Michael Finewax

The Week Ahead

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The Final Two Weeks

Friday, March 25, 2011


As the NHL heads into the penultimate week of the season (good one huh Larry), the playoff race is extremely close in the West and very interesting in the East. Teams that have clinched, or are about to clinch a playoff spot will tend to rest their stars, hurting fantasy owners down the stretch. Be careful, especially the last weekend of the season as bottom-six players on very good teams tend to see more power play time with the studs of the team resting.

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Here is The Week Ahead.

WEEK OF MARCH 28-APRIL 3


4 Games - Anaheim, Buffalo, Carolina, Chicago, Colorado, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Minnesota, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Tampa Bay

3 Games - Atlanta, Boston, Calgary, Edmonton, Florida, Los Angeles, Montreal, Nashville, New Jersey, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Ottawa, Pittsburgh, Toronto, Vancouver, Washington

2 Games - Phoenix, San Jose

Dallas plays all four games on the road this week.

Boston, Columbus, Detroit, New Jersey and Washington play three games at home.

Atlanta, Buffalo, Chicago and the New York Rangers play three road games this week.

INJURIES
Alex Ovechkin has an undisclosed injury and could return this week. Click here to check out all the injured players in the NHL.

ANAHEIM

Games this week
vs. Colorado, @ Calgary, @ San Jose vs. Detroit

Notes
The Ducks play four times this week but not three in four nights. Still, you should expect to see Jonas Hiller and Ray Emery to split the net. Corey Perry potted his 40th goal of the season on Wednesday and is only the third winger in the last decade to have a 40 goal, 100 penalty minute season. Teemu Selanne scored on Wednesday as well and is now 30th all-time on the NHL scoring list with 1,330 points, surpassing Pierre Turgeon. Cam Fowler leads all rookies in power play ice time this season.

ATLANTA

Games this week
@ Montreal, @ Philadelphia, @ Boston

Notes
This week marks the start of a five game road trip for the Thrashers. Ron Hainsey has a goal and five assists in the last six games for the Thrashers but even this mini-hot streak gives him only 16 points this season. Zach Bogosian is a team-worst minus-21 this season. Andrew Ladd leads the team in goals with 26 and points with 53. Dustin Byfuglien tops the Thrashers in penalty minutes with 71.

BOSTON

Games this week
vs. Chicago, vs. Toronto, vs. Atlanta

Notes
The Bruins play three times in four nights so expect to see Tim Thomas and Tuukka Rask share the net. The Bruins are rested pm Tuesday when they face a tired Chicago team who are in Detroit Monday night. Milan Lucic became the Bruins first 30 goal scorer since Phil Kessel turned the trick two seasons ago. Lucic is a fantasy stud this season with a plus-29 rating and 106 penalty minutes to go with his scoring prowess. Marc Savard is still experiencing daily symptoms as a result of his concussion.

BUFFALO

Games this week
@ Toronto, vs. New York Rangers, @ Washington, @ Carolina

Notes
The Sabres are a tired team on Wednesday when they play a rested New York Rangers team as Buffalo are in Toronto Tuesday. The Sabres are in a battle for the final playoff spot so look for Ryan Miller to go the rest of the way in goal, or at least until Buffalo clinches a playoff spot. Patrick Kaleta has missed the last eight games with a bruised knee and he is not close to returning. Nathan Gerbe has tallied five goals and two assists in his past seven games. Tyler Ennis is now showing why he garnered Calder Trophy consideration before the start of the season as he has 26 points in his last 30 games.

CALGARY

Games this week
vs. Anaheim, @ St. Louis, @ Colorado

Notes
The Flames have dropped seven of their last eight games and will be hard pressed to make the post-season. Brendan Morrison, who is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, would love to sign an extension with Calgary. Niklas Hagman is suffering from concussion-like symptoms after getting injured on Monday. Daymond Langkow has been practicing with the Flames and could return before the end of the season. He was injured over a year ago when he suffered a fractured vertebrae.

CAROLINA

Games this week
@ Washington, vs. Montreal, @ New York Islanders, vs. Buffalo

Notes
The Hurricanes play four times this week but do not expect to see Justin Peters as Cam Ward will continue to play while Carolina is still in the playoff mix. They are currently ninth in the Eastern Conference. Eric Staal left Tuesday's game with an injury, but is expected to play on Friday. He may have a reduced role as he is unlikely to be on the penalty killing unit. Jeff Skinner has 25 goals this season, second among rookies to Logan Couture. Jamie McBain (shoulder) is projected to return to Carolina's lineup during their home-and-home set with the Tampa Bay Lightning after it was thought he would miss at least two weeks.

CHICAGO

Games this week
@ Detroit, @ Boston, @ Columbus, vs. Tampa Bay

Notes
The Blackhawks are tired on Monday when they face a rested Detroit team but are rested on Friday and Sunday when they are matched up against Columbus and Tampa Bay respectively. Troy Brouwer has not scored in his last 16 games and has only one assist in the same time period. Marcus Kruger signed with the Blackhawks after playing in the Swedish Elite League this season and is taking over from the injured Dave Bolland. Patrick Sharp suffered a knee injury on Sunday but hopes to return before the end of the season. In the meantime, Viktor Stalberg has taken over his spot alongside Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.

COLORADO

Games this week
@ Anaheim, vs. Nashville, @ Phoenix, vs. Calgary

Notes
The Avalanche play four times including three games in four nights so expect to see Brian Elliott and Peter Budaj to share the net. The Avs are tired on Friday when they play a rested Phoenix team after playing Nashville Thursday night. Matt Duchene had three straight games with two points in each before getting only one point on Thursday, while Jay McClement has yet to garner a point in 15 games with Colorado. Although he will not play again this season, Tomas Fleischmann (pulmonary embolism) has been skating with the team.

COLUMBUS

Games this week
vs. Florida, @ Washington, vs. Chicago, vs. St. Louis

Notes
The Blue Jackets play three games in four nights so Mathieu Garon could get one start in place of Steve Mason. Columbus will be tired on Friday when they play Chicago as the Blue Jackets are in Washington the previous night. Derek MacKenzie has a chance to set the record for the best plus/minus by a Columbus forward. The current record is plus-12 held by David Vyborny and Derick Brassard. MacKenzie is at plus-15 with a little more than two weeks to go in the season. Nikita Filatov is not expected to be called up from Springfield of the AHL before the end of the season.

DALLAS

Games this week
@ Phoenix, @ San Jose, @ Los Angeles, @ Anaheim

Notes
The Stars play all four games on the road this week, including three games in four nights but they could go with Kari Lehtonen down the stretch as they are in the hunt for a playoff spot. Andrew Raycroft could sit on the bench for the remainder of the season. Alex Goligoski has been exactly what the Stars need as the puck-moving and offensive defenseman has three goals and 10 points in 14 games for Dallas. The Stars received good news this past week with the return to action of Loui Eriksson.

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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 :Michael Finewax



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