Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sheet Player News (Mar. 25)

The Colorado Avalanche welcomed forward Chuck Kobasew back to their line-up on Saturday night against the Canucks, but there had to be a body coming out of the line-up to make everything okay and that was Box 6 forward Peter Mueller, who was out as a healthy scratch. The Avalanche are still in the middle of the Western Conference playoff hunt and they felt that Kobasew was ready to come back from a back injury to help the team win, but they were unable to pull out 2 points against the Canucks, losing in overtime to the division champions.

Another major return to the line-up on Saturday, as the Red Wings got their captain Nicklas Lidstrom back in the line-up on Saturday night for their game against the Hurricanes and it was young defenseman Brendan Smith who came out as a healthy scratch. Well, the Red Wings obviously felt that they were unable to give Smith any more quality minutes for his development, so the team sent him down to Grand Rapids of the AHL, likely to finish the regular season out. The Griffins don't appear to be playoff bound, but Smith should get some minutes there, as he'll be a black ace for the Red Wings during the playoff push.

The Minnesota Wild are nearing the end of their rope in the Western Conference playoff picture, now sitting one game out of being completely eliminated from playoff contention and poised to play the Capitals on Sunday afternoon.  The Wild will be doing so without Matt Cullen, who is now out indefinitely with a broken finger, which will likely finish his regular season, seeing as though there is only two weeks left to go in it.  Cullen has 35 points in 73 games this season for the Wild, which is somewhat disappointing, but the team around him did let him down, especially as they fell from top spot in the West this season.

It was a first for the season, as the Nashville Predators scratched forward Jordin Tootoo, as the team played the Winnipeg Jets.  Tootoo should be able to draw back into the line-up on Sunday, when the team takes on the Blackhawks.  This didn't sound like it was more than possibly a resting night for Tootoo, who should be playing a strong role for the team when the playoffs come around.  Tootoo hasn't been a part of any of the regular season pools this year, but he is in what I like to call the X-factor box, Box 7 in the Western Conference half of the sheet.  I would imagine he could be a popular player this year.

A couple of healthy scratches for the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night, as both Box 30 defenseman Matt Gilroy and Box 32 goaltender Alex Auld were both held out of the game against the Penguins. Gilroy has not been able to make an impact with the Senators since his arrival from Tampa Bay at the trade deadline, while Auld was the third goalie on the roster, behind a healthy Craig Anderson and Ben Bishop. With Bishop getting hurt on Saturday night, this will likely mean that Auld will fill back in as the team's back-up going forward.

Playoff pool player news, as Matt Niskanen, the Box 22 defenseman for the Pittsburgh Penguins, was knocked out of Thursday's game against the Predators and he was held out of Saturday's contest against the Senators with an upper-body injury.  The injury is thought to be minor and he is currently listed as out day-to-day, but I don't think the team would be in too much of a rush to get him back in the line-up.  The Penguins are in the race for 1st overall in the Eastern Conference with the Rangers, but Niskanen likely isn't going to tip the scales in one direction or the other.

An upper-body injury has sidelined Box 7 forward T.J. Galiardi from the Sharks line-up, not long after the team acquired him from the Colorado Avalanche.  Galiardi has actually been out of the line-up for the last five games and he has only just begun skating.  Galiardi's injury has kept him from being on the playoff pool sheet this year, but if he can be healthy for the playoffs, he could be a helpful piece to the Sharks puzzle... assuming that they make it into the playoffs this year.

The Canucks are currently cycling their defensemen through the line-up a little bit, as Sami Salo drew back into the line-up after a night off in Dallas and was able to play in Colorado for their overtime win.  Coming out of the line-up was Box 30 defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani, who has yet to find his stride with the team.  With the playoffs just around the corner, it looks like Gragnani may turn out to be in the bottom end of the depth chart for the Canucks, so he isn't scheduled to be a big playoff contributor at all.  Once the regular season ends, so does his pool value.

Finally, Eric Fehr has found his way back on the injury/news page again as a healthy scratch for the Winnipeg Jets, as the team played in Nashville on Saturday. Fehr has not been utilized to his fullest extent this season, nor has he really earned the right to be used on a regular basis.  It will be interesting to see if the Jets bring back Fehr for the 2013 season, as he is an unrestricted free agent come July 1st.  Fehr has only figured into 35 games this season for Winnipeg, missing games between injury and healthy scratches, you really begin to wonder about his future with the team.

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