Michael Finewax

The Week Ahead

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Joe Thornton Leads the Pack

Saturday, January 26, 2013


It is getting very interesting in the early going as some teams are losing sight of the pack while others are off to great starts.

 

Let’s talk about the teams that are off to great starts first as the Chicago Blackhawks are 4-0 as of Friday morning despite playing three of their first four on the road. The schedule continues to get tough early on as they play seven of their next eight on the road as the circus makes its yearly appearance in the United Center.

 

San Jose and Anaheim are also perfect at 3-0 and 2-0 respectively in the West with Ottawa and New Jersey also 3-0 and 2-0 respectively in the East. St. Louis looks very good after an opening day loss as they are 3-1 and the Bruins are 2-0-1 to start.

 

On the other side of the coin, the Washington Capitals are the only team in the NHL without a point as they are 0-3 and have looked as bad as their record indicates. Florida, Philadelphia and the New York Rangers are all 1-3 to start the season and they will want to turns things around quickly or all three playoff teams in 2011-12 could have a tough time in the shortened schedule reaching The Promised Land of the post-season.

 

In the West, Calgary and the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings are off to 0-2-1 starts. The Flames were always in tough to make it to the playoffs but great things were expected from the Kings. Phoenix is 1-3 to start while the Detroit Red Wings have not looked good at all and are 1-2.

 

I know it’s still early but it is only a 48 game schedule.

 

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Now to The Week Ahead.

 

WEEK OF JANUARY 28-FEBRUARY 3

 

4 Games – Boston, Buffalo, Colorado, Columbus, Dallas, Edmonton, Montreal, New Jersey, Ottawa,  Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Washington

 

3 Games – Anaheim, Carolina, Chicago, Los Angeles, Detroit, Florida, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Nashville, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia, San Jose, Tampa Bay, Toronto, Vancouver, Winnipeg

 

2 Games - Calgary, St. Louis

 

Columbus, Montreal, Phoenix, San Jose and Tampa Bay play three games at home this week.

 

Chicago, Colorado, Dallas, Edmonton, Nashville, New Jersey and Winnipeg play three games on the road.

 

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INJURIES

 Scott Hartnell is out four-eight weeks with a broken foot.

 

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

 

 

ANAHEIM

 

Games this week

@ San Jose, vs. Minnesota, vs. Los Angeles

 

Notes

The Ducks are tired this week when they take on the Kings Saturday after hosting the Wild on Friday. Daniel Winnik has been the surprise of the early going with  a pair of two goal games to start the season after scoring only eight in 84 regular season games last season. Jonas Hiller has given up seven goals in his first two games, in part due to the fact that the Ducks have given up four goals in seven shorthanded efforts. Forty-two year old Teemu Selanne became the oldest player since Gordie Howe in 1971 to record four points in one game.

 

BOSTON

 

Games this week

@ Carolina, vs. New Jersey, vs. Buffalo, @ Toronto

 

Notes

The Bruins play three games in four nights so look for Anton Khudobin to get one start in place of Tuukka Rask. Boston will be tired on Tuesday when they host a rested New Jersey team as the Bruins are in Carolina Monday. Dougie Hamilton picked up the first point of his NHL career on Wednesday. Boston is struggling on the power play with only one goal in 14 chances. Jordan Caron is out of action with an upper body injury but is likely to return this week.

 

BUFFALO

 

Games this week

vs. Toronto, @ Boston, @ Montreal, vs. Florida

 

Notes

The Sabres play three games in four nights so expect to see Jhonas Enroth between the pipes once in place of Ryan Miller. Buffalo will be tired on Sunday when they entertain Florida after playing in Montreal the previous night. Thomas Vanek had a five point night against the Flyers Sunday and is second in scoring with eight points. Nathan Gerbe returned to action on Thursday after missing the first two games with a back injury. He’s playing alongside Mikhail Grigorenko and Steve Ott.

 

CALGARY

 

Games this week

vs. Colorado, vs. Chicago

 

Notes

The Flames play only twice this week so we recommend benching Calgary players if you have weekly transactions. They are the rested team both times, as Colorado play in Vancouver on Wednesday before travelling to Calgary Thursday while the Blackhawks are in Vancouver as well but on Friday and then go to Calgary Saturday to take on the Flames. The Flames sent Roman Horak to the minors and look for him to be up and down for most of the season. Roman Cervenka was given medical clearance to begin practicing after his bout with blood clots. He should be back this week. Cervenka is considered one of the best players around who have never played in the NHL and is worth picking up if available.

