Mike Finewax

The Week Ahead

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Down to the Wire

Friday, March 23, 2012


 

PHILADELPHIA

 

Games this week

vs. Tampa Bay, @ Toronto, vs. Ottawa, @ Pittsburgh

 

Notes

The Flyers play four times this week including three games in four nights so look for Sergei Bobrovsky to play once in place of Ilya Bryzgalov. Bryzgalov is red-hot of late as he is 9-1-1 in his last 11 contests and he was named the NHL’s first star of the week, giving up only six goals in four games. The Flyers are tired on Sunday when they face the white-hot Pittsburgh Penguins as Philadelphia take on Ottawa on Saturday.  Wayne Simmonds has not found the back of the net in 15straight games. The Flyers are having trouble as a team finding the back of the net as they have only scored more than one goal in seven of their last 15 games. The blueline got a boost with the return of Pavel Kubina to the lineup after he missed seven games with an upper body injury.

 

 PHOENIX

 

Games this week

vs. San Jose, vs. Anaheim

 

Notes

The Coyotes play only twice this week so I suggest benching all your Phoenix players in weekly transaction pools with the exception of Ray Whitney and Mike Smith. The Coyotes got Kyle Chipchura (wrist) and Radim Vrbata (flu) back on Thursday. Vrbata has gone over a month without scoring a goal, amazing considering he has 30 goals thus far. Shane Doan was suspended for three games for his elbow to the head of Jamie Benn. Dave Tippett picked up the 400th victory of his NHL coaching career on Sunday. Whitney has 70 points and is a plus-25 this season.

 

PITTSBURGH

 

Games this week

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

 

Notes

The Penguins play three games in four nights this week so look for Brad Thiessen to play once in place of Marc-Andre Fleury. They are tired on Friday when they are in Buffalo as they take on the Islanders Thursday. The Penguins are rested on Sunday when they face a tired Flyers squad who play Ottawa Saturday. The Penguins play a home-and-home series against the Islanders early in the week so look for Deryk Engelland and James Neal to add to their penalty minute count if there are fisticuffs. Neal has been outstanding this past week with eight points in his last two games and is tied for fourth overall in NHL scoring. Evgeni Malkin in pulling away in the scoring race as he has 95 points, 10 ahead of Claude Giroux and is only five goals behind Steve Stamkos, in the battle for the Rocket Richard Trophy. Matt Cooke has only 30 penalty minutes this season in 73 games.

 

ST. LOUIS

 

Games this week

vs. Nashville, @ Chicago, vs. Columbus

 

Notes

The Blues are rested on Saturday when they face the Blue Jackets who are playing Florida the previous night. David Backes was thought to be significantly injured on Saturday when he blocked a shot with his foot. There were no broken bones and he was back in the lineup without missing a game. There is good news on the concussion front as Alexander Steen and Matt D'Agostini have been given the green light to practice with contact. Kris Russell is expected to return this week after suffering a concussion on Feb. 23.

 

SAN JOSE

 

Games this week

vs. Colorado, @ Anaheim, @ Phoenix, vs. Dallas

 

Notes

The Sharks play four times this week including three in four games so look for Thomas Greiss to play at least once instead of Antti Niemi. They are rested Saturday when they play a tired Dallas team who play in Vancouver on Friday but the Sharks will be tired on Thursday when they are in Phoenix after playing the Ducks in Anaheim Wednesday. Michal Handzus (lower body) and Tommy Wingels (upper body) returned to action Thursday after missing six and five games respectively. That should help out the bottom six forward group. Martin Havlat is starting to come alive as he has had a pair of two point games during the last week.

 

TAMPA BAY

 

Games this week

@ Philadelphia, @ Boston, @ New Jersey, vs. Winnipeg

 

Notes

The Lightning play four times this week including three games in four nights so look for Dwayne Roloson and Sebastien Caron to share the net. They are tired Tuesday when they face the Bruins in Boston after having played in Philadelphia on Monday. They will be rested Saturday against the Jets who are in Carolina Friday. Steve Stamkos has been slumping of late as he has been held pointless in his last four games. Bruno Gervais got back into the lineup on Monday after missing six games with an upper-body injury. Ryan Shannon will miss the rest of the season after undergoing shoulder surgery.

     

TORONTO

 

Games this week

vs. Carolina, vs. Philadelphia, vs. Buffalo

 

Notes

The floundering Maple Leafs will be rested on Saturday when they are home to the tired Sabres who play the Penguins on Friday night. For all the complaining about Phil Kessel, he is third in the NHL in goals with 36 and tied for fourth in points with 76. Tell anyone this three seasons ago when the trade was made and they would have said it was a no-brainer. Clarke MacArthur and Matt Frattin are out with upper and lower body injuries so the Maple Leafs recalled Nazem Kadri on an emergency basis. The Maple Leafs signed Brad Ross to a three-year entry-level deal on Tuesday. The former second round pick, 43rd overall in the 2010 Draft, had 42 goals and 82 points for Portland of the WHL this season and he is quite a feisty player as 163 minutes in the penalty box will attest to.

  

VANCOUVER

 

Games this week

vs. Los Angeles, vs. Colorado, vs. Dallas, vs. Calgary

 

Notes

The Canucks play four times this week, all at home, including three games in four nights so look for Cory Schneider to play at least once in place of Roberto Luongo. Daniel Sedin is out indefinitely with a concussion, courtesy of a Duncan Keith elbow. Zack Kassian  has taken his spot on a line with Henrik Sedin and Mason Raymond. Christopher Higgins is without a point in his last two games but has played well on a line with David Booth and Ryan Kesler.  Manny Malhotra returned to action this past week after sitting out a couple of games for personal reasons.

 

WASHINGTON

 

Games this week

vs. Buffalo, @ Boston, vs. Montreal

 

Notes

The Capitals are rested Saturday when they face a tired Montreal team as the Habs are playing the Rangers Friday. Alexander Semin is out with a lower body injury but he should be fine to play this week. They recalled Cody Eakin from Hershey. Tomas Vokoun has been having issues with his groin so Michal Neuvirth has played along with Braden Holtby. Mike Green picked up his first point this past week since October 22. Nicklas Backstrom has been skating without any symptoms for his concussion as he continues to get closer to a possible return. Alex Ovechkin has three goals in his last two games.

 

WINNIPEG

Games this week

vs. Ottawa, vs. New York Rangers, @ Carolina, @ Tampa Bay

 

Notes

The Jets play four times this week including three games in four nights so look for Chris Mason to play once in place of Ondrej Pavelec. They are a rested team Wednesday when they face a tired Rangers team as the New Yorkers take on the Wild on Tuesday but are the tired team on Saturday when they play the Lightning after playing in Carolina Friday.  Spencer Machacek has notched three assists in two games since joining the Jets on his latest recall from the minors despite limited ice time. Nik Antropov did not travel with his teammates to Pittsburgh for Tuesday night's game due to a lower-body. Dustin Byfuglien has a bunch of minor bumps and bruises but is not concerned.



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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