Mike Finewax

The Week Ahead

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The Return from Europe

Friday, October 07, 2011


 

PHILADELPHIA

 

Games this week

vs. Vancouver, vs. Los Angeles

 

Notes

The Flyers play both games at home this week. Jaromir Jagr picked up the 1,600th point of his NHL career in his return to the league after a three year absence as he played in Russia. Sean Couturier, the Flyers first pick eighth overall, was involved in all five of the Flyers' penalty kills in his first NHL game which bodes well for his NHL career. Chris Pronger picked up an assist in the opening game which is amazing considering it was thought that he would be out until Christmas after undergoing off-season wrist surgery.

 

PHOENIX

 

Games this week

@ Dallas, @ Washington, vs. Winnipeg

 

Notes

The Coyotes sent down Andy Miele and Viktor Tikonov to the minors. They signed Martin Hanzal to a five-year/$15.5 million contract. He is the big center that every team in the NHL needs. Mike Smith will start the season off as the starting goalie but Jason LaBarbera could get playing time if Smith's play suffers.

 

PITTSBURGH

 

Games this week

vs. Florida, vs. Washington, vs. Buffalo

 

Notes

The Penguins play all three games at home this week and are rested when they play Buffalo on Saturday as the Sabres entertain Carolina Friday night. Matt Cooke showed that he could score as he potted a pair of goals in the Penguins opening 4-3 shootout win in Vancouver. With Sidney Crosby out of action, Evgeni Malkin centered Pittsburgh's top line between Steve Sullivan and James Neal. Dustin Jeffrey (knee surgery) has been placed on the injured reserve list.

 

ST. LOUIS

 

Games this week

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

 

Notes

The Blues are tired on Sunday when they play a rested Anaheim team but are rested on Saturday in San Jose while the Sharks are in Anaheim on Friday night. The Blues play three games in four nights so look for Brian Elliot to play once in place of Jaroslav Halak. Jamie Langenbrunner will open the season on the top line alongside David Backes and Andy McDonald while Patrik Berglund is projected to start the year centering T.J. Oshie and Chris Stewart on the second line.

 

SAN JOSE

 

Games this week

@ Anaheim, vs. St. Louis

 

Notes

The Sharks play only twice this week but they are back-to-back games and they face a rested Blues team on Saturday. Antti Niemi is still not 100 percent as he attempts to recover from the removal of a cyst before the start of training camp and with Antero Niittymaki out until December, Thomas Greiss could get a start or both this week. Martin Havlat will not suit up in San Jose's regular season opener but could return from his shoulder injury in time for the Anaheim game. Ryane Clowe is slated to start the season with Logan Couture and Havlat when he is healthy.

 

TAMPA BAY

 

Games this week

@ Washington, @ New York Islanders, @ Florida

 

Notes

Tampa Bay play all three on the road this week. The sixth overall pick in the 2010 Draft, Brett Connolly will start the season with the Lightning but may get only a trial before being returned for a final season in junior hockey. Blair Jones is slated to begin the season on the fourth line with Nate Thompson and Adam Hall while Teddy Purcell is slated to play alongside Vincent Lecavalier and Ryan Malone on the second line.

 

TORONTO

 Games this week

vs. Calgary

 

Notes

The Maple Leafs only play once this week so we recommend benching all your Toronto players if you can. Matthew Lombardi made an extraordinary return to the lineup on Thursday, scoring the game winner after missing the last 80 games last year with a concussion. What makes even more amazing is that Lombardi started contact drills only in the last week. The Maple Leafs acquired Dave Steckel from New Jersey and the bottom six forward will really help Toronto as he was the best faceoff man in the NHL last season, a category that the Leafs struggled with. Matt Frattin got a shot at the NHL due to the suspension to Clarke MacArthur but Frattin could find himself in the minors shortly.

 

VANCOUVER

 Games this week

@ Columbus, @ Philadelphia, @ Detroit, @ Edmonton

 

Notes

The Canucks play all four games on the road this week including three games in four nights. Look for Cory Schneider to play at least once in place of Roberto Luongo. Vancouver is tired on Thursday when they play in Detroit as they take on the Flyers in Philadelphia the previous night. Henrik Sedin's first game this season was his 500th consecutive game as he hasn't missed a game since before the 2005 lockout. Great news for Canuck fans as Ryan Kesler is slated to miss only five or six games after undergoing off-season hip surgery. It was thought that Kesler would be out until mid-November. This will hurt the value of Alex Burrows who is in line to take Kesler's spot on the first power play alongside the Sedin twins.

 

WASHINGTON

 

Games this week

vs. Tampa Bay, @ Pittsburgh, vs. Ottawa

 

Notes

Michal Neuvirth was outstanding in the preseason with a 1.34 GAA and a .940 save percentage but it was still surprising that he was named the starting goalie for opening night over Tomas Vokoun. Mike Knuble will start the season on the top line alongside Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. Mathieu Perreault replaced Marcus Johansson on the second line but it appears that move was to motivate Johansson.

 

WINNIPEG

Games this week

@ Chicago, @ Phoenix

 

Notes

The Jets play twice this week with both games on the road. They claimed Brett MacLean on waivers from Phoenix and then sent Patrice Cormier to the minors. David Aebischer signed an AHL contract with Winnipeg's minor-league affiliate in St. John's and that will give the franchise more depth in goal. Winnipeg coach Claude Noel said he would be "stunned" if rookie Mark Scheifele doesn't spend the entire 2011-12 season in the NHL We shall see.



Michael Finewax has been covering hockey since 2005 and is the Hockey Editor for Rotoworld. You can follow him on Twitter.
Email :Mike Finewax



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