Michael Finewax

The Week Ahead

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Boudreau fired and hired!

Friday, December 02, 2011


PHILADELPHIA

 

Games this week

@ Buffalo, vs. Pittsburgh, vs. Tampa Bay

 

Notes

The Flyers play three games in four nights. Expect to see Sergei Bobrovsky in goal once in place of Ilya Bryzgalov. The Flyers will be tired on Thursday when they face a rested Pittsburgh squad as Philadelphia are in Buffalo Wednesday. Chris Pronger has a mystery virus that is causing nausea and headaches but he said that he passed his concussion tests. He starts rehabbing his knee on Friday after surgery that will keep him on the shelf for three-six weeks.  James van Riemsdyk could return this week from an upper body injury. Brayden Schenn was recalled from the minors and is hoping that that will be his last trip down to Adirondack. Look for Jaromir Jagr (groin) to return to the lineup this week, if not sooner.

 

 PHOENIX

 

Games this week

@ Chicago, @ Nashville, @ Detroit, vs. Minnesota

 

Notes

The Coyotes play four times this week, including three in four nights so expect to see Jason LaBarbera in goal once instead of the red-hot Mike Smith. Phoenix will be tired on Tuesday when they are in Nashville to face a rested Predators team, after playing in Chicago the previous night. Veteran Ray Whitney is off to a great start with 21 points in 24 games. Keith Yandle is starting to pick up his scoring pace and has six points in his last six games. After signing a two-year contract last week, it was thought that Kyle Turris would be sent to the minors for a conditioning stint, but he is in such great shape, the Coyotes had him in the lineup on December 1 against the Jets.

 

PITTSBURGH

 

Games this week

vs. Boston, @ Philadelphia, @ New York Islanders

 

Notes

The Penguins are rested when they face a tired Flyers team on Thursday as Philadelphia are in Buffalo on Wednesday. Simon Despres picked up an assist in his NHL debut Thursday. It appears that Kris Letang suffered a concussion from the hit by the Habs Max Pacioretty on Saturday and he could be out indefinitely.  Sidney Crosby is amazing. He returns after missing over 10 months with a concussion, and promptly picks up 11 points in his first six games.  

 

ST. LOUIS

 

Games this week

vs. Detroit, vs. Anaheim, vs. San Jose

 

Notes

The Blues are home for all three games this week as they are in the midst of a five game home stand. David Perron has been out over a year because of concussion woes but could return as early as December 3. That would be great news for the forward. Evgeny Grachev was placed on the injured reserve list after taking a puck to his eye earlier in the week in practice. Brian Elliott earned the third star of the week with an outstanding performance as he was 3-0-0 record with a .963 save percentage and 0.98 GAA. David Backes is starting to score again, but his penalty minute numbers are way down in comparison to last season.

 

SAN JOSE

 

Games this week

vs. Minnesota, vs. Dallas, @ St. Louis, @ Chicago

 

Notes

The Sharks play three times in four nights and one more time earlier in the week, so Thomas Greiss should get one start instead of Antti Niemi. The Sharks should be tired in Chicago on Sunday when they play the rested Blackhawks as San Jose are in St. Louis Saturday.  Antero Niittymaki was slated to be the backup goalie for the Sharks but he required surgery during training camp on his hip. He practiced with the Sharks on Wednesday for the first time since the surgery. He is scheduled to return in mid-late December. The move will likely force San Jose to return Greiss to the minors. Ryane Clowe had not scored in 10 games and that had to concern the Sharks who reunited him with Logan Couture and Martin Havlat. The move paid off as he scored on Thursday for the first time in 11 games.

 

TAMPA BAY

 

Games this week

@ Ottawa, @ New York Islanders, @ New York Rangers, vs. Philadelphia

 

Notes

The Lightning will play three games in four nights so look for Mathieu Garon to play at least once in place of Dwayne Roloson who has struggled this season. Tampa Bay will be tired on Tuesday after playing in Ottawa the previous night and will face a rested Islanders team on Long Island. After a slow start, Steve Stamkos now has 16 goals on the season to tie Phil Kessel for the NHL lead. The Lightning have inked defenseman Victor Hedman to a five-year contract extension worth a reported $20 million. While many have put down the deal, it’s a good move as there are not too many 20-year-old defensemen who have played two-plus seasons in the NHL. He should come into his own in a couple of years and at that time it will seem like a real bargain. Steve Downie returned to action on Wednesday and was a minus-two after missing the previous three games with an upper body injury.

 

TORONTO

 

Games this week

@ New York Rangers, vs. New Jersey, @ Washington

 

Notes

The Maple Leafs will be a tired team on Tuesday when a rested Devils squad comes to town as Toronto are in New York to play the Rangers on Monday. They once again do not play on Saturday as they have the weekend off after playing the Capitals on Friday. Good news from the minors as Nazem Kadri seems to have finally solved the minor league game. He has six goals and 17 points as he was named the top player in the AHL for the month of November. The Maple Leafs have the top two scorers in the NHL in Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul and that hasn’t happened this late in the schedule since 1933 when Charlie Conacher and Gentleman Joe Primeau were one-two. James Reimer could be back between the pipes as early as December 3 after being out with a neck injury since October 22. It is more likely that he returns this week, but he should be at least on the bench Saturday.

 

VANCOUVER

 

Games this week

vs. Colorado, @ Montreal, @ Ottawa

 

Notes

There is definitely a goaltending controversy brewing in Vancouver as Cory Schneider has played the last seven games while Roberto Luongo and been injured and on the bench awaiting his return. To Luongo’s credit, he has been a great teammate, supporting Schneider in goal. Mason Raymond was supposed to return to action on December 1 after suffering a compression fracture in his back in the Stanley Cup Final in June, but the lack of paperwork to the head office in New York will force him to wait until December 4. There was some serious concerns during his recovery that he might not ever play again, but he should be on the third line with Cody Hodgson and Jannik Hansen, Sunday. Surprise, surprise. Sami Salo is injured with a groin injury.  Defenseman Dan Hamhuis has 12 points in his last 15 games.   

 

WASHINGTON

 

Games this week

@ Florida, vs. Ottawa, vs. Toronto

 

Notes

The Capitals have been reeling and were the first team to fire their head coach as Bruce Boudreau was released from his contract and the job was taken by Dale Hunter. Thus far the move has not paid off as the Capitals have lost both games this past week. Roman Hamrlik was a healthy scratch on Thursday as he was replaced by Jeff Schultz who was a healthy scratch on Tuesday. Alex Ovechkin is still unable to break loose. Rotoworld’s Gus Katsaros wrote a great piece in his ‘View from the Corners’ Monday and part of the column stated why Ovechkin has been slumping the last season-plus. Mike Green reported that there's no timetable for his return to the lineup from his groin injury even though he has skated four times in the past five days as of Wednesday.

                                  

WINNIPEG

Games this week

vs. Boston, vs. Carolina, @ Detroit

 

Notes

The Jets are rested on Tuesday when they face a tired Boston team as the Bruins have to travel from Pittsburgh on Monday evening. That should be a long flight. The Jets will be tired on Saturday when they play the Red Wings in Detroit as they play the Hurricanes on Friday. Tobias Enstrom has resumed skating as he recovers from a broken collarbone suffered on October 31. He is expected to return after Christmas. The Jets have five defensemen out of action at this time.  There are rumors that coach Claude Noel could be in danger of losing his job with Randy Carlyle now available. Stay tuned as Carlyle is one of the top bench coaches in hockey.



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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