Mike Finewax

The Week Ahead

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The Final Week

Friday, March 30, 2012


 

PHILADELPHIA

 

Games this week

vs. New York Rangers, vs. Buffalo, @ Pittsburgh

 

Notes

Ilya Bryzgalov suffered a small chip fracture in his right foot and is day-to-day although we wouldn’t be surprised if he sat out until the playoffs to give him extra time to rest the injury. Kimmo Timonen suffered an upper body injury and is day-to-day. He missed five games in early March with a bad back. The Flyers recalled Marc-Andre Bourdon to replace him in the lineup. Claude Giroux is third in the NHL in points with 86 and is second behind only Henrik Sedin with 59 assists.

 

 PHOENIX

 

Games this week

vs. Columbus, @ St. Louis, @ Minnesota

 

Notes

The Coyotes are tired on Saturday when they play a rested Minnesota team as Phoenix takes on the Blues in St. Louis on Friday. Radim Vrbata scored on Thursday for the first time since Feb. 21. Raffi Torres has been torrid of late in the goal scoring department with six goals in his last 12 games. Shane Doan returned this past week after serving his three game suspension.  Derek Morris played in his 1,000 NHL game. The Coyotes inked University of Michigan center Chris Brown, a second round pick in 2009, to a three-year, entry-level deal.

 

PITTSBURGH

 

Games this week

@ Boston, vs. New York Rangers, vs. Philadelphia

 

Notes

Evgeni Malkin became the first NHLer to hit the 100 point mark this season and has a nine point lead on runner up Steve Stamkos. James Neal is also having a special year with 37 goals, 16 on the power play, 78 points and 80 penalty minutes. He is a true fantasy stud. Kris Letang may return to action this week after suffering a lower body injury. Brent Johnson is finally back after missing over a month of action with a knee injury. Brad Thiessen was returned to the minors. Ben Lovejoy is out three-four weeks after undergoing knee surgery.

 

ST. LOUIS

 

Games this week

vs. Detroit, vs. Phoenix, @ Dallas

 

Notes

The Blues play three games in four nights this week and you should be able to determine who is starting the playoffs in net by who plays two out of three games, Jaroslav Halak or Brian Elliott. The Blues are tired on Saturday when they take on a rested Dallas squad after St. Louis hosts the Coyotes on Friday night. Andy McDonald is scheduled to return to action on March 31 after missing six games with a shoulder injury. Keep an eye on David Perron for next season he has 39 points in 53 games this year after missing 13 months with a concussion. Ken Hitchcock has hinted that Jaroslav Halak will be the St. Louis Blues' starting goaltender in the playoffs, but Brian Elliott certainly has given the coach something to think about. Either way, the Blues will have excellent goaltending in the post-season.

 

SAN JOSE

 

Games this week

@ Dallas, @ Los Angeles, vs. Los Angeles

 

Notes

The Sharks end the season playing the back-half of a home-and-home series against Dallas and then finish the season by playing a couple against the Kings. Look for Brad Winchester and Ryane Clowe to add to their penalty minute totals. T.J. Galiardi returned to action on Wednesday after missing six games with a back injury. Logan Couture has 30 goals to lead the Sharks but has not found the back of the net in eight games. The Sharks are in tough to make the playoffs as only one point separates the top four teams in their division.

 

TAMPA BAY

 

Games this week

vs. Washington, @ Montreal, @ Toronto, @ Winnipeg

 

Notes

The Lightning play four times this week (the only NHL team to do so) including three games in four nights so look for Dwayne Roloson and Sebastien Caron to share the net. They are tired Thursday when they face the Maple Leafs in Toronto after having played in Montreal on Wednesday. Steve Stamkos now has 55 goals this season and since he leads Evgeni Malkin by eight goals with less than 10 days to go in the season, it appears that he will have his name engraved on the Rocket Richard Trophy for the second time in three seasons.

     

TORONTO

 

Games this week

@ Buffalo, vs. Tampa Bay, @ Montreal

 

Notes

The floundering Maple Leafs will play the back half of a home-and-home series against the Sabres, so look for Jay Rosehill and Dion Phaneuf to add to their penalty minute count if there are fisticuffs. James Reimer could be gone for the season as he is having a possible recurrence of his concussion-like symptoms that kept him out of the lineup for six weeks earlier in the season. The Maple Leafs signed undrafted Spencer Abbott (no relation to our Corey) to an entry level deal and hope they have inked someone special as he is one of three finalists for the Hobey Baker Award.

  

VANCOUVER

 

Games this week

vs. Anaheim, @ Calgary, vs. Edmonton

 

Notes

The big news is that Daniel Sedin is going to be back for the start of the playoffs at least according to GM Mike Gillis who says that Sedin is progressing well from his concussion. The Canucks are not getting production from some of their top-six players as Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows have not picked up a point in their last seven games while David Booth is pointless in six. They have won four in a row despite the lack of scoring from their big guns since the Sedin injury. Dan Hamhuis leads all Canucks with a plus-24 rating. Andrew Ebbett (broken collarbone) could return  this week after being out since Janaury.

  

WASHINGTON

 

Games this week

@ Tampa Bay, vs. Florida, @ New York Rangers

 

Notes

Tomas Vokoun left Thursday’s game after suffering a lower body injury. This was after returning from a groin injury. Nicklas Backstrom could finally return this week after being out since early January with a concussion. He has been sorely missed. It has not been a good year for Alex Ovechkin and his fantasy owners. He has 36 goals and only 63 points and is a minus-eight this season. Alexander Semin could be playing his final games for the Capitals as he is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

 

WINNIPEG

Games this week

@ Florida, @ New York Islanders, vs. Tampa Bay

 

Notes

There is no timetable for the return of Eric Fehr who has missed the last six games with an upper body injury. The Jets top line of Blake Wheeler, Bryan Little and Andrew Ladd were a combined minus-11 Monday with the latter two minus-four apiece. Evander Kane is only one goal shy of 30 this season. Spencer Machacek has two goals and seven points in his last five games. Dustin Byfuglien has 11 goals and 47 points in only 61 games this season and has chipped in with 68 penalty minutes



Michael Finewax is entering his 10th season as the Senior Hockey Writer and Editor for Rotoworld. You can follow him on Twitter @mfinewaxhockey.
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