 

CAROLINA

 

Games this week

vs. Boston, vs. Ottawa, @ Philadelphia

 

Notes

It only took two games for Joe Corvo to be a healthy scratch for the Hurricanes as he did not play Thursday. Cam Ward is off to a tough start but before you lose hope, he also got off to a tough start last season. Coach Kirk Muller is pleased with the maturity of Jeff Skinner as he was briefly taken off a line with Jordan Staal and Zac Dalpe but didn’t sulk and just played hard. He is back on the line while Jiri Tlusty is playing with Eric Staal an Alexander Semin

 

             

CHICAGO

 

Games this week

@ Minnesota, @ Vancouver, @ Calgary

 

Notes
The Blackhawks start a six game road trip and once they return home, the last 22 of 36 games will be played at the United Center. Look for Ray Emery to play once in relief of Corey Crawford as Chicago plays three games in four nights. The Blackhawks are rested on Wednesday when they face the tired Wild who play at home versus Columbus on Tuesday but are tired Saturday when they travel to Calgary after playing the Canucks Friday. Brent Seabrook is leading the NHL in hits heading into action Thursday with 13. After being one of the worst teams on the penalty kill last season (27th overall), the Blackhawks have given up only one goal in 10 chances this season to rank in the top three.

 

COLORADO

 

Games this week

@ Edmonton, @ Vancouver, @ Calgary, vs. Edmonton

 

Notes

The Avalanche will play four times this week including three games in four nights so look for Jean-Sebastien Giguere to get a start in place of Semyon Varlamov. They are a tired team on Thursday when they play a rested Calgary team after playing in Vancouver Wednesday. The Avs play twice against Edmonton this week so look for Cody McLeod and Shane O'Brien to add to their penalty minute totals. Steve Downie would also be on that list but he underwent season-ending knee surgery. Look for Chuck Kobasew to get some time in Downie’s place although Colorado would like to get Ryan O'Reilly back in the lineup. O’Reilly is currently a restricted free agent and the two sides are not close as of Thursday evening.

 

COLUMBUS

 

Games this week

vs. Dallas, @ Minnesota, vs. St. Louis, vs. Detroit

 

Notes

The Blue Jackets play three games in four nights in their four game week so expect to see Steve Mason play at least once for Sergei Bobrovsky who at this point of the season looks to be the odds on favorite to be the starting goalie in the early going. The Blue Jackets will be tired on Tuesday when they travel to Minnesota to play a rested Wild squad after playing Dallas Monday. Columbus will be the rested team Saturday when they host Detroit who play the Blues Friday. Coach Todd Richards shuffled his lines up as Artem Anisimov is centering the top unit in between Cam Atkinson and Brandon Dubinsky while Derick Brassard will center Derek Dorsett and R.J. Umberger. It looks like Vaclav Prospal has been relegated to third line duty.

 

DALLAS

 

Games this week

@ Columbus, @ Detroit, vs. Phoenix, @ Phoenix   

 

Notes

The Stars will play four times including two back-to-back games so it is likely that the Stars will not want to risk the groin of Kari Lehtonen who is prone to the injury, so look for Dallas to give Cristopher Nilstorp at least one and likely two starts. They will be tired on Tuesday when they are in Detroit after playing in Columbus on Monday. Dallas plays a home-and-home series with Phoenix this week. Jamie Benn signed a five-year deal Thursday. It appears that Ray Whitney has a foot injury that requires him to wear a protective boot but he is able to skate and play. Aaron Rome should be available this week after missing the first week of the season with a groin injury.

 

DETROIT

 

Games this week

vs. Dallas, vs. St. Louis, @ Columbus

 

Notes

The Red Wings are the rested team twice and are the tired team in the other game as they play three times this week. Detroit is rested on Tuesday and Friday when they play Dallas and St. Louis respectively while they will be tired on Saturday when they travel to Columbus after playing the aforementioned Blues on Friday. Detroit is reeling on the blueline with injuries to Carlo Colaiacovo, Ian White and Jonathan Ericsson, but they will get Jakub Kindl back after he missed the start of the season. Backup goalie Jonas Gustavsson was hurt in the season opener after relieving Jimmy Howard in a 6-0 loss to St. Louis.


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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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