Mike Finewax

The Week Ahead

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The Final Week

Friday, March 30, 2012


It’s the last column for The Week Ahead for the 2011-12 season and I want to thank all my readers for taking the time to read and for all the feedback I received.

 

It has been a very interesting season, especially with the usual great races for a playoff spot, mostly in the Western Conference where heading into Friday’s action, the top four teams are separated by only one point.

 

There have been a lot of major injuries this season with concussions at the forefront of every conversation. It’s great that Sidney Crosby is back in action but it’s sad that it appears that Marc Savard, who was unable to play even once this season, and Chris Pronger’s respective careers may be over.

 

Every team plays on Saturday, the end of the NHL schedule.

 

Thanks once again for reading and I’m already looking forward to next season.

 

Now to The Week Ahead.

 

WEEK OF APRIL 2-8

 

4 Games –Tampa Bay

 

3 Games – Anaheim, Boston, Buffalo, Carolina, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Edmonton,  Florida, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Montreal, Nashville, New Jersey, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Ottawa,  Phoenix, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, San Jose, Toronto, Vancouver, Washington, Winnipeg

 

2 Games - Calgary, Colorado, Columbus

 

Anaheim and Tampa Bay play three games on the road this week.

 

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INJURIES

 

Taylor Hall is out five-six months due to shoulder surgery.

 

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

 

Play NHL Snapdraft Daily!

 

ANAHEIM

 

Games this week

@ Vancouver, @ Edmonton, @ Calgary

 

Notes

The Ducks are in Western Canada for all three games this week. Jonas Hiller became the first Anaheim Duck to play in 70 games between the pipes in one season. Bobby Ryan is heating up at the right time for fantasy players as he has five points in his last four games, and right at the time most fantasy leagues are in playoff mode. Lubomir Visnovsky scored on Sunday and it was his first goal in 29 games. Teemu Selanne could return for one more season. He passed Luc Robitaille for fourth place in career power play goals and is only one behind Phil Esposito.

 

BOSTON

 

Games this week

vs. Pittsburgh, @ Ottawa, vs. Buffalo

 

Notes

If you like the Bruins to go far in the playoffs, Rich Peverley will make a great mid-round pick. He is now playing the point on the first power play and is on the first line with David Krejci and Milan Lucic. He has only 39 points in 51 games so he is definitely flying below the radar. Brian Rolston has been rejuvenated since his trade deadline deal to Boston. The veteran has a seven game scoring streak in which he has 12 points. Tuukka Rask (abdomen/groin) looks like he will be ready to backup Tim Thomas in the playoffs. It does not look good for a return this season of Nathan Horton who has missed 23 games thus far with a concussion and he is not close to returning to action.

 

BUFFALO

 

Games this week

vs. Toronto, @ Phladelphia, @ Boston

 

Notes

The Sabres play the second half of a home-and-home series with the Maple Leafs on Tuesday so expect to see Patrick Kaleta to add to his minutes total. Christian Ehrhoff is out with a knee injury suffered on Tuesday and there is no word on when he will return. Ryan Miller has been the reason of late that the Sabres are challenging for a playoff spot as he is 14-1-3 since February 19. He was the NHL’s second star of the week for the week ending March 25.   Marcus Foligno has had a great start to his NHL career as he scored six times in his first nine games. Of the current NHLers, only Teemu Selanne (8), Evgeni Malkin (8), Devin Setoguchi (7), Ilya Kovalchuk (6) and Alex Ovechkin (6) have had as good or better starts to their careers.

 

CALGARY

 

Games this week

vs. Vancouver, vs. Anaheim

 

Notes

The Flames only play twice this week so I recommend benching all your Flames with the exception of Jarome Iginla in weekly transaction pools. That being said, Iginla has not scored in his last seven games. The wear and tear of a long season could be getting to Flames who are 1-2-3 in their last six games. You cannot blame Miikka Kiprusoff who has kicked out 154 of 168 shots in the six contests. Curtis Glencross has also been slumping as he has gone nine straight games without a goal. Michael Cammalleri is centering Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay on the top line.

