Commentary

Icing It Down: Colorado Injury-lanche

Updated: January 7, 2008, 1:58 PM ET
By Tim Kavanagh | Special to ESPN.com

Jan. 7, 1980: The Chrysler Corporation is in such dire straits that the U.S. government legislates to provide a $1.5 billion bailout.

Jan. 7, 2008: With their second future Hall of Famer (Ryan Smyth) downed by long-term injury this season, fans of the Colorado Avalanche are wondering if they'll receive a similar bailout from commissioner Gary Bettman. Read below for the gory details.

It's Business Time
Henrik Zetterberg, LW, Red Wings: That large gust of hot wind you felt last week was Zetterberg's collective fantasy ownership breathing a sigh of relief after seeing their star back in action. It didn't take long to get back in the swing of things either; Z already has a goal and three assists in three games since returning. Like renowned chef Anthony Bourdain, you should have "no reservations" about putting Henrik back into active duty.

Martin Havlat, RW, Blackhawks: Twenty-seven shifts, including time on the power play and the penalty kill … yeah, I think the groin is good to go, folks. Throw him back in your lineup before something else on his body breaks.

'Tis But a Scratch
Brendan Shanahan, LW, Rangers: Shanahan missed his first game of the season -- that's impressive considering he was born before the first Woodstock festival -- because of a stiff neck that he attributes to a "bad hotel bed." He returned in his next game (Saturday) but was forced out after a second-period knee-to-knee collision with power forward Dustin Penner of the Oilers. It's believed that the injury is not serious, and he was kept off the ice as a precaution, so it's not too risky to keep him active this week.

Matt Cullen, C, Hurricanes: It seems Cullen didn't have a real pleasant holiday season, at least on the ice. A belated Christmas present from Colton Orr, in the form of a forearm shiver, broke Cullen's nose, forcing him to miss two games that week. He returned on New Year's Eve but skated just six shifts, and he was placed on injured reserve shortly thereafter. Along with the broken nose, he appears to have been concussed - not surprising, given the nature of the hit - so he'll take some additional time off to get his head straight. With Cullen usually manning one of the points on the power play, his absence has given some Canes defensemen nice opportunities to pick up points, including recent call-up Casey Borer and veteran Mike Commodore, and also has increased the load for Dennis Seidenberg and Frantisek Kaberle. Upgrade all four gents while Cullen is out.

Patrick O'Sullivan
Noah Graham/NHLI/Getty ImagesPatrick O'Sullivan deserves a "shot" at your roster with Michael Cammalleri out.
Michael Cammalleri, C, Kings: Another week of missed action begged the question: What gives, Senor Cammalleri? The original rib injury is now being called a cartilage strain, which also sounds pretty painful. I mentioned him last week, but it still looks like Patrick O'Sullivan can be had for free off waivers in a number of leagues. He has taken over Cammalleri's spot with Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown, and also has been given increased power-play time.

Brian Pothier, D, Capitals: Already without fellow Massachusetts native Tom Poti, the Caps lost another rear guard when Pothier was smashed into the boards by Boston's Milan Lucic on Thursday night. He's listed as day-to-day because of a head injury. Poti and Pothier have been modestly productive this season in the shadow of Mike Green's breakout campaign, but now might be a decent time to shop around and replace them. A guy like the Senators' Christoph Schubert, available in about half of ESPN leagues, could be a decent addition to round out your roster, considering he plays on the razor-hot Ottawa power play. He also has a plus-7 on the season. After a seven-game pointless streak in December, he has started off January on the right foot, with two points in three games.

Lights Out
Ryan Smyth, LW, Avalanche: After missing 10 days of action earlier in December, Smyth fractured his ankle on New Year's Eve and is out for eight weeks. This is another devastating body blow to Colorado, a team that also is without Joe Sakic. This will put much more pressure on the guys who have been moved up into the top six: Marek Svatos and Jaroslav Hlinka (try to say those two names five times fast). Svatos has responded in January, with two goals on Wednesday and the game winner on Saturday, and he is widely available, with his ESPN ownership at around 12 percent.

Jonathan Toews, C, Blackhawks: New Year's Day brought an embarrassing loss to Chicago fans, who watched the Blackhawks get smoked by the Kings 9-2. The worse development was that one of their young stars, the high-scoring Toews, appeared to wreck his knee in the contest. Fortunately, an MRI showed no tear; it is just an MCL sprain. But the injury will keep the youngster out for about four weeks, so IR him accordingly. Call-up Kris Versteeg, is the add in the short term. He is an electric player who will be leaned on to contribute from one of the top two lines while Toews is out.

Joffrey Lupul, RW, Flyers: I think Derian Hatcher should be jailed. After trying to eat Travis Zajac's finger on Friday night in the Flyers' loss to New Jersey, he thought he'd follow that up with another trick. In Saturday's game against Toronto, he careened into his teammate, breakout sensation Lupul, concussing the poor youngster and bruising his spinal cord in the process. Lupul will miss at least two weeks. Clearly, Hatcher needs to be stopped before he takes out another fantasy-relevant player. In order to replace Lupul, many of the guys with similar stats are close to 100 percent ownership. However, if you can afford to sacrifice plus-minus a bit, Mike Comrie is available in many leagues and has eight points in his past six games.

Tim Kavanagh is a fantasy hockey analyst for ESPN.com.

Tim Kavanagh

Fantasy and Insider
Tim Kavanagh is an associate editor for ESPN Fantasy and Insider, with specific responsibility for NHL and fantasy hockey coverage in addition to other sports.

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