Michael Finewax

The Week Ahead

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Playing the Blues

Friday, February 18, 2011



OTTAWA

Games this week
vs. Florida, @ Buffalo, vs. Philadelphia

Notes
The Senators play all three games in four nights so look for Robin Lehner to play at least once in place of Brian Elliott. The Senators are tired on Saturday when they entertain the Flyers as Ottawa play Buffalo on Friday. Chris Phillips says he wants to stay in Ottawa and he may not be traded at the deadline. The Senators have traded Chris Kelly to the Bruins and Jarkko Ruutu to Anaheim this past week. Alexei Kovalev could be traded by the deadline.

PHILADELPHIA

Games this week
vs. Phoenix, vs. New York Islanders, @ Ottawa

Notes
The Flyers are rested on Saturday when they take on the tired Senators in Ottawa. They dealt for Kris Versteeg this past week and only had to give up draft picks. Ville Leino is day-to-day with a lower body injury while Nikolay Zherdev has been a healthy scratch the last three games. Sergei Bobrovsky has given up five goals in his last three games.

PHOENIX

Games this week
@ Philadelphia, @ Tampa Bay, @ Columbus, @ Chicago

Notes
The Coyotes play all four games on the road this week including three games in four nights. Jason LaBarbera is expected to play once in place of Ilya Bryzgalov. The Coyotes will be a tired team on Wednesday when they face the Lightning as Phoenix will play the Flyers on Tuesday evening. Keith Yandle leads all NHL defensemen in points with 50. Ray Whitney is on a five game scoring streak in which he has a goal and eight points.

PITTSBURGH

Games this week
vs. Washington, vs. San Jose, @ Carolina, @ Toronto

Notes
The Penguins play three games in four nights so expect to see Battling Brent Johnson play once for Marc-Andre Fleury. Pittsburgh is rested on Wednesday when they take on San Jose as the Sharks are in Detroit on Tuesday. The tables are reversed for Pittsburgh on Saturday as they play in Carolina on Friday while the Maple Leafs are home and waiting for the Penguins to arrive at the ACC. Sidney Crosby (concussion) is still doing light workouts off the ice and there is no timetable for his return. Eric Godard was suspended 10 games for leaving the bench during the brawl between the Penguins and the Islanders on Feb. 11.

ST. LOUIS

Games this week
vs. Chicago, vs. Colorado, @ Vancouver, @ Edmonton, @ Calgary

Notes
The Blues are the only team to play five games in one week this season as the Colorado match up is the result of a postponement due to weather from Feb.1. They definitely play three games in four nights but with Jaroslav Halak currently on the injured reserve list, look for Ty Conklin and Ben Bishop to split the net if Halak is unable to return. The Blues are a tired team in two games this week, first on Tuesday against the Avs and then on Friday when they take on Edmonton. Believe it or not, the Blues are a rested team on Monday when they take on Chicago as the Blackhawks play Pittsburgh on Sunday. Alex Pietrangelo leads the St. Louis Blues' defensemen with 27 points in 52 games.

SAN JOSE

Games this week
@ Detroit, @ Pittsburgh, @ Calgary

Notes
The Sharks are on the road for all three this week and play all their match ups in four nights so expect to see Antero Niittymaki play once instead of Antti Niemi if Niittymaki is able to return from injury. The Sharks are a tired team on Wednesday when they are in Pittsburgh after playing in Detroit on Tuesday. Joe Pavelski has four goals and 11 points in nine February games while Niemi is 6-2-1 this month.

TAMPA BAY

Games this week
vs. Phoenix, vs. New Jersey, @ New York Rangers

Notes
The Lightning finally end their 12 game home stand this week. They are a rested squad on Wednesday when they host Phoenix as the Coyotes are in Philadelphia the night before. Dwayne Roloson has been weak of late as he has given up 23 goals in his last five games. Do not be surprised if Dan Ellis gets a chance in goal once again. Steve Downie has four goals in his last seven games and still is a huge fantasy asset as he has 25 points in 43 games with 134 penalty minutes. Ryan Malone will be out for the next six-eight weeks with an abdominal-area injury.

TORONTO

Games this week
vs. New York Islanders, @ Montreal, vs. Pittsburgh, @ Atlanta

Notes
The Maple Leafs play four times this week but not three in four nights. The are a rested team on Tuesday when they host the Islanders and on Saturday when they play the Penguins but are tired on Sunday as they face a rested Atlanta squad. The Maple Leafs are hurting in net as they have three goalies currently out of action as Jean-Sebastien Giguere, Jonas Gustavsson and minor-league netminder Jussi Rynnas are all injured. They must rely on rookie James Reimer to carry the load in net this week. Phil Kessel is hot again with three goals in two games. Tomas Kaberle rumors to Boston continue to make the rounds.

VANCOUVER

Games this week
vs. Montreal, vs. St. Louis, vs. Boston

Notes
The Canucks play all three games at home this week. They are having a terrible time on the blueline as injuries have decimated their back end. Alex Edler (back), Dan Hamhuis (concussion), Keith Ballard (knee), Andrew Alberts (wrist) and Kevin Bieksa (foot) are currently out, forcing the Canucks to call up most of their Manitoba Moose rearguards. The Canucks have been getting outstanding goaltending from Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider this season. Daniel Sedin is second in NHL scoring with 74 points.

WASHINGTON

Games this week
@ Pittsburgh, vs. New York Rangers, vs. New York Islanders


Notes
The Capitals are a tired team on Saturday when they face the Islanders as they play the Rangers on Friday. Alex Ovechkin had two points on Thursday and is finally averaging over a point a game once again as he has 60 points in 59 games this season. Alexander Semin has three goals and five points in his last three games. Mike Green has missed the last three games with an ear injury after taking a slapshot to his ear on February 6.

PLAYERS TO LOOK FOR THIS WEEK
Brandon Yip - Avalanche
Rostislav Olesz - Panthers
David Legwand - Predators
Frans Nielsen - Islanders
Scottie Upshall - Coyotes
Vladimir Sobotka - Blues

LAST WEEK'S PLAYERS
This is how the players performed through Thursday
G A PPG +/- PIMS

Nathan Gerbe - Sabres 0 1 0 +1 2
Matt Cullen - Wild 1 0 1 -1 2
Andreas Nodl - Flyers 1 1 0 +1 0
Mikael Samuelsson - Canucks 1 0 0 +1 0
Mathieu Perreault - Capitals 0 0 0 -4 2



Michael Finewax is entering his 10th season as the Senior Hockey Writer and Editor for Rotoworld. You can follow him on Twitter @mfinewaxhockey.
Email :Michael Finewax



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