Michael Finewax

The Week Ahead

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Phoenix not rising

Friday, January 20, 2012


PHILADELPHIA

 

Games this week

@ Florida

 

Notes

Despite all the talk in Philadelphia about Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell has been a better all-around fantasy performer than the slick Flyer center. Hartnell has 20 goals, 39 points, 65 penalty minutes, nine power play goals and a plus-17 rating while Giroux has 18 goals, 50 points, 23 penalty minutes, five power play goals and a minus-one rating. No comparison in my mind and you rarely hear any talk about the great season that Hartnell is having. It appears that Sergei Bobrovsky has temporarily claimed the number one spot in goal from the slumping Ilya Bryzgalov. Sean Couturier has scored in five straight games heading into action on Thursday, including three game winners. Once again, it does not look good for Chris Pronger as he is unlikely to return this season from a concussion and his career could be over.

 

 PHOENIX

 

Games this week

vs. Ottawa

 

Notes

The Coyotes will be rested on Tuesday when they face a tired Ottawa squad who finish up a road trip before the All-Star break by playing in Los Angeles the previous night. Gilbert Brule, who was claimed off waivers the previous week scored his first two points of the season in a 6-1 win over Colorado last Monday and then added a beautiful goal on Thursday to knot the game at two. Chris Summer has three assists in his last two home games, the first three points of his career. Kyle Chipchura has five points in his last five games and has been a fantasy asset when you add in his penalty minutes as he has played chippy of late. After starting the first 20 games of the season with an 11-6-3 mark, the Coyotes are only 10-13-5 since. As mentioned previously, Oliver Ekman-Larsson continues to impress me. He is only 20 and has been an NHL defenseman the last year-and-a-half. Chances are he will regress next season as that is what usually happens to young defensemen, but do not be surprised if he is the Coyotes best player in a couple of years. Daymond Langkow is day-to-day after taking a puck or stick to the face against the Red Wings. The Coyotes sent Cal O'Reilly to the minors on Tuesday.

 

PITTSBURGH

 

Games this week

@ St. Louis

 

Notes

The Penguins are a rested team Tuesday when they play the Blues who are in Detroit the previous night. Kris Letang returned to the Pittsburgh lineup on Thursday after being out of action since November 26th with a concussion and picked up an assist. The Penguins missed him on the power play. Matt Niskanen will lose power play time on the point to Letang while Ben Lovejoy will sit in the press box to make room for the Penguins top defenseman. Evgeni Malkin is atop the leader board in points with 54 despite missing seven games earlier in the season. Arron Asham is suffering from concussion-like symptoms. James Neal leads the NHL in shots on goal (193) and is tied for fourth in goals with 24 as teammate Malkin is right behind him with 187 SOG.

 

ST. LOUIS

 

Games this week

@ Detroit, vs. Pittsburgh

 

Notes

The Blues are tired on Tuesday when they play Pittsburgh at home after playing the Red Wings in Detroit on Monday. Alex Pietrangelo has continued his hot play of late with an eight game scoring streak, garnering three goals and 11 points in that span. Kris Russell returned to action on Thursday after missing nine games with a groin injury but Alexander Steen is still out with a concussion, although he hopes to play before the All-Star break. The Blues inked Brian Elliott to a two-year contract cementing their goaltending for the next couple of years as number one netminder Jaroslav Halak is also signed long term.

 

SAN JOSE

 

Games this week

@ Edmonton, @ Calgary

 

Notes

The Sharks end a swing into Western Canada with a pair of games in Alberta. They will be tired on Tuesday when they faceoff against the Calgary Flames after playing in Edmonton Monday.  They sent Antero Niittymaki down to the minors on a conditioning stint. They had recalled him on December 23 but he saw no action as Antti Niemi and Thomas Greiss were the two netminders on all occasions. Ryane Clowe has a facial fracture and is unlikely to return until after the All-Star break.  Good news in the minors as Alex Stalock is scheduled to return after missing almost a year with a nerve injury.

 

TAMPA BAY

 

Games this week

vs. Columbus

 

Notes

The Lightning will be a rested team on Tuesday when they face a tired Columbus squad who are in Nashville to play the Predators on Monday. Steve Stamkos leads the NHL in scoring with 31 goals, five ahead of Jonathan Toews. Victor Hedman has resumed light workouts and has done some light skating on his own after sustaining a concussion on December 27. There is still no timetable for his return. Marc-Andre Bergeron has missed the last three games with an upper body injury.  

    

TORONTO

 

Games this week

@ New York Islanders, vs. New York Islanders

 

Notes

The Maple Leafs play the Islanders in a home-and-home series so look for Mike Brown and Dion Phaneuf to add to their penalty minute totals if there are fisticuffs involved. The Maple Leafs were in the midst of a three game losing streak going into Thursday’s game so they split up Joffrey Lupul and Phil Kessel and it must have worked as they defeated the Wild 4-1. Kessel and Lupul were together on the power play as Lupul set up Kessel for one of his three assists. Kessel was playing with Tyler Bozak and Matthew Lombardi whiel Lupul lined up with Tim Connolly and Nazem Kadri.  It appears that Jonas Gustavsson is grabbing the lion’s share of the net as James Reimer has struggled of late.

 

VANCOUVER

 

Games this week

vs. Edmonton

 

Notes

The Canucks are rested when they face the Oilers this Tuesday with the Oilers being tired after playing the Sharks Monday. David Booth returned to action on Sunday and popped a goal in his second game back. Ryan Kesler was not at all happy with the comments made by coach Alain Vigneault who stated that Kesler needs to make better use of his teammates.  He has only two goals and three points in his last nine games. Daniel Sedin has 21 points on the power play while twin brother Henrik Sedin has 20. Alex Burrows has 18 goals and 31 points this season but his plus-20 rating and 48 penalty minutes make him a valuable commodity in fantasy hockey.

 

WASHINGTON

 

Games this week

vs. Boston

 

Notes

Mike Green underwent abdominal surgery and will be out another four-six weeks. He has only played 10 games this year and was likely drafted high, so if you took him like I did in one pool, chances are you’re not doing well. GM Mike McPhee thought that Nicklas Backstrom could return from a concussion before the All-Star break but the talented center has yet to skate, so his return is iffy at this time. Alexander Semin is starting to get hot as he has 13 points in his last 15 games after a very slow start to the season that saw him pick up only 12 points in his first 26 games.

 

WINNIPEG

Games this week

@ Carolina, @ New York Rangers

 

Notes

The Jets are tired on Tuesday when they play the New York Rangers after facing Carolina Monday. Dustin Byfuglien has started skating but has not started practicing since hurting his knee on December 23. The Jets are hurting on the blueline as Zach Bogosian has also missed the last five games with an upper body injury. The good news was that on Thursday Blake Wheeler returned to the Winnipeg lineup after missing two weeks with a neck injury (well, he was struck in the throat by a puck). Wheeler has been a pleasant surprise and his return will help the Jets and fantasy owners. Evander Kane has not scored a goal in his last ten games. 



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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