Michael Finewax

The Week Ahead

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Yahoo! Playoffs coming up

Friday, March 29, 2013


 

EDMONTON

 

Games this week

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

 

Notes

The Oilers will play four times this week including three in four nights and it is likely that Devan Dubnyk and Nikolai Khabibulin will split the net. Edmonton will be tired on Thursday in Vancouver after playing the night before in Calgary. They play the Flames in back-to-back games early in the week so it is likely that the recently acquired Mike Brown will spend some time in the sin bin. Taylor Hall is healthy this season and it's showing as he has nine goals and 31 points in 30 games. He went first overall three years ago and is becoming a top performer, even if a lot of people do not know about him. Khabibulin always seems to have a great season in the last year of a contract. He is 3-3-1 in 2013 with a 2.30 GAA and a .930 save percentage.

 

 FLORIDA

 

Games this week

@ Tampa Bay, vs. Washington, vs. Ottawa

 

Notes

The Panthers will be tired on Sunday when they face the Senators after playing the Capitals on Sunday. Jonathan Huberdeau was in a goal scoring slump as he had not found the back of the net in 10 games before popping one on Thursday. Shawn Matthias has nine goals in his last 15 games. Jacob Markstrom has given up only 10 goals in his last five games on 185 shots as he is finally settling down in the NHL. Peter Mueller has only one goal in his last 18 games and only four points in his last 14. After missing 10 games with a core injury, Dmitry Kulikov returned to action this past week. He has seven assists in 24 games. Brian Campbell has seven goals this season but is minus-19.

 

LOS ANGELES

 

Games this week

@ Phoenix, vs. Minnesota, vs. Edmonton, @ Anaheim

 

Notes

The Kings play three games in four nights this week so look for Jonathan Bernier to play at least once in place of Jonathan Quick.  The Kings are rested Thursday when they play the Wild who are in San Jose Wednesday. They are tired Sunday in Anaheim after hosting the Oilers Saturday. Jeff Carter was placed on a line with Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar. Jonathan Quick has re-established himself as the Kings number one goalie as he has started in 11 of the last 13 games although he is only 5-4-0 in those games. Jacob Muzzin has six goals and 13 points in 30 games and is second on the team lead in plus-minus with a plus-13 rating, one less than Justin Williams.

 

MINNESOTA

 

Games this week

 vs. St. Louis, @ San Jose, @ Los Angeles, @ Columbus

 

Notes

The Wild play three games in four nights and it is likely that Niklas Backstrom will get a night off, so either Matthew Hackett or Darcy Kuemper will get a start in goal. Minnesota will be tired on Thursday when in Los Angeles after playing the Sharks in San Jose Wednesday. It looks like good news for Josh Harding who was taking shots on net in practice this week. He has been out of action since Feb. 7 with multiple sclerosis, but it looks like he has found the right combination of medicine to keep it under control. After a very slow start, Ryan Suter has vaulted to the top for consideration in the James Norris Trophy race as the NHL's top defenseman. He has three goals and 27 points and has been very good defensively.    

 

MONTREAL

           

Games this week

vs. Carolina, @ Philadelphia, vs. Winnipeg, vs. Boston

 

Notes

The Canadiens play three times in four nights so Peter Budaj could get a rare game between the pipes in relief of Carey Price. After missing the first six games of the season due to restricted free agency, P.K. Subban has 10 goals and 24 points in 27 games this season as he is establishing himself as one of the NHL's top defensemen.  Brendan Gallagher has been a pleasant surprise this season as the rookie has 10 goals and 19 points. Kudos to Montreal GM Marc Bergevin for his trade of Erik Cole to Dallas for Michael Ryder as Ryder now has 12 goals and 27 points this season including six goals in his last eight games, while Cole has only two goals in 12 games with Dallas.

