Michael Finewax

The Week Ahead

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The Final Week

Friday, March 30, 2012


 

EDMONTON

 

Games this week

@ Los Angeles, vs. Anaheim, @ Vancouver

 

Notes

The Oilers lost Taylor Hall for five-six months as he will need surgery to correct a shoulder injury that has bothered him since junior hockey. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was tied for the rookie scoring race at 49 points with Gabriel Landeskog, one point ahead of Adam Henrique, heading into action on Thursday. Devan Dubnyk is 4-1-1 in his last six and has a .913 save percentage this season. Theo Peckham is out with a concussion. Ryan Jones is playing very well alongside Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle. Shawn Horcoff missed one game with a sore back before returning on Wednesday. 

 

FLORIDA

 

Games this week

vs. Winnipeg, @ Washington, vs. Carolina

 

Notes

Kris Versteeg was among the scoring leaders early in the season but has had only one assist in his last 12 games to give him 22 goals and 49 points in 65 games. Tomas Fleischmann leads the Panthers in goals with 24 and points with 56, one point ahead of linemate Stephen Weiss. Erik Gundbranson is a team worst minus-18, but look for the rookie to have plenty of good seasons in his future. Jose Theodore has been terrific for the Panthers this season with a 22-14-9 record, a .921 save percentage and a 2.35 GAA. Former second round pick Drew Shore has signed an entry-level contract with the Florida Panthers.

 

LOS ANGELES

 

Games this week

vs. Edmonton, vs. San Jose, @ San Jose

 

Notes

The Kings finish the season with a home-and-home series with the Sharks. Things could get rough so look for Kyle Clfford and Mike Richards to get some penalty minutes. Justin Williams has continued his hot play of late with nine points in his last nine games. Los Angeles GM Dean Lombardi doesn’t think that Simon Gagne will return this season from a concussion suffered in late December. In the topsy-turvy Pacific division the Kings went from third to ninth with a loss to the Bruins and then to seventh when they shut out the Flames on Wednesday. Jeff Carter is out with an ankle injury. Both he and Mike Richards are in slumps with neither scoring in the last four games.

 

MINNESOTA

 

Games this week

@ Nashville, vs. Chicago, vs. Phoenix

 

Notes

The Wild are rested on Saturday when they take on the Phoenix Coyotes who are tired after playing in St. Louis on Friday. Niklas Backstrom is expected to play on Thursday for the first time in almost a month as he has been out with a groin injury. Justin Falk is also due to return on Thursday after a 10 game absence with a knee injury making Kurtis Foster a healthy scratch. Jason Zucker has agreed to a three-year, entry-level contract with the Minnesota Wild and is expectd to make his NHL debut on Thursday. Matt Cullen is gone for the season after undergoing surgery on a broken finger.  

 

MONTREAL

           

Games this week

vs. Tampa Bay, @ Carolina, vs. Toronto

 

Notes

The Canadiens are tired on Thursday when they are in Carolina after playing the Lightning on Wednesday.  They fired GM Pierre Gauthier on Thursday and Bob Gainey also left the team. The Habs are 15th and last in the Eastern Conference and have little in their farm system so the new General Manager will have plenty to do to bring the Canadiens back to respectability. Erik Cole scored his 31st of the season on Tuesday, a new career high for the veteran forward. Louis Leblanc has been moved to the second line with Tomas Plekanec and Rene Bourque and hopefully the former first round pick will be able to excel as a top-six forward.

 

NASHVILLE

 

Games this week

 vs. Minnesota, vs. Dallas, @ Colorado

 

Notes

Roman Josi is slated to return to action on Friday after missing nine games with an upper body injury. Jordin Tootoo is also expected to return on Friday after missing a couple of games with an upper body injury believed to be to his head. It’ll be quite a night for the Predators as Martin Erat is also expected to return after missing two games with an upper body injury. Alexander Radulov is seeing a lot of ice time (22:50 minutes on Tuesday) as he gets re-acclimated to the North American game after playing in the KHL the last four years.  Coach Barry Trotz is at 499 career NHL wins.

  

NEW JERSEY

 

Games this week

vs. New York Islanders, @ Detroit, vs. Ottawa

 

Notes

New Jersey are rested Thursday when they take on Detroit as the Red Wings are in St. Louis Wednesday. Travis Zajac is ready to return from his Achilles Tendon injury and is practicing between Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk, moving Adam Henrique down to the third line. Adam Larsson has been a healthy scratch the last two games. It was the first time this season that the rookie defenseman has missed a game because of a coach’s decision. Petr Sykora has been demoted to the fourth line after playing most of the season on the second unit as coach Peter DeBoer is looking to get Ryan Carter and Steve Bernier going.

 

NEW YORK ISLANDERS

 

Games this week

@ New Jersey, vs. Winnipeg, @ Columbus

 

Notes

Evgeni Nabokov is day-to-day with a lower body injury but may be gone for the season. The Islanders signed John Grahame to a pro-rated contract to back up Al Montoya the rest of the way. Rick DiPietro has been skating the last month by himself as he recovers from a sports hernia. Matt Martin leads the NHL with 349 credited hits this season and when you add in his 109 penalty minutes, he has lots of value in pools that use both stats. It looks like P.A. Parenteau and his agent are going to start contract negotiations with the Islanders as he would like to remain on Long Island and not become an unrestricted free agent.

 

NEW YORK RANGERS

 

Games this week

@ Philadelphia, @ Pittsburgh, vs. Washington

 

Notes

Anton Stralman took over on the blueline from Tim Erixon and as a result Erixon was sent to the minors on Thursday. Steve Eminger has missed the last eight games with a sprained ankle. Mats Zuccarello, a recent callup, broke his wrist and had surgery to fix it. He is out indefinitely. Brandon Dubinsky has only nine goals and 31 points this season but his 108 penalty minutes and plus-16 rating give him value in traditional pools. Marian Gaborik leads the Rangers with 38 goals and 71 points.

 

OTTAWA     

 

Games this week

vs. Carolina, vs. Boston, @ New Jersey

 

Notes

Goaltender Ben Bishop should be out the remainder of the regular season with a lower body injury allowing Craig Anderson and Alexander Auld to remain the starter and backup respectively. Jesse Winchester is expected to be back in the lineup for the weekend of March 31 as he has been out since December 20 with a concussion. Daniel Alfredsson has four goals and six points in his last two games and now has 56 points in 71 games.


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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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