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NHL Hockey Column: The Week Ahead

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February 15, 2013
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Islanders play Five Games!

Mike Finewax
Senior Writer, Rotoworld.com

This is a weird week in the NHL as the New York Islanders play five times while five teams (Anaheim, Boston, Dallas, Minnesota and Washington) play only twice. If you are in pools that allow only weekly moves, you can get a big break playing your Islanders.

 

In addition, there are 15 teams that play four games this week so if you own a lot of players on the NHL teams that play only twice, you could be in trouble this week.

 

I had a great time on Google+Hangout on February 14th, with Matt Cubeta, Pete Jensen, Chris Foster and Brian Metzer all of NHL.com for our regular fantasy chat which takes place every other Thursday. You can watch it by clicking here.

 

Don’t forget to purchase Season Pass and while you’re at it, it’s not too late to play Yahoo! hockey.

 

Now to The Week Ahead.

 

WEEK OF FEBRUARY 18-24

 

5 Games - New York Islanders

 

4 Games – Calgary, Carolina, Colorado, Columbus, Detroit, Florida, Montreal, Nashville, New Jersey, Ottawa, Philadelphia, Tampa Bay, Toronto,  Vancouver, Winnipeg

 

3 Games – Buffalo, Chicago, Edmonton, Los Angeles, New York Rangers, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, San Jose

 

2 Games - Anaheim, Boston, Dallas, Minnesota, Washington

 

 

Columbus, Vancouver and Winnipeg play all four games on the road.

 

Calgary, Chicago, Detroit, Edmonton, Ottawa and Pittsburgh play three games at home this week.

 

New York Islanders, San Jose and Toronto play three games on the road.

 

Follow me on twitter!

 

INJURIES

 

Erik Karlsson suffered a lacerated Achilles tendon and will be out of action three-four months after surgery to repair the damage.

 

 (Click here to see the rest of the injury list.)

 

 

ANAHEIM

 

Games this week

vs. Columbus, vs. Colorado

 

Notes

The Ducks only play twice this week and are the rested team Sunday at home against the Avalanche who face the Kings Saturday. Jonas Hiller (lower body) is expected to return this week and will likely split goaltending duties with Viktor Fasth. Ben Lovejoy has two points in three games but will likely lose his power play time to Cam Fowler once Fowler returns to action from an upper body injury. Hopefully it will be this week. Corey Perry is off to a slow start but do not lose faith in the winger as he has only a goal and six points in 12 games.

 

BOSTON

 

Games this week

@ Tampa Bay, @ Florida

 

Notes

The Bruins only play twice this week and both are in Florida so at least they will be warm.  Dougie Hamilton has four assists in 11 games and is minus-three on the season and has not picked up a point in his last six games. Brad Marchand has seven goals on only 16 shots in 10 games. Shawn Thornton finally returned to the lineup after suffering a concussion early in the season and he is worth picking up in pools that have penalty minutes as a category.  Tuukka Rask is 6-1-2 with a 2.07 GAA and a .919 save percentage. Tyler Seguin is off to a slow start with only two goals on 34 shots, and six points in 11 games, although he is a plus-eight.

 

BUFFALO

 

Games this week

vs. Winnipeg, @ Toronto, vs. New York Islanders

 

Notes

It’s been tough sledding for Tyler Myers who was a healthy scratch twice in the last week. After an outstanding rookie season with 11 goals and 48 points he regressed slightly in his sophomore season with 37 points. Last season he had 23 points, albeit in only 55 games but the regression has continued this season as he is minus-nine in 12 games with only one point. Tyler Ennis has five goals and 10 points in 14 games this season. Patrick Kaleta returned to action after missing five games with a neck injury. He is someone else you can look at if you need penalty minutes.

 

CALGARY

 

Games this week

@ Phoenix, vs. Los Angeles, vs. Minnesota, vs. Phoenix

 

Notes

The Flames are tired on Monday in Phoenix after playing in Dallas Sunday. They face the Coyotes twice this week so tempers could flare. Look for Steve Begin and Tim Jackman to add to their penalty minute totals. Calgary will be rested on Wednesday when they take on the tired Kings who are in Edmonton Tuesday. Michael Cammalleri has seven points in his last two games but missed three games with a hip flexor in between a three point and a four point game. Miikka Kiprusoff will miss two more weeks with a slight grade 2 MCL sprain. The Flames claimed Joey MacDonald off waivers from Detroit to back up Leland Irving during Kiprusoff’s absence.

