Mike Finewax

The Week Ahead

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Are the Thrashers headed North

Friday, March 04, 2011



OTTAWA

Games this week
@ New Jersey, @ Florida, @ Tampa Bay, @ Buffalo

Notes
The Senators play four times this week, including three games in four nights so look for Curtis McElhinney to play at least once in place of Craig Anderson. The Senators are tired on Friday when they play a rested Tampa Bay squad after Ottawa is in Florida on Thursday. They are the rested team Sunday in Buffalo as the Sabres return home from playing the Maple Leafs in Toronto on Saturday night. Craig Anderson has been terrific for Ottawa since they acquired him on Feb. 18 from the Avalanche as he has allowed only seven goals on 204 shots in six games. He is 4-2-0 in that stretch. The Senators picked up Curtis McElhinney at the deadline off waivers.

PHILADELPHIA

Games this week
vs. Edmonton, @ Toronto, vs. Atlanta

Notes
The Flyers are rested on Saturday when they take on Atlanta as the Thrashers are home to New Jersey the night before. The Flyers tweaked their team slightly on Monday, picking up Tom Sestito from Columbus for a couple of minor leaguers Greg Moore and Michael Chaput. Daniel Briere has only two goals in his last 13 games. Chris Pronger returned to the lineup on Thursday after missing one game with a hand injury.

PHOENIX

Games this week
vs. Vancouver, vs. Calgary, @ Anaheim

Notes
The Coyotes are rested on Thursday when they entertain the Flames as Calgary are in Dallas the previous night. Phoenix made a great pickup at the deadline in getting Rostislav Klesla from the Blue Jackets, but they had to give up Scottie Upshall and Sami Lepisto in exchange. The sale of the Coyotes to Matthew Hulsizer is in some doubt and it is possible the franchise could leave town and move to Winnipeg. Ray Whitney returned to action this past week after missing three games with a lower body injury.

PITTSBURGH

Games this week
vs. Buffalo, vs. Montreal, vs. Edmonton

Notes
The Penguins are tired on Sunday and play a rested Edmonton team. The Penguins continue to be plagued by injuries as only Kris Letang is healthy player from their top power play unit at the beginning of the season. Chris Kunitz could return by March 6 and that will help. With Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin out of action, the Penguins top line this week is Mark Letestu centering Alexei Kovalev and James Neal. The Penguins were quiet on trade deadline day.

ST. LOUIS

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

Notes
The Blues play four times this week but not three times in four nights. Jaroslav Halak(hand) is expected to return so the Blues will likely not want to risk further injury by playing him all four times so look for Ty Conklin to play as well. St. Louis is tired on Thursday when they take on a rested Montreal squad as they play in Columbus the night before, but the tables are turned as the Blues are rested on Saturday when they are hosting Detroit after the Red Wings are home to the Oilers the previous night. The Blues play a home-and-home series against Columbus this week so look for B.J. Crombeen and David Backes to add to their penalty minutes total. The Blues did nothing on trade deadline day but did call up Chris Porter.

SAN JOSE

Games this week
vs. Nashville, vs. Vancouver, vs. New York Rangers

Notes
The Sharks play all three games at home this week as they end a six game home stand. The Sharks are red hot as they have won eight games in a row and now are in first place in the Pacific division. Antti Niemi has played in 20 straight games and has won 17 of them. The Sharks rewarded the netminder with a four-year contract extension worth $15.2 million. Dan Boyle has missed the last three games with an upper body injury.

TAMPA BAY

Games this week
vs. Washington, vs. Chicago, vs. Ottawa, @ Florida

Notes
The Lightning play three games in four nights so look for Mike Smith to play once in place of Dwayne Roloson. The Lightning get a big break this week as they play three of their four games against tired opponents while playing tired once as they face a rested Florida team on Saturday after playing the Senators on Friday. They are rested and face tired teams when they play Washington, Chicago and Ottawa on Monday, Wednesday and Friday respectively. The Lightning were quiet at the deadline.

TORONTO

Games this week
@ New York Islanders, vs. Philadelphia, vs. Buffalo

Notes
The Maple Leafs are suddenly back in a playoff race and they have goaltender James Reimer to thank for it. Toronto has played in nine straight one-goal games and are 6-0-3 to trail the New York Rangers by only three points in race for the eighth and final playoff spot. Phil Kessel has quieted some doubters of late and was actually the NHL's first star of the week. The Maple Leafs made all their moves well before the trade deadline and only sent John Mitchell to the Rangers on deadline day in exchange for a seventh round pick in 2012. Dion Phaneuf has two goals and five points in his last five games as it certainly looks as if he is fully recovered from the nasty cut he took to his leg in November from the skate of Peter Regin.

VANCOUVER

Games this week
@ Phoenix, @ San Jose, @ Calgary

Notes
The Canucks are on the road for all three games this week as they end a five game road trip. The Canucks added depth to their fourth line at the trade deadline as they picked up Christopher Higgins, Maxim Lapierre and MacGregor Sharp. Daniel Sedin has gone three straight games without a point for the first time this season while Alex Burrows has gone nine games without a goal. Kevin Bieksa should return by the middle of March.

WASHINGTON

Games this week
@ Tampa Bay, vs. Edmonton, vs. Carolina, vs. Chicago

Notes
The Capitals are a tired team on Monday when they face the Lightning as Washington are in Florida on Sunday. They are rested when they play at home on Wednesday as their opponents, the Edmonton Oilers, face Philadelphia the night before. Semyon Varlamov is out of action so Michal Neuvirth will get the bulk of the netminding duties for now with Braden Holtby backing up. The Capitals picked up Jason Arnott at the deadline, giving up Dave Steckel in return. They also made a smart move in getting offensive defenseman Dennis Wideman from the Panthers.

PLAYERS TO LOOK FOR THIS WEEK
Brad Boyes - Sabres
Scottie Upshall - Blue Jackets
Steve Ott - Stars
Dustin Penner - Kings
Eric Brewer - Lightning
Jason Arnott - Capitals

LAST WEEK'S PLAYERS
This is how the players performed through Thursday
G A PPP +/- PIMS
Nathan Gerbe – Sabres 0 0 0 0 2
Curtis Glencross – Flames 0 0 0 -1 0
Bryan Bickell – Blackhawks 0 1 0 -1 0
Mike Modano – Red Wings 0 2 2 0 0
Kyle Brodziak – Wild 1 2 1 -2 0
Brandon Prust – Rangers 0 0 0 -2 0




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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