Michael Finewax

The Week Ahead

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Down to the Wire

Friday, March 23, 2012


 

EDMONTON

 

Games this week

vs. Dallas, vs. Los Angeles, @ Anaheim

 

Notes

The Oilers are rested Sunday when they face the Ducks who play Phoenix the night before. Taylor Fedun skated with the Oilers for the first time this past week since his horrific training camp injury in which he suffered a broken femur in a race for the puck during a potential icing call. Taylor Hall skated this week after suffering a concussion a week ago. Ales Hemsky picked up a hat trick this past week. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle have been magic together on the ice as it appears the Oilers have a plethora of young talent (including former number one overall pick Taylor Hall) up front. The problem is a lack of talent on the blueline and possibly in goal and until those issues are addressed, the Oilers will continue to wallow at or near the bottom of the NHL standings.

 

FLORIDA

 

Games this week

@ Montreal, @ Minnesota, @ Columbus, @ Detroit

 

Notes

The Panthers play four times including three games in four nights so look for Jose Theodore to play three games with Scott Clemmensen getting the crease once.  Florida is tired on Friday when they face the Blue Jackets after playing in Minnesota Thursday.  Shawn Matthias has not scored in his last 16 games so it was no surprise on Wednesday when he he was a healthy scratch. Mike Santorelli took his spot in the lineup after missing three games himself as a healthy scratch. Jack Skille is out for the remainder of the regular season at least after undergoing surgery on his shoulder from an injury suffered on March 9. After an absence of over two months, future stud defenseman Dmitry Kulikov returned to action on March 17 from a knee injury. He was joined by Kris Versteeg who reappeared on the same night after missing almost three weeks with a lower body injury.

 

 

LOS ANGELES

 

Games this week

@ Vancouver, @ Calgary, @ Edmonton, @ Minnesota

 

Notes

The Kings are on the road for all four this week and they push for a playoff spot. They play three games in four nights as well so look for Jonathan Bernier to get a start in place of Jonathan Quick. Quick is hot once again as he has won his last five games giving up only six goals in the process. He also has eight shutouts this season, best in the NHL along with Henrik Lundqvist. The Kings are tired on Saturday when they play the Wild after playing in Edmonton Friday. Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams have been leading the Kings offensively during March with both having 13 points in 11 games.

 

MINNESOTA

 

Games this week

vs. New York Rangers, vs. Florida, vs. Los Angeles, @ Chicago

 

Notes

The Wild play four times this week, including three games in four nights so expect to see Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding split the net. Harding has played well with Backstrom on the shelf of late with a groin injury and with Backstrom back on the bench, the Wild returned Matthew Hackett to the minors. The Wild are rested Saturday when they play the Kings as Los Angeles are in Edmonton the previous night. Mikko Koivu returned to action on Thursday after missing 15 games with a shoulder injury. It was good news for Dany Heatley who scored only once during Koivu’s absence. Heatley celebrated by scoring a power play goal in Thursday’s win. Mike Lundin will miss the rest of the 2011-12 season after undergoing successful surgery for a sports hernia last week.

 

MONTREAL

           

Games this week

vs. Florida, @ New York Rangers, @ Washington

 

Notes

The Canadiens are tired on Saturday when they are in Washington after playing the Rangers in Madison Square Garden on Friday. It was thought that Mathieu Darche was out with an inner ear infection but it appears that he also has a possible concussion as his symptoms did not clear up with medication. He has missed the last 13 games and could be out the remainder of the season. Aaron Palushaj scored his first NHL goal on March 17 in his 32nd regular season game. Andrei Markov missed a game with an upper body injury on March 16 (boy are we surprised!) but was healthy enough to return to action on Friday.

 

NASHVILLE

 

Games this week

@ St. Louis, @ Detroit, vs. Chicago

 

Notes

The big news in Nashville was also the big news in the NHL as Alexander Radulov returned to the Predators lineup on Thursday after a four year absence. He jumped to the KHL with a legitimate NHL contract and the Predators welcomed him back so he could complete his NHL deal and become a restricted free agent. Oh yeah, he also scored the lone Predators goal in a 5-1 loss to Pittsburgh. Pick him up if you can. The Predators are tired on Saturday when they play the Blackhawks after playing in Detroit Friday. Former Sabre Paul Gaustad has missed the last four games with an upper body injury but could return on March 24. Martin Erat was the NHL’s third star of the week as he had two goals and seven points in four games.

   

NEW JERSEY

 

Games this week

vs. Chicago, vs. Tampa Bay, @ Carolina

 

Notes

New Jersey are rested Saturday when they take on Carolina as the Hurricanes are home to Tampa Bay on Friday. Travis Zajac continues to practice as he tries to recover from his Achilles tendon injury.  He thinks that he will be ready to return before the end of the season. David Clarkson and Eric Boulton lead the Devils with 136 and 115 penalty minutes respectively. Patrik Elias has a surprising 70 points this season but his minus-eight and 16 penalty minutes leave a lot to be desired. Ilya Kovalchuk leads with 74 points and 31 goals. Martin Brodeur has 26 wins this season and only two shutouts as he now has 118 in his career.

 

NEW YORK ISLANDERS

 

Games this week

@ Pittsburgh, vs. Pittsburgh, vs. Boston, vs. Ottawa

 

Notes

The Islanders play four times this week, including three games in four nights so look for Al Montoya to play at least once in place of Evgeni Nabokov. Nabokov signed a one-year/$2.75 million extension but it does not include a no-movement or no-trade clause. He will likely go into the 2012-13 season as the Islanders top netminder as Rick DiPietro is just too injury-prone to rely on. The Islanders play a home-and-home series against the Penguins this week so look for Travis Hamonic and Matt Martin to add to their penalty minute totals. Matt Moulson scored twice against the Maple Leafs on Tuesday to establish a new career high with 32 goals.

 

NEW YORK RANGERS

 

Games this week

@ Minnesota, @ Winnipeg, vs. Montreal, vs. Boston

 

Notes

The Rangers play four times this week including three games in four nights so expect to see Martin Biron to play once in place of Henrik Lundqvist. They will be tired on Wednesday when they are in Winnipeg after playing in Minnesota Tuesday.  The Rangers are rested on Sunday when they are home to the Bruins who face the Islanders the previous day. the Artem Ansimov returned to action this past week after missing a couple of games with a shoulder injury. The Rangers want to bring back Mats Zuccarello next season despite the fact he has only played 50 games in the last two seasons for New York. Rookie Tim Erixon is up with the Rangers. Brad Richards has been a bit of a disappointment offensively with only 57 points this season including 24 goals. Marian Gaborik leads the way with 35 goals and 66 points.

 

OTTAWA     

 

Games this week

@ Winnipeg, @ Philadelphia, @ New York Islanders

 

Notes

The Senators are on the road for all three this week. Jason Spezza should be ready to go this week after missing Tuesday’s game with the flu. Craig Anderson is now healthy and it remains to be seen what the Senators do with Ben Bishop as they want him to get playing time and still have Alexander Auld to backup Anderson. For now Auld will sit in the press box with Bishop on the bench. Zenon Konopka now only plays when the Senators want to add some muscle into their lineup. The Senators have been struggling with the man-advantage of late as they are scoreless in their last six games, going 22 power play attempts without a goal.


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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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