 

CAROLINA

 

Games this week

@ Montreal, vs. Winnipeg, vs. Tampa Bay, @ New York Islanders

 

Notes

The Hurricanes play three games in four nights as part of a four game week. Expect to see Cam Ward play thrice with Dan Ellis getting one start. The Hurricanes are hurting on the blueline with Joni Pitkanen and Tim Gleason both banged up.  Jussi Jokinen has been a huge disappointment this season with only two goals and three points this season.  Alexander Semin is off to a very good start with three goals and 10 points in 13 games and a plus-11 rating.  Eric Staal was the worst plus/minus in the early going last season but is now leading the NHL at plus-12. Jiri Tlusty has five goals and seven points in his last four games and is plus-10.   

             

CHICAGO

 

Games this week

vs. Vancouver, vs. San Jose, vs. Columbus

 

Notes
The Blackhawks are rested Sunday against the Blue Jackets who play in St. Louis Saturday. The Blackhawks have gone 13 games without losing in regulation time and are three games away from tying the record set by the 2006-07 Anaheim Ducks to start the season. Daniel Carcillo is close to returning to action after suffering a knee injury on opening night but he likely has lost his spot on the top line as rookie Brandon Saad has played well in his absence. Corey Crawford has put his poor sophomore season behind him and is now 7-0-3 this season with a sizzling 1.65 GAA and .935 save percentage. Patrick Kane has seven goals and 20 points in 13 games and trails only Thomas Vanek in the points race.

 

COLORADO

 

Games this week

vs. Nashville, vs. St. Louis, @ Los Angeles, @ Anaheim

 

Notes

The Avalanche are rested Wednesday when they face the Blues as St. Louis entertain the Sharks Tuesday. Colorado is the tired team on Sunday in Anaheim after facing the Kings Saturday. It’s unfortunate, but it appears that restricted free agent Ryan O'Reilly will not re-sign with the Avalanche and is likely to be dealt elsewhere. Gabriel Landeskog is still out with a concussion and there is no current timetable for his return. The Avs seem snake-bitten injury-wise as they have now lost Erik Johnson with a head injury suffered Monday. He is out indefinitely. P. A. Parenteau leads the Avalanche in goals with seven in 12 games.

 

COLUMBUS

 

Games this week

@ Anaheim, @ Detroit, @ St. Louis, @ Chicago

 

Notes

The Blue Jackets play all four on the road and play three games in four nets so you have to expect that the Blue Jackets will split the net between Sergei Bobrovsky and Steve Mason. Columbus fired general manager Scott Howson and replaced him with Jarmo Kekalainen, the first European to become an NHL GM. Congratulations to Jarmo. The Blue Jackets are the tired team on Sunday in Chicago as they play in St. Louis Saturday. Jared Boll had the 120th fighting major on Tuesday and is now the all-time leader in Columbus Blue Jackets history, one ahead of Jody Shelley.  Look for Brandon Dubinsky to be named the next captain of the Blue Jackets.

 

 

DALLAS

 

Games this week

vs. Vancouver, vs. San Jose   

 

Notes

The Stars are rested Saturday when they host San Jose who are in Chicago the previous night. Jamie Benn is back with a flourish as he was the NHL’s second star of the week with four goals and six points in three games. Loui Eriksson is not off to the best start of his career with only four goals and seven points in 14 games. He had only six games last season where he failed to put a shot on net but has had five such games thus far. Brenden Morrow has five points in his last five games after starting the season with only two assists in his first nine games.

 

DETROIT

 

Games this week

@ Nashville, vs. Columbus, vs. Nashville, vs. Vancouver

 

Notes

The Red Wings play three games in four nights this week and expect to see Peter Mrazek in goal once in place of Jimmy Howard. They are the rested team twice this week as they take on Nashville Tuesday after the Predators are in Colorado Monday and it happens again on Saturday as the Predators are playing Vancouver Friday. The Red Wings are the tired team Sunday when they host the Canucks. As previously mentioned, the Wings play the Predators twice this week so look for Jordin Tootoo, the former Pred, to add to his penalty minute count. Johan Franzen is day-to-day with a hip injury. Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek had given up only four goals in three games before giving up four in an overtime loss on Wednesday.

 

EDMONTON

 

Games this week

vs. Los Angeles, vs. Minnesota, vs. Phoenix

 

Notes

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has not scored in his last 24 NHL games. Both Ryan Smyth and Ryan Whitney have been healthy scratches this past week and while Smyth did not say much, Whitney is frustrated with his lack of playing time. Taylor Hall has 12 points in 13 games this season. Ryan Jones is still a few weeks away from returning to action after taking a puck to his eye training before the lockout ended. Now that we are finished talking about all the Ryans that are members of the Oilers, Nail Yakupov has five goals and three assists in 13 games but is pointless in his last three.

