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Fantasy Hockey Notebook

A cheat sheet for fantasy hockey players.

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Oct. 20/03-

It’s a little early to draw meaningful conclusions from the NHL scoring statistics (when Yanic Perreault has as many goals as Marian Hossa, you know it’s early). But any hockey player – not to mention any fantasy hockey player - would rather have a good start than a lousy one. So the following numbers represent a start. Nothing more. Nothing less, either.

You May Have Overlooked:

Marek Zidlicky, defenseman, Nashville Predators.
2 goals-4 assists in 5 games.

Who? Zidlicky, 26, arrived from the Finnish league, where he was a top-scoring defenseman for several years. He’s small, so he might wear down as the games pile up. But he obviously has a touch with the puck. It will be interesting to see how he fares as the Predators play more games on the road.

Mike Ribeiro, forward, Montreal Canadiens.
3 goals-2 assists in 5 games.

With 292 points in two seasons of junior hockey, he was supposed to bring a natural scoring touch to Montreal in 1999. But Ribeiro has had trouble staying in the lineup, until now. The Canadiens are playing over their heads right now, and everyone on the team is scoring. But even when the team slides back to its level, Ribeiro might still be on his way to a breakthrough season.

Mike Van Ryn, defenseman, Florida Panthers.
1 goal-2 assists in 5 games.

Van Ryn had a promising rookie season in St. Louis two years ago. The Panthers, obviously thrilled to have him in their defensively challenged lineup, are giving him lots of ice time and power play work. He should be a reliable, if unspectacular, point producer.

Derek Armstrong, forward, Los Angeles Kings.
1 goal-1 assist in 5 games.

Called him the Kings’ best player in training camp by coach Andy Murray, Armstrong currently centers the second line. He looked very good in a 4-3 comeback win over Ottawa last week. Armstrong will drop down the depth chart when Jason Allison returns, but he’s a good addition if you need someone who plays regularly and scores a little.

Andreas Johansson, forward, Nashville Predators.
2 goals-2 assist in 4 games.

Okay, so one of his goals was into an empty net. They all count. Johansson, who played for seven NHL teams by the time he turned 30 last spring, had 37 points in 56 games last season. So if he can stay healthy for a full year…

Keep An Eye On:

Jarome Iginla, Craig Conroy, Dean McAmmond, forwards, Calgary Flames.
The Flames’ reunited top line has been unable to recapture the old 2001-02 magic. They don’t have a single point after four games, and were broken up for much of Saturday’s 2-0 loss to Buffalo.

Stu Barnes, forward, Dallas Stars.
He’s scoring big on a line with Jason Arnott and Brenden Morrow, with 5 goals in 6 games. Can he maintain the pace – or something close to it - for a career year?

Andy MacDonald, forward, Anaheim Mighty Ducks.
Finally shaking off post-concussion symptoms, MacDonald played his first hockey since February last weekend. He spent most of the last two games skating with Sergei Fedorov and Petr Sykora. Nothing to show for it yet, but he’s creating chances.

Marion Gaborik, forward, Minnesota Wild.
Gaborik returned to Minnesota last week, raising hopes that his contract impasse might finally be resolved. The team needs him badly.

Brian Boucher, Zac Bierk, goaltenders, Phoenix Coyotes.
The rumors suggest Phoenix will trade star goaltender Sean Burke. But after allowing five goals on 31 shots in his only start so far, Boucher has yet to show he can handle the starting job. Bierk has not played yet, but his chance could be coming soon.

In The Crease:

Has Felix Potvin already lost the starting job in Boston? Potvin lasted 40 minutes in his second start, a 5-1 loss to Tampa Bay. Andrew Raycroft took over for a 1-1 tie against Florida (35 saves), a 2-0 shutout of Dallas (27 saves), and a 4-3 OT win over Anaheim (26 saves).

Has Rick Dipietro finally blossomed into a star for the Islanders? Or is he just making the most of a favorable schedule? Dipietro took over after Garth Snow was shelled for six goals in an opening night loss to Washington. So far he's 2-0-1 with a shutout and only three goals allowed, in games against Buffalo, Atlanta and Florida. Check and see how he does Monday night against Toronto, if he gets the start.

Jeff Hackett began life as a Philadelphia Flyer with two shutouts in two games. He was nailed for four goals in his third game, but still won 5-4.

The NHL’s busiest goaltender is picking up where he left off last season. Roberto Luongo of the Florida Panthers has faced 182 shots in five games, by far the most of anyone in the league. How long can he maintain a .956 save percentage and 1.56 goals-against average in the face of such a barrage?

Jose Theodore is doing everything right so far in Montreal.

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