- Tim Kavanagh, Fantasy and Insider
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In three games last week, the Penguins scored 13 goals, a pretty good clip, to say the least. While that has been quite a boon to owners of Evgeni Malkin, Petr Sykora and Ryan Malone, for those saddled with Sidney Crosby, it has been as frustrating as finding out two weeks before your 10th birthday that you were getting a remote-control car, only to have to wait 336 hours to play with it.
The Penguins will have three games this week and next week, and close out the season at Philadelphia on April 6. Will Sid play this week? It seems like we won't know until game time, but he will travel with the team, which is a good sign. For those who must set their lineups for the week, see if you can do without Sid this week, but daily lineup folks, keep your eyes and ears peeled for any hints leading up to the opening faceoff tonight.
On to this past week's new injuries and returns.
It's business time
Zdeno Chara, D, Bruins: Not even the return of Chara could stop the Canadiens from wrapping up a season sweep of the Bruins with the two games last week, but it is mighty encouraging to see what the big guy did in those two games: 24:50 of ice time in the first game back, then 29:47 on Saturday with an assist on Marc Savard's first-period tally. While the Bruins hope to claw their way into a playoff spot, Chara will be an indispensable fantasy asset for these last two weeks of the season.
Pascal Leclaire, G, Blue Jackets: Leclaire undertook a battery of neurological tests on Sunday, the last step in making his return after sustaining a concussion. Unfortunately, as was noted in this week's Fantasy Forecaster article, the Jackets face two razor-hot offenses twice each this week in the Blackhawks and the Predators. The last time the Jackets took on the Hawks, on March 14, the Chicagoans put three goals past Leclaire on a mere six shots, and he was chased after just 13 minutes. There's probably a better option out there during this oh-so-important time.
'Tis but a scratch
Robert Lang, C, Blackhawks: After skating just seven shifts in the Saturday matinee in Nashville, Lang retired to the locker room with a sore back, pain that prevented him from taking part in Sunday's game as well. The injury comes at a bad time, considering he had been on a three-game scoring streak, with a goal and three assists during that span. The Blackhawks have only two games this week, so it's best to find another option with Lang's back issues still up in the air as of right now.
Scott Gomez, C, Rangers: After crashing into the boards during Friday's game, the initial prognosis was two broken ribs for Gomez. However, after further analysis by team doctors on Saturday, there is no structural damage and the injury has been downgraded to a bruised chest area. While Gomez's status is still unknown for Tuesday's game against Philly, he likely will be in the lineup when the Rangers host the rival Devils on Thursday night.
Rick DiPietro, G, Islanders: Hip surgery has ended the season for the Isles' franchise goalie, after the notoriously hardheaded netminder played through the pain after first injuring himself during the All-Star skills competition. That leaves the Islanders with Wade Dubielewicz or Joey MacDonald in net for the remainder of the team's six games. Dubie had a nice performance on Friday against the Devils, surrendering just one goal, while Mac fared not quite as well in letting up four on Sunday against the Flyers. This week is not a week to play either gent, because they will face the Penguins twice before hosting the Flyers on Saturday.
Tim Connolly, C, Sabres: The man who led the early-season charge for the Sabres has been shut down for the year to fix a creaky hip. The surgery will attempt to remove bone chips from the affected joint, and Connolly will face 10 weeks of rehab. The good news is that he is still fairly young (just 26 as of today) so a full recovery is expected for next season, when he will look to build upon his 40 points in 48 games played during this injury-plagued campaign.
Mike Komisarek, D, Canadiens: The West Islip, N.Y., native contributed nearly equivalent stats this season compared to last, providing modest point production with triple-digit penalty minutes, but he will miss the rest of the regular season due to a lower-body injury sustained in Thursday's game against the Bruins. Some nice options if you need to replace the penalty minutes are Calgary's Cory Sarich, Edmonton's Steve Staios and Columbus' Ole-Kristian Tollefsen. All three are nearly universally available, and all will play four games this week.
Tim Kavanagh is a fantasy hockey analyst for ESPN.com.