Mike Finewax

The Week Ahead

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Is this the week for Crosby?

Friday, October 14, 2011


 

PHILADELPHIA

 

Games this week

@ Ottawa, vs. Washington, vs. St. Louis

 

Notes

The Flyers are rested Saturday when they face the tired Blues who are in Carolina Friday. Ilya Bryzgalov has allowed only five goals in his first three games, all wins. Matt Read made the Flyers as a 25-year-old energy player. He has a goal and an assist in his last two games. Blair Betts (knee) was returned to the Flyers from the Canadiens after he failed his physical. Claude Giroux is showing everyone why the Flyers could trade Jeff Carter and Mike Richards as he has three goals and five points in his first three games.

 

PHOENIX

 

Games this week

vs. Chicago, vs. Los Angeles, @ Anaheim

 

Notes

Oliver Ekman-Larsson is a rarity as he is a 20-year-old defenseman with a year of NHL action under his belt. Most defensemen do not play in their teenage years so Ekman-Larsson could be a special talent. Mike Smith appeared in the Coyotes' first two games of the year, garnering a 0-1-1 record to go with a .909 save percentage and a 3.41 goals-against average. Jason LaBarbera gave up two goals in a 5-2 win on Thursday and could get a shot at the starting job in net.

 

PITTSBURGH

 

Games this week

@ Winnipeg, @ Minnesota, vs. Montreal, vs. New Jersey

 

Notes

The Penguins play four games this week including three times in four nights so expect to see Brent Johnson at least once this week. The Penguins are tired Tuesday as they travel to Minnesota after playing in Winnipeg Monday. The tables are turned Saturday as the face off against the Devils who are home to San Jose Friday. Sidney Crosby’s potential return is the talk of hockey. Evgeni Malkin missed two games with a knee injury but picked up a pair of assists upon his return Thursday. Brent Johnson was between the pipes on Thursday but the reason for that was Marc-Andre Fleury was under the weather.

 

ST. LOUIS

 

Games this week

@ Los Angeles,@ Carolina, @ Philadelphia

 

Notes

The Blues are in the midst of an eight game road trip. They are tired in Philadelphia Saturday after playing the Hurricanes in Carolina Friday. Andy McDonald suffered a head injury on Thursday. He continued playing but did not feel well on the plane ride home. He has a history of concussion woes so this may not be good. Nikita Nikitin and Roman Polak have started the season as the Blues shutdown blueliners. Carlo Colaiacovo has been experiencing headaches since falling headfirst into the boards on opening night and there are concerns that he suffered a concussion.

 

SAN JOSE

 

Games this week

vs. Anaheim, @ New Jersey, @ Boston

 

Notes

The Sharks play three times this week for the first time this season. They are rested on Monday when they play the Ducks who entertain St. Louis the previous night. They are a tired team Saturday playing Boston after traveling from Newark, New Jersey Friday. Patrick Marleau has been suffering from the flu but should be fine by Monday. Martin Havlat is still out after off-season shoulder surgery. Tommy Wingels has grabbed a top-six spot with the injury to Havlat. Antti Niemi (cyst) is close to returning and should be back in net this week. If he is unable to go, Thomas Greiss will continue to get the starts.

 

TAMPA BAY

 

Games this week

vs. Florida, vs. New York Islanders, vs. Buffalo

 

Notes

Teddy Purcell was benched on Thursday, playing only three shifts in the second and none in the third. Look for him to come back with a vengeance next week. Tampa Bay play the Panthers on Monday in the second half of a back-to-back series. Look for Steve Downie to add to his minutes total. The Lightning are home for all three games this week. Mattias Ohlund underwent arthroscopic surgery on both knees and could be lost for six weeks. The Lightning are really hurting on the blueline and may be in the market for a defenseman.

 

TORONTO

 

Games this week

vs. Colorado, vs. Winnipeg, @ Boston, @ Montreal

 

Notes

The Maple Leafs play four times this week including three games in four nights so look for Jonas Gustavsson to get into action for the first time in place of James Reimer. Toronto will be tired Thursday as they play on the road for the first time this season, facing Boston after playing the Jets Wednesday. Tim Connolly is still out with a lower body injury and there is no timetable for his return. The Maple Leafs have a stronger top-six than last season when Connolly is in the lineup, but could look for Tyler Bozak to continue to center Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul until Connolly returns. Matt Frattin was bumped down to a line with Matthew Lombardi and Colby Armstrong with return of Clarke MacArthur to the lineup.

 

VANCOUVER

 

Games this week

vs. New York Rangers, vs. Nashville, vs. Minnesota

 

Notes

The Canucks return home from a four game road trip this past week and play all three games at home. Roberto Luongo is struggling in goal as he is 0-1-1 with a 3.90 GAA and a .855 save percentage while Cory Schneider is 1-1-0 with a 2.03 GAA and a sparkling .935 save percentage. Ryan Kesler (hip) practiced on the top line this week while Henrik Sedin rested a bruised thigh. Kesler could return this week after his off-season hip surgery.

 

WASHINGTON

 

Games this week

vs. Florida, @ Philadelphia, vs. Detroit

 

Notes

The Capitals play a tired team twice this week starting Tuesday against the Panthers who are in Tampa Bay the previous night. They then play a tired Detroit squad Saturday as the Red Wings play at home to Columbus Friday. Alex Ovechkin scored his first goal of the season on Thursday. Braden Holtby was recalled earlier in the week for the injured Michal Neuvirth, but was sent down on Friday when Neuvirth returned. After a poor effort against Tampa Bay in which he gave up five goals on only 28 shots, Tomas Vokoun was solid on Thursday in a 3-2 win over Pittsburgh. He stopped 39 shots.

 

WINNIPEG

Games this week

vs. Pittsburgh, @ Toronto, @ Ottawa, vs. Carolina

 

Notes

The Jets play four games this week including three times in four nights so Chris Mason should play at least once in place of Ondrej Pavelec. The Jets are tired on Thursday in Ottawa after playing in Toronto the previous night but are rested against Carolina Saturday as the Hurricanes have to travel after a home game versus the Blues Friday. Coach Claude Noel played Evander Kane only 10:34 minutes in the opener as Noel was not happy with his performance. He upped it to 14:43 on Thursday in what was a better effort.  



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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