Michael Finewax

The Week Ahead

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The Final Two Weeks

Friday, March 25, 2011



OTTAWA

Games this week
@ Tampa Bay, @ Florida, vs. Toronto

Notes
Craig Anderson has impressed the management of the Senators enough that they rewarded the netminder with a four-year deal worth $12.75 million over the next four seasons. Milan Michalek is scheduled to return to the lineup after missing the last 12 games with a broken foot. Daniel Alfredsson (back) is hoping to return to the lineup before the end of the season and may be able to accompany his teammates on their current four-game road trip.

PHILADELPHIA

Games this week
@ Pittsburgh, vs. Atlanta, @ New Jersey, vs. New York Rangers

Notes
The Flyers play three games in four nights so expect to see Brian Boucher at least once in place of Sergei Bobrovsky. The Flyers will be tired on Friday when they are in New Jersey as they play the Thrashers at home on Thursday. Jody Shelley is expected to miss the next four-to-six weeks after having surgery on his left orbital bone on Thursday. Chris Pronger is hoping to play in the last two regular season games to get the rust off his game. He has been practicing this past week after breaking his hand earlier in the month.

PHOENIX

Games this week
vs. Dallas, vs. Colorado

Notes
The Coyotes play only twice this week so we recommend benching all your Phoenix players if you can. The Coyotes are rested on Friday when they face a tired Colorado squad as the Avs play Nashville in Denver the previous night. Ed Jovanovski, who broke his orbital bone on Feb. 18, skated on Wednesday with a full cage on his helmet. He is hoping to return before the end of the season. Matthew Hulsizer, who is in negotiations to buy the Phoenix Coyotes, made a significant offer to appease the Goldwater Institute but the $75 million offer was not good enough for the Institute and the team could be headed for Winnipeg at the end of the season.

PITTSBURGH

Games this week
vs. Philadelphia, @ Tampa Bay, @ Florida

Notes
Chris Kunitz is red hot of late and has four goals and five assists in his past five games. Matt Cooke elbowed Ryan McDonagh in the head on Sunday and was suspended for the remainder of the regular season (10 games) and the first round of the playoffs. Sidney Crosby continues to work out and skate but there is no timetable for his return. He has missed the last 33 games but continues to lead Pittsburgh in goals with 32 and points with 66.

ST. LOUIS

Games this week
vs. Minnesota, @ Detroit, vs. Calgary, @ Columbus

Notes
The Blues play three games in four nights so look for Ty Conklin to play at least once in place of Jaroslav Halak. The Blues will be tired on Wednesday when they are in Detroit as they play the Wild in St. Louis on Tuesday. David Backes has 26 goals and 54 points this season as fantasy owners have to be thrilled with his year as he also is a plus-23 with 93 penalty minutes.

SAN JOSE

Games this week
vs. Dallas, vs. Anaheim

Notes
The Sharks play only twice this week so we recommend benching all your San Jose players with the exception of Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley, Patrick Marleau and Dan Boyle. You can also add Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski to that list. Logan Couture leads all rookies with 28 goals. Pavelski was named the NHL's first star of the week with three goals and eight assists in four games. Dany Heatley returned to the San Jose lineup on Wednesday after serving a two-game suspension for elbowing the Stars ' Steve Ott.

TAMPA BAY

Games this week
vs. Ottawa, vs. Pittsburgh, @ Minnesota, @ Chicago

Notes
The Lightning play three games in four nights so it is likely that Mike Smith will play at least once instead of Dwayne Roloson. The Lightning will be a tired team on Sunday when they are in Chicago after traveling from Minnesota on Saturday. Steve Stamkos has only three goals in his last 19 games. Ryan Malone is close to returning after an abdominal injury that has kept him out of the lineup since Feb. 8.

TORONTO

Games this week
vs. Buffalo, @ Boston, @ Ottawa

Notes
The Maple Leafs are pushing hard for a playoff spot but the odds are against them. They have been getting outstanding goaltending from rookie James Reimer and that has helped the team as the defensemen are able to join the rush more often without worrying that if they make a mistake, the puck will end up in the net. Mikhail Grabovski went four games without scoring before picking up a goal and two assists in his last two outings. He has 28 goals, 56 points and a plus-14 rating this season. There is a three way tie for the scoring lead in Toronto with Grabovski, Phil Kessel and Clarke MacArthur all at 56.

VANCOUVER

Games this week
@ Nashville, vs. Los Angeles, vs. Edmonton

Notes
Roberto Luongo is having the best season of his NHL career as he is 34-14-7 with a 2.21 GAA and a .926 save percentage. Manny Malhotra is gone for the season with an eye injury but the major concern has to be whether or not he will ever be able to see out of it again. Daniel Sedin hit the 40 goal mark for the first time in his career. Kevin Bieksa finally returned to the Vancouver lineup after missing 15 games with a foot injury.

WASHINGTON

Games this week
vs. Carolina, vs. Columbus, vs. Buffalo

Notes
The status of Mike Green is still unknown as he tries to recover from a concussion. He went on long-term injured reserve and was eligible to return on March 22, but he is still unable to play. Alex Ovechkin wants to return to the lineup this week as he is out with an undisclosed injury. Mike Knuble scored 20 goals for the eighth straight season. Semyon Varlamov returned to the Washington lineup so Braden Holtby was sent back to the minors.

PLAYERS TO LOOK FOR THIS WEEK
Saku Koivu - Ducks
Nathan Gerbe - Sabres
Brandon Sutter - Hurricanes
Viktor Stalberg - Blackhawks
Justin Abdelkader - Red Wings
James van Riemsdyk - Flyers

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

Tyler Seguin - Bruins 0 0 0 0 0
Niclas Bergfors - Panthers 0 0 0 0 0
Chris Neil - Senators 0 0 0 -1 4
Ville Leino - Flames 0 1 0 -1 0
Dustin Jeffrey - Penguins 0 0 0 -1 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 :Michael Finewax



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