Mike Finewax

The Week Ahead

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Happy New Year

Friday, December 23, 2011


Calgary and Edmonton are on road trips this week as the World Junior Tournament hits both cities, forcing them on the road. In fact there are only a few games in Canada this week as Montreal and Toronto play all three away from their friendly confines while Vancouver plays three out of four away from home.

 

Both the Senators and Jets play two out of three at home, so five of the 50 NHL games this week will be played in the United States.

 

Philadelphia and the New York Rangers get the weekend off in anticipation of the Winter Classic which will be played on Monday in Philadelphia. You can watch the game on NBC.

 

WEEK OF DECEMBER 26-JANUARY 1

 

4 Games – Buffalo, Calgary, Carolina, Colorado, Columbus, Detroit, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Nashville, Phoenix, St. Louis, Vancouver, Washington

 

3 Games - Anaheim, Chicago, Dallas, Edmonton,  Florida, Montreal, New Jersey, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Ottawa, Pittsburgh, Toronto, Tampa Bay, Winnipeg

 

 

2 Games – Boston, Philadelphia, San Jose

 

Calgary plays all four games away from home this week.

 

Edmonton, Montreal, Phoenix, Toronto and Vancouver play three times away from home.

 

Chicago, Florida, Minnesota, Nashville and Tampa Bay play three games at home this week.

 

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INJURIES

 

Martin Havlat is out up to eight weeks after surgery to repair a torn hamstring tendon.

 

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

 

ANAHEIM

 

Games this week

@ San Jose, vs. Vancouver, vs. Colorado

 

Notes

The Ducks will be rested on Thursday when they take on a tired Vancouver team who play in San Jose the previous night. Niklas Hagman is projected to be the newest member of the top line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. Saku Koivu is still day-to-day with a groin injury but he should return to action after Christmas. Bobby Ryan is centering the second line in place of Koivu at this time but could return to the top unit, replacing Hagman once Koivu does return.

                                                                                                      

BOSTON

 

Games this week

@ Phoenix, @ Dallas

 

Notes

Rich Peverley has two goals and five assists in his last four games despite struggling with an undisclosed injury. Milan Lucic received a one game suspension for his hit on Zac Rinaldo of the Philadelphia Flyers. It was the second time this season that Lucic has been called up in front of Brendan Shanahan so if he gives out another illegal hit, the suspensions will get more serious. The Bruins continue to get outstanding goaltending from both Tim Thomas and Tuukka Rask and if this continues, Boston will be very difficult to defeat in the race for the Stanley Cup.

 

BUFFALO

 

Games this week

vs. Washington, @ New Jersey, @ Washington, vs. Ottawa

Notes

The Sabres play four times, including three games in four nights so expect to see Jhonas Enroth in once, in place of Ryan Miller. The Sabres also play Washington twice this week, so look for some fisticuffs, especially with the Christmas spirit gone by late in the week. Patrick Kaleta and Paul GaustadThomas Vanek has been a fantasy stud with 17 goals and 35 points to go with 32 penalty minutes this season and 14 power play points including seven goals. Brad Boyes should return after the break as he has been out a month with an ankle injury. He is having another poor season with only eight points in 21 games. 

 

CALGARY

 

Games this week

@ Columbus, @ New York Islanders, @ Ottawa, @ Nashville

 

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 four games on the road and will be rested on Tuesday in Columbus while the Blue Jackets are in Chicago the previous night. The Flames will be tired on Friday when they are in Ottawa after playing in Long Island Thursday. Jarome Iginla is getting hot again as he has four goals and seven points in his last eight games. Some good news on the Mark Giordano front as he has resumed skating after suffering a terrible leg injury. There is no timetable for his return.

 

CAROLINA

 

Games this week

vs. New Jersey, @ Pittsburgh, vs. Toronto, @ Tampa Bay

 

Notes

Carolina plays four times this week including three games in four nights so look for Mike Murphy to get a start in place of Cam Ward. Eric Staal has continued his bad season. While his 20 points thus far isn’t horrible, his minus-20 rating is. Jeff Skinner has been placed on the injured reserve list with a concussion. There is no time table for his return. Young Justin Faulk was not given permission to join Canada at the World Junior Tournament as he is too valuable to the Hurricanes.

 

CHICAGO

 

Games this week

vs. Columbus, vs. Los Angeles, vs. Detroit

 

Notes

Jonathan Toews became the second player in the NHL to hit the 20-goal mark, and is a leading candidate for the Hart Trophy in the early going. Daniel Carcillo was placed on the injured reserve list with an upper body injury. Corey Crawford finally got back into a game as coach Joel Quenneville decided to give Ray Emery a lengthy stretch of games as Crawford has not played well this season. Crawford gave up only a goal on 21 shots in a 5-1 win over Montreal so he goes into the Christmas season feeling better about himself.  The Blackhawks are home for all three games this week.

 

COLORADO

 

Games this week

@ Minnesota, vs. Winnipeg, vs. Phoenix, @ Anaheim

 

Notes

The Avalanche play four games this week, including three games in four nights, so expect to see Semyon Varlamov and Jean-Sebastien Giguere split the net. The Avs will be tired on Tuesday when they are home to Winnipeg after playing in Minnesota the previous day, while they are rested and waiting for the Coyotes on Thursday with Phoenix playing Boston Wednesday.  Kyle Quincey is due to return from a groin injury this week. Peter Mueller (concussion) is skating again but there is no timetable for his return. He played three games at the start of the season after missing all of last year with the same concussion woes.

 

COLUMBUS

 

Games this week

@ Chicago, vs. Calgary, @ Dallas, vs. Washington

 

Notes

The Blue Jackets play four times this week after playing only once the previous week and find themselves playing three in four nights. Therefore, we expect Curtis Sanford to play at least once in place of Steve Mason. The Blue Jackets will be tired when they are home to Calgary on Tuesday after playing in Chicago on Monday but the tables are turned Saturday as they are rested and home against the Capitals who face Buffalo on Friday.  Coach Scott Arniel has split up Rick Nash and Jeff Carter so the top two lines are: Carter alongside Mark Letestu and Vaclav Prospal while Nash will play with Derick Brassard and R.J. Umberger. Look for Sanford and Mason to split the net fairly evenly the next while.

 

DALLAS

 

Games this week

@ St. Louis, vs. Columbus, vs. Boston

 

Notes

Richard Bachman continues to get most of the starts in goal with Kari Lehtonen out of action and Andrew Raycroft just not good enough. The Stars had a couple of injuries in the last week, as Tomas Vincour and Philip Larsen are out. Adam Burish is back from a broken hand and Lehtonen should return after the Christmas break as he has started practicing again.

 


DETROIT

 

Games this week

@ Nashville, vs. St. Louis, @ Chicago, vs. St. Louis

 

Notes

The Red Wings play four times but do not play three in four. Nevertheless with two back-to-back series, look for Ty Conklin to play once in place of the red hot Jimmy Howard. They play the Blues twice this week so look for Jonathan Ericsson and Todd Bertuzzi to add to their penalty minute totals. Niklas Kronwall was not popular in the Vancouver dressing room as he charged into Ryan Kesler and then refused to drop his gloves when challenged by Kesler. Drew Miller has been solid on the third line alongside Darren Helm and Daniel Cleary. Jan Mursak will go to Grand Rapids on a conditioning stint after Christmas as he recovers from a broken ankle.


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Michael Finewax has been covering hockey since 2005 and is the Hockey Editor for Rotoworld. You can follow him on Twitter.
Email :Mike Finewax



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