Michael Finewax

The Week Ahead

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It's Wild On Top of Standings

Friday, November 25, 2011


Lately, a good way to determine if a team will or will not make the playoffs is where they stand on Thanksgiving Day.

 

In the East, there are a few surprises, namely Florida and Toronto being in the playoffs while it’s a surprise to see the Lightning so low in the standings but that could be due to their lack of solid goalkeeping and a good blueline.

 

In the West, a huge surprise at the top of the standings is the Minnesota Wild who lead the entire NHL with 29 points. Dallas and St. Louis are also in the top eight after missing the playoffs in 2010-11. Vancouver is currently sitting in 11th spot while the Ducks are in a horrible slump with a 2-10-4 record in their last 16 and they are ahead of only the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets.

 

The good news for teams not in the playoffs is that only eight points separate the top 14 teams in the East with only the Islanders seemingly out of it in the early going, while six points separate the top 11 in the west with Colorado, Calgary, the Ducks and Blue Jackets needing to really get white hot to get back in the race.   

 

James O'Brien has been writing a great column, The Daily Dose, usually done from Monday to Friday during the regular season. If you want it sent directly to you via e-mail, click on the NHL box in your Rotoworld profile.

 

Here is The Week Ahead.

 

WEEK OF NOVEMBER 28-DECEMBER 4

 

4 Games - Calgary, Colorado, Edmonton, Minnesota, Nashville   

 

3 Games - Anaheim, Buffalo, Carolina, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Florida, Los Angeles, Montreal, New Jersey, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Ottawa, Phoenix, Pittsburgh,  St. Louis, San Jose, Tampa Bay, Vancouver, Washington, Winnipeg

 

2 Games - Boston, Philadelphia, Toronto

 

Colorado and Edmonton play all four games at home.

 

Columbus, Florida, Montreal, Nashville, New Jersey, the New York Islanders, Ottawa and Pittsburgh play three times away from home.

 

Anaheim, Carolina, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Washington and Winnipeg play three games at home this week.

 

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INJURIES

 

 Tyler Myers is out at least four weeks with a broken wrist.

(Click here to see the rest of the injury list.)

 

ANAHEIM

 

Games this week

vs. Montreal, vs. Philadelphia, vs. Minnesota

 

Notes

Bobby Ryan suffered a hip contusion on Wednesday so consider him day-to-day for now. Lubomir Visnovsky has missed the last five games with a broken finger and will be out about another three weeks. Cam Fowler has taken over as the quarterback of the power play and has four points in those five games, albeit, with a minus-three rating. Keep an eye on Andrew Cogliano. The speedy winger has taken over the injured Jason Blake’s spot on the second line and has two goals and four points in his last three games with a plus-three rating.

                                                                                                      

BOSTON

 

Games this week

@ Toronto, vs. Toronto

 

Notes

The Bruins only play twice this week, but it’s a home-and-home series against the Maple Leafs so look for Shawn Thornton, Milan Lucic and Zdeno Chara to add to their penalty minutes count. We recommend benching your Bruins if you can, with the exception of Tyler Seguin, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and the aforementioned three. The Bruins are the hottest team in the NHL as they are on a ten-game winning streak so Tim Thomas and Tuukka Rask are worth having on your active roster. Seguin has 12 goals and 23 points in a breakout sophomore season.

 

BUFFALO

 

Games this week

vs. New York Islanders, vs. Detroit, @ Nashville

 

Notes

The Sabres will be a tired team on Saturday in Nashville as they are home to Detroit on Friday while the Predators have the night off. Ryan Miller is making progress with his concussion woes but there is no timetable for his return. Brad Boyes was placed on the top line alongside Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek for Wednesday’s game but suffered a lower body injury in the first period and did not return. His iron man streak of 513 games may be in jeopardy. Jochen Hecht returned for the first time on Wednesday after being out all season with a concussion.

