Mike Finewax

The Week Ahead

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The Winter Classic

Friday, December 30, 2011


 

EDMONTON

 

Games this week

@ Chicago, @ Buffalo, @ St. Louis, @ Dallas

 

Notes

The Oilers play four times this week, including three games in four nights so look for Devan Dubnyk to play once in place of Nikolai Khabibulin. The Oilers will be tired on Tuesday when they are in Buffalo to face the rested Sabres after playing in Chicago on Monday. All four games are on the road as the World Junior Tournament takes place in Edmonton and Calgary.  Ryan Whitney is still hurting from his ankle surgery a year ago and says that he will be only an average defenseman until he is pain-free. That may not happen until next season. Jordan Eberle has taken over the scoring lead on the Oilers from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins as he has 39 to Nugent-Hopkins’ 35. Eberle is currently ninth in NHL scoring.

 

FLORIDA

 

Games this week

@ New York Rangers, @ New Jersey

 

Notes

The Panthers only play twice this week but will be tired on Friday against the Devils as they play the Rangers Thursday night.  I suggest benching all your Panthers with the exception of Kris Versteeg, Stephen Weiss, Tomas Fleischmann and Brian Campbell.  Campbell has 30 points in 37 games after scoring only 27 in a full season with the Blackhawks last year. Mikael Samuelsson (back) could return on the weekend.  Jason Garrison continues to be a pleasant surprise with 11 goals (seven on the power play) and 17 points to go with a plus-seven rating in 37 games.

 

LOS ANGELES

 

Games this week

vs. Colorado, vs. Phoenix, vs. Columbus

 

Notes

Simon Gagne was placed on the injured reserve list with an upper body injury that is believed to be a concussion. Look for Andrei Loktionov to get the first shot at replacing Gagne on the second line with Mike Richards and Trevor Lewis. Jonathan Quick has been outstanding with a 16-10-5 record, 2.08 GAA and a .930 save percentage to go with an NHL leading five shutouts. Anze Kopitar leads the Kings with 34 points, 12 better than Richards and Justin Williams.

 

MINNESOTA

 

Games this week

@ Vancouver, @ Calgary

 

Notes

The Wild only play twice this week and that is a good thing as they have been dropping steadily down the standings after leading the Western Conference for most of December. There is no one worth keeping active this week in weekly pools as the Wild are 1-6-2 in their last nine, after defeating Edmonton on Thursday night and they are hurting badly with a plethora of injuries. Devin Setoguchi has started skating and is hoping to begin practicing soon.  Jared Spurgeon was having an outstanding season until he was hit from behind by Colorado’s Cody McLeod. It is an undisclosed injury that is thought to be a concussion.

 

MONTREAL

 

Games this week

vs. Winnipeg, vs. Tampa Bay

 

Notes

The Habs play twice this week, both at home, but in weekly pools there should be better options than a Montreal player so scour the waiver wire. Scott Gomez is skating but has only played 13 games due to a groin injury. Raphael Diaz has been hot of late with six assists in his last four games as he has really florished under new head coach Randy CunneyworthMichael Cammalleri continues to struggle with only two goals in his last 16 games.

 

NASHVILLE

 

Games this week

vs. Dallas, vs. Carolina

 

Notes

The Predators are home for both games this week. Shea Weber is out with a concussion after being hit by Mark Fistric of the Stars. He was hoping to return by New Year’s Day but the Predators do not want to rush him back. Ryan Ellis was recalled by Nashville to replace Weber. Ellis has a lot of offensive upside but should have limited fantasy value this season. Blake Geoffrion was sent to the minors and replaced by Gabriel Bourque. Brian McGrattan leads the Predators in penalty minutes with 54 in 22 games. Craig Smith has only one goal in his last 22 games.

 

NEW JERSEY

 

Games this week

@ Ottawa, vs. Boston, vs. Florida, @ Pittsburgh

 

Notes

The Devils play four games this week including three games in four nights so look for Johan Hedberg to play at least once in place of Martin Brodeur. The Devils will be a rested team when they take on Florida as the Panthers will be tired after playing in New York on Thursday night. Brodeur has won four of his last five games. Jacob Josefson has started skating again as he has been out since October 21 with a broken clavicle. Adam Larsson has returned from Europe as he attended his grandmother’s funeral. He has been taken off the power play as Kurtis Foster has taken his place.   

 

NEW YORK ISLANDERS

 

Games this week

@ Carolina, @ Anaheim, @ Phoenix

 

Notes

The Islanders are on the road for all three games this week. They are a tired team Saturday against Phoenix after playing in Anaheim Friday night. If you are in need of penalty minutes then grab Micheal Haley who has 28 minutes in seven games including 21 in his last three. Rick DiPietro has started skating again as he recovers from a groin injury suffered on December 3. Al Montoya has a concussion and has not been on the ice since December 20. Anders Nilsson was recalled to back up Evgeni Nabokov who picked up his third win of the season on Thursday.

 

NEW YORK RANGERS

 

Games this week

@ Philadelphia, vs. Florida, @ Pittsburgh

 

Notes

The Rangers are a tired team on Friday when they face the rested Penguins as they play Florida on Thursday. Brad Richards has only one goal in his last eight games. Wojtek Wolski who has been out of action since November 3 with a groin injury, skated alongside extras Sean Avery and Erik Christensen at practice Tuesday. Marc Staal has not played this season due to a concussion, but took part in his first contact practice on December 26. Marian Gaborik was the NHL’s second star of the week after scoring four times and garnering an assist in three games.

 

OTTAWA

 

Games this week

vs. New Jersey, vs. Tampa Bay, @ Philadelphia, vs. Philadelphia

 

Notes

The Senators play four times this week including three games in four nights so expectto see Alexander Auld to play at least once in place of Craig Anderson. Ottawa plays a home-and-home series with the Flyers so expect to see some fisticuffs, especially considering the Senators have Zenon Konopka, Chris Neil and Matt Carkner at their disposal.  Milan Michalek returned from a concussion this past week and lined up on the first unit with Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson. Erik Karlsson leads all defensemen in points with 33.


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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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