Michael Finewax

The Week Ahead

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The Final Three Weeks

Friday, April 05, 2013


As the NHL heads into the final three weeks, there are still plenty of battles going on in the race for the playoffs with only three teams truly out of contention at this time, Florida, Colorado and Calgary.

 

In the East, the Rangers are holding onto the eighth and final playoff spot, even with New Jersey but having played one game less, and one point ahead of Winnipeg, albeit with three games in hand on the Jets. The Flyers are only two points out but are red hot, having won four in a row. The Sabres are on the fringe of contention with 34 points but Tampa Bay and Carolina, who also have 34, are only four points behind Washington for first place in their division and a third seed in the East.

 

In the West, St. Louis has 40 points and are in eighth place but have played only 35 games and have games in hand on everyone below them. Edmonton and Columbus are one point out with Nashville and Phoenix two back and Dallas still on the fringe at five points out.

 

Now to The Week Ahead.

 

WEEK OF APRIL 8-14

 

4 Games–Boston, Buffalo, Calgary, Carolina, Colorado, St. Louis, Tampa Bay

 

3 Games – Anaheim, Chicago, Columbus, , Dallas, Detroit, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Montreal, Nashville, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Ottawa, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, San Jose, Toronto, Vancouver, Washington

 

2 Games - Florida, New Jersey, Winnipeg

 

Ottawa, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and San Jose play three games on the road this week.

 

Buffalo, Minnesota and Nashville play three games at home.

 

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INJURIES

 

Sidney Crosby suffered a broken jaw and should miss the remainder of the regular season. (Click here to see the rest of the injury list.)

 

 

ANAHEIM

 

Games this week

vs. Edmonton, vs. Colorado, @  Los Angeles

 

Notes

Anaheim will be the tired team on Monday against Edmonton after hosting Los Angeles Sunday. They added some depth at the deadline with the acquisitions of Matthew Lombardi and Harry Zolnierczyk at forward. Emerson Etem is seeing time on the second line with Teemu Selanne and Andrew Cogliano. Saku Koivu is slumping with only a goal and four points in his last 17 games. Do not be surprised if Francois Beauchemin receives some Norris Trophy consideration as he has 21 points with a plus-22 rating at this time and has been one of the NHL's best blueliners.

 

BOSTON

 

Games this week

