Michael Finewax

The Week Ahead

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Down to the Wire

Friday, March 23, 2012


It’s the penultimate week of the regular season (right Lar), and the playoff standings are still tight, just like they are every year.

 

The battle for the eighth and final spot in the Eastern Conference seems to be a two-team battle with the Sabres trailing the Capitals by only one point. The Caps can still finish third as they are four points behind the Florida Panthers but the Panthers do have a game in hand.

 

It’s a lot different in the West as there are still six teams within five points of a playoff spot. The Kings are in third place with 86 points as each division winner is placed in the top three spots.  Phoenix also has 86 points but have played one more game than the Kings. Dallas is still in a playoff spot with 85 while Colorado, San Jose and Calgary trail with 85, 84 and 83 points respectively. The Avs are in trouble even though they have a similar amount of points as the Stars but have played two more games.

 

It should be an exciting last two weeks of the regular season.

  

Now to The Week Ahead.

 

WEEK OF MARCH 26-APRIL 1

 

4 Games – Boston, Calgary, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Florida, Los Angeles, Minnesota, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Jose, Tampa Bay, Vancouver, Winnipeg

 

3 Games – Anaheim, Buffalo, Carolina, Colorado, Edmonton, Montreal, Nashville, New Jersey, Ottawa, St. Louis, Toronto, Washington

 

2 Games - Phoenix

 

Vancouver plays all four at home.

 

Dallas, Florida and Los Angeles play all four on the road.

 

Calgary, Detroit, Minnesota, the New York Islanders and Toronto play three games at home this week.

 

Colorado, Ottawa and Tampa Bay play three games on the road this week.

 

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INJURIES

 

Daniel Sedin is out indefinitely with a concussion.

 

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

 

 

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ANAHEIM

 

Games this week

vs. San Jose, @ Phoenix, vs. Edmonton

 

Notes

The Ducks are tired on Sunday when they face Edmonton after playing in Phoenix on Saturday. They play the back half of a home-and-home series against the Sharks on Wednesday, although it isn’t the same for the Sharks who play Colorado in between. That being the case, look for George Parros and Corey Perry to add to their minute totals. Ryan Getzlaf is having a horrible season, at least for him, with 53 points thus far but he is on a five game scoring streak in which he has seven points. Devan Smith-Pelly has moved up to the first line with Getzlaf and Perry and scored Wednesday.  Andrew Cogliano played in his 400th consecutive game on March 16. He has not missed a game since entering the league five seasons ago.

 

BOSTON

 

Games this week

vs. Tampa Bay, vs. Washington, @ New York Islanders, @ New York Rangers

 

Notes

The Bruins play four times, including three games in four nights, so look for Marty Turco to play once in place of veteran Tim Thomas. Boston will be tired Sunday when they play the Rangers in New York but only have to travel from Long Island where they play the Islanders Saturday. They are rested on Tuesday when they entertain the Lightning who play Philadelphia Monday. Rich Peverley (knee) could return this week but coach Claude Julien said he will return “sooner rather than later”. Nathan Horton is still doing off-ice workouts in his recovery from a concussion. Joe Corvo has been a healthy scratch the last three games. Brian Rolston turned back the clock with a four point effort on Monday. Shawn Thornton has fantasy value with 143 penalty minutes and 12 points and signed a two-year/$2.2 million contract.

 

BUFFALO

 

Games this week

@ Washington, vs. Pittsburgh, @ Toronto

 

Notes

The Sabres are tired on Saturday when they are in Toronto to face the Maple Leafs after playing at home to the Penguins Friday. They are rested when they play the Penguins who take on the Islanders the night before. Nathan Gerbe has missed the last four games with an upper body injury and has begun to skate by himself. Cody Hodgson has broken out of his slump with a pair of two point games after starting his career in a Sabre uniform by going scoreless in his first ten. He is playing with Thomas Vanek and Corey Tropp. Tyler Myers returned on Wednesday from a three game suspension. Jochen Hecht is skating with his teammates for the first time since suffering a concussion 26 games ago.

 

CALGARY

 

Games this week

vs. Dallas, vs. Los Angeles, vs. Colorado, @ Vancouver

 

Notes

The Flames play four times this week including three in four so Leland Irving could see action in one game in place of Miikka Kiprusoff. They play the back end of a home-and-home series against Dallas this week so look for Tim Jackman and Tom Kostopoulos to add to their penalty minute totals. Matthew Stajan has been hot of late with eight points in his last eight games. The Flames are still looking for Michael Cammalleri (upper body) to return to action before the end of the season.  Chris Butler is back after missing 14 games with a knee injury. No sooner was Butler scheduled to return when Cory Sarich suffered an upper body injury.