 

CALGARY

 

Games this week

vs. Nashville, vs. Columbus, @ Edmonton, @ Vancouver

 

Notes

Calgary plays four times this week including three games in four nights so expect to see Henrik Karlsson in net once in place of Miikka Kiprusoff. Calgary plays two games this week where they are the rested team and one game when they are tired. They are rested Tuesday when they face Nashville who are in Edmonton Monday, and are rested against the Oilers Saturday as the Oilers face the Blue Jackets Friday. After going into Edmonton Saturday, the Flames take on the Canucks in Vancouver on Sunday. Brendan Morrison returned to action on Wednesday after being out almost three weeks with a knee injury. Mikael Backlund has done nothing fantasy-wise since his return from a broken finger six games ago as he has not tallied a point and is minus-five. David Moss has missed the last four games with a knee injury and was placed on the injured reserve list.

 

CAROLINA

 

Games this week

vs. Florida, vs. New York Rangers, vs. Pittsburgh

 

Notes

Joni Pitkanen could return as early as Sunday from his lower body injury. After only two assists in 13 games, the Hurricanes sent Zach Boychuk to the minors. Cam Ward has struggled this season and is 8-8-1 with a .907 save percentage and a 3.10 GAA. Jussi Jokinen leads the Hurricanes with seven power play points while Jeff Skinner has not slowed down in his sophomore season and has 21 points including nine goals, in 23 games.

 

CHICAGO

 

Games this week

vs. Phoenix, vs. New York Islanders, @ St. Louis

 

Notes

Brent Seabrook has missed the last six games with a lower body injury but should be back before the start of the week. The Blackhawks did not have a good time this past week in the province of Alberta where they gave up 14 goals in two losses to the Flames and Oilers giving up nine to Edmonton. The trip to Alberta was not kind to either Corey Crawford or Ray Emery as Crawford gave up seven goals in 33 shots and Emery was even worse, giving up seven goals in 27 shots.

 

COLORADO

 

Games this week

vs. Dallas, vs. New Jersey, vs. St. Louis vs. Detroit

 

Notes

The Avalanche play four times at home this week and finish an eight game home stand. Paul Stastny is having another off-season with only 13 points in 22 games after picking up 57 in 74 games last season. The Avalanche are hoping that Peter Mueller will be able to return to the lineup this week from his concussion problems that forced him to miss all of last season and all but three games thus far this year. Matt Duchene has 16 points in 22 games but seven goals and 10 points in his last 10. Erik Johnson is minus-12 this season but Jan Hejda is even worse at minus-16. Stefan Elliot could be recalled at any time and would make a nice addition to  fantasy teams as he is an offensive defenseman.

 

COLUMBUS

 

Games this week

@ Vancouver, @ Calgary, @ Edmonton

 

Notes

Columbus plays three games in four nights and all in Western Canada, so Steve Mason could get a start in place of new starting goalie Curtis Sanford who has started the last four games.  Columbus will be tired on Saturday after playing in Calgary the night before while the Oilers will be waiting for them at home and rested. Vaclav Prospal is the lone bright spot for the Blue Jackets this season with 19 points in 21 games. Derick Brassard has been a healthy scratch in five of the last six games. Needless to say, there is no point in having him in your fantasy lineup.  Jared Boll has a goal and 27 minutes in seven games as he is showing no ill effects from his broken thumb.

   

DALLAS

 

Games this week

@ Colorado, vs. Ottawa, vs. New York Islanders

 

Notes

Dallas will be rested and waiting at home on Saturday when a tired Islander squad will face them after playing in Chicago on Friday. Brenden Morrow will be out at least three games to try and rest his injured elbow after missing Wednesday’s game. Tomas Vincour replaced Morrow on the second line with Steve Ott and Mike Ribeiro. Jamie Benn is having a great season with six goals and 21 points in 21 games to go with a plus-nine rating and 31 penalty minutes.  He also has seven power play points. Ott leads with 41 minutes in only 15 games.

 

DETROIT

 

Games this week

vs. Tampa Bay, @ Buffalo, @ Colorado

 

Notes

Defenseman Ian White returned to action after missing only 11 days and four games with a fractured cheekbone. He scored a goal upon his return and the Red Wings returned Brendan Smith, who was recalled with the injury to White, to Grand Rapids of the AHL.  Fabian Brunnstrom was also sent back to the minors. Johan Franzen leads the Red Wings with 21 points, including six on the power play but Pavel Datsyuk is flying of late with three goals and eight points in his last four games to give him 18 on the season.  Henrik Zetterberg has been a major disappointment with four goals and 10 points in 20 games.


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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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