Mike Finewax

The Week Ahead

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The Curse of Phil Kessel!

Friday, December 16, 2011


 

PHILADELPHIA

 

Games this week

@ Colorado, @ Dallas, @ New York Rangers

 

Notes

The Flyers are rested on Friday when they face a tired Rangers squad. Claude Giroux suffered a concussion and is out indefinitely. The news on Chris Pronger is not good as he will miss the rest of the season and the playoffs with severe post-concussion syndrome.  Brayden Schenn practiced on Wednesday for the first time since suffering a concussion on December 3 and is close to returning. Wayne Simmonds has registered a goal in five of his past six games and now has 15 points in 32 games including nine goals, and 44 penalty minutes.  Rookie Sean Couturier is now centering the top line in place of the injured Claude Giroux with Jaromir Jagr and Scott Hartnell on his wings.

 

 PHOENIX

 

Games this week

@ Florida, @ Carolina, vs. St. Louis

 

Notes

The Coyotes play three in four nights so expect to see Jason LaBarbera in goal once instead of Mike Smith. Phoenix will be tired on Wednesday when they travel to Carolina after playing in Florida Tuesday. Michal Rozsival returned to the lineup this past week for the second time this season as he had been out with a concussion since opening night. Kyle Turris has been held off the scoreboard in all six games this season and that can’t be a surprise as most holdouts have a poor season when returning once the year starts, never mind missing almost two months. Radim Vrbata continues to have a good season with 15 goals and 26 points in 31 games to go with a plus-12 rating.

PITTSBURGH

 

Games this week

vs. Chicago, @ Winnipeg

 

Notes

The Penguins will be rested on Friday when they are in Winnipeg to play their final game before the Christmas break. The Jets are home to Montreal on Thursday so the Penguins could see a good game. Jordan Staal is playing through a lower body injury, missing practice but managing to play in games. Zbynek Michalek is hopeful that he will be available to return to the lineup from a concussion on Friday after being out since November 26. There is now no timetable for Sidney Crosby’s return. Crosby has passed the baseline testing for concussion victims but doesn’t feel right so the Penguins will not rush him back. Richard Park will miss four-to-six weeks with a fractured foot.

 

ST. LOUIS

 

Games this week

@ Colorado, @ Phoenix

 

Notes

The Blues Brian Elliott continued his dream season with another win on Thursday and is now 13-2-0 with a league leading 1.43 GAA and a .948 save percentage, which is also best in the NHL. David Perron should be picked up in most leagues. After missing 13 months with a concussion, Perron has returned and has four points in his first five games. Vladimir Sobotka's foot isn't broken, but it is swollen and he will be re-evaluated in another two weeks so reserve him if he is in your lineup. Chris Stewart continues to be in a funk this season as he has only four goals, with only one in his last 13 games. Good thing for fantasy owners that he has 48 penalty minutes.

 

SAN JOSE

 

Games this week

vs. Tampa Bay, vs. Los Angeles

 

Notes

The Sharks are in the midst of a six game homestand. They are rested on Friday when they play the Kings as Los Angeles will be tired after playing the Ducks at home on Thursday. Antti Niemi has played well for the most part this season as he is 12-6-3 with a goals-against average of 2.41 and a .916 save percentage. Patrick Marleau continues to play on the third line and now Torrey Mitchell has taken over his old spot on the top line with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski. Marleau broke a seven game goalless streak as he found the back of the net on Tuesday.

 

TAMPA BAY

 

Games this week

@ San Jose, @ Colorado

 

Notes

Steve Stamkos tied for the NHL goal scoring lead on Thursday as he potted his 19th of the season. Mathieu Garon has certainly outplayed 42-year-old Dwayne Roloson in goal this season but the Lightning likely need to go out and find a better number one if they hope to make the playoffs and do any damage if they get that far. They also have a mediocre blueline so that will hinder the cause as well. Pavel Kubina returned to Tampa Bay's lineup on Monday after missing four games with an undisclosed lower-body injury and that should help the defense. Martin St. Louis is out until after Christmas at the earliest with nasal and facial fractures.

   

TORONTO

 

Games this week

vs. Los Angeles, vs. Buffalo, @ New York Islanders

 

Notes

James Reimer won his first game on Tuesday since his whiplash/concussion injury on October 22. Matthew Lombardi has missed the last 11 games with a shoulder injury but he skated hard on Wednesday and his next step will be to partake in practice. His return is around the corner. Tyler Bozak continues to center the top line with Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul while Tim Connolly heads the third line, alongside Colby Armstrong and Clarke MacArthur. Nikolai Kumelin potted 30 goals last season but has been stuck on two since October 22, a span of 23 games.

 

VANCOUVER

 

Games this week

vs. Minnesota, vs. Detroit, vs. Calgary

 

Notes

Vancouver will be rested and waiting for Calgary on Friday as the Flames will be home to Detroit on Thursday before traveling to Vancouver. Daniel Sedin missed Thursday’s game with back spasms. Mason Raymond moved up to the first line with Aaron Rome, usually a defenseman, playing on the third line. Cody Hodgson is playing on the fourth line and getting less than 11 minutes of action per game.  Andrew Ebbett skated on Thursday and has apparently recovered from his broken foot. His return is imminent. Cory Schneider and Roberto Luongo are splitting the net of late with Schneider actually playing better overall this season.

 

WASHINGTON

 

Games this week

vs. Nashville, @ New Jersey

 

Notes

Mike Green is finally due to play on December 17 as he has missed 22 games this season with a groin injury. If you have him in your pool, chances are you are trailing as he should have been a high pick. Jason Chimera is on pace to post his best offensive season in 2011-12 as he has 11 goals and 17 points in 30 games. His best point total in his career was 36 and his best goal output was 17, so he is definitely in line to best those numbers. John Carlson was the NHL's third star of the week with a goal and seven points in three games. 

 

WINNIPEG

Games this week

vs. New York Islanders, vs. Montreal, vs. Pittsburgh

 

Notes

The Jets play three games in four nights so expect to see Chris Mason play once instead of Ondrej Pavelec. The Jets are rested on Thursday when they face a tired Montreal team as the Canadiens have to travel from Chicago on Wednesday evening. But the Penguins will be waiting and rested on Friday for the Jets. The Jets will end a six game homestand with the Pittsburgh game. Alexander Burmistrov has missed the last two games with an undisclosed injury. Evander Kane leads the Jets with 15 goals and 24 points while Blake Wheeler has 18 assists to lead the club in that category.



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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