Michael Finewax

The Week Ahead

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Milan Michalek an All-Star?

Friday, January 06, 2012


The All-Star vote by the fans ended on Wednesday and there sure seems to be a lot of Ottawa Senators fans in the NHL as four of the six selections, including all three forwards, were from the Senators franchise.

 

While we won’t argue with the selection of  defenseman Erik Karlsson to the team as he leads all NHL defensemen in points with 37, the forward line of Jason Spezza, Daniel Alfredsson and Milan Michalek leaves a lot to be desired. Spezza is 11th in scoring while Alfredsson is 68th and Michalek is 79th.

 

The other two selections were Tim Thomas (a no-brainer, although James Reimer of Toronto was leading most of the way) and Toronto defenseman Dion Phaneuf. There were better choices on the blueline available.

 

You would think by the fans vote that the 2011-12 Ottawa Senators were the 1983-84 Edmonton Oilers.

 

Oh well.

 

Now to The Week Ahead.

 

WEEK OF JANUARY 9-15

 

4 Games – Anaheim, Carolina, Chicago, Los Angeles, Montreal, New York Rangers, Pittsburgh, San Jose, Tampa Bay, Vancouver, Washington

 

3 Games - Boston, Buffalo, Calgary, Colorado, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit,  Edmonton, Minnesota, Nashville, New Jersey, New York Islanders, Ottawa, Philadelphia, Phoenix, St. Louis, Toronto, Winnipeg

 

2 Games – Florida

 

 

San Jose plays all four games away from home this week.

 

Anaheim, New Jersey, Ottawa, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Vancouver play three times away from home.

 

Calgary, Chicago, Edmonton, Montreal, the New York Islanders and Tampa Bay play three games at home this week.

 

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INJURIES

 

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins suffered a shoulder injury this week and could be out a month.

 

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

 

ANAHEIM

 

Games this week

vs. Dallas, @ Calgary, @Edmonton, @ Vancouver

 

Notes

The Ducks play four times this week including three games in four nights so look for Dan Ellis to get at least one start in place of Jonas Hiller. The Ducks will be tired Friday when the face a rested Oilers team as Anaheim plays in Calgary Thursday. There will be plenty of rumors flying around the next few weeks as GM Bob Murray said this past week that outside of Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu, who have no-movement clauses, everyone else is on the block for trades and that includes Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan. He does not want draft choices back, so if any or all of these players are dealt, it will be a blockbuster. Jason Blake returned on Wednesday from a torn tendon in his wrist that kept him out of action since October 14. He lined up on the second line with Selanne and Koivu but was on the third line in practice on Thursday with Niklas Hagman moving up.

                                                                                                      

BOSTON

 

Games this week

vs. Winnipeg, vs. Montreal, @ Carolina

 

Notes

Nathan Horton had been struggling with only five points in his last 12 games before a three point outburst on Thursday. Tim Thomas has been outstanding this season, but so has backup Tuukka Rask so do not be surprised if the net is shared over the next few months in an effort to keep Thomas fresh for the playoffs. David Krejci was off to an extremely slow start this season with only one point in the month of October but has 27 points including eight goals, in his last 26 games.

 

BUFFALO

 

Games this week

@ Toronto, vs. Toronto, @ New York Islanders

 

Notes

The Sabres are a tired team on Saturday when they face the rested Islanders as Buffalo plays the Maple Leafs Friday. They play a home-and-home series with Toronto and that could get ugly so look for Paul Gaustad, Cody McCormick and of course, Patrick Kaleta to possibly add to their penalty minute totals. Tyler Myers is finally expected back on January 6 after being out since November 19 with a broken wrist. Ville Leino has been a major disappointment this season after signing a mega-deal in the off-season as a UFA. He is recovering from a broken foot and hopes to return this week. Tyler Ennis was hoping to return from an ankle injury but had a setback and is unlikely to play this week. The Islanders game starts a seven game road trip for the Sabres.

 

CALGARY

 

Games this week

vs. New Jersey, vs. Anaheim, vs. Los Angeles

 

Notes

Rene Bourque was suspended for five games for his hit on the Capitals’ Nicklas Backstrom. He is a repeat offender and will be eligible to return on January 17. Jarome Iginla is just one goal away from the magical 500 mark in his career. The Flames recalled Raitis Ivanans from the minors and if he gets some ice time, he should get penalty minutes as he is an enforcer. Defenseman Derek Smith is out six-eight weeks with a high ankle sprain. Mark Giordano could return shortly and that would be a huge boost for the Flames defensive corps as they are hurting. He is their power play quarterback and will definitely help in the offensive categories fantasy-wise. Chris Butler was an awful minus-seven Thursday against Boston.

