Mike Finewax

The Week Ahead

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Stamkos is Outstanding

Friday, March 16, 2012


The NHL is heading into the final three weeks of its regular season and it appears that the Rocket Richard Trophy will be awarded to Steve Stamkos for the second time in the last three seasons.

 

The Art Ross Trophy is a tight race with Evgeni Malkin leading Stamkos by one and Claude Giroux by three.

 

By all rights, the Hart Trophy, which is awarded to the NHL’s most valuable player should also go to Stamkos, even though his team, the Tampa Bay Lightning are unlikely to make the playoffs.

 

The Norris Trophy goes to the NHL’s best defenseman and it will be tough not to give it to Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson who has 70 points in 70 games.

 

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Now to The Week Ahead.

 

WEEK OF MARCH 19-25

 

4 Games – Boston, Buffalo, Edmonton, Florida, Minnesota, Nashville, New Jersey, New York Rangers, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, San Jose, Toronto, Vancouver, Washington

 

 

3 Games – Anaheim, Calgary, Carolina, Chicago, Colorado, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, Montreal, New York Islanders, Ottawa, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Winnipeg

 

Edmonton and Vancouver play all four on the road.

 

Columbus, Dallas, Los Angeles, the New York Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay play three games at home this week.

 

Boston, Calgary, New Jersey, the New York Islanders, St. Louis and Winnipeg play three games on the road this week.

 

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INJURIES

 

Nikolai Kulemin is out three-four weeks with a broken finger.

 

 (Click here to see the rest of the injury list.)

 

 

ANAHEIM

 

Games this week

@ San Jose, vs. St. Louis, vs. Boston

 

Notes

The Ducks are tired on Monday when they face San Jose after playing Nashville on Sunday. They are rested Sunday when they face the Bruins who are in Los Angeles to play the Kings Saturday.  Corey Perry (shoulder) and Luca Sbisa (back) have missed the last two games. Congratulations to Teemu Selanne who became only the 19th player in the history of the NHL to hit the 1,400 point mark and Saku Koivu who played in his 1,000 NHL game on Monday. After a slow start, Bobby Ryan now has 26 goals this season as he attempts to hit the 30 mark for the fourth straight season. Unfortunately, he has only two power play goals as he plays on the second unit when all hands are healthy.   

 

BOSTON

 

Games this week

vs. Toronto, @ San Jose, @ Los Angeles, @ Anaheim

 

Notes

The Bruins play three games in four nights in California after playing Toronto at home, so look for Marty Turco to play once in place of veteran Tim Thomas. Tuukka Rask thinks he’ll need closer to six weeks to return from his groin injury and that will push his return into the playoffs. They are tired on Sunday when they play the Ducks in Anaheim after playing in Los Angeles Saturday.  Jordan Caron continued his hot play of late and now has eight points in his last six games heading into action on Thursday. Patrice Bergeron is day-to-day after getting hit on the back of the leg with the puck Tuesday. Benoit Pouliot is ready to return from a lower body injury after missing three games.

 

BUFFALO

 

Games this week

@ Tampa Bay, vs. Montreal, @ New York Rangers, vs. Minnesota

 

Notes

The Sabres play four times this week, including three games in four nights so look for Jhonas Enroth to play once instead of Ryan Miller. They are tired on Saturday when they are home to the Wild after playing the Rangers at Madison Square Garden Friday. Cody McCormick returned to action on Wednesday after missing over a month with a concussion. Tyler Myers was given a three game suspension as he boarded Scott Gomez of the Canadiens Monday. Cody Hodgson has been struggling since being dealt from Vancouver at the trade deadline and actually saw fourth line minutes earlier in the week. Tyler Ennis has only 10 goals and 21 points in 37 games this season but has been hot of late with three goals and six points in his last three games.

 

CALGARY

 

Games this week

@ Colorado, @ Minnesota, @ Dallas

 

Notes

The Flames are on the road for all three games this week. GM Jay Feaster said that Michael Cammalleri is expected to return before the end of the season as he has an upper body injury. Sven Baertschi netted his third NHL goal in just four games as the rookie has impressed thus far. Unfortunately, he was recalled from junior hockey on an emergency basis and must be returned to Portland of the WHL when one forward is a healthy return. Jarome Iginla hit the 30 goal mark for the 11th straight season.

