Michael Finewax

The Week Ahead

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It's Wild On Top of Standings

Friday, November 25, 2011


 

EDMONTON

 

Games this week

vs. Nashville, vs. Minnesota, vs. Columbus, vs. Calgary

 

Notes

Edmonton plays four times this week, including three games in four nights so look for Nikolai Khabibulin and Devan Dubnyk to split the net.  The Oilers are rested on Friday when Columbus comes to town after the Blue Jackets play in Calgary the previous night.  They then face a rested Calgary team on Saturday.  The Oilers could use a defenseman and Sam Gagner’s name is being rumored around the league as the trade bait. Linus Omark will not be returning from the minors anytime soon as he broke his ankle and will be out two months. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is having an outstanding season thus far with 22 points and is tied for the team lead with veteran Ryan Smyth who has 11 goals and an equal amount of assists. Good news as Ryan Whitney is expected to return to the lineup on November 25.

  

 

FLORIDA

 

Games this week

@ Carolina, @ Los Angeles, @ San Jose

 

Notes

The Panthers are on the road for all three games this week. It appears that the elbow to the head of Tomas Fleischmann will not keep him out of any action and if it does, he could still be ready for the start of the week. It’s hard to believe but Jason Garrison leads all defensemen in goals with eight and half have come with the man advantage. Kris Versteeg has been the best off-season move as he is fourth in the NHL in scoring with 26 points. He is also a plus-13 and has nine power play points including four goals. Fleischmann is second on the team with 22 points and Stephen Weiss is also averaging a point a game with 21 points in 21 games.

    

LOS ANGELES

 

Games this week

vs. San Jose, vs. Florida, vs. Montreal

 

Notes

The Kings are home for all three games this week as home Los Angeles and vicinity teams do not travel. Dustin Penner is out for weeks with a hand injury.  Mike Richards has goals in five straight games and seven out of the last eight to go along with a plus-six rating. Jonathan Bernier picked up his second win of the season this past week but Jonathan Quick is in no danger of losing his spot as the top goaltender at this time. The Kings are still very high on Bernier and will not trade him unless they get a great package for him. Anze Kopitar leads the team with 24 points.

 

MINNESOTA

 

Games this week

vs. Tampa Bay, @ Edmonton, vs. New Jersey, @ Anaheim

 

Notes

Minnesota is a tired team on Monday as they travel home from Calgary to meet a rested Tampa Bay team. Niklas Backstrom returned to the Wild on Thursday after missing Wednesday’s game for personal reasons. He was the reason for a great story as the Wild had to sign 51-year-old Paul Deutsch to an amateur tryout as recalled netminder Matthew Hackett could not get to the game on time from the minors. Deutsch sat on the bench for over a minute in the first before Hackett replaced him. Marco Scandella returned on Wednesday from a concussion suffered on November 12. Marek Zidlicky and Guillaume Latendresse are still out with concussions as there seems to be an epidemic in Minnesota.

 

MONTREAL

 

Games this week

@ Anaheim, @ San Jose, @ Los Angeles

 

Notes

Montreal plays three games in four nights, all in California, so look for Peter Budaj to play in place of Carey Price. Scott Gomez is hurt once again as he suffered a lower body on Wednesday. The Canadiens will be tired on Thursday when they take on the San Jose Sharks as Montreal is in Anaheim on Wednesday evening. He missed nine games earlier in the season with an upper body injury.  Great news as defenseman Andrei Markov (knee) was cleared for contact and could make his season debut in early December. Carey Price was the first star of the week last week as he stopped 72 of 74 shots in three starts. He started this past week off well, giving up one goal in 18 shots but the Habs were unable to beat Tim Thomas and the Bruins.

 

NASHVILLE

 

Games this week

@ Edmonton, @ Calgary, @ Vancouver, vs. Buffalo

 

Notes

The Predators play four times and are on the road in Western Canada for three games in four nights so look for Anders Lindback to play once with Pekka Rinne getting the other three starts.  Nashville is a tired team on Tuesday when they face a rested Calgary team after playing in Edmonton the previous night and are the rested team on Saturday when they play a tired Buffalo team who are home to Detroit on Friday. They have tired of Niclas Bergfors whom they placed on unconditional waivers on Thursday, as it will cost any NHL team $125 to pick up his rights.  Blake Geoffrion has been a healthy scratch the last three games after picking up only two assists in his first 20 games this season.

 

NEW JERSEY

 

Games this week

@ Colorado, @ Minnesota, @ Winnipeg

 

Notes

The Devils play three games in four nights and all are on the road,  so look for Johan Hedberg to play at least once in place of Martin Brodeur.  New Jersey will be a tired team on Saturday when they face the rested Jets in Winnipeg as they play in Minnesota the previous evening. Travis Zajac (torn Achilles tendon) has passed his rehab session with doctors in Winnipeg and is now working with the team in New Jersey. If he continues to progress, he will start practicing with the Devils in a couple of weeks and should return to the lineup around the New Year. Pending unrestricted free agent Zach Parise will assess his future with the New Jersey Devils at the end of the season. His value is so high as he is a top-20 player in the NHL when healthy, the Devils have to look to trading him at the deadline if they are unable to sign him, especially if they are not in the playoff hunt.

 

NEW YORK ISLANDERS

 

Games this week

@ Buffalo, @ Chicago, @ Dallas

 

Notes

The Islanders are on the road for all three games this week. They will be a tired team on Saturday when they face the rested Stars in Dallas after playing the Blackhawks in Chicago on Saturday. In a bit of a surprise, the Islanders placed Blake Comeau on waivers and he was claimed by the Calgary Flames. He has been held pointless in 16 games with a minus-11 rating this year, after a 24 goal, 46 point season in 2010-11 and could probably use a new start in a new city. The only team in the league with a three goalie system, the Islanders were forced to recall Anders Nilsson when Evgeni Nabokov and Al Montoya went down with injuries leaving Rick DiPietro as their only healthy netminder.  If you are looking for penalty minutes, then the recent call up of Micheal Haley has to interest you. Kyle Okposo had only three assists in 14 games and was a healthy scratch in three straight games before returning to action earlier in the week and potting a couple of goals in his second game back. 

 

NEW YORK RANGERS

 

Games this week

vs. Pittsburgh, @ Carolina, @ Tampa Bay

 

Notes

Anton Stralman was placed on the first power play on Wednesday as the Rangers moved Michael Del Zotto off the first unit. Andre Deveaux should hear from the NHL on Friday as to whether or not he will be suspended for his elbow to the head of Tomas Fleischmann and did as he was given a three game suspension. Expect a suspension. Injured reserve players Marc Staal, Wojtek Wolski and Michael Rupp are traveling with the team on the road. Brad Richards is off to a slow start with six goals and 13 points in 18 games. Marian Gaborik leads the Rangers in points with 16.

 

OTTAWA

 

Games this week

@ Winnipeg, @ Dallas, @ Washington

 

Notes

The Senators are on the road for all three games this week. Chris Neil is starting to skate again after suffering an ankle injury on November 9. If you are able to take his minus-seven rating out of the picture, Colin Greening is having a surprising season. The rookie has six goals and 10 points in 21 games with two goals and four points coming on the power play. Sergei Gonchar has two goals and 14 points thus far this season and his plus/minus is even after being one of the worst plus/minus players in the NHL last year. Jason Spezza leads the Senators with 20 points, two ahead of Milan Michalek and Erik Karlsson.


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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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