Mike Finewax

The Week Ahead

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Playoffs are coming

Friday, March 09, 2012


  

EDMONTON

 

Games this week

vs. San Jose, vs. Columbus, vs. Calgary, vs. Phoenix

 

Notes

The Oilers play four times this week, but not three games in four nights. Still, expect to see Devan Dubnyk and Nikolai Khabibulin split the goaltending duties.  They will be rested Friday when they host Calgary who are home to the Coyotes the previous night. Linus Omark was recalled Monday but saw fourth line minutes, in what was a bit of a surprise. Sam Gagner has only two points in his last seven games. Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle have 12 and nine power play goals respectively while Eberle leads the Oilers with 30 goals and 63 points. Ben Eager leads the Oilers in penalty minutes with 94.

 

FLORIDA

 

Games this week

vs. Toronto, vs. Boston, vs. Buffalo

 

Notes

Dmitry Kulikov skated on Tuesday but is likely still a couple of weeks away from returning to action from a knee injury. Kris Versteeg is still out with a lower body injury and has missed the last five games. Scottie Upshall has begun to skate again after being out with a sports hernia injury. He has played only 17 games this season. Matt Bradley has been some light workouts but is still nowhere close to returning to action from his concussion.  Marco Sturm has been a healthy scratch the last two games.

 

LOS ANGELES

 

Games this week

vs. Detroit @ Anaheim, vs. Nashville

 

Notes

The Kings will be tired on Saturday at home against the Predators after playing in Anaheim the previous night.  Drew Doughty has four goals and no assists in his last 12 games. He has actually gone 15 games without a helper. It’s surprising to see that the highly regarded Jonathan Bernier has played in only 14 games but that’s what happens when you have a stud ahead of you in Jonathan Quick. Do not be surprised if the Kings deal Bernier in the off-season to a team looking for a goalie (Columbus or Toronto?). Kyle Clifford has 101 penalty minutes to lead the Kings while Anze Kopitar leads in assists and points with 37 and 56 respectively and is tied with Dustin Brown for the team lead in goals with 19.

 

MINNESOTA

 

Games this week

vs. Dallas, vs. Carolina

 

Notes

The Wild only play twice this week so I recommend benching all your Minnesota players. It looks like the flu bug is going through the Wild dressing room as Jared Spurgeon and Cal Clutterbuck are under the weather. Niklas Backstrom is out (what is it with the N. Backstroms in the NHL this season as both are out) and the Wild recalled Matthew Hackett who got two straight starts but couldn’t get a win so Josh Harding is back in the net. Harding got hurt on Thursday and the Wild goaltending is up in the air as the next two in line, Darcy Kuemper and Dennis Endras are not available with Kuemper likely out for the season as he may need surgery for an upper body injury and Endras was returned to Finland a few months ago. They will need to sign a goalie on an AHL contract or sign one who is currently in Europe and will have to go through waivers. Of course, if Harding is okay to backup, all this is moot.

 

MONTREAL

           

Games this week

@ Buffalo, vs. Ottawa, @ Ottawa, vs. New York Islanders

 

Notes

The Canadiens play four times including three games in four nights so look for Peter Budaj to play once in place of Carey Price. The Habs will be tired on Saturday after playing in Ottawa Friday. Speaking of the Senators, Montreal will play them in a home-and-home series this week so the fists could be flying. Expect to see P.K. Subban and Brad Staubitz to add to their penalty minute totals. Andrei Markov (knee) is now participating in contact drill and is closer to returning. Scott Gomez returned to action Thursday after missing a couple of games with an eye injury. They signed Patrick Holland who they picked up in the Michael Cammalleri deal with Calgary, to a three-year deal.  

 

NASHVILLE

 

Games this week

@ Phoenix, @ San Jose, @ Los Angeles, @ Anaheim

 

Notes

The Predators are on the road for all four this week including three games in four nights. Expect to see Anders Lindback play once in place of Pekka Rinne. They are out west for all four and will be rested on Saturday when they face a tired Los Angeles team as the Kings play in Anaheim Friday.  They are tired Saturday as they make the cross-town ride to Anaheim to face the Ducks. Andrei Kostitsyn and David Legwand seem to be working well together and that will only benefit the Predators. Kevin Klein has missed five straight games but could return this week from the upper body injury.

   

NEW JERSEY

 

Games this week

@ Philadelphia, vs. Colorado, vs. Pittsburgh

 

Notes

The Devils are rested on Thursday when they are home to Colorado who are in Buffalo Wednesday. The game in Philadelphia is the back half of a home-and-home series so look for David Clarkson, Eric Boulton and Ryan Carter to lead the way in penalty minutes. Travis Zajac (Achilles) skated before practice on Thursday. He has not played since January 2. Alexei Ponikarovsky returned to action on Thursday after missing three games with a sprained MCL. Zach Parise has been having a problem with his hand but has not missed a game since injuring it on March 4. Congratulations to Petr Sykora who played in his 1,000th NHL game on Sunday. Ilya Kovalchuk had the hat trick on Thursday and now has 29 goals on the season, two ahead of David Clarkson.

 

NEW YORK ISLANDERS

 

Games this week

vs. Washington , vs. Philadelphia, @ Montreal

 

Notes

The Islanders are rested on Saturday when they face Montreal as the Habs are in Ottawa Friday. Michael Grabner was a healthy scratch on Thursday after missing two games with the flu. He only has one goal in his last 19 games so perhaps the move was overdue. Joshua Bailey has benefited from a move from center to the wing by responding with four goals in his first four games. Matt Moulson leads the Islanders in goals and power play goals with 28 and 11 respectively while John Tavares has 63 points in 67 games. Matt Martin is tops in penalty minutes with 99 while Travis Hamonic leads in plus/minus at plus-seven.

 

NEW YORK RANGERS

 

Games this week

vs. Carolina, vs. Pittsburgh, vs. Colorado

 

Notes

Brandon Dubinsky is day-to-day with a sinus issue as a result of a fight with the Devils’ Ryan Carter. The Rangers have parted ways with Sean Avery as he was told not to come to the rink anymore and that he would not be part of the Rangers AHL farm team’s Connecticut roster in the playoffs. There are rumors that the New Yorkers will sign their first round pick from 2009, Chris Kreider to a contract before the end of the regular season. In trade talks at the deadline a lot of deals were predicated upon the Rangers giving up Kreider but New York refused to do so. The speedy winger had 20 goals and 37 points in 36 games for Boston College this season.

 

OTTAWA     

 

Games this week

@ Montreal, vs. Montreal, vs. Toronto

 

Notes

The Senators play three games in four nights so look for Alexander Auld to play once in place of Ben Bishop. All of  this could change if the Senators decide to recall Robin Lehner from the minors as he and Bishop switched spots last week with Bishop taking over as number one while Lehner was returned to the minors. The Senators will be the tired team Saturday as they take on the rested Maple Leafs as Ottawa hosts Montreal on Friday. The Habs and Ottawa play a home-and-home series this week so look for Chris Neil and Zenon Konopka to add to their penalty minute count as there should be fisticuffs. Craig Anderson skated before practice on Thursday for the first time since cutting the tendon in his right pinkie. There is no timetable for his return as of yet. Colin Greening has replaced Bobby Butler on the top line as he is teaming up with Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek.

 


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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 :Mike Finewax



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