Curtis Glencross was on a seven game goal scoring streak that ended on Tuesday when he was tossed from the game for boarding the Sharks’ Jason Demers during the opening stanza.

 

CAROLINA

 

Games this week

vs. Florida, @ Columbus, @ Detroit

 

Notes

The Hurricanes play three games in four nights so look for Cam Ward to get a rest in one game with Brian Boucher taking over. They are tired Saturday in Detroit after playing the Blue Jackets in Columbus Friday. Ward has been struggling of late. After getting points in 12 straight games, Eric Staal went scoreless in his next three games before picking up an assist on Tuesday. The Hurricanes recalled defenseman Bob Sanguinetti and he replaced the injured Jaroslav Spacek in the lineup.  Joni Pitkanen skated for the first time on Thursday since his concussion in early December.

 

CHICAGO

 

Games this week

@ Columbus, vs. Vancouver, vs. Nashville

 

Notes

The Blackhawks are tired on Wednesday when they host the hated Canucks after playing in Columbus Tuesday. They will be rested Sunday when they take on the Predators who are hosting Winnipeg Saturday. Jonathan Toews is still not ready to return from his concussion. He briefly skated on Wednesday, but has not skated on any other occasion since Sunday so the timetable for his return is still unknown. Chicago has been getting a very good effort from Brian Bollig who has been their enforcer since his recall seven games ago. Steve Montador has missed 17 games with a concussion but has started skating this past week. Marian Hossa leads the Blackhawks with 69 points, 12 ahead of Patrick Kane and the injured Toews.

 

COLORADO

 

Games this week

vs. Calgary, @ Phoenix, vs. Vancouver

 

Notes

Matt Duchene suffered an ankle injury and was projected to miss three-to-four weeks, but returned on Thursday after missing only 10 days. Gabriel Landeskog is looking more and more like the Calder Trophy winner. He now has 20 goals and 46 points this season and with his solid two-way play has taken over the perceived lead from the oft-injured Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Although he has slowed down after a hot start, Steve Downie has 11 points in 10 games with the Avs. He has 131 penalty minutes this season. Semyon Varlamov has been sensational in the shootout as he has given up only two goals in 21 shots in winning all seven contests.   

 

COLUMBUS

 

Games this week

vs. Chicago, vs. Carolina, vs. Edmonton

 

Notes

The Blue Jackets are home for all three games this week.  Steve Mason is healthy enough to back up Curtis Sanford after suffering a deep cut to his finger last week. The Blue Jackets were 0-20 last week on the power play and are now scoreless in their last 25 opportunities. Derek Dorsett, the NHL’s penalty leader, is out with an illness and should return on March 17,  but they did get enforcer Jared Boll back in the lineup after missing over a month with a foot injury. Mark Letestu has five points in his last five games including three goals.

 

DALLAS

 

Games this week

vs. Phoenix, vs. Vancouver, vs. Calgary  

 

Notes

The Stars are rested on Thursday when they face a tired Vancouver team at home as the Canucks are in Chicago Wednesday. Mike Ribeiro has 54 points in 64 games and has to get red hot to hit the 70 point mark for the second straight season. Brenden Morrow finally returned after missing 18 games with neck/back problems. Sheldon Souray has been out of action for the last week after recently returning from a shoulder injury. Michael Ryder hit the 30 goal mark for the second time in his career.

 

DETROIT

 

Games this week

vs. Washington, @ New York Rangers, vs. Carolina

 

Notes

Detroit will be rested on Saturday when they face Carolina as the Hurricanes are in Columbus Friday. Pavel Datsyuk (knee) is hoping to return on St. Patrick’s Day. The word on Nicklas Lidstrom is not as good as he has missed the last eight games with an ankle injury and has barely begun to skate. Todd Bertuzzi is back after a groin injury forced him to miss four games. Jimmy Howard has returned but the Red Wings will not play him in back-to-back games yet so Joey MacDonald will continue to see action. Gustav Nyquist was returned to the minors after garnering a couple of assists in three games. He is someone to remember next season.


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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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