 

FLORIDA

 

Games this week

vs. Toronto, @ Philadelphia, @ Pittsburgh, vs. Boston

 

Notes

The Panthers play three games in four nights so you have to think that Scott Clemmensen will get into at least one game in place of Jose Theodore. The Panthers are rested Thursday when they face the Flyers who take on Pittsburgh Wednesday and Florida will be tired the next day in Pittsburgh. Peter Mueller played alongside Drew Shore and Jonathan Huberdeau on Wednesday and the troika combined for three goals and six points. There is an uproar in Florida to recall Jakub Markstrom and give him the starting gig but coach Kevin Dineen is staying the course with Jose Theodore and Scott Clemmensen. Kris Versteeg is out with an upper body injury.

 

LOS ANGELES

 

Games this week

@ Edmonton, @ Calgary, vs. Colorado

 

Notes

The Kings are the tired team on Wednesday in Calgary after playing in Edmonton the night before.  As I stated last week, Slava Voynov has been outperforming Drew Doughty and it continued this past week as Voynov is now up to six points in 11 games including five in his last five and is a plus-seven while Doughty is a minus-10, the worst in the NHL and has only four assists this season. The Kings are hurting on the blueline as Willie Mitchell could be out for the remainder of the season with his knee woes while Alec Martinez is out with an upper body injury. Don’t forget that the Kings lost Matt Greene earlier with a back injury that should keep him on the shelf for the rest of the regular season.

 

MINNESOTA

 

Games this week

@ Edmonton, @ Calgary

 

Notes

The Wild only play twice this week with both games in the province of Alberta. After picking up just two assists in nine games, Devin Setoguchi has two goals and an assist in his last three games with both goals coming on the power play. If you are in a keeper pool, it may be a good time to buy low on Mikael Granlund who has only five points in 13 games. He is going to be a stud but is currently struggling as a rookie. Dany Heatley moved back to the top line on Tuesday, alongside Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise. Heatley had gone eight games without a point but picked up a couple of assists Thursday against the Avs.

 

MONTREAL

           

Games this week

vs. Carolina, @ New York Rangers, vs. New York Islanders, vs. New York Rangers

 

Notes

The Canadiens are the tired team Tuesday when they are in New York to take on the Rangers after playing at home on Monday against the Hurricanes. Montreal plays the Rangers twice this week so look for Brandon Prust to go after his former teammates and pick up some penalty minutes. The Habs play three games in four nights so look for Peter Budaj to get one start in place of Carey Price. Fantasy fans cannot complain about the start of P.K. Subban who has six points including three goals since returning seven games ago. Tomas Plekanec leads the Habs with six goals and 11 points while Max Pacioretty has been held goalless this season but does have six assists.

 

NASHVILLE

 

Games this week

@ Colorado, vs. Detroit, vs. Vancouver, @ Detroit

 

Notes

The Predators are the tired team twice this week while getting a break as the rested team once. They are tired both times they face the Red Wings, once after facing Colorado and then Saturday after playing Vancouver. They are rested Friday when they take on Vancouver who play in Dallas Thursday. The Predators face the Red Wings twice, so Richard Clune should be able to add to his penalty minute totals. Colin Wilson leads the Predators with eight points thus far. Patrick Hornqvist could return by the end of the week after suffering a knee injury on January 26. Mike Fisher has a goal and an assist in the last 12 games.

 

NEW JERSEY

 

Games this week

vs. Ottawa, @ Washington, @ Washington, vs. Winnipeg

 

Notes

The Devils play three games in four nights so you have to expect that Johan Hedberg will play once in place of Martin Brodeur. The Devils play back-to-back games in Washington this week and expect to see Krys Barch and David Clarkson engage in fisticuffs with some members of the Capitals.  Dainius Zubrus is out four-six weeks after wrist surgery. The Devils re-acquired Alexei Ponikarovsky and sent Andrei Loktionov to the minors after a quick recall. Ilya Kovalchuk has three goals and six points in his last four games as he is breaking loose after an early season slump. After scoring a goal in his first two games of the season, Travis Zajac has only one assist in his last 11 games.

 

 

NEW YORK ISLANDERS

 

Games this week

vs. Philadelphia, @ Ottawa, @ Montreal, @ Buffalo, vs. Carolina

 

Notes

New York plays five games this week so I suggest keeping all your Islanders in the lineup. Evgeni Nabokov will likely play at least three games with Rick DiPietro seeing the rest of the action. John Tavares is hot as he has eight goals this season including one in each of his last four games. Joshua Bailey returned to action for the first time this season after suffering a knee injury in Europe during the lockout. Lubomir Visnovsky has returned to action after staying in the Czech Republic as his son required surgery. He has three assists in three games and should be taken off the waiver wire in most pools.

