Michael Finewax

The Week Ahead

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Welcome Back Hockey!

Friday, September 30, 2011


 

EDMONTON

 

Games this week

vs. Pittsburgh

 

Games next week

@ Minnesota, vs. Vancouver

 

Notes

The Oilers play only once this week, and get the advantage as Pittsburgh play in Calgary the previous night. Since they play only three times in the first 11 days of the season, it may be a good idea to bench your Oilers. Ryan Whitney has still not recovered from ankle surgery in March and could miss the start of the regular season. Ben Eager is suffering from whiplash/concussion, but is also hoping to return for the start of the season. Ales Hemsky, Ryan Smyth and Shawn Horcoff played together for the first time in over four years this week. Look for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to get at least a nine-game trial with the Oilers.

 

FLORIDA

 

Games this week

@ New York Islanders

 

Games next week

@ Pittsburgh, vs. Tampa Bay

 

Notes

The Panthers play only once this week and only three times in the before October 17, so bench all your Florida players if you can. Jacob Markstrom will backup Jose Theodore with Scott Clemmensen out until late October at the earliest as he underwent knee surgery. Jonathan Huberdeau, the Panthers first pick, third overall, could make the team out of training camp and should get nine games or less to show what he can do. Mike Santorelli, a big surprise last season, will miss two-four weeks with a shoulder injury.

 

LOS ANGELES

 

Games this week

vs. New York Rangers, vs. Buffalo

 

Games next week

@ New Jersey, @ Philadelphia

 

Notes

The Kings open up in Europe and then return to the East Coast the following week with a pair of games Thursday and Saturday before finally heading home. They signed stud defenseman Drew Doughty to an eight-year contract and he should be ready to go in Europe as he has been practicing with the London Knights of the OHL. Willie Mitchell is healthy which will bode well for the Kings as he was able to train all summer, something he couldn’t do last season.

 

MINNESOTA

 

Games this week

vs. Columbus

 

Games next week

@ New York Islanders, @ Ottawa, vs. Edmonton, vs. Detroit

 

Notes

The Wild are rested when they play the Blue Jackets in their only game this week, while Columbus takes on Nashville the previous night. The Wild will have two good scoring lines for the first time as Mikko Koivu will center Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi, while Matt Cullen will center the second line between Guillaume Latendresse and Pierre-Marc Bouchard. Josh Harding missed all of last season after knee surgery. He will backup Niklas Backstrom in goal.

 

MONTREAL

 

Games this week

@ Toronto, @ Winnipeg

 

Games next week

vs. Calgary, vs. Colorado

 

Notes

The Canadiens will likely miss Andrei Markov at the start of the season as he had to shut things down after swelling returned to his surgically repaired knee. Tomas Plekanec took his spot on the point during the power play, alongside P.K. Subban while David Desharnais replaced him at center. The Habs signed Chris Campoli as an insurance policy for Markov. Scott Gomez is hoping to bounce back after a horrible 2010-11 season in which he scored a paltry seven goals.

 

NASHVILLE

 

Games this week

@ Columbus, @ St. Louis

 

Games next week

vs. Phoenix, vs. New Jersey

 

Notes

The Predators are tired after playing in Columbus on Friday and then travel to St. Louis to take on a rested Blues team. Colin Wilson is looking to have the big career predicted for him when the Predators made him their first pick, seventh overall, in the 2008 Entry Draft and should get it started this season. Sergei Kostitsyn tied for the scoring lead with the Predators last season with 50 points and will look to better that this season. Mike Fisher will likely miss at least the opener after off-season shoulder surgery that is taking its time to heal.

 

NEW JERSEY

 

Games this week

vs. Philadelphia

 

Games next week

vs. Carolina, vs. Los Angeles, @ Nashville

 

Notes

It appears that Adam Larsson will make the team as a rookie. The fourth overall selection in the June Draft played 24:48 minutes on Thursday and is the defenseman the Devils really needed at the draft. Edmonton, Colorado and Florida could rue the day they passed on the talented blueliner. Expect 39-year-old Martin Brodeur to play less this season, possibly 55-60 games which will give Johan Hedberg, his backup, more fantasy value.

 

NEW YORK ISLANDERS

 

Games this week

vs. Florida

 

Games next week

vs. Minnesota, vs. Tampa Bay, vs. New York Rangers

Notes

The Islanders play only once this week, so if you have viable options, bench all your New Yorkers with the exception of Mark Streit and John Tavares. There is a battle for the starting goaltending job between Evgeni Nabokov and the oft-injured Rick DiPietro. We think that Nabokov will take the job and run with it over most of the season. Look for Mark Streit to have a big season after missing all of last year with major reconstructive  shoulder surgery.

 

NEW YORK RANGERS

 

Games this week

@ Los Angeles, @ Anaheim

 

Games next week

@ New York Islanders

 

Notes

The Rangers open up in Europe and get the advantage as the road team in both games so they will not lose a home game at Madison Square Garden. The signing of Brad Richards was the big news in the free agent market during the off-season and he will start the season centering Marian Gaborik and possibly Wojtek Wolski. Marc Staal is still suffering from the effects of a February concussion. He may miss the start of the season. There are rumors that Sean Avery may not make the team. Stay tuned.

 

OTTAWA

 

Games this week

@ Detroit, @ Toronto

 

Games next week

vs. Minnesota, vs. Colorado, @ Washington

 

Notes

The Senators play both games on the road this week. Rookie Mika Zibanejad, the sixth overall pick in the June Draft, has been outstanding in training camp and has an excellent chance to stay with the team. We think that Daniel Alfredsson will have a bounce back season in 2011. If David Rundblad fails to make the Senators this season, he may return to Sweden. Craig Anderson will start in goal with Alexander Auld as his backup.


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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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