Michael Finewax

The Week Ahead

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The Winter Classic

Friday, December 30, 2011


 

PHILADELPHIA

 

Games this week

vs. New York Rangers, vs. Chicago, vs. Ottawa, @ Ottawa

 

Notes

The Flyers play four times this week including three games in four nights so expect to see Sergei Bobrovsky and Ilya Bryzgalov to share the net. Bryzgalov has been a major disappointment this season with a 3.01GAA and a .890 save percentage despite a 14-8-3 record.  The Flyers play Ottawa in a home-and-home series so look for Zac Rinaldo, Scott Hartnell and Wayne Simmonds to add to their penalty minute totals. Sean Couturier returned on Thursday from a concussion and had a pair of helpers, while Brayden Schenn returned on Tuesday from a similar ailment. Claude Giroux continues to lead the NHL in points as he now has 46 points.

 

 PHOENIX

 

Games this week

@ St. Louis, @ Los Angeles, vs. New York Islanders

 

Notes

The Coyotes are the rested team on Saturday when they are home to a tired Islander team who are in Anaheim the previous night. Mikkel Boedker scored twice on Thursday for his first goals in 13 games. Oliver Ekman-Larsson has taken a big step in his second NHL season and looks to be a future star. Mike Smith continues to be out with a lower body injury and Jason LaBarbera is getting a great shot at starting as he has played the last five games in a row. Unfortunately he is 1-3-1 with a GAA of over three so Smith will get the net back upon his return. Martin Hanzal is out after being slashed in the face and the Coyotes recalled Andy Miele for the second time this season.  

PITTSBURGH

 

Games this week

vs. New York Rangers, vs. New Jersey

 

Notes

The Penguins will be rested on Friday when they are home to the Rangers while New York will be tired after playing Florida the previous night. The word on Sidney Crosby is not good as he is doing light workouts but nothing more. Kris Letang is feeling better but still has not started skating. He has missed the last 12 games with a concussion. Evgeni Malkin is moving up the scoring ladder and should be on top shortly if he remains healthy.

 

ST. LOUIS

 

Games this week

vs. Phoenix, vs. Edmonton, vs. Colorado

 

Notes

The Blues are rested on Saturday when they face Colorado who are in Chicago the night before. The Blues are getting excellent goaltending. Everyone is aware of how well Brian Elliott has been this season but Jaroslav Halak has picked it up in December as he is 3-0-2 with a .910 save percentage and a 2.32 GAA. Kris Russell is out for three weeks with a groin injury and Ian Cole will get his chance to get into the lineup.  Jason Arnott is having a surprising season as he has eight goals and 20 points this season with 10 points on the power play. He is also a plus-12, giving him some fantasy value in deeper pools.

 

SAN JOSE

 

Games this week

@ Vancouver, @ Anaheim, vs. Columbus, vs. Washington

 

Notes

The Sharks play four times this week including three games in four nights. They recently recalled goaltender Antero Niittymaki from the minors giving them three goalies at the NHL level but don’t necessarily think that Niittymaki will get into a game soon. Look for Thomas Greiss to play once in place of Antti Niemi this week. The Sharks will be a tired team on Thursday when they face a rested Columbus team at home. The Sharks are in Anaheim the previous night. Doug Murray returned from a hand injury this past week, an injury that cost him ten games.

 

TAMPA BAY

 

Games this week

@ Toronto, @ Ottawa, @ Montreal

 

Notes

The Lightning are in Eastern Canada for all three games this week. Mathieu Garon has won his last two starts and has taken over as the starter from Dwayne Roloson who looks to be done at the age of 42. Steve Stamkos leads the NHL in goals with 23. Victor Hedman is out with an upper body injury suffered on Tuesday forcing the Lightning to recall Evan Oberg from the minors. Stamkos leads the team with 40 points, 13 ahead of Martin St. Louis who is second.

    

TORONTO

 

Games this week

vs. Tampa Bay, vs. Detroit, vs. Winnipeg

 

Notes

The Maple Leafs will be rested on Thursday when a tired Winnipeg team comes to town as the Jets are in Montreal the previous night. Toronto has the worst penalty killing team in the NHL and no team that has finished last in the category has ever made the playoffs so the Maple Leafs either have to improve immensely or hope that they make history. They are also missing John-Michael Liles on the point during the power play as he is out with a…wait for it…concussion. Nazem Kadri has three goals in four games and finally looks like he belongs in the NHL.

 

VANCOUVER

 

Games this week

vs. San Jose, vs. @ Minnesota, @ Boston

 

Notes

Vancouver plays in Boston for the first time since losing to the Bruins in the Stanley Cup Final. Kevin Bieksa has been hot of late with six assists in a five game scoring streak. Christopher Higgins is out of the hospital after needing intravenous fluids to combat a staph infection in his hand. It’s his second staph infection this month as he had one in his foot as well. He could return to the lineup this week. David Booth could return to the Vancouver lineup in the next few weeks as he has been out since a knee-on-knee collision with Kevin Porter on December 6. Henrik Sedin broke Brendan Morrison’s record of 534 consecutive games in a Vancouver uniform. He is second in scoring in the NHL, one point behind Claude Giroux who has 46.

 

WASHINGTON

 

Games this week

vs. Calgary, @ San Jose

 

Notes

The Capitals play only twice this week and may finally get Mike Green back this week as he has played only eight games this season due to a groin injury. Mathieu Pereult is out of action after spearing himself in the stomach during a game against Buffalo this past week. It’s hard to believe but Jason Chimera is the Capitals leading goal scorer with 13, one ahead of Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. Ovechkin continues to be in a season-long slump with 27 points in 35 games with a minus-seven rating and only 16 penalty minutes. Alexander Semin is even worse with nine goals and 17 points in 32 games with a minus-five rating but he does have 40 penalty minutes.     

 

WINNIPEG

Games this week

@ Montreal, @ Toronto, @ Buffalo

 

Notes

The Jets play three games in four nights so look for Chris Mason, who played very well on Thursday in shutting out the Los Angeles Kings, to play at least once in place of Ondrej Pavelec. The Jets will be tired when they play Toronto on Thursday as they are in Montreal the previous night. Dustin Byfuglien became a father on Wednesday and is out of action for about a week with a lower body injury. The two incidents are not related. Winnipeg recalled Patrice Cormier after he had six goals and eight points in eight games before the Christmas break in the AHL. Evander Kane has three goals and four points in his last three games and is coming into his own as a star as he has 18 goals and 29 points this season. Bryan Little has been out of action since December 17 with a foot injury.



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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