Mike Finewax

The Week Ahead

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Get ready for some Hockey!

Friday, January 18, 2013


 

EDMONTON

 

Games this week

@ Vancouver, vs. San Jose, vs. Los Angeles, @ Calgary

 

Notes

The Oilers are rested this Sunday when they open their season against Vancouver with Canucks opening at home on Saturday against the Ducks. The Oilers won the Justin Schultz sweepstakes in the off-season, signing the rookie defenseman and it looks like a steal thus far as Schultz was second in AHL scoring during the lockout, trailing only teammate Jordan Eberle.  The Oilers got a break in that all their young stars played together in Oklahoma City, including Eberle, Schultz, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall. When you add Nail Yakupov who was the first overall pick in the 2012 Draft to the squad, and he played in the KHL, the Oilers should come out of the gate flying. Their goaltending could be a problem but Devan Dubnyk had a solid second half in the 2011-12 season, albeit under little to no pressure as the Oilers were out of the playoff race by mid-season.

 

FLORIDA

 

Games this week

vs. Carolina, @ Ottawa, @ Montreal, vs. Ottawa, vs. Philadelphia

 

Notes

The Panthers play five times in this period including three games in four nights so expect to see Scott Clemmensen play at least once in place of Jose Theodore. The duo have Jacob Markstrom chomping at the bit but he’ll likely spend the rest of this season in the minors barring an injury to either one of the Florida goalkeepers, and then start the season in 2013-14 with the Panthers. The Panthers will be tired on Tuesday when they are in Montreal to play the Habs after playing in Ottawa the previous night. Calder Trophy candidate Jonathan Huberdeau will start the season on the second line centering veteran Alexei Kovalev and Peter Mueller in what could be a dynamic line for Florida. Eric Gundbranson is still suspended for getting injured while wakeboarding in September but will be reinstated as soon as he is healthy enough to play which could be as early as the Ottawa home game.

 

LOS ANGELES

 

Games this week

vs. Chicago, @ Colorado, @ Edmonton, @ Phoenix

 

Notes

The Stanley Cup champions have a relatively easy week as they play only four times in nine days with no back-to-back games. Jonathan Quick had off-season back surgery and was recently given medical clearance to play so his fantasy owners are happy that he will play a whole NHL season rather than missing half. Anze Kopitar injured his knee in Europe but has been fitted for a knee brace and is back skating. Look for him to return by the weekend of the 26th. Jonathan Bernier’s name keeps coming up in trade talks but the Kings first want to determine the health of Quick before contemplating a trade for the disgruntled Bernier. Look for a big season from Drew Doughty and Slava Voynov as well as a comeback from Jeff Carter. Do not be surprised if Dustin Penner also has a good fantasy season.

 

MINNESOTA

 

Games this week

vs. Colorado, vs. Dallas, vs. Nashville, @ Detroit, @ St. Louis

 

Notes

The Wild play five times including three games in four nights so Josh Harding will see some action in net in relief of Niklas Backstrom. Minnesota gets a break this week as they are the rested team twice. They play a tired Nashville team on Tuesday as the Predators are home to St. Louis Monday and face a tired St. Louis team on Sunday as the Blues are in Dallas Saturday. The Wild made the biggest splash in the off-season as the signed Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to huge contracts. They also inked enforcer Zenon Konopka to a deal and his presence will make it easier for the rest of the team to have some skating room when he is on the ice. The oft-injured Pierre-Marc Bouchard has been cleared to play and look for a big offensive year from him if he can stay away from his concussion woes. Rookie Mikael Granlund has a shot to win the Calder.

 

MONTREAL

           

Games this week

vs. Toronto, vs. Florida, @ Washington, vs. New Jersey

 

Notes

The Canadiens are rested on Tuesday when they face a tired Florida team who play in Ottawa the previous night. They still have not signed restricted free agent P.K. Subban as of Friday morning and if they cannot get his signature on a contract then it could be a long three-plus months in Montreal. Andrei Markov is hoping to finally stay healthy and if he is able to, he will have a very good fantasy season. The off-season signing of Brandon Prust will help out the Canadiens and fantasy players who are in pools where penalty minutes count. Alex Galchenyuk, the third overall pick in the 2012 Draft, has been turning heads and could stick with the team to start the season.

