Michael Finewax

The Week Ahead

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Happy New Year

Friday, December 23, 2011


 

PHILADELPHIA

 

Games this week

@ Tampa Bay, @ Pittsburgh

 

Notes

The Flyers only play twice this week so we can suggest benching all your Philadelphia players with the exception of Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell and Kimmo Timonen. Claude Giroux returned to action from a concussion on December 21, way ahead of what most people thought and returned with a bang as he was in on all four goals. Not good news if you had Wayne Simmonds in your hockey pool as he had a goal taken away from him Monday and did not get an assist as Daniel Briere was credited with the marker.

 

 PHOENIX

 

Games this week

@ Los Angeles, vs. Boston, @ Colorado, @ Minnesota

 

Notes

The Coyotes play four times including three in four nights so expect to see Jason LaBarbera in goal once instead of Mike Smith. Phoenix will be tired on Thursday when they travel to Colorado after playing Boston Wednesday. The Coyotes are hoping that Smith will be back in action this week as he left the December 20 game with an undisclosed injury. The Coyotes recalled Justin Pogge to back up LaBarbera in the interim. Ray Whitney continues to amaze at age 39 as he has 12 goals and 32 points in 34  games to go with a plus-10 rating. David Rundblad was acquired by the Coyotes in exchange for Kyle Turris in a great trade for Phoenix as he is a highly regarded rearguard. He will be helped out by fellow Swede Oliver Ekman-Larsson in a duo the Coyotes hope will be around for ten-plus years.

 

PITTSBURGH

 

Games this week

vs. Carolina, vs. Philadelphia, @ New Jersey

 

Notes

The Penguins will be rested on Tuesday when they are home to Carolina as the Hurricanes will be a tired team after playing New Jersey on Monday. Deryk Engelland was suspended for three games for his hit on the Blackhawks Marcus Kruger. Paul Martin has been out for a week with a possible lower body injury and is still day-to-day. Eric Niskanen was thought to be the throw-in in the James Neal/Alex Goligoski trade last season but he has taken over the power play duties from the injured Kris Letang and is doing a great job on the blueline. He has two goals and 14 points in 33 games to go with 27 penalty minutes and a plus-nine rating but has a goal and seven points in his last five games. He is worth picking up in all fantasy pools at this time.  

 

ST. LOUIS

 

Games this week

vs. Dallas , @ Detroit, vs. Nashville, @ Detroit

 

Notes

The Blues play four games this week including two games against the Red Wings in Detroit. There may be fisticuffs in the pair of games so look for Chris Stewart, Ryan Reaves and Scott Nichol to add to their penalty minute totals. T.J. Oshie is playing in front of the net during the first power play. Look for B.J. Crombeen to see his first action of the season this week as he has been out with a shoulder injury. No word yet as to whether or not the shoulder will hold up during a fight.  

SAN JOSE

 

Games this week

vs. Anaheim, vs. Vancouver

 

Notes

The Sharks are at the end of a six game homestand. Martin Havlat suffered a torn hamstring that required surgery and will keep him on the shelf for the next six-eight weeks. He was injured trying to jump over the boards. The Sharks only play twice this week, so if you have some options as far as most secondary Sharks are concerned in weekly pools, bench your San Jose players. Antero Niittymaki is playing well while rehabbing in the AHL and should return shortly. Thomas Greiss will be sent back to the minors once Niittymaki is recalled.

 

TAMPA BAY

 

Games this week

vs. Philadelphia, vs. Montreal, vs. Carolina

 

Notes

The Lightning are home all week as the NHL hopes that Northerners getting away from the winter weather, will come to some Tampa Bay home games.  Martin St. Louis surprised many by returning to the lineup before Christmas from nasal and facial fractures. Get him back in your lineup. It looks like it may be the end of the line for Dwayne Roloson who continues to struggle in goal for Tampa Bay. He is 6-8-1 this season and his peripherals are even worse with a 3.72 GAA and a .883 save percentage, making him perhaps the worse fantasy goalie this season in the NHL. Mathieu Garon has been a lot better, but not great, with a 8-9-1 record, a 2.90 GAA and a .901 save percentage. The Lightning are in trouble unless they can turn their goaltending around quickly.

    

TORONTO

 

Games this week

@ Florida, @ Carolina, @ Winnipeg

 

Notes

James Reimer will likely start against the Jets in Winnipeg as the Manitoba native plays his first NHL game there with plenty of friends and family in the crowd. He has played great of late with a couple of 40-plus shot games, one win and a shootout loss. Nazem Kadri was recalled from the minors and this could be the last time he sees time in the minors as he finally looks like belongs in the NHL. He scored a beautiful goal to win Thursday’s game against the Sabres and looked competent defensively. Philippe Dupuis is out with an upper body injury but has no fantasy value with no points in 30 games. Colby Armstrong is out with a concussion and there is no timetable for his return.

 

VANCOUVER

 

Games this week

vs. Edmonton, @ San Jose, @ Anaheim, @ Los Angeles

 

Notes

Vancouver plays four games this week including three in four nights so look for Cory Schneider and Roberto Luongo to share the net. The Canucks will be tired on Thursday in Anaheim after playing in San Jose the previous night. Roberto Luongo is back to his old self as he is 4-0-1 in his last five, giving up seven goals on 157 shots. He is 14-6-2 this season with a .913 save percentage and a 2.46 GAA.  Alexander Edler has six goals and 24 points this season and has 14 points on the power play.

 

WASHINGTON

 

Games this week

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

 

Notes

The Capitals play three games in four nights so expect to see Michal Neuvirth in goal in place of Tomas Vokoun at least one game. Washington will be tired on Saturday when they travel to Columbus after playing the Sabres at home Friday. Speaking of Buffalo, the Capitals face them twice this week so look for John Erskine and Matt Hendricks to add to their penalty minutes. Mike Green is still not ready to return to action from a groin injury. The Capitals have switched up their top two lines and now have Alex Ovechkin on a lone with Brooks Laich and Troy Brouwer  while Nicklas Backstrom is with Alexander Semin and Marcus Johansson.         

 

WINNIPEG

Games this week

@ Colorado, vs. Los Angeles, vs. Toronto

 

Notes

The Jets play two games this week as the rested team. They face Colorado on Tuesday after the Avs are in Minnesota the previous night and also play the Kings Thursday as the rested team with a tired Los Angeles team playing in Chicago on Wednesday. The big game of the week will be New Years Eve as Toronto will come to town and there are a lot of Maple Leaf fans in Manitoba so the crowd reaction should be interesting. It will also be a very hot ticket. Blake Wheeler has been an excellent playmaker this season with 19 assists this season. He also has five goals and a plus-11 rating so he has a lot of fantasy value in deeper leagues.



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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