Saturday shooting spree (Biron, Niittymaki, Rinne, Ellis, Sullivan, Legwand, Knuble, Huet, Niemi, Khabibulin, Thomas, Fernandez, Kessel, Krejci, Recchi, Bolland)

Expect the worst from Philadelphia Flyers goalie Antero Niittymaki in tonight's home game vs. the torrid Nashville Predators. If he plays, that is.

Expect the worst from Philadelphia Flyers goalie Antero Niittymaki (or teammate Martin Biron) in tonight's home game vs. the torrid Nashville Predators.

1. Nashville Predators at Philadelphia Flyers, 7:00pm ET. In their last five games, the Predators (who have won six straight) have scored 27 goals (five, four, eight, six and four respectively). The Flyers have surrendered three or more goals in five of their last seven.

I’m going out on a limb: today’s contest will be high-scoring, the fantasy equivalent of a “smoke ’em if you got ’em.” If you own Flyers goalies Martin Biron/Antero Niittymaki or Predators goalies Pekka Rinne/Dan Ellis, bench them.

Conversely, you should start any fringe offensive players involved in this game: Predators LW Steve Sullivan or C David Legwand, plus Flyers RW Mike Knuble (who, as we detailed yesterday, is one of the NHL’s best goal-scorers at home).

2. Chicago Blackhawks at Boston Bruins, 1:00pm ET. I believe the Bruins will snap their offensive slump today, and here’s why: the Blackhawks goalies are unreliable. Yes, starter Cristobal Huet has improved since co-starter Nikolai Khabibulin (groin) went on injured reserve. However, we’re talking about the same Huet who — while impressive in a 3-2 win vs. Anaheim on March 3 — got scorched at Nashville (five goals allowed) and vs. Pittsburgh (four goals allowed) the week prior.

Huet’s backup for the moment, rookie Antti Niemi, has looked good, stopping 22 of 24 in a 4-2 win vs. Los Angeles on March 1. Still, I don’t trust either Huet or Niemi on the road — in an early-afternoon game — facing a pissed-off Bruins squad that shat the bed at home on March 5 vs. the post-trade-deadline depleted Phoenix Coyotes.

That said, I would also bench Bruins goalies Tim Thomas/Manny Fernandez for today’s tilt. The Blackhawks have scored 14 goals in their last four games. In addition, they have scored three or more goals in eight of their last nine.

By contrast, today should be a great chance for Bruins C David Krejci (one point in his last seven games) and LW Phil Kessel (three points in his last 12 games) to break out. Also, expect newcomer RW Mark Recchi to tally a point or two. On the Blackhawks side, aside from the usual suspects, I’d pay attention to C Dave Bolland, who has scored in four straight and is +22 for the season.

photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons


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