Mike Finewax

The Week Ahead

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The Curse of Phil Kessel!

Friday, December 16, 2011


There is an unknown curse in the NHL at this time:

 

THE CURSE OF KESSEL!

 

It seems that Phil Kessel’s spirits do not like it when he is passed in any category.

 

Claude Giroux knows the feeling of the curse as he passed Kessel in points eight days ago. He then played Saturday and suffered a concussion when his own teammate Wayne Simmonds hit him accidentally (or was it) in the head.

 

Then on Tuesday Milan Michalek passed Kessel for the goal scoring lead with his 19th. Later in the game Michalek suffered a concussion when he collided with his own teammate, Erik Karlsson. Is this a coincidence?

 

Daniel Sedin is tied with Kessel at 36 points and suddenly had to sit out Thursday’s game with back spasms.  Hmmm. That’s interesting.

 

A word of advice to Steve Stamkos who passed Kessel with his 19th  goal on Thursday night.

 

BE CAREFUL. BE VERY CAREFUL.

 

In other news:

 

A Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukah to all as the NHL hits the Christmas break. There will be no games played on the weekend as the league is dark on December 24 and 25 to give the players time to spend with their families.

 

 

James O’Brien continues to write a great column, The Daily Dose, every 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 DECEMBER 19-25

 

3 Games – Calgary, Colorado, Dallas, Detroit, Florida, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Montreal, Nashville, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Ottawa, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Toronto, Vancouver, Winnipeg

 

2 Games - Anaheim, Boston, Buffalo, Carolina, Chicago, Edmonton, New Jersey, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, San Jose, Tampa Bay, Washington

 

1 Game - Columbus

 

Detroit, Minnesota, Montreal and Philadelphia play three times away from home.

 

Colorado, Detroit, Vancouver and Winnipeg play three games at home this week.

 

Follow me on twitter!

 

INJURIES

 

Claude Giroux suffered a concussion, Chris Pronger is out for the season with a concussion and Zdeno Chara is out with a leg injury.

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

 

ANAHEIM

 

Games this week

@ Dallas, @ Los Angeles

 

Notes

Lubomir Visnovsky returned to action this past week after missing five weeks with a broken finger, and his presence on the blueline will be a huge boost to the Ducks and new coach Bruce Boudreau. Corey Perry has five points in his last five games. Jason Blake has started to take some shots on net and has been skating. He suffered torn tendons in his wrist on October 14 and is slated to return by mid-January.  Saku Koivu was put on the injured reserve with a lower body injury but is eligible to return at any time. The Ducks acquired Mark Fraser, Rod Pelley, and a 2012 seventh round pick from New Jersey in exchange for Kurtis Foster and goaltending prospect Timo Pielmeier. Pelley and Frase may help but will not have any fantasy value this season.

                                                                                                      

BOSTON

 

Games this week

vs. Montreal, vs. Florida

 

Notes

The Bruins will be rested on Friday when they play Florida as the Panthers are in Ottawa on Thursday and will be tired. The Bruins top line of Nathan Horton, David Krejci and Milan Lucic has struggled of late with only six points total in their last six games and all the points came in one game against the Blue Jackets on Saturday. Gregory Campbell is out of action with a cracked bone in his foot. Boston goaltenders Tim Thomas and Tuukka Rask have been outstanding this season as they are second and third respectively in save percentage at .940 and .939, while Rask is tied for second in GAA at 1.82 with Thomas right behind in fourth at 1.93. That is sensational and the main reason the Bruins are currently first overall in the East after trailing the complete pack heading into November.  

 

BUFFALO

 

Games this week

@ Ottawa, @ Toronto

 

Notes

The Sabres will play both games on the road in Ontario this week against division rivals Ottawa and Toronto. Tyler Myers is looking to return after the Christmas break from a broken wrist suffered on November 19. Ville Leino is out for weeks with a lower body injury and his spot on the third line will be taken by Matt Ellis to start. Marc-Andre Gragnini got off to a great start in October and was on the first power play but his ice time has dwindled of late and is now seeing less than 10 minutes on some nights. Paul Szczechura is centering Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville at this time on the top unit.

 

CALGARY

 

Games this week

vs. Minnesota, vs. Detroit, @ Vancouver

 

Notes

Calgary plays three games in four nights so Leland Irving could get a start in relief of Miikka Kiprusoff this week. The Flames play all three games as either a rested or tired team. They will be tired on Friday when they are in Vancouver after facing the Red Wings at home on Thursday.  Detroit is Vancouver on Wednesday and will be tired playing the Flames Thursday. On Tuesday the Flames face a tired Minnesota squad who are in Vancouver on Monday. That’s a lot of Vancouver talk for Calgary notes. It looks like the flu bug is still present in the Flames dressing room as Rene Bourque missed Tuesday’s game after Alex Tanguay and Curtis Glencross each missed a game last week.  Kiprusoff had won his last five games heading into Thursday’s action but dropped a 5-4 overtime decision to Tampa Bay in which he made 29 saves.