 

NASHVILLE

 

Games this week

vs. Columbus, vs. St. Louis, @ Minnesota, @ St. Louis, @ Anaheim

 

Notes

The Predators play five times and three games in four nights so it is too much to expect Pekka Rinne to play all five games. Chris Mason will therefore likely see action in at least one game. The Predators are tired on Tuesday when they take on the rested Wild as Nashville play St. Louis Monday but then are the rested team Saturday when they face a tired Ducks squad who host Vancouver on Friday. They play the Blues twice this week so look for Richard Clune and Brian McGrattan spend some time in the penalty box as tempers should flare at some point against St. Louis. The game in Minnesota starts a seven game road trip.  The Predators were hurt when Ryan Suter left to go to Minnesota, but the team matched an offer by the Flyers for restricted free agent Shea Weber and Weber will likely spend the remainder of his career in Music City.

 

NEW JERSEY

 

Games this week

@ New York Islanders, vs. Philadelphia, vs. Washington, @ Montreal

 

Notes

New Jersey will be rested on Friday when they take on a tired Washington team who host Montreal Thursday. The Devils will be banking on veterans Martin Brodeur and Johan Hedberg in goal and at the ages  of 40 and 39 respectively, the compressed schedule 48 games in 98 days may come back to haunt them by the end of the season. The Devils were severely hurt in the off-season when Zach Parise decided to return to his home state of Minnesota and play for the Wild. Look for Travis Zajac to return from an injury –plagued 2011-12 season with a flourish. The Devils went to the Cup final in 2012 but could be hard-pressed to make it into the playoffs as they are an aging team.

 

NEW YORK ISLANDERS

 

Games this week

vs. New Jersey, vs. Tampa Bay, @ Toronto, @ Boston, @ Winnipeg

 

Notes

The Islanders play five games this period and three in four nights so look for Rick DiPietro to get a couple of starts, unless he gets hurt, in place of Evgeni Nabokov. They are tired Monday when they face a rested Lightning team and on Friday in Boston when they have to travel from Toronto the previous night. New York’s game against Toronto is the start of a five game road trip. The Isles are rested when they face the Maple Leafs who are in Pittsburgh Wednesday. The Islanders big news in the off-season was that they are moving for the 2015-16 to Brooklyn and leaving Long Island. Joshua Bailey and Jesse Joensuu were injured while playing in Europe and the Islanders have suspended the pair, although the NHLPA will likely grieve. Lubomir Visnovsky is still in Europe and it could be a couple of weeks before he returns as there appears to be family issues in play.

 

NEW YORK RANGERS

 

Games this week

@ Boston, vs. Pittsburgh, vs. Boston, @Philadelphia, vs. Toronto

 

Notes

The Rangers play five games including three in four nights so it is likely that Martin Biron will play once in relief of the best goalie in the world at this time, Henrik Lundqvist. The Rangers are tired Thursday when they travel to Philadelphia after hosting the Bruins Wednesday. New York made the biggest trade of the off-season when they finally snagged the Blue Jackets Rick Nash, giving up Artem Anisimov, Brandon Dubinsky and Tim Erixon. Nash will give the Rangers his goal scoring ability and could push them over the top as far as the Stanley Cup is concerned. They signed tough guy Arron Asham who will sit out the first game of the season as he was suspended in the playoffs while playing for the Penguins.

 

OTTAWA     

 

Games this week

@ Winnipeg, vs. Florida, @ Florida, @ Tampa Bay, vs. Pittsburgh

 

Notes

The Senators also play a five spot with three games coming in four nights. Craig Anderson is the starting goalie and should get three or four starts while Ben Bishop, who is currently the backup but has  Robin Lehner pushing him and Anderson, will get at least one start. Ottawa will be tired on Friday when they travel to Tampa Bay after playing in Florida the previous night. The Thursday tilt against the Panthers will be part of a back-to-back series and tempers should flare. The Senators lost plenty of toughness in the off-season as they lost Zenon Konopka, Nick Foligno and Matt Carkner, but still have Chris Neil whose penalty minute totals will likely increase this season. Look for a big year from rookie Jakub Silfverberg.


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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 :Mike Finewax



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