Michael Finewax

The Week Ahead

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Milan Michalek an All-Star?

Friday, January 06, 2012


 

PHILADELPHIA

 

Games this week

@ Carolina, @ New York Islanders, @ Nashville

 

Notes

Jaromir Jagr is out of action for 7-10 days, dating from the Winter Classic as he suffered a recurrence of a calf injury.  Matt Read saw action in his place on the first line with Claude Giroux and Scott Hartnell, but James van Riemsdyk is getting power play time with Giroux and Hartnell and got the pp winner on Thursday. Brayden Schenn scored his first NHL goal in the Winter Classic and that should be the first of many for the fifth overall pick in the 2010 Entry Draft.

 

 PHOENIX

 

Games this week

@ New York Rangers, @ Detroit, @ Columbus

 

Notes

The Coyotes play three games in four nights so look for Jason LaBarbera to play once in place of Mike Smith. Smith returned to action this past week from a groin injury that kept him out of action for a couple of weeks, but it is unlikely that the Coyotes will risk playing Smith too much. They will be a tired team on Friday when facing the rested Blue Jackets as they are in Detroit Thursday. Radim Vrbata has scored three times in the last three games as he now has 19 goals and 32 points in 41 games to go with a plus-10 rating.  It was not a good week for Raffi Torres who was fined $2,500 for his hit on Jan Hejda of the Avs and then was suspended for a pair of games for a hit on Nate Prosser of the Wild.

PITTSBURGH

 

Games this week

vs. Ottawa, @ Washington, @ Florida, @ Tampa Bay

 

Notes

The Penguins play four times this week as well as three in four nights so expect to see Brent Johnson be between the pipes once in place of Marc-Andre Fleury. They will be the tired team Wednesday when they play the rested Capitals as Pittsburgh take on the Senators Tuesday. Matt Niskanen has done a nice job of filling in for the injured Kris Letang on the Penguins' power play and should be grabbed in most pools. There is nothing new to report in the concussion woes that are keeping Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang out of action. It is surprising that Steve MacIntyre, a noted fighter, has only a minor in nine NHL games this season.

 

ST. LOUIS

 

Games this week

@ Montreal, vs. Vancouver, vs. Minnesota

 

Notes

The Blues are rested on Saturday when they face Colorado who are in Chicago the night before. Alexander Steen is still out with a concussion suffered on December 27 and has not started practicing. It looks like Jaroslav Halak is taking over the starting job once again in St. Louis despite the stellar play this season of Brian Elliott. David Perron continues to impress with 13 points in 15 games after returning from a concussion that kept him out of action for 13 months.  The Blues have excelled under new head coach Ken Hitchcock as they are 17-5-5 since he took over.


SAN JOSE

 

Games this week

@ Minnesota, @ Winnipeg, @ Columbus, @ Chicago

 

Notes

The Sharks play four times this week including three games in four nights. They recently recalled goaltender Antero Niittymaki from the minors giving the team 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 rested team on Saturday when they face a tired Columbus team who play Phoenix the night before. Colin White and Jim Vandermeer are on the injured list. Logan Couture has nine goals in his last 16 games.  

 

TAMPA BAY

 

Games this week

vs. Vancouver, vs. Carolina, @ Washington, vs. Pittsburgh

 

Notes

The Lightning play four times this week including three games in four nights so look for Mathieu Garon and Dwayne Roloson to split the net. The Lightning will be the rested team Tuesday against the Canucks who will be tired after playing in Florida the previous night. Tampa Bay then becomes the tired team on Friday when they are in Washington to face the rested Capitals as the Lightning play Carolina Thursday.  Steve Stamkos continues to flourish in the goal scoring department as he now has a league-leading 28.  Ryan Malone has a lower body injury and could be questionable for the week. Mattias Ohlund may not return to action this season as he has a knee injury.

    

TORONTO

 

Games this week

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

 

Notes

The Maple Leafs will be tired on Saturday when they face a rested New York Rangers team as Toronto is in Buffalo for the back half of a home-and-home series with the Sabres. The Maple Leafs put Colton Orr on waivers and GM Brian Burke lamented that enforcers may no longer be needed in the NHL. The Leafs as mentioned previously, take on the Sabres in two games this week so look for Mike Brown, if he returns, or Luke Schenn to add to their respective penalty minute totals. Usually we would mention Dion Phaneuf as well but he took a puck to the face Thursday and is awaiting the results. As if John-Michael Liles didn’t have enough problems with his concussion,; he found out that he also has bronchitis.

 

VANCOUVER

 

Games this week

@ Florida, @ Tampa Bay, @ St. Louis, vs. Anaheim

 

Notes

Vancouver plays four times this week including three games in four nights so look for Cory Schneider to play at least once in place of Roberto Luongo. Luongo has been sensational of late with a 9-2-2 record in his last 13 games including a 1.82 GAA. The Canucks will be a tired team on Tuesday as they take on a rested Tampa Bay team after Vancouver is in Sunrise, Florida to play the Panthers the previous night. Kevin Bieksa is on a roll. He had a seven game scoring streak stopped on Wednesday but has four goals and 23 points with a plus-eight rating and 49 penalty minutes in 41 games. David Booth is hoping to play against the Panthers as it would be his first game against his former teammates, but he is still out with a knee injury and is doubtful. The Anaheim game kicks off a six game home stand for the Canucks.

 

WASHINGTON

 

Games this week

@ Los Angeles, vs. Pittsburgh, vs. Tampa Bay. vs. Carolina

 

Notes

The Capitals play four times but not three games in four nights. Still, Michal Neuvirth is likely to get one start in place of Tomas Vokoun. The Capitals get a big break in the schedule as they play a tired team while they are rested in three of the four games. They play Pittsburgh on Wednesday after the Penguins entertain Ottawa Tuesday. They face Tampa Bay on Friday and the Lightning have to travel from their home base after playing Carolina the previous night, while on Sunday they play the Hurricanes who meet Boston on Saturday. Nicklas Backstrom was hit in the head on Tuesday by an elbow from Rene Bourque that got Bourque a five game suspension. It was thought that Backstrom may have a concussion but he wants to play on January 7. Alexander Semin missed Tuesday’s game with a sore neck but practiced Thursday and hopes to be in the lineup on the weekend.

 

WINNIPEG

Games this week

@ Boston, vs. San Jose, vs. New Jersey

 

Notes

The Jets are a real Jekyll and Hyde team. They are 14-6-1 at home but 5-10-4 on the road. Fortunately, they have two home games this week and play only once on the road. Dustin Byfuglien is still out of action with a lower body injury but hopes to return on Tuesday. Blake Wheeler continues to be one of the top Jets this season and should be on someone’s roster in deeper fantasy leagues. Bryan Little is still out of action. Eric Fehr seems to be in coach Claude Noel’s doghouse as Noel is giving Fehr fourth line minutes.

 



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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