 

CAROLINA

 

Games this week

@ Toronto, vs. Winnipeg, vs. New Jersey

 

Notes

The Hurricanes are tired on Saturday and face a rested New Jersey squad as they take on the Jets at home on Friday. After an extremely slow start to the season, Eric Staal has 44 points in his last 35 games, giving him 66 points this season. Cam Ward has been hot of late with three straight wins. Joni Pitkanen played on Wednesday for the first time since December 6 as he had been out with a concussion. Jeff Skinner returned on Wednesday after sitting out two games with a suspension from the NHL for kicking. Andreas Nodl has been experiencing concussion-like symptoms since getting hit by Winnipeg blueliner Zach Bogosian on Sunday. There is no word on a timetable for his return.

 

CHICAGO

 

Games this week

@ New Jersey, vs. St. Louis, @ Nashville, vs. Minnesota

 

Notes

Chicago will be rested on Saturday when they face the Predators who are tired after playing Detroit Friday. The Blackhawks play three games in four nights so look for Ray Emery and Corey Crawford to share the net this week. Duncan Keith will likely get suspended for his hit on Vancouver’s Daniel Sedin. Look for 3-5 games for the Chicago blueliner.  The move to acquire Brendan Morrison has backfired as he was a healthy scratch for 10 straight games until he saw time on the fourth line Monday. Andrew Shaw has been a huge surprise with seven points in his last four games. After picking up only two points in his previous 14 games,  rookie Jimmy Hayes has been a healthy scratch his last three contests. The Blackhawks are cautiously optimistic that Jonathan Toews (concussion) will return before the end of the season.

           

COLORADO

 

Games this week

@ San Jose, @ Vancouver, @ Calgary

 

Notes

The Avs are out west for all three this week and have only five games remaining in the season, the lowest in the NHL. Erik Johnson has missed the last two games with a back injury.  Semyon Varlamov finally picked up a loss on Thursday, his first in five games as he has shone in the Avalanche net since the All-Star break. Ryan O'Reilly suffered a broken nose on Tuesday but did not miss any action.

 

COLUMBUS

 

Games this week

@ Detroit, vs. Detroit, vs. Florida, @ St. Louis

 

Notes

The Blue Jackets play three games in four nights so look for Allen York to possibly get a start in place of Steve Mason as Curtis Sanford is out for the remainder of the season with a torn muscle in his leg. The Blue Jackets play a home-and-home series against Detroit and while the Red Wings do not engage in fisticuffs very often, if they do, Derek Dorsett and Jared Boll will be more than happy to oblige. The Blue Jackets are rested on Friday when they play a tired Florida team who play Minnesota the previous night but then play in St. Louis on Saturday while facing the rested Blues. In an injury-filled season, James Wisniewski is out yet again with concussion-like symptoms after stopping a shot with his face on Sunday.  Ryan Johansen is thrilled to be back at center after spending most of the season on the wing, that is when he wasn’t being a healthy scratch.

 

DALLAS

 

Games this week

@ Calgary, @ Edmonton, @ Vancouver, @ San Jose  

 

Notes

The Stars play all four out west including three games in Western Canada. They are tired Saturday when they are in San Jose to play the rested Sharks after playing in Vancouver the night before. Look for Richard Bachman to get one start in place of Kari Lehtonen as the Stars play three games in four nights. Michael Ryder set a career high record for goals Tuesday with a pair of markers to give him 32.  Sheldon Souray returned to action on Tuesday after missing less than two weeks with a charley horse.

 

 

 

DETROIT

 

Games this week

vs. Columbus, @ Columbus, vs. Nashville, vs. Florida

 

Notes

Detroit plays four times this week but not three in four nights. Still, Joey MacDonald (if healthy as he underwent an MRI on his ailing back) should get a start in goal for Jimmy Howard. If not, they will go to Ty Conklin. They play a home-and-home series with Columbus so look for Kyle Quincey and Todd Bertuzzi to see some action in the penalty minute front if there are any fisticuffs. Nicklas Lidstrom could return to action on March 24 after missing 11 games with an ankle injury. Johan Franzen  (back spasms) skated briefly on Tuesday but there is no timetable for his return. Justin Abdelkader will get extra time in the Detroit lineup as Darren Helm is gone for the remainder of the regular season with a knee injury.


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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 :Michael Finewax



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