Michael Finewax

The Week Ahead

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Welcome Back Hockey!

Friday, September 30, 2011


 

PHILADELPHIA

 

Games this week

@ Boston, @ New Jersey

 

Games next week

vs. Vancouver, vs. Los Angeles

 

Notes

The Flyers play both games on the road this week. Michael Leighton is the odd man out in goal and will play in the minors while Ilya Bryzgalov will start the majority of the games with Sergei Bobrovsky backing up. Claude Giroux is second in preseason scoring with seven assists, trailing only Mike Ribeiro. Chris Pronger’s recovery time is amazing. After undergoing two surgeries in the off-season, many thought he would be out until Christmas, but it looks like he’ll be ready for the opener in Boston. We eagerly await the return to the NHL by Jaromir Jagr.

 

PHOENIX

 

Games this week

@ San Jose

 

Games next week

@ Dallas, @ Washington, vs. Winnipeg

 

Notes

The Coyotes only play once this week. Kyle Turris is still holding out and it does not seem like Phoenix is going to cave to his demands. The Coyotes should have a very good veteran first line with Shane Doan, Daymond Langkow and Ray Whitney. Mike Smith is the starting goaltender at this time with Jason LaBarbera as his backup. Keith Yandle is the stud blueliner that almost every team in the NHL covets.

 

PITTSBURGH

 

Games this week

@ Vancouver, @ Calgary, @ Edmonton

 

Games next week

vs. Florida, vs. Washington, vs. Buffalo

 

Notes

The Penguins play three games in four nights so expect to see Brent Johnson play once for Marc-Andre Fleury. Pittsburgh plays all three games in Western Canada this week. They will face a rested Edmonton team Sunday after playing the Flames in Calgary on Saturday night. Sidney Crosby will travel with the team but he has yet to be cleared for contact in practice so it is extremely unlikely that he will play. Evgeni Malkin appears to be healthy once again after missing 52 games over the last two years. He should hit the 90 point mark if he can remain healthy. Kris Letang will be one of the top offensive defensemen in the NHL if Crosby and Malkin are healthy.

 

ST. LOUIS

 

Games this week

vs. Nashville

 

Games next week

vs. Calgary, @ Dallas, @ San Jose, @ Anaheim

 

Notes

The Blues play only once this week, so bench your St. Louis players unless your league is 11 days in the first period as they play four times next week. They are rested and face a Nashville team that play in Columbus the night before. Jason Arnott will miss the opener as he underwent cataract surgery. David Perron passed baseline testing and will start training after missing most of last season with a concussion. Patrik Berglund is looking to build on his success of last season and could get 60-plus points.

 

SAN JOSE

 

Games this week

vs. Phoenix

 

Games next week

@ Anaheim, vs. St. Louis

 

Notes

The Sharks play only once this week and three times in the first 11 days and that is actually good news for San Jose as they have injured goaltending. Starter Antti Niemi is questionable after having a cyst removed just before the start of training camp, while Antero Niittymaki will miss the first 11 weeks of the season after undergoing hip surgery. Thomas Greiss could get the start in the home opener. Brent Burns gives the Sharks a potent one-two punch on the blueline, along with Dan Boyle. Martin Havlat (shoulder) is participating in some contact drills and could be ready for the start of the season.

 

TAMPA BAY

 

Games this week

@ Carolina, @ Boston

 

Games next week

@ Washington, @ New York Islanders, @ Florida

 

Notes

Tampa Bay take on Boston Saturday after playing Carolina the previous night. They open the season with a five game road trip including facing three divisional opponents. Brett Connolly, the sixth overall pick in the 2010 Entry Draft, is impressing many with his play in training camp. Vincent Lecavalier is healthy for the first time in a long time and could get back to a point-a-game pace.

 

TORONTO

 

Games this week

vs. Montreal, vs. Ottawa

 

Games next week

vs. Calgary

 

Notes

The Maple Leafs start the season with a five game homestand and look to get off to a hot start as they attempt to make the playoffs for the first time since the lockout of 2004. They play only three times in the first 11 days so you can bench your Toronto players if there are better options. James Reimer will start the season as the top netminder with Jonas Gustavsson backing up. Matthew Lombardi missed all but the first two games last season with a concussion but is getting close to a return. Nazem Kadri is out of action for the next two-four weeks so Matt Frattin could break training camp with the Leafs. Jake Gardiner has impressed many with his skating ability on the blueline but he likely could use some time in the minors.

 

VANCOUVER

 

Games this week

vs. Pittsburgh

 

Games next week

@ Columbus, @ Philadelphia, @ Detroit, @ Edmonton

 

Notes

The Canucks play only once this week and four times on the road next week. Coach Alain Vigneault has been impressed with the play of rookie Nicklas Jensen. Roberto Luongo saw his first action of the preseason on Wednesday, while Manny Malhotra played for the first time on Thursday.

 

WASHINGTON

 

Games this week

vs. Carolina

 

Games next week

vs. Tampa Bay, @ Pittsburgh, vs. Ottawa

 

Notes

The Capitals play only once this week and face a Carolina team that plays Tampa Bay the previous night. Michal Neuvirth is struggling with an undisclosed injury but that shouldn’t matter as he will back up Tomas Vokoun this season in net. Look for Roman Hamrlik to see power play time on the point for the second unit. Tom Poti’s career could be in jeopardy as he did not pass his physical with an injured groin. The Capitals will place him on long-term injured reserve and get a break on the salary cap.

 

WINNIPEG

Games this week

vs. Montreal

 

Games next week

@ Chicago, @ Phoenix

 

Notes

The Jets return to Winnipeg as the city has been without an NHL hockey team for 15 years and get to face the Montreal Canadiens in what should be a rocking good time for all. The Jets have been very impressed with the seventh overall pick in the 2011 Entry Draft, Mark Scheifele. He may get a nine game trial with the Jets but would be better served returning to the Barrie Colts of the OHL and playing a lot. Evander Kane could have a breakout season in 2011-12. Look for Dustin Byfuglien and Tobias Enstrom to be the fantasy leaders on the blueline.



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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