Mike Finewax

The Week Ahead

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Hockey Day in Canada

Friday, February 01, 2013


 

PHILADELPHIA

Games this week

vs. Tampa Bay, vs. Florida, vs. Carolina

 

Notes

The Flyers are home for all three games this week. Daniel Briere’s fantasy stock could skyrocket as he has been practicing on the top line with Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds. Do not give up on Ilya Bryzgalov despite his 2-4 start. His peripherals are terrific as he has a 2.19 GAA and a .924 save percentage. Scott Hartnell’s presence on the power play is being missed during his absence as the Flyers are 23rd in the early going in power play efficiency after finishing sixth in the NHL last year while leading with 66 goals. Zac Rinaldo returned after missing four games with a laceration of his leg. He has only two penalty minutes in three games but look for a lot more from the enforcer.

 

PHOENIX

 

Games this week

vs. Minnesota, vs. Chicago, @ San Jose  

 

Notes

The Coyotes game against Chicago should be an interesting one as Raffi Torres finished his 21 game suspension for his hit on Marian Hossa. This will be the first time the two sides meet since Torres was eligible to return and we shall see if a) he dresses  and b) if the Blackhawks try and exact revenge. Mike Smith is expected to be back in net February 1 after missing four games with a lower body injury. Radim Vrbata has seven points in seven games to lead the Coyotes. Matthew Lombardi is out of action for at least a month after suffering an upper body injury.

 

PITTSBURGH

 

Games this week

@ New York Islanders, vs. Washington, @ New Jersey, vs. New Jersey 

 

Notes

The Penguins play three games in four nights so look for off-season free agent acquisition Tomas Vokoun to play at least once in place of Marc-Andre Fleury. Vokoun is coming off a shutout against the Rangers Thursday and has out-played Fleury thus far in the early going. Matt Niskanen will be out two-four weeks with an ankle injury. Simon Despres took his spot on the top defensive pairing alongside Kris Letang and picked up a goal and an assist Thursday. He is worth looking at short term. Zach Boychuk was picked up off waivers from Carolina and he could find himself as a top-six forward with the powerful Penguins.

 

ST. LOUIS

 

Games this week

vs. Nashville, vs. Detroit, vs. Anaheim

 

Notes

The Blues are rested Saturday when they host Anaheim with the Ducks playing in Dallas on Saturday. David Backes scored his first goal of the season Thursday and now has five points in seven games. Wade Redden has been a nice surprise and a veteran presence for the Blues. He missed Thursday’s game with the flu but should be back in the Blues lineup. Alex Pietrangelo is tied for the NHL lead among defensemen with teammate Kevin Shattenkirk and three others with eight points. Chris Stewart has four goals and 12 penalty minutes in seven games.

 

SAN JOSE

 

Games this week

@ Anaheim, vs. Chicago, vs. Phoenix

 

Notes

The Sharks will be tired Tuesday when they take on the Blackhawks after playing in Anaheim Monday. They are off to the best start in their history, winning their first seven games and yet are only one point up on Chicago. Brent Burns (lower body) has yet to play this season but finally practiced with the team on Tuesday. Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau had their six game point streak end Thursday. Jason Demers is ready to return after fracturing his wrist while playing in Europe. Dan Boyle returned to action on Thursday after missing Tuesday’s game with the flu and scored the shootout winner.

 

TAMPA BAY

 

Games this week

@ Philadelphia, @ New Jersey, @ Boston, @ New York Rangers

 

Notes

The Lightning are on the road for all four games this week and play three in four nights. Expect to see Mathieu Garon to play once with Anders Lindback playing the other three, The Lightning are tired Sunday when they take on the Rangers after playing the Bruins Saturday.  Cory Conacher has been the surprise rookie in the early going. The undrafted winger has three goals and nine points in only six games and is playing on the top line, alongside Steve Stamkos and Martin St. Louis. Anders Lindback is 4-1-0 this season with a 2.80 GAA and has stopped 149 of 163 shots sent his way. Victor Hedman has four points in his last three games and is plus-eight on the season.

 

TORONTO

 

Games this week

vs. Carolina, @ Washington, @ Winnipeg, @ Montreal

 

Notes

The Maple Leafs play four games including three in four nights so look for James Reimer and Ben Scrivens to split the net. Toronto will be tired Tuesday in Washington after hosting the Hurricanes Monday. Matt Frattin has been outstanding since returning from the AHL Marlies as he has four goals and six points in four games including two game winners. Jake Gardiner was sent to the minors in order to get into playing shape after he had been out six weeks with a concussion. Jay McClement has moved up to the second line alongside Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin as James van Riemsdyk jumped to the top unit with the injury to Joffrey Lupul.

 

VANCOUVER

 

Games this week

@ Edmonton, @ Minnesota, vs. Calgary

 

Notes

Zack Kassian has five goals in six games and is now on the top line with the Sedin twins. Roberto Luongo is back as the number one goalie, at least temporarily, as coach Alain Vigneault is going with the hot hand. Cory Schneider awaits patiently on the bench. Third string goalie Eddie Lack is out six months after hip surgery so dealing Luongo will now require a goalie back or picking one up from among the free agents. Christopher Higgins, like so many players who did not play during the lockout, has struggled, with only one assist in seven games. Kevin Bieksa is pointless through seven games but does have 18 penalty minutes.   

 

WASHINGTON

 

Games this week

vs. Toronto. @ Pittsburgh, vs. Florida

 

Notes

The Capitals are rested Tuesday when they host Toronto with the Maple Leafs taking on Carolina Monday. Washington is a prime example of why the shortened training camp has hurt. They are one of four teams with a new head coach, Adam Oates, who did not have enough time to put his new system, and the Capitals are a league-worst 1-5-1. Alex Ovechkin has only three points in seven games but does have two goals in his last three. Brooks Laich (groin) practiced for the first time on Thursday but there is still no timetable for his return. Nicklas Backstrom has been moved off the Alex Ovechkin line as he is centering Wojtek Wolski and Troy Brouwer. Of course, this could change at any time.

 

 

WINNIPEG

Games this week

vs. Florida, vs. Toronto, @ Ottawa

 

Notes

Blake Wheeler has three goals and eight points in seven games and is tied with Tobias Enstrom and Evander Kane for the team lead in points. Dustin Byfuglien missed Thursday’s game with an undisclosed injury and should be considered day-to-day. Mark Scheifele has been a healthy scratch for the last four games as the Jets have to decide whether or not to send him back to junior hockey. Ondrej Pavelec is struggling as he has given up nine goals on 59 shots in his last two games. Look for Al Montoya to get a shot in net this week. Alexander Burmistrov has only one goal in seven games and could benefit from a trip to the minors to get his confidence back.



Michael Finewax has been covering hockey since 2005 and is the Hockey Editor for Rotoworld. You can follow him on Twitter.
Email :Mike Finewax


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