Michael Finewax

The Week Ahead

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Brian Burke is working out

Friday, February 10, 2012


 

PHILADELPHIA

 

Games this week

vs. Buffalo, vs. Pittsburgh

 

Notes

The Flyers play only twice this week so I recommend benching everyone with the exception of Claude Giroux and Scott Hartnell in weekly pools. It seems that James van Riemsdyk is not getting close to returning to action from his concussion woes as he is still out indefinitely.  Daniel Briere returned to action on Tuesday after missing six games with a concussion. Ilya Bryzgalov seems to have regained the lead as far as the starting goaltender for the Flyers is concerned, but missed Thursday’s game with the flu. Tom Sestito had a huge penalty minute game on Sunday with three fights and an automatic game misconduct.

 

 PHOENIX

 

Games this week

vs. Vancouver, @ Los Angeles, vs. Dallas

 

Notes

There are rumors that Ray Whitney could be dealt by the deadline as the Coyotes do not look playoff-bound. The Sharks, Bruins and Rangers are rumored to be interested, but Whitney, who can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, has a limited no-trade contract in which he can he traded to eight teams of his choice.  Well, he can’t be traded to all eight teams, but you know what I mean. Jeremy Roenick is part of a group that is looking into buying the Coyotes and keeping them in Phoenix. Radim Vrbata is having an outstanding year with 25 goals and 46 points, four points behind Whitney who leads the team.

  

PITTSBURGH

 

Games this week

vs. Anaheim, @ Philadelphia, @ Buffalo

 

Notes

The Penguins are the rested team Wednesday when they face the Ducks who are in Minnesota on Tuesday and are the tired squad Sunday against the rested Sabres in Buffalo after playing in Philadelphia Saturday. Jordan Staal is looking to return to action on February 11 after missing over a month with a knee injury. Tyler Kennedy is out for four-six weeks with a high ankle sprain. Coach Dan Bylsma said that Brent Johnson will play in seven-to-eleven games the rest of the way as the Penguins still have 28 to play. Evgeni Malkin leads the NHL in scoring with 62 points, one ahead of Claude Giroux and two ahead of Phil Kessel. Big news in Pittsburgh and the hockey world as Sidney Crosby practiced on Monday but there is still no timetable for his return from a concussion and a soft tissue neck injury.  

 

ST. LOUIS

 

Games this week

@ Columbus, vs. New York Islanders, vs. Minnesota, @ Chicago

 

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. David Perron is heating up with three goals in his last two games. Kent Huskins has been out since October 28 with an ankle injury but is close to returning. Chris Stewart has not had a good season with the Blues and could be on the trading block. David Backes leads the Blues in goals (16), assists (23), points (39), penalty minutes (81) and is second in plus/minus at plus-17 to Alexander Steen who is plus-20.

 

SAN JOSE

 

Games this week

@ Washington, @ Tampa Bay, @ Carolina, @ Detroit

 

Notes

The Sharks play four times this week and play three games in four nights so look for Thomas Greiss to play at least once in place of Antti Niemi. The Sharks are tired Friday when they play in Carolina as they faceoff against the Lightning on Thursday. Martin Havlat (groin) is still not skating but should do so in the near future according to coach Todd McLellan. Dan Boyle is suffering from the flu. Andrew Murray went untouched through waivers and is back in the AHL. Patrick Marleau has 41 points in 50 games while Joe Thornton has 35 assists thus far this season.

 

TAMPA BAY

 

Games this week

vs. Ottawa, vs. San Jose, vs. Washington

 

Notes

The Lightning are home for all three this week. They are rested on Saturday when they face Washington who play in Florida Friday night. Steve Stamkos leads the NHL in goals with 36. Ryan Malone is starting to skate as he has been out of action since January 21 with an upper body injury. He could be headed to Vancouver in a deal for Cory Schneider as the Lightning desparately need a goalie with Dwayne Roloson on his last legs and Mathieu Garon a back up at best. Marc-Andre Bergeron returned on Tuesday after missing nine games with a back injury.

     

TORONTO

 

Games this week

@ Calgary, @ Edmonton, @ Vancouver

 

Notes

The Maple Leafs play in Western Canada this week and will be tired on Wednesday in Edmonton after playing the Flames in Calgary Tuesday. James Reimer and Jonas Gustavsson will likely split the net until one or the other gets hot. Reimer was outstanding last week stopping all 74 shots in earning the third star award for Player of the Week. He has not been nearly as good this week giving up seven goals in two games.  Phil Kessel currently is the only NHL player to score 30 or more goals in each of the last four years and has four goals and nine points in his last four games.

 

VANCOUVER

 

Games this week

@ Phoenix, vs. Colorado, vs. Toronto, @ Edmonton

 

Notes

The Canucks play four times this week. They are a tired team on Sunday when they are in Edmonton after playing the Maple Leafs at home Saturday.  Henrik Sedin’s consecutive games streak was in jeopardy as he suffered an ankle injury but an MRI showed no damage and he played Thursday. Byron Bitz is playing on the top line with the Sedin Twins and the enforcer is showing some offensive skill with a goal and three points in his last two games and seven penalty minutes in three games. Christopher Higgins had his third staph infection within the last year and changed medications to combat the illness. He is still not ready to return. Maxim Lapierre leads the Canucks with 116 penalty minutes.

 

WASHINGTON

 

Games this week

vs. San Jose, @Florida, @ Tampa Bay

 

Notes

The Capitals are tired on Saturday when they face the Lightning after playing the Panthers the previous night. Nicklas Backstrom has no timetable for his return from a concussion as he has skated only five minutes in total over the last five weeks. He is hoping to be ready for the playoffs but the Capitals still have to qualify for the post-season. Alex Ovechkin has been heating up of late with three goals and an assist in his last two games. Mike Knuble found himself a healthy scratch on Thursday after going 27 games without a goal.

 

WINNIPEG

Games this week

vs. New York Islanders, @ Minnesota, vs. Boston, vs. Colorado

 

Notes

The Jets play four times this week including three games in four nights so expect to see Chris Mason at least once in place of Ondrej Pavelec. The Jets are tired Friday when they are home to Boston after playing in Minnesota Thursday. The flu bug seems to be going through the Jets dressing room as Tim Stapleton and Kyle Wellwood are battling the illness. Evander Kane returned to action Tuesday after missing seven games with a concussion. His absence was sorely missed.



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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