injured Jason Spezza on the No. 1 line.

The Sharks surprised poolies by cleaning house after New Year's. Winger Steve Bernier and top-scoring defenceman Matt Carle were dispatched to the minors. Reserve them for now - both will be back eventually.

In the meantime, the Sharks activated Ryan Clowe to fill Bernier's spot on the roster. He's been dandy so far, with five goals in his first two games.

The big Newfoundlander is suddenly a rock-solid option for poolies seeking scoring and penalty minutes.


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

Some suggestions on players to watch or watch out for in your hockey pool this week:

Who's Hot

1. G Manny Legace, Blues. He's a wanted man with a 6-2-1 record and three shutouts.

2. C Alexander Steen, Leafs. A future star flickers with six points in two games.

3. D Wade Redden, Senators. Five-point week gets hard-luck d-man moving forward.

4. RW Mike Grier, Sharks. Grinder finishes week with two goals, two assists.

5. C Jeremy Roenick, Coyotes. The whimpering dog bares his teeth and scores four goals.

Who's Not

1. D Marek Zidlicky, Predators. Team's on a roll but he's in the tank: six games, no points.

2. C Alexei Yashin, Islanders. Has nary a point and is minus-4 since Boxing Day.

3. C Robert Lang, Red Wings. A slow-down in Motown produces no goals in 10 games.

4. C Pierre Turgeon, Avalanche. Nothing but doughnuts following Christmas dinner.

5. G Nikolai Khabibulin, Blackhawks. Ten pucks find the net as the Wall crumbles in three losses.


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