Mike Finewax

The Week Ahead

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Giroux or Hartnell?

Friday, December 09, 2011


 

PHILADELPHIA

 

Games this week

@ Washington, @ Montreal, vs. Boston

 

Notes

Claude Giroux is leading the NHL in points with 37, two ahead of Toronto’s Phil Kessel. He is also tied for the league lead in game winning goals with five, along with Johan Franzen of the Red Wings. James van Riemsdyk returned to action on Wednesday and lined up alongside Daniel Briere and Wayne Simmonds. As well as Claude Giroux has been fantasy-wise, the best player in fantasy pools could very well be Scott Hartnell who has 13 goals, 24 points, is a plus-15 to go with 30 penalty minutes and six power play goals. Not too shabby. Ilya Bryzgalov has been a major disappointment. His record is okay as he is 12-5-2, but his 2.84 GAA and .898 save percentage is really hurting your stats in fantasy pools as he was most likely a very high draft pick or you spent a lot of money on him.

 

 PHOENIX

 

Games this week

@ Anaheim, vs. Edmonton, vs. New York Rangers

 

Notes

The Coyotes play 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 Thursday when they are home to the rested Oilers as the Coyotes are in Anaheim Wednesday. Smith was pulled on Thursday after giving up five goals in two periods to the Red Wings but his play overall has been outstanding. Ray Whitney joined an exclusive club as he picked up the 600th assist of his NHL career, becoming the 75th player to do so. Coach Dave Tippett is thrilled with the play of 20-year-old defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson who leads the Coyotes in defenseman goals with five and can only see him getting better. Good news on the Michal Rozsival front as he has been cleared for contact after suffering a concussion on opening night.

PITTSBURGH

 

Games this week

vs. Detroit, @ Ottawa, vs. Buffalo

 

Notes

The Penguins are hoping that superstar Sidney Crosby is back for the Detroit game after holding him out of the lineup two games this past week when he it appeared he suffered a whiplash in the game against Boston on December 6. The Penguins are dealing with a lot of other injuries as well as a total of 10 players are out of action including: Kris Letang (concussion), Jordan Staal (face), Richard Park (lower body), Dustin Jeffrey and others.  

 

ST. LOUIS

 

Games this week

vs. New York Rangers, @ Nashville,  vs. Columbus

 

Notes

The Blues play three games in four nights so look for both Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott to share the net. Elliott continues to be lights out as he leads all NHL goalies with a 1.56 GAA and a .944 save percentage to go with an 11-2-0 record. Jason Arnott hit a milestone on Thursday, playing in his 1,200th NHL game. Ian Cole and Chris Porter each scored on Thursday and there are not too many times you can write that Cole, Porter scored a game. B.J. Crombeen (shoulder) is practicing with the Blues, but he's not taking any contact.  Coach Ken Hitchcock is happy with the play of Matt D’Agostini and has played him on the second line with Patrik Berglund and David Perron. Nice to see Perron back in uniform after he missed 13 months with a concussion.

 

SAN JOSE

 

Games this week

@ Colorado, vs. Colorado, vs. Edmonton

 

Notes

Martin Havlat continues to struggle as he has only one goal this season. The Sharks play a home-and-home series with Colorado this week and if there are tempers flaring look for Ryane Clowe and Brad Winchester to add to their penalty minute totals. Brent Burns has been a big disappointment points-wise this season with only four goals and nine points in 25 games but his plus-10 rating will help you fantasy-wise. Brad Winchester replaced Patrick Marleau on the first line Thursday and scored his third of the season, while Marleau continues to slump with only one point in his last seven games. Dan Boyle and Colin White are the only Sharks with a minus rating at one and three respectively.

 

TAMPA BAY

 

Games this week

vs. New Jersey, vs. Calgary, @ Columbus

 

Notes

Martin St. Louis was one game away from 500 consecutive NHL games on Thursday when he took a puck in the face at practice and suffered facial and nasal fractures, putting him out of the lineup indefinitely. Mathieu Garon has been between the pipes for the last two games for the Lightning as Dwayne Roloson continues to struggle. Mattias Ohlund has suffered a setback in his recovery from arthroscopic surgery on both knees and there is no timetable for his return. Steve Stamkos has come on after a poor start and now has 16 goals and 30 points in 28 games to go with a plus-nine rating and 30 penalty minutes.

  

TORONTO

 

Games this week

vs. Carolina, @ Buffalo, vs. Vancouver

 

Notes

The Maple Leafs will be a tired team on Saturday when a rested Canucks squad comes to town as Toronto is in Buffalo to play the Sabres on Friday. Toronto welcomed back James Reimer to the starting lineup on December 3 and that can only help as they are getting back their top netminder. Jonas Gustavsson did well in relief of Reimer, although he did have his troubles from time-to-time. Colby Armstrong is slated to return to the lineup on December 9 and the Maple Leafs sent prospect Joe Colborne to the minors in anticipation of the return of Armstrong. Clarke MacArthur is also expected back in the lineup on Friday after missing one game with a shoulder injury. After a 30 goal season last year, Nikolai Kulemin has not scored a goal in 21 straight games for the Maple Leafs.

 

VANCOUVER

 

Games this week

@ Columbus, @ Carolina, @ Toronto

 

Notes

Vancouver will be rested and waiting for the Maple Leafs in Toronto Saturday as they play in Buffalo on Friday. Christopher Higgins and David Booth are out of action up front so the Canucks recalled Bill Sweatt from the minors on an emergency basis. Roberto Luongo was forced to leave Tuesday’s game after taking a puck to his throat but was able to play on Thursday in his hometown of Montreal. It’s nice to see Mason Raymond back in action after he suffered a compression fracture in his back during the Stanley Cup Final in June. He scored his first goal of the season Tuesday.

 

WASHINGTON

 

Games this week

vs. Philadelphia. @ Winnipeg, @ Colorado

 

Notes

Alex Ovechkin scored a beautiful goal on Wednesday, his first in six games and hopefully he is ready to break out of his season long funk. He flew back to Russia before the start of the season for the funeral of a family member and we wonder if that has been causing his slow start this year. Defenseman John Carlson is hot of late with seven points in his last three games. Mike Green is skating but did not accompany the team on a two game road trip. He has been out of action since November 11 and hopefully is now day-to-day with a groin injury. Alexander Semin returned to the Washington lineup on Wednesday. He is having a terrible season with five goals and 10 points in 24 games. Thank goodness that he has 34 penalty minutes for his fantasy owners.

                                  

WINNIPEG

Games this week

vs. Minnesota, vs. Washington, vs. Anaheim

 

Notes

The Jets are rested on Saturday when they face a tired Anaheim team as the Ducks have to travel from Chicago on Friday evening. Evander Kane leads the Jets with 14 goals and 21 points in 26 games. Tobias Enstrom (broken collarbone) has started skating with his teammates again but Enstrom, who suffered his injury on October 31, could still be a few weeks away from returning to action. Ondrej Pavelec is 10-9-4 with a 2.99 GAA and a .906 save percentage this season but has won his last three starts, giving up only three goals in the process and stopping 95 of 98 shots. If the Jets make it to the playoffs, their fans will give them a huge boost during home games as they are louder than any other arena in the NHL.



Michael Finewax is entering his 10th season as the Senior Hockey Writer and Editor for Rotoworld. You can follow him on Twitter @mfinewaxhockey.
Email :Mike Finewax



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