 

CAROLINA

 

Games this week

@ Ottawa, vs. Montreal, @ Florida

 

Notes

The Hurricanes are rested Thursday when they take on a tired Montreal team who play Tampa Bay the night before. After struggling through the first half of the season, Cam Ward has been outstanding since the start of the New Year. Eric Staal was minus-18 in his first 19 games of the season but has rebounded as he has been a plus-three in his last 58 games. He still however, has the worst plus-minus on the Hurricanes. After being at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings all season, Carolina has played very well of late and are now 12th.

 

CHICAGO

 

Games this week

@ Minnesota, @ Detroit

 

Notes

Chicago plays the Wild for the second game in a row on Thursday so look for . Duncan Keith is due to return on April 5 from his five game suspension for his hit on Daniel Sedin that has caused Sedin to be out with a concussion. Patrick Kane has had plenty of trouble on the draw as he has won only 41.7 percent of his faceoffs. The Blackhawks are getting healthier as Marcus Kruger and Steve Montador are back from concussions and Ray Emery returned on Thursday after being out with an upper body injury. There is still no timetable for the return of the concussed Jonathan Toews who has been skating for over a week although he is hoping to return on Thursday.

 

COLORADO

 

Games this week

vs. Columbus, vs. Nashville

 

Notes

The Avalanche play only twice this week so you should bench all your Colorado players in weekly pools if you have better options.  Good news for the front office personnel as Avalanche coach Joe Sacco and GM Greg Sherman will reportedly stay with Colorado for the 2012-13 campaign. This could be the last week in his Colorado career for veteran Milan Hejduk who has really struggled in the second half of the season as he has no goals and only three assists in his last 22 games. Matt Duchene is having a tough time in his third NHL season as he was benched last week and played less than 15 minutes in his next game on the third line.

 

COLUMBUS

 

Games this week

@ Phoenix, @ Colorado, vs. New York Islanders

 

Notes

Thankfully, this sorry season is coming to a conclusion with Saturday’s game against the Islanders. The Blue Jackets have the best chance at getting the number one overall pick but they may trade it away as they have not had any luck selecting Russians in the first round (Nikolayi Zherdev and Nikita Filitov) and the best two prospects are Russian in Nail Yakupov and Mikhail Grigorenko. Derick Brassard has 21 points in his last 28 games so it looks like the former first round pick has finally come of age as an NHLer. Boone Jenner, the 37th pick last season, has signed a three-year entry level deal. James Wisniewski is not skating and it appears that the concussion has sidelined him for the remainder of the season.

  

DALLAS

 

Games this week

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

 

Notes

The Stars play the Sharks in the back half of a home-and-home series so look for Steve Ott and Brenden Morrow to add to their penalty minute totals if there are any fights. They are rested on Saturday when they face a tired St. Louis team who are home to Phoenix on Friday. Loui Eriksson is having another solid season with 26 goals, 70 points and a plus-20 rating. Michael Ryder has also been very good with 35 goals and a plus-22 rating. Kari Lehtonen has excelled since a trade from Atlanta as he is 32-18-4 this season with a 2.26 GAA and a .924 save percentage. Alex Goligoski has been a bit of a disappointment this season with only eight goals and 28 points in 66 games.

 

 

DETROIT

 

Games this week

@ St. Louis, vs. New Jersey, vs. Chicago

 

Notesl

Detroit plays three times in four nights so look for Jimmy Howard to get a night off with Ty Conklin getting the other start. They are tired on Thursday facing a rested New Jersey team after playing in St. Louis the night before. Howard was out with a groin injury but was expected to return on Friday March 30.  The Red Wings got Jonathan Ericsson back Wednesday after he missed almost five weeks of action with a fractured wrist. Johan Franzen also returned to the lineup on Wednesday after missing four games with back spasms. Tomas Holmstrom broke a 28 game goalless streak on Monday when he potted a pair of goals.


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Michael Finewax has been covering hockey since 2005 and is the Hockey Editor for Rotoworld. You can follow him on Twitter.
Email :Mike Finewax


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