Mike Finewax

The Week Ahead

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The Winter Classic

Friday, December 30, 2011


It’s the week of the Winter Classic and the Philadelphia Flyers are hosting the New York Rangers in what should be an outstanding game on NBC.

 

Tempers flared between the two teams when they last met on December 23, as there were a couple of fights in the game, one between Brandon Prust and Marc-Andre Bourdon and the other was between Tom Sestito of the Flyers and Brian Boyle.

 

More people enjoy watching the Winter Classic than even the Stanley Cup Final as outdoor hockey certainly has a big following.

 

And now The Week Ahead.

 

WEEK OF JANUARY 2-8

 

4 Games –Chicago, Edmonton, New Jersey, Ottawa, Philadelphia, San Jose

 

3 Games - Anaheim, Boston, Buffalo, Calgary, Carolina, Colorado, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Phoenix, St. Louis, Toronto, Tampa Bay, Vancouver, Winnipeg

 

2 Games – Florida, Minnesota, Montreal, Nashville, Pittsburgh, Washington

 

Edmonton plays all four games away from home this week.

 

Colorado, Columbus, Detroit, the New York Islanders, Tampa Bay and Winnipeg play three times away from home.

 

Anaheim, Chicago, Los Angeles, Ottawa, Philadelphia, St. Louis and Toronto play three games at home this week.

 

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INJURIES

 

Marcus Kruger returned from a concussion and promptly returned to the sidelines after getting banged around in his first game back.

 

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

 

ANAHEIM

 

Games this week

vs. San Jose, vs. New York Islanders, vs. Columbus

 

Notes

The Ducks will be rested on Sunday when they play a tired Columbus squad as the Blue Jackets are in Los Angeles the previous night. Jason Blake (wrist) is skating with the team and could return by mid-January.  Saku Koivu still has yet to return to action as he has missed three weeks with a groin injury, but his return is imminent. Devante Smith-Pelly was loaned to the Canadian World Junior team and broke his foot in his first game so he will be gone for four-six weeks. Niklas Hagman is getting first line time with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. Getzlaf has only two goals in his last 27 games.

                                                                                                      

BOSTON

 

Games this week

@ New Jersey, vs. Calgary, vs. Vancouver

 

Notes

The Bruins play three games in four nights so look for Tuukka Rask to get into one game in place of Tim Thomas. The Bruins face the Vancouver Canucks at home for the first time since besting them in the Stanley Cup Final. The crowd should be wild. Boston will be a tired team Thursday, facing a rested Calgary team as the Bruins are in New Jersey Wednesday night. Rich Peverley is due to return to the Boston lineup on December 31 after missing over a week with an undisclosed injury. The Bruins are 21-2-1 in their last 24 games, going from last to first in the East.

 

BUFFALO

 

Games this week

vs. Edmonton, @ Carolina, vs. Winnipeg

 

Notes

The Sabres are a rested team on Tuesday when they face the Oilers as Edmonton will be tired playing in Chicago Monday.  Paul Szczechura was getting first line time but was in the press box on Monday before being sent to the minors. Nathan Gerbe has missed nine games with a concussion but is starting to skate with the Sabres. Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville are tied at 38 points with Vanek at 18 goals and Pominville at 12. Marc-Andre Gragnini has been a healthy scratch the last four games.

 

CALGARY

 

Games this week

@ Washington, @ Boston, vs. Minnesota

 

Notes

Calgary finally return home on Saturday after being forced to vacate the Saddledome due to the World Junior Tournament. The Flames will be rested on Thursday when they are in Boston. The Bruins play in New Jersey the previous night and will be tired upon their return. Jarome Iginla is just two goals shy of 500 goals and when he reaches the mark, he’ll be the 42nd player in NHL history to achieve the goal. Alex Tanguay is week-to-week with an upper body injury and has been placed on the injured reserve list. The top line now is Iginla, Olli Jokinen and Curtis Glencross.

 

CAROLINA

 

Games this week

vs. New York Islanders, vs. Buffalo, @ Nashville

 

Notes

Zac Dalpe is on the top line alongside Eric Staal and picked up his first goal and assist on Thursday.  Jiri Tlusty is on the other wing and that cannot strike fear into too many opponents.  Joni Pitkanen has been out since December 6 with a concussion and still hasn’t been cleared to practice. Jussi Jokinen has not found the back of the net in 17 games but does have nine assists in that span.

 

CHICAGO

 

Games this week

vs. Edmonton, @ Philadelphia, vs. Colorado, vs. Detroit

 

Notes

The Blackhawks play four times this week including three games in four nights so look for Ray Emery to play once in place of Corey Crawford who has taken back the net with some stellar play of late. The Blackhawks will be tired on Friday when they are home to Colorado after playing in Philadelphia the previous night and will be waiting and rested for divisional opponent Detroit on Sunday as the tired Red Wings play in Toronto on Saturday night.  Marian Hossa has been on fire of late with 14 points in his last nine games.

 

COLORADO

 

Games this week

@ Los Angeles, @ Chicago, @ St. Louis

 

Notes

The Avalanche will be the rested team on Friday when they take on the Chicago Blackhawks who are in Philadelphia the night before, but will be the tired team the following night in St. Louis. Peter Mueller is practicing with the Avs and hopes to return soon. He has played only three games this season after not playing at all last year due to a concussion. Kyle Quincey had been a healthy scratch in his previous four games before getting back into the lineup on Thursday. The Avalanche are a perfect 6-0 in shootouts with Detroit being the only other team without a loss albeit only in one game. Matt Duchene suffered a knee injury Thursday night and is out for an undetermined amount of time.

 

COLUMBUS

 

Games this week

@ San Jose, @ Los Angeles, @ Anaheim

 

Notes

The Blue Jackets play all three games in California this week and will be rested on Thursday when they face a tired Sharks squad who are in Anaheim the previous night. They then play a pair on the weekend in Los Angeles, taking on the Kings on Saturday and then playing the rested Ducks in Anaheim the next night. Ryan Johansen is getting the opportunity to play on the top line alongside Rick Nash and Jeff Carter. Steve Mason is getting a few more starts with Curtis Sanford not quite 100 percent and played quite well in a win over Dallas Thursday.

 

DALLAS

 

Games this week

vs. Detroit, @ Nashville, vs. Edmonton

 

Notes

Kari Lehtonen finally returned to action after missing almost five weeks with a groin injury. The Stars are down a couple of defensemen with Sheldon Souray and Stephane Robidas out of action for the next 10-14 days. Andrew Raycroft was placed on waivers Wednesday and was sent to the minors Thursday when he went unclaimed. Richard Bachman will back up Lehtonen. Almost half-way through the season, Mike Ribeiro has only six goals although he does have 21 assists.

 

DETROIT

 

Games this week

@ Dallas, @ Toronto, @ Chicago

 

Notes

The Red Wings will be the tired team on Sunday as they play the rested Blackhawks on Sunday after playing in Toronto the previous night. They play all three games on the road. The Red Wings placed Tomas Holmstrom (groin) on injured reserve and recalled Gustav Nyquist from the minors. Nyquist was the leading scorer with Grand Rapids as he had 30 points in 30 games. The Darren Helm, Drew Miller and Daniel Cleary line has been Detroit’s best of late according to coach Mike Babcock. Jan Mursak was sent to the minors on a conditioning stint after missing the start of the season with an ankle injury.


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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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