Mike Finewax

The Week Ahead

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Hockey Day in Canada

Friday, February 03, 2012



PHILADELPHIA

 

Games this week

vs. New York Islanders, vs. Toronto, vs. New York Rangers, @ Detroit

 

Notes

The Flyers play four times this week, including three games in four nights so look for Ilya Bryzgalov and Sergei Bobrovsky to share the net. The Flyers are slated to give Bryzgalov the next month to sort himself out so he should see a lot more starts than Bobrovsky.  The Flyers will be tired on Sunday when facing the rested Red Wings in Detroit after playing the Rangers on Saturday. James van Riemsdyk skated for the first time on Thursday since suffering a concussion on January 12. The Flyers have been outstanding on the road with an 18-7-2 record but are only 11-7-4 at home. Zac Rinaldo returned to action on Thursday after missing the last three games with a strained neck. He is second in the NHL with 124 penalty minutes.

 

 PHOENIX

 

Games this week

vs. Detroit, @ Dallas, vs. Calgary, vs. Chicago

 

Notes

The Coyotes play four games this week including three in four nights so look for Jason LaBarbera to play once in place of Mike Smith. They are the tired team on Tuesday when facing the Stars after playing at home to Detroit on Monday, but finish the week as the rested team twice, playing Calgary on Thursday after the Flames are in San Jose Wednesday, while the Blackhawks are tired Saturday after also playing in San Jose but on Friday. Martin Hanzal picked up his first point since returning from an injury on January 19 as he was out over a month with an upper body injury. The big news in Phoenix continues to be who will buy the franchise, the same story as the last three years. Commissioner Gary Bettman said that there are three groups still interested and we can only hope that one finally comes to the forefront and actually buys the team and keeps it in Glendale.

  

PITTSBURGH

 

Games this week

@ Montreal, vs. Winnipeg, vs. Tampa Bay

 

Notes

Evgeni Malkin was the NHL’s second star in January, scoring 12 times and adding four assists in 12 games. The Penguins claimed Cal O'Reilly off waivers from the Coyotes. Look for him to see minutes as a bottom six forward. The big news with the Penguins as per usual concerns Sidney Crosby. The Kid has been diagnosed with a soft tissue injury in his neck and that may have given him similar symptoms to a concussion. He is now skating before practice.

 

ST. LOUIS

 

Games this week

@ Ottawa, @ New Jersey, vs. Colorado, vs. San Jose

 

Notes

The Blues play four games this week and the all-important three games in four nights so look for Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott to share the net. The Blues are rested on Saturday when facing the Avalanche who play at home to Carolina on Friday, but the Blues will be tired on Sunday when facing the rested Sharks. Andy McDonald is close to returning to action from a concussion he suffered on October 13. His return will help the St. Louis offense as he will be a top-six forward and he should also help the Blues anemic power play which is 28th in the NHL this season. The news is not as good for Alexander Steen who has missed the last 15 games with a concussion and has no idea when he will return. The Blues will play only 13 home games the rest of the way where they have been outstanding with a 21-3-4 record. The Blues are putting all their eggs in one basket as far as the power play is concerned as Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk will be on the point with David Backes, T.J. Oshie and David Perron up front.

 

SAN JOSE

 

Games this week

vs. Calgary, vs. Chicago, @ St. Louis

 

Notes

The Sharks are rested Sunday when they travel to face a tired St. Louis team, who are home to Colorado on Saturday.  Ryane Clowe returned to action on Thursday after missing six games with a facial injury. Antti Niemi is sidelined with an undisclosed injury and the Sharks recalled Tyson Sexsmith to back up Thomas Greiss in his absence. Niemi is expected to return February 4.  The Sharks normally would have recalled Antero Niittymaki but the netminder already passed through waivers and the Sharks would have had to put him through re-entry waivers to recall him and risk losing him to another NHL while having half his salary count under their cap. Martin Havlat continues to improve after surgery to repair a partially torn tendon in his hamstring. He was scheduled to miss six-eight weeks when he was injured on December 17, but it looks like it will be longer than that as he is still not skating. 

 

TAMPA BAY

 

Games this week

vs. Los Angeles, @ New York Rangers, @ Buffalo, @ Pittsburgh

 

Notes

The Lightning end a five game home stand and head out on the road for three this week. They play three games in four nights so look for Dwayne Roloson to play at least once in place of Mathieu Garon. The Lightning will be rested on Saturday when in Buffalo as the Sabres are home to Dallas the previous night. Marc-Andre Bergeron has been out of the Tampa Bay lineup since January with an upper body injury and is not ready to return. The Lightning have been not using Brett Connolly very much since his return from the World Junior Championship as he has played over 10 minutes only once in January.

     

TORONTO

 

Games this week

vs. Edmonton, @ Winnipeg, @ Philadelphia, vs. Montreal

 

Notes

The Maple Leafs play four times this week including three games in four nights so look for James Reimer and Jonas Gustavsson to play, although the Maple Leafs will likely go with the hotter goalie for the majority of the games. They are the tired team on Tuesday in Winnipeg after playing the Oilers at the ACC Monday.  Good news for the Maple Leafs on Wednesday as they welcomed back John-Michael Liles after missing 16 games with a neck injury and Colby Armstrong who had been out since December 17 with a concussion. They sent Keith Aulie and Nazem Kadri to the minors to make room for the veterans. Phil Kessel has only one goal while linemate Joffrey Lupul has only one assist in the past five games. 

 

VANCOUVER

 

Games this week

@ Nashville, @ Minnesota, @ Calgary

 

Notes

The Canucks are on the road for all three this week. Cody Hodgson was named the NHL’s rookie for the month of January as he scored six times and added four assists in 11 games. Despite infrequent starts, Cory Schneider has won four in a row for Vancouver. Daniel Sedin became the all-time Vancouver leader in overtime goals with his winner on Tuesday. Dale Wiese leads the Canucks with 74 penalty minutes. Christopher Higgins sat out with the flu on Thursday forcing Mason Raymond to move from the third to second line, while Manny Malhotra went from the fourth unit and replaced Raymond on the third line.

 

WASHINGTON

 

Games this week

vs. Florida, vs. Winnipeg, @ New York Rangers

 

Notes

The Capitals are rested on Sunday when they face the Rangers who play in Philadelphia Saturday.  Alex Ovechkin has finished serving his three game suspension so put him back in your lineup as fast as you can. Mike Green has been practicing with the Capitals all week and his return from a groin injury and subsequent sports hernia surgery may be imminent.  The Capitals signed enforcer Joel Rechlicz  to a contract this past week so if you are in need of penalty minutes, he could be the player you are looking for. He had 184 penalty minutes in 27 games for Hershey of the AHL this season.

 

WINNIPEG

Games this week

vs. Toronto, @ Washington, @ Pittsburgh

 

Notes

The Jets are rested on Tuesday when they return home to face Toronto who play at home to Edmonton Monday. Dustin Byfuglien returned to action after missing 16 games with a knee injury. Alexander Burmistrov returned to action as well on Thursday after missing two games with a concussion. Evander Kane has a concussion and is not close to returning. Kane continues to lead the Jets with 18 goals while Blake Wheeler leads with 35 points.



Michael Finewax has been covering hockey since 2005 and is the Hockey Editor for Rotoworld. You can follow him on Twitter.
Email :Mike Finewax



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