 

NEW YORK RANGERS

 

Games this week

vs. Montreal, @ Ottawa, @ Montreal

 

Notes

The Rangers are rested Tuesday when they face the Canadiens who host Carolina Monday. They play Montreal twice this week and Stu Bickel could return to the lineup after being a healthy scratch the last four games. The newly acquired Darroll Powe could also see his penalty minute total rise. Defenseman Steve Eminger was sent to the minors on a conditioning stint. Ryan Callahan is one of four Rangers with a minus rating and has three goals and an assist in 10 games. Henrik Lundqvist is 6-5 this season with a 2.48 GAA and a .912 save percentage and has turned things around after a slow start as he has given up five goals in his last three games on 88 shots.

 

OTTAWA     

 

Games this week

@ New Jersey, vs. New York Islanders, vs. New York Rangers, vs. Toronto

 

Notes

The Senators play three games in four nights so we will likely see Ben Bishop at least once in place of Craig Anderson. Erik Karlsson will miss three-four months after his Achilles tendon was cut by the skate of Matt Cooke. Hopefully the good news was that it was a clear tear. Kevin Bieksa had a similar injury a couple of years ago (Bieksa’s was severed 90 percent while Karlsson’s Achilles tendon was 70 percent severed) and he returned in just under four months. Mika Zibanejad centered Milan Michalek and Daniel Alfredsson in practice this week but Michalek is now out with a lower body injury. Karlsson and Eric Condra lead the Sens with a plus-six rating.

 

PHILADELPHIA

 

Games this week

@ New York Islanders, @ Pittsburgh, vs. Florida, vs. Winnipeg

 

Notes

The Flyers play three games in four nights this week. Expect to see Brian Boucher play once in favor of Ilya Bryzgalov. Philadelphia will be the tired team on Thursday when they return home after a six game road trip, and start a five game homestand as they face the Florida Panthers after playing in Pittsburgh Wednesday. Scott Hartnell (broken foot) could be back in the lineup as early as Wednesday and ahead of schedule as he was slated to be out four-eight weeks. Wednesday’s game will be just under four weeks so I suggest grabbing him as he is not owned in 16 percent of Yahoo! pools. Brayden Schenn and Jakub Voracek are clicking together on the third line.

 

PHOENIX

 

Games this week

vs. Calgary, @ Edmonton, @ Calgary  

 

Notes

The Coyotes are the rested team when they face Calgary on Monday at home as the Flames are in Dallas Sunday. The Coyotes and Flames face each other twice this week Kyle Chipchura is a chippy player who will likely get involved if there are fisticuffs involved. Paul Bissonnette will also come to the defense of his teammates but he has been a healthy scratch in four of 14 games so his ice time is not guaranteed. Mike Smith has had one terrible outing in February in which he gave up six goals in 35 minutes to the Blackhawks but he has been very good in the other six games, giving up only nine goals including garnering two shutouts so I can recommend him again. Radim Vrbata leads the Coyotes with 11 points.

 

PITTSBURGH

 

Games this week

vs. Philadelphia, vs. Florida, vs. Tampa Bay 

 

Notes

The Penguins are the rested team twice this week, first against the Panthers on Friday when they host Florida after the Panthers are in Philadelphia Thursday, and then on Sunday when they take on Tampa Bay with the Lightning in Carolina Saturday. The Penguins got a couple of defensemen back this past week as Kris Letang and Matt Niskanen were activated off injured reserve. The Zach Boychuk experiment has not worked out as of yet. He was claimed off waivers from Carolina and placed on a line with Evgeni Malkin and James Neal but he is pointless in seven games. The Penguins recalled former first round pick Beau Bennett and he could get a shot to play with Malkin and Neal. He is worth a waiver wire pick up as he can be easily dropped if he fails to play as a top-six forward.

 

ST. LOUIS

 

Games this week

vs. San Jose, @ Colorado, vs. Columbus

 

Notes

The Blues are tired Wednesday as they travel to Colorado after hosting San Jose Tuesday. Vladimir Tarasenko has a ton of talent but it’s tough at times being a rookie in the NHL. He picked up his first point in five games Wednesday but was still a minus player for the fifth consecutive time. After starting the season with five goals and 10 points to go with a plus-six rating in his first eight games, Tarasenko’s stats are now six goals, 11 points and a minus-two rating. Wade Redden was a healthy scratch Wednesday after going minus-seven in his five previous games. The Blues seem to have lost some faith in Brian Elliott as Jake Allen was between the pipes in a 4-1 win on February 13. Jaroslav Halak (groin) had a setback on Monday and will be out at least a week.

