HALAKLUSTER NO MORE?
Monday's Daily Dose revolved around Ken Hitchcock's potential influence on the St. Louis Blues. It's silly to read too much into a 3-0 win in which their division foes just didn't look good, but Jaroslav Halak owners had to rejoice after he reduced the Chicago Blackhawks to a goose egg. Halak is the most obvious possible beneficiary of Hitch's influence, so you wouldn't be crazy to give him a shot if you're in need in net. You can really never have too much good goaltending, really, so think about it – and not just for the Halak puns.
(As far as Chris Stewart scoring a goal, my argument is that he finally got a bounce after puck luck frowned upon him for most of this early season. Still, it cannot hurt that the young Blues might get a swift kick in the rear.)
PANTHERS PAW THEIR WAY TO RESPECTABILITY
The Florida Panthers are just one point behind the Capitals in the Southeast Division right now. Let that fact sink in for a minute.
Chances are that there are a lot of skeptical owners out there, but like I keep saying, the lower ranks of your roster are the perfect place to test out potential one-hit wonders. Every now and then a "hot streak" turns into a genuine breakthrough, so why not tab Kris Versteeg or another guy with a half-decent pedigree?
With Jacob Markstrom safely sequestered in the AHL, it might even be (gasp) really wise to pick up Jose Theodore. He said all the right things about mentoring Markstrom, but surely he was motivated to prove that he's the real deal as he stopped 38 out of 39 shots in Florida's win against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Why not go with Theo until he proves doubters (myself admittedly included) right?
It's been a tough month or so for Dustin Penner – and really his whole stay in Los Angeles hasn't been too rosy – but he notched two assists last night. Once the obligatory "Penner has more points than Goalie X" jokes die down, you might be wise to at least put him on your watch list.
WINNING HIS JOB BACKSTROM
Josh Harding has been lights out but Niklas Backstrom probably shifted a lot of the power back in his direction with a 41-save shutout against the Calgary Flames. It basically gives the Minnesota Wild the delightful issue of choosing between two capable goalies, which might cause some not-so-delightful issues for fantasy owners. Backstrom's hefty salary should create a bit of a "glass ceiling" for Harding, though, so be warned about investing too much on him.