 

CAROLINA

 

Games this week

vs. Phoenix, vs. Ottawa

 

Notes

Carolina gets a break this week when they face a couple of tired teams. They face Phoenix on Wednesday after the Coyotes travel from Florida on Tuesday. Then they play Ottawa on Friday after the Senators face the Panthers Thursday. The Hurricanes are reeling and have been one of the worst teams in the NHL this season so they are in the mix to select first overall at the Entry Draft with Nail Yakupov being the prize at this time. GM Jim Rutherford said backup goalie Brian Boucher might be out two months with a lower-body injury so look for Cam Ward to continue to see the vast majority of the action with Mike Murphy getting a rare start or coming in during blowouts. Jeff Skinner and Joni Pitkanen are out indefinitely with concussions.

 

CHICAGO

 

Games this week

@ Pittsburgh, vs. Montreal

 

Notes

Chicago will be tired on Wednesday when they face the rested Canadiens as the Blackhawks are in Pittsburgh Tuesday. The Blackhawks will get the earliest start on the Christmas break as they finish their schedule on Wednesday and get four days off. Dave Bolland got himself into some hot water when he made some disparaging remarks about the Sedin twins.   Marian Hossa has been hot of late with six points in his last three games. Ray Emery has temporarily taken over as the Blackhawks number one netminder from the struggling Corey Crawford. Emery has started four of the last five games and finished up the fifth when Crawford was pulled after giving up three goals on 16 shots. Emery is 4-0-1 in his last five.

 

COLORADO

 

Games this week

vs. Philadelphia, vs. St. Louis, vs. Tampa Bay

 

Notes

The Avalanche play all three games at home this week. Erik Johnson has not scored this season, a span of 27 games. Brandon Yip has yet to get a point this season as he has played only nine games due to a broken forearm and is now on the injured reserve list. Paul Stastny returned after being out with a torso injury and had a three point night Thursday with new linemate Daniel Winnik who had a Gordie Howe hat trick.  Kyle Quincey is having a nice rebound season after only one point in 21 games last season. He currently has three goals and 17 points this season and is tied for second in power play points with eight, including all three goals. Semyon Varlamov is struggling with a 3.14 GAA and a .896 save percentage, although his record is not that bad at 10-13-1. The Avalanche have given up eight empty net goals which does not help the plus/minus.

 

COLUMBUS

 

Games this week

@ Nashville

 

Notes

The Blue Jackets are the only team to play once this week so we suggest benching all your Columbus players. Steve Mason got into his first game this past week in four weeks and had to be pulled, not for a poor performance, but rather, he was dehydrated and began cramping in his left quadriceps, requiring intravenous fluids. The good news is that he is okay and actually played like an NHL goalie once again, giving coach Scott Arniel a choice between the pipes along with Curtis Sanford. James Wisniewski has 16 points in 23 games with a poor minus-15 rating.  It was thought the leg injury suffered by Derek Dorsett was serious and that he might be out for months, but consider him day-to-day for now. He was third in penalty minutes in the NHL with 73 minutes, heading into action on Thursday.   

 

DALLAS

 

Games this week

vs. Anaheim, vs. Philadelphia, vs. Nashville

 

Notes

Dallas plays all three games at home.  They are rested on Friday when they take on the Predators, as Nashville are home to Columbus on Thursday. Richard Bachman has been sensational in his NHL debut since his recall to replace the injured Kari Lehtonen. He has taken over of late for Andrew Raycroft and has given up only three goals in his first three starts in 88 shots, winning all three. Mark Fistric returned to action on Thursday after serving a five game suspension. Loui Eriksson was having a tough time finding the back of the net with only one goal in his last 13 games heading into action Thursday, but broke out with a goal and an assist. Sheldon Souray is in a worse slump with no points in his last 15 games.

 

DETROIT

 

Games this week

@ Edmonton, @ Vancouver, @ Calgary

 

Notes

The Red Wings will spend the week before Christmas in Western Canada and they play three games in four nights. Look for Ty Conklin to play once in place of the red hot Jimmy Howard. They will be tired on Thursday when they travel to Calgary after playing the previous night in Vancouver.  Jiri Hudler has been terrific of late on a line with Valtteri Filppula and Henrik Zetterberg. He has six points in his last four games. Jan Mursak was hoping to return to the lineup just after Christmas from a broken ankle, but it looks like it will be well into January before he returns. 


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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 :Mike Finewax



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