Michael Finewax

The Week Ahead

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The Final Week of the Season

Friday, April 01, 2011



OTTAWA

Games this week
vs. Philadelphia, vs. Montreal, @ Boston

Notes
The Senators signed highly sought after college free agent Stephane Da Costa a two-year entry-level contract. He will play on April 2 against the Maple Leafs. Jason Spezza has five goals and 14 points in his last 11 games. They have been getting great goaltending from Craig Anderson. Daniel Alfredsson skated this week for the first time since being injured in early February. He could return next week.

PHILADELPHIA

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

Notes
Chris Pronger had a setback and will not return this week. Claude Giroux leads the team in points with 71 and is a plus-18. The Flyers have three players with more than 60 points as well as Jeff Carter, Daniel Briere and Mike Richards have 64, 63 and 62 points respectively. The Flyers are heading into the playoffs with Sergei Bobrovsky as their number one netminder. He is 28-12-6 this season with a 2.49 GAA and a .918 save percentage.

PHOENIX

Games this week
@ Los Angeles, vs. San Jose, @ San Jose

Notes
The Coyotes play three games in four nights so look for Jason LaBarbera to get at least one start in goal for Phoenix this week as they should rest Ilya Bryzgalov for the playoffs. The Coyotes play the Sharks in a home-and-home series to end the season so Paul Bissonnette could add to his penalty minute totals. The Coyotes sent Oliver Ekman-Larsson to the minors. Ed Jovanovski has started skating as he hopes to return for the playoffs from an orbital bone injury on Feb. 17. Ilya Bryzgalov has tied for the franchise record for career wins with 129 with Bob Essensa.

PITTSBURGH

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

Notes
Sidney Crosby is back skating with the team and could be returning to action in the playoffs. While we would not recommend him in playoff pools just yet, the news is encouraging as he seems to not have any effects of the concussion that has plagued him in 2011. Marc-Andre Fleury is 34-20-5 this season with a .918 save percentage and a 2.32 goals-against average. Crosby will lead the Penguins in points despite being out since Jan. 5 as he has a 17 point lead on defenseman Kris Letang.

ST. LOUIS

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

Notes
The Blues are rested on Saturday when they take on a tired Nashville team. T.J. Oshie missed practice on Monday and was banished from playing the next two games by the team. He has apologized to everyone and will return to the lineup. Chris Stewart has five goals and two assists in his last four games. Alexander Steen (high ankle sprain) was on the ice for the first time on March 28 after removing his protective boot the previous day. Stewart has 12 power play goals this season.

SAN JOSE

Games this week
vs. Los Angeles, @ Anaheim, @ Phoenix, vs. Phoenix

Notes
The Sharks play four times this week including three games in four nights so look for Antero Niittymaki (if healthy) to play once in place of Antti Niemi. The Sharks play a home-and-home series to end the season against the Coyotes. Jamal Mayers and Ben Eager could add to their penalty minute count. Patrick Marleau has been red-hot of late with eight goals and six assists in his last eight games. Joe Thornton is only three points away from 1,000 points.

TAMPA BAY

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

Notes
Congratulations to the Tampa Bay Lightning who clinched their first playoff spot in four years this week. Martin St. Louis hit the 30 goal mark for the fifth time in his career. He is second in the NHL in both points with 92 and assists with 62. Ryan Malone returned to action on Thursday after being out since Feb. 8 with an abdominal strain. The Lightning will use him in four of the remaining six games. Steve Stamkos has a goal and two assists in his last two games after going five games without a point.

TORONTO

Games this week
vs. Washington, @ New Jersey, vs. Montreal

Notes
There have not been many hotter teams than the Maple Leafs since the All-Star break as they have the third best record in the NHL. Unfortunately for their faithful fans, the team started its playoff run too late and it is unlikely they will make the post-season as they are trailing the Rangers by five points and have only four games remaining. James Reimer continues to sparkle in the nets but remember Steve Mason was outstanding in his rookie year before falling back so there should be some caution taken before grabbing him next season. Phil Kessel is on a six game scoring streak.

VANCOUVER

Games this week
@ Edmonton, vs. Minnesota, @ Calgary

Notes
The Canucks clinched the President's Trophy as the best team in the NHL this past week. Daniel Sedin became the first player to hit the 100 point mark on Thursday. Mason Raymond is currently centering the third line between Raffi Torres and Jannik Hansen while Ryan Kesler is centering Christopher Higgins and Jeff Tambellini on the second unit with Mikael Samuelsson out of action. Alex Burrows has 24 goals and 22 assists in 67 contests while amassing 69 penalty minutes and a plus-27 rating. Do not forget about him next season.

WASHINGTON

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

Notes
The Capitals end the season with a home-and-home series with the Panthers. They are the tired team on Wednesday when they play Florida as Washington is in Toronto on Tuesday, but they are rested on Saturday as the Panthers are in Tampa Bay the previous night. Dennis Wideman has a hematoma in his right leg and could miss the beginning of the playoffs. John Carlson will need to pick up his game as Mike Green is also currently missing from the Washington lineup. Alex Ovechkin is one goal away from 30.

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

Saku Koivu - Ducks 0 2 0 0 0
Nathan Gerbe - Sabres 0 0 0 -1 0
Brandon Sutter - Hurricanes 0 0 0 +1 2
Viktor Stalberg - Blackhawks 0 0 0 0 0
Justin Abdelkader - Red Wings 0 0 0 -2 0
James van Riemsdyk - Flyers 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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