Mike Finewax

The Week Ahead

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Are the Thrashers headed North

Friday, March 04, 2011



DETROIT

Games this week
vs. Los Angeles, vs. Edmonton, @ St. Louis

Notes
The Red Wings play three games in four nights so look for Chris Osgood, who is scheduled to return on March 9, to play once in place of Jimmy Howard. The Red Wings will be tired on Saturday when they play St. Louis after playing the Oilers the previous night. The Red Wings sat tight at the trade deadline. Johan Franzen has gone 14 games without a goal but is the proud papa of a new son. Mike Modano returned to action after a 41 game absence due to a cut tendon in his wrist.

EDMONTON

Games this week
@ Philadelphia, @ Washington, @ Detroit, @ Pittsburgh

Notes
The Oilers play all four games on the road, including three games in four nights so look for Nikolai Khabibulin to return to action and play at least once in place of Devan Dubnyk. The Oilers are tired on Wednesday when they are in Washington after playing the Flyers in Philadelphia on Tuesday. They are rested on Sunday when they face the Penguins who play Montreal the night before. Ales Hemsky is hurt again and could be out the rest of the season so the Oilers revamped their top two lines as Taylor Hall will play with Shawn Horcoff and Jordan Eberle, while Magnus Paajarvi will line up with Sam Gagner and Linus Omark on the second line. They picked up prospect Colton Teubert at the deadline when they dealt top six forward Dustin Penner to the Kings.

FLORIDA

Games this week
vs. Chicago, vs. Ottawa, vs. Tampa Bay

Notes
The Panthers are rested when they take on the tired Lightning on Sunday as Tampa Bay at home to Ottawa on Saturday. The Panthers hit the midway mark of their seven game home stand against the Lightning as well. They picked up Sergei Samsonov, Evan Oberg, Pat Rissmiller, Niclas Bergfors and Jake Hauswirth in four deals. Jack Skille is likely gone for the season with a high ankle sprain as is Rostislav Olesz with a knee injury.

LOS ANGELES

Games this week
vs. Dallas, @ Detroit, @ Columbus, @ Dallas

Notes
The Kings play four times this week but not three in four nights. Expect to see Jonathan Bernier at least once for Jon Quick. The Kings made the blockbuster trade of the deadline when they acquired Dustin Penner from the Oilers on Monday. Los Angeles plays the Stars twice this week so look for Kyle Clifford and Kevin Westgarth to add to their penalty minute totals. Justin Williams has 20 goals and 49 points and the Kings rewarded him with a four-year extension worth $14.6 million.

MINNESOTA

Games this week
vs. Colorado, @ Nashville, @ Dallas

Notes
Minnesota play three games in four nights so look for Jose Theodore and Niklas Backstrom to share the net. The Wild are tired on Friday when they face the Stars after playing Nashville the previous night. The Wild did very little at the deadline trading Anton Khudobin for a couple of minor leaguers in Jeff Penner and Mikko Lehtonen. Mikko Koivu has resumed skating after suffering a broken finger but is likely a couple of weeks away from starting.

MONTREAL

Games this week
vs. Boston, @ St. Louis, @ Pittsburgh

Notes
The Canadiens are rested when they take on St. Louis on Thursday as the Blues are in Columbus the previous night. Coach Jacques Martin is not happy with his defensemen on the point during the power play so do not be surprised to see Tomas Plekanec play there. The Habs did little at the deadline as they picked up a depth goalie in Drew MacIntyre. Jaroslav Spacek will miss four-six weeks after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery.

NASHVILLE

Games this week
@ San Jose, vs. Minnesota, vs. Colorado

Notes
The Predators are rested when they take on Colorado on Saturday as the Avs have to travel 1,021 miles from Denver where they meet Anaheim on Friday. Pekka Rinne has played in 19 of the Predators last 20 games and is in line to play the rest of the way as long as Nashville is in playoff contention or has finally clinched a playoff spot. Steve Sullivan could return by the middle of March. Wade Belak has been sent to the minors and it looks like he may spend the rest of the season with Milwaukee. Ryan Suter leads the Predators with a plus-21 rating and is tied with Shea Weber with 13 power play points.

NEW JERSEY

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

Notes
The Devils continue to make the most amazing push towards the playoffs. Heading into a January 9th date with the Lightning, New Jersey was 10-29-2 and firmly ensconced in the Eastern Conference basement. Since then, the Jacques Lemaire led squad, are 18-2-2 and are only 10 points out of the eighth and final playoff spot with three games in hand. If they are able to make the playoffs, it will be a better comeback than the 1951 New York Giants. Zach Parise skated by himself for the first time on Thursday since knee surgery on November 2. The Devils traded away Jason Arnott at the deadline and received Dave Steckel in return.

NEW YORK ISLANDERS

Games this week
vs. Toronto, vs. Boston, @ New Jersey

Notes
The Islanders are rested on Friday when they play a tired Boston team as the Bruins are home to Buffalo on Thursday. Trevor Gillies obviously did not go to an Ivy League school. In his first game back after serving a nine game suspension for elbowing Eric Tangradi in a fight filled game against the Penguins on Feb. 11, he collided the Wild's Cal Clutterbuck on a very questionable hit and will go in front of the NHL's disciplinary committee on Friday, with another lengthy suspension likely. Al Montoya is 4-2-1 since his trade from Phoenix and has given the Islanders solid netminding. The Islanders did nothing on trade deadline day Monday.

NEW YORK RANGERS

Games this week
@ Anaheim, @ San Jose

Notes
The Rangers play only twice this week so we recommend benching all your Rangers, if you can, especially since Marian Gaborik is out with a concussion injury. He could be back this week, but you never know with concussions. The Rangers are reeling and are in danger of falling out of playoffs as they are currently in the eighth and final spot. Martin Biron broke his collarbone in practice on Monday and is likely out for the rest of the regular season. The Rangers recalled Cameron Talbot in his place but look for Henrik Lundqvist to play the rest of the way. The Rangers only picked up minor leaguer John Mitchell at the deadline despite all the Brad Richards rumors, although they did get Bryan McCabe on Saturday.

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



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