 

CAROLINA

 

Games this week

vs. Philadelphia, @ Tampa Bay, vs. Boston, @ Washington

 

Notes

The Hurricanes play three games in four nights and four times this week so look for Justin Peters to be in goal once in place of the workhorse Cam Ward. Carolina will be tired on Sunday when they play a rested Washington squad as the Hurricanes take on the Bruins Saturday. Zac Dalpe saw action on the top line alongside Eric Staal last week and was sent to the minors this week. Justin Faulk will continue to quarterback the power play with Joni Pitkanen (concussion) undergoing knee surgery that will keep him out four weeks. Jiri Tlusty was given every opportunity by coach Kirk Muller to play on the top line with Staal but failed miserably and now Andreas Nodl will get his shot.

 

CHICAGO

 

Games this week

vs. Columbus, vs. Minnesota, @ Detroit, vs. San Jose

 

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. Daniel Carcillo was suspended for seven games for his hit from behind on Tom Gilbert. Carcillo suffered a possible knee injury on the same play so we wonder if the suspension will start immediately or when he is healthy enough to return. Marcus Kruger (concussion) and Steve Montador (upper body) have been placed on the injured reserve list, necessitating the recall of center Andrew Shaw and defenseman Dylan Olsen. The Blackhawks were only 1-for-21 on the power play heading into Thursday’s action so Patrick Kane was dropped to the second unit and replaced by Andrew Brunette, which should give Brunette extra fantasy value.

 

COLORADO

 

Games this week

vs. Nashville, @ Nashville, vs. Dallas

 

Notes

The Avalanche play a home-and-home series with the Predators and there could be fisticuffs in either or both games so we suggest putting in Cody McLeod and Shane O'Brien into your fantasy lineup if you need minutes. Peter Mueller (concussion) continues to practice with the Avs and they are hopeful that he will return to the lineup shortly as he has only played three times in the last two seasons. Goaltenders Semyon Varlamov and Jean-Sebastien Giguere are splitting the net as each played in eight games in December. This is probably good for the young Varlamov as he gets to watch and learn from the veteran Giguere, who is having a great season. David Jones returned this past week from a groin injury.

 

COLUMBUS

 

Games this week

@ Chicago, vs. Phoenix, vs. San Jose

 

Notes

The Blue Jackets are the tired team Saturday when they host a rested San Jose squad, who will likely watch Friday’s Columbus-Phoenix game. They will be rested on Friday when they play the Coyotes who are in Detroit the previous night. Rick Nash is now open to waiving his no-trade contract in a hypothetical scenerio and the Blue Jackets could trade him and start the re-build. Nikita Nikitin should be on your radar if you are looking for a power play quarterback as he has taken over from the injured James Wisniewski who is out until February with a broken ankle. Derek MacKenzie set a Columbus record among forwards last season with a plus-14 and is back at it this season as he is plus-nine, the only plus player for the Blue Jackets who has played more than three games. He should be on some NHL team’s radar as a third line checker when the Blue Jackets start dealing.

 

DALLAS

 

Games this week

@ Anaheim, @ Los Angeles, vs. Colorado

 

Notes

The Stars have been hurting on the blueline but got Stephane Robidas back on January 5 and that will help. Sheldon Souray is still out, as is Philip Larsen, so Jamie Benn’s older brother Jordie is still with the team. It was a proud time for the Benn family as Jordie Benn was recalled last week and the two brothers combined in setting up Loui Eriksson for the Stars’ first goal of the game. Kari Lehtonen has given up 10 goals in his first three games back after missing almost five weeks with a groin injury.

 

DETROIT

 

Games this week

@ New York Islanders, vs. Phoenix, vs. Chicago

 

Notes

Jiri Hudler’s off-season quest to get in shape has worked as he has 11 goals and 25 points in 38 games this season. The Maple Leafs Jonas Gustavsson’s nickname is “The Monster” but Red Wings Jimmy Howard has been playing like one as Howard has a sterling 24-9-1 record, 1.99 GAA and .927 save percentage this season. Tomas Holmstrom and Darren Helm are not ready to return from groin injuries. Justin Abdelkader has taken advantage of the injuries and is excelling on the third line with two goals in three games.


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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 :Michael Finewax



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