Michael Finewax

The Week Ahead

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Get ready for some Hockey!

Friday, January 18, 2013


 

PHILADELPHIA

 

Games this week

vs. Pittsburgh, @ Buffalo, @ New Jersey, vs. New York Rangers, @ Florida, @ Tampa Bay

 

Notes

The Flyers play six times in nine days and three in four nights so figure on Ilya Bryzgalov playing at least four times and backup Michael Leighton at least once. The Flyers are rested Thursday when they face the Rangers who take on Boston the previous night but are tired on Sunday when they are in Tampa Bay as they play in Florida Saturday. Their big moves in the off-season were on the blueline, giving up James van Riemsdyk for Luke Schenn and signing Kurtis Foster which should help the power play. The Schenn move should help his younger brother Brayden so look for the youngster to move into a top-six role up front.

 

 PHOENIX

 

Games this week

@ Detroit, vs. Chicago, vs. Columbus, @ San Jose, vs. Los Angeles

 

Notes

The Coyotes are still in Phoenix and should have a new owner by the end of the month in Greg Jamison. They play five games this period including three games in four nights. Mike Smith, the surprise sensation last season, returns and should get four starts this week with Jason Labarbera playing once. The Coyotes are tired Thursday when they face a rested San Jose team as Phoenix are home to Columbus on Wednesday. They lost their top scorer from last season in Ray Whitney but inked former Penguin Steve Sullivan. Raffi Torres will still miss the first eight games of the season due to his suspension in the playoffs for his hit on Marian Hossa. Look for a big year again from blueliners Oliver Ekman-Larsson and the underrated Keith Yandle.

 

PITTSBURGH

 

Games this week

@ Philadelphia, @ New York Rangers, vs. Toronto, @ Winnipeg, @ Ottawa

 

Notes

The Penguins play five times but are lucky enough not to play three games in four nights. Nevertheless, look for off-season free agent acquisition Tomas Vokoun to play at least once in place of Marc-Andre Fleury. Sidney Crosby has pronounced himself 100 percent healthy from his concussion woes and if he remains healthy, watch out as the Penguins could be the team to beat in the NHL. Evgeni Malkin gives Pittsburgh the best one-two punch in the league and when you add James Neal and defenseman Kris Letang to the mix, you can definitely see the firepower of the Penguins. They traded Jordan Staal in the off-season but received the pesky Brandon Sutter in return as well as the eighth overall pick in the 2012 Draft which they turned into blueliner Derrick Pouliot.

 

ST. LOUIS

 

Games this week

vs. Detroit, @ Nashville, @ Chicago, vs. Nashville, @ Dallas, vs. Minnesota

 

Notes

The Blues play six times including three in four nights so look for Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott to split the cage. The Blues are tired two nights this week, first on Tuesday when they play Chicago after they take on the Predators in Nashville; and on Sunday when they host Minnesota, after they are in Dallas Saturday. Look for a good season from Chris Stewart who struggled last season with only 15 goals and 30 points as he lost over 20 pounds in the off-season. Vladimir Tarasenko has Calder Trophy aspirations and should line up on the second line this season. If Andy McDonald remains healthy and that is always a big if, he should lead the Blues in points.

 

SAN JOSE

 

Games this week

@ Calgary, @ Edmonton, vs. Phoenix, vs. Colorado, vs. Vancouver

 

Notes

The Sharks play five times including three games in four nights so look for Thomas Greiss to play at least once in place of Antti Niemi. The Phoenix game is the start of a five game homestand. The Sharks are rested on Thursday when they take on a tired Phoenix team who entertain Columbus on Wednesday, while they are tired Sunday when they face Vancouver after playing Colorado Saturday. Expect a big year from Martin Havlat who was injured most of last season after trading for him from the Wild in the summer of 2011. He’ll be part of a big top-six as Havlat will line up on the second line with Logan Couture and  Ryane Clowe while Joe Thornton will center the top unit between Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski.

 

TAMPA BAY

 

Games this week

vs. Washington, @ New York Islanders, @ Carolina, vs. Ottawa, vs. Philadelphia

 

Notes

The Lightning play five times including three games in four nights so look for Anders Lindback, the big off-season acquisition, to play three or four times while Mathieu Garon will play the remainder. The Lightning get a big break as they are the rested team three times this week while being tired and playing a rested team once. They will be rested against the Islanders on Monday, Ottawa on Friday and the Flyers on Sunday while being tired versus Carolina Tuesday. Tampa Bay made a couple of nice free agent signings on the blueline with Matt Carle and Sami Salo and are looking to Victor Hedman to take his game to the next level. They have the best goal scorer in the game in Steve Stamkos but some of their forwards are getting on in age including Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis. AHL rookie of the year Cory Conacher has cracked the lineup and could surprise.

     

TORONTO

 

Games this week

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

 

Notes

The Maple Leafs play five games including three games in four nights so it appears that James Reimer and Ben Scrivens will split the net three and two or two and three. Roberto Luongo rumors to Toronto persist but if Reimer or Scrivens get off to a hot start, then the rumors could die down. The Maple Leafs are rested on Monday when they face the Sabres but are tired on Thursday when they face the Islanders after playing in Pittsburgh the previous night. Toronto has decided to go young as they traded Matthew Lombardi to Phoenix and put Tim Connolly on waivers. They made only a couple of moves in the off-season as they signed third line center Jay McClement to a contract and traded defenseman Luke Schenn to Philadelphia for James van Riemsdyk.

  

VANCOUVER

 

Games this week

vs. Anaheim, vs. Edmonton, vs. Calgary, @ Anaheim @ San Jose

 

Notes

The Canucks play five times but not three games in four nights. Expect to see Cory Schneider and Roberto Luongo split the net this season, at least until a trade is made. If the Canucks decide to keep both, it will knock down the fantasy value of both but could help in the playoffs. The Canucks are tired when they face the Oilers on the 20th as they host Anaheim Saturday but are rested Sunday the 27th when they face the Sharks who play Colorado Saturday.   Vancouver will be looking for a second line center as Ryan Kesler still has not been medically cleared after undergoing shoulder and hip surgery in the off-season. David Booth is out four-six weeks with a strained groin. Jason Garrison was their big acquisition this past summer. He will team with Alexander Edler on the first power play as a point man.

 

WASHINGTON

 

Games this week

@ Tampa Bay, vs. Winnipeg, vs. Montreal, @ New Jersey, vs. Buffalo

 

Notes

The Capitals play five times including three games in four nights so expect to see Braden Holtby play three times while Michal Neuvirth should see the net twice. The Capitals are rested on Tuesday when they face Winnipeg who are in Boston the previous night and are tired Friday when they play New Jersey on Friday after hosting Montreal the previous night. Look for Alex Ovechkin to return to form now that new coach Adam Oates is on board. He should be a top five scorer. I’m really high on the comeback of Mike Green after two injury filled seasons but I did write the same thing last season. It’s nice to see Tom Poti back in the lineup after missing two years with a groin injury.

 

WINNIPEG

Games this week

@ Ottawa, @ Boston, @ Washington, vs. Pittsburgh, vs. New York Islanders

 

Notes

The Jets play five games including three games in four nights. Ondrej Pavelec should see action in three or four games with Al Montoya mopping up. The Jets will be tired on Tuesday when they travel to Washington after being in Boston on Monday. They made a nice off-season pick up when they signed Olli Jokinen to center the top line. The Jets have a strong defense with Dustin Byfuglien and Tobias Enstrom leading the way but could be a little weak up front and that could cost them a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Expect the Winnipeg Jets to move over to the Western Conference next season with one of Detroit, Nashville or Columbus moving to the East.



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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