 

NASHVILLE

 

Games this week

@ Chicago, vs. Colorado, vs. Columbus, vs. Chicago, @ Chicago

 

Notes

The Predators play the last five game week of the year. Pekka Rinne is likely to play four times with Chris Mason picking up one start. They play divisional rival Chicago three times this week so look for Richard Clune to add to his penalty minute count. He has been a surprisingly good fantasy player this season as he has 77 penalty minutes to go with three goals and seven points and a plus--three rating. Martin Erat leads the team in points with 20. Colin Wilson has resumed skating after missing nine games with an upper body injury but there is still no word on his return. Patric Hornqvist finally returned this past week after missing eight games with his latest upper body injury. He could be worth looking at in deeper pools but the Predators are not a good goal scoring team.

 

NEW JERSEY

 

Games this week

vs. New York Islanders, @ Boston, vs. Toronto, @ Buffalo

 

Notes

The Devils play three games in four nights so look for Johan Hedberg to play once with Martin Brodeur seeing the rest of the action. New Jersey will be a tired team on Sunday when they travel to Buffalo to play the Sabres after entertaining Toronto on Saturday. Bad news for the Devils and Ilya Kovalchuk owners as he suffered a right shoulder injury on March 23, an injury that will keep him out of action another one-three weeks. Matt D'Agostino will take his place on the top line alongside Adam Henrique and Andrei Loktionov. Patrik Elias leads the Devils with 29 points, two ahead of Kovalchuk. David Clarkson leads with 12 goals.

 

NEW YORK ISLANDERS

 

Games this week

@ New Jersey, vs. Winnipeg, @ Washington, vs. Tampa Bay

 

Notes

The Islanders play three games in four nights and Kevin Poulin may see one game in goal replacing Evgeni Nabokov who will likely need a rest. Despite a poor plus/minus, the line of John Tavares, Matt Moulson and Brad Boyes has been one of the best offensive lines in the NHL this season. They are sixth in the NHL in power play goals with 26 and the line has led the way as Tavares has 15 points, Moulson 14 and Boyes 12. The Islanders would like to re-sign their three veterans, Mark Streit, Lubomir Visnovsky and Evgeni Nabokov and not deal them at Wednesday's trade deadline.

 

NEW YORK RANGERS

 

Games this week

vs. Winnipeg, vs. Pittsburgh, @ Pittsburgh, @ Carolina

 

Notes

The Rangers play three games in four nights so you could see Martin Biron play once in place of Henrik Lundqvist. The Rangers are the rested team on Wednesday when they host Pittsburgh as the Penguins take on Buffalo at home Tuesday. They will be the tired team Saturday when they travel to Carolina after playing in Pittsburgh Friday. Pittsburgh and New York play back-to-back games this week and the action could get rough on the ice so look for Arron Asham to find his way to the penalty box after dropping his gloves. Mats Zuccarello re-signed with New York after spending the season in the KHL and he could be a restricted free agent at the end of the season. Lundqvist's peripherals are very good with a 2.20 GAA and a .922 but his 14-12-2 record indicates that the Rangers have not been a very good team this season.

 

OTTAWA     

 

Games this week

@  Boston, @ Buffalo, @ Florida

 

Notes

The Senators start a seven game road trip this week.  They are rested Sunday when in Florida as the Panthers take on Washington Saturday. Erik Karlsson is looking to play in the playoffs which may be a lofty goal as he tries to return quickly from an Achilles tendon injury which required surgery in mid-February. Jared Cowan could return to action before the end of the season which would be closer to six months than the six-eight month recovery period that was given when he suffered his hip injury that required surgery in mid-November. Kyle Turris and Sergei Gonchar are tied for the team lead in points with 22. Ottawa continues to get outstanding goaltending no matter who is in net as Ben Bishop is the worst of the bunch (the injured Craig Anderson and Robin Lehner being the others) statistically and he has a 2.32 GAA with a .928 save percentage, stats most goalies would give their eye tooth for.


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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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