 

SAN JOSE

 

Games this week

@ St. Louis, @ Chicago, @ Dallas

 

Notes

The Sharks will be tired on Saturday when they play in Dallas as they end a six-game road trip. They are in Chicago Friday. The Sharks sure are a streaky team. They won their first seven games but have now lost six straight, albeit three have gone past regulation, giving them three extra points. San Jose has only scored twice in the last 236:21 minutes but that will turn around shortly as Logan Couture and Ryan Clowe will get it going. Brent Burns was activated on Feb. 9 and is minus-two in two games. He may take another couple of games to get into game-shape but is worth a pick up on the waiver wire.

 

TAMPA BAY

 

Games this week

vs. Toronto, vs. Boston, @ Carolina, @ Pittsburgh

 

Notes

The Lightning play four times this week including three games in four nights so look for Mathieu Garon to play once in place of Anders Lindback. The Lightning will be rested on Tuesday when they host the Maple Leafs who are in Florida Monday and then are the tired team Sunday in Pittsburgh after playing in Carolina Saturday. Still underrated, Martin St. Louis has 19 points in 13 games. Not bad for a 37-year-old. Victor Hedman is showing the offensive prowess that scouts said he had when he was drafted second overall in 2009. He has four goals and eight points in 12 games and has a plus-10 rating.

 

TORONTO

 

Games this week

@ Florida, @ Tampa Bay, vs. Buffalo, @ Ottawa

 

Notes

The Maple Leafs play three games in four nights. James Reimer (knee) could still be on the sidelines this week, so Ben Scrivens will get most of the starts, although Jussi Rynnas could get a start. The Leafs will be tired Tuesday in Tampa Bay after playing the Panters across the state of Florida Monday.  Reimer suffered a mild MCL sprain and is day-to-day. Matt Frattin needed some minor surgery on his knee and should be out about a week. Nazem Kadri leads the Maple Leafs in points with 12. Phil Kessel would like to sign a long-term deal and finish his career in Toronto.  Grab Cody Franson if you are looking for a scoring defenseman. He has five assists in his last five games and has eight points in 11 contests thus far.

 

VANCOUVER

 

Games this week

@ Chicago, @ Dallas, @ Nashville, @ Detroit

 

Notes

The Canucks play all four on the road and play three games in four nights. Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider will likely split the net this week. The Canucks are tired Friday when they take on the Predators after playing in Dallas Tuesday but get a bit of a break on Sunday as they are rested and face Detroit who host Nashville Saturday. Ryan Kesler is due back on February 15 and he’ll give the Canucks the second line center they have been missing all season. It looks like the career of Manny Malhotra is at an end. He was clipped in the eye with an errant puck on March 16, 2011 and his safety on the ice was a concern because of his eyesight, forcing the Canucks to put him on injured reserve for the rest of the season. David Booth (groin) has been skating hard in practice but there is no timetable for his return.

 

WASHINGTON

 

Games this week

vs. New Jersey, vs. New Jersey

 

Notes

The Capitals play only twice but both games are at home against the Devils. Matt Hendricks will add to his 40 penalty minutes as tempers will eventually flare. Mike Ribeiro continues to shine with 17 points in 14 games, six ahead of Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom who sit second. Ovechkin has turned his game around of late as he had three goals and seven points in five games before being held off the scoreboard by the Lightning Thursday. Brooks Laich (groin) has been given the go-ahead to participate in contact drills in practice. He has yet to play this season. The Capitals have not been getting good goaltending from Braden Holtby and Michal Neuvirth as Holtby has a 3.89 GAA while Neuvirth is at 3.05.

 

WINNIPEG

 

Games this week

@ Buffalo, @ Carolina, @ Philadelphia, @ New Jersey

 

Notes

The Jets play three games in four nights as part of a four game week so expect to see Eddie Pasquale play once in place of Ondrej Pavelec. Al Montoya is week-to-week with a lower body injury. Eric Tangradi is hoping that Winnipeg will be the place that he finally gets a chance to show why the Anaheim Ducks selected him 42nd overall in the 2007 Draft.  The Penguins gave up on him for a seventh round pick. Dustin Byfuglien is back after missing six games with a lower body injury. Tobias Enstrom leads the team with 13 points, two ahead of Blake Wheeler and Andrew Ladd.

Michael Finewax has been covering hockey since 2005 and is the Hockey Editor for Rotoworld. You can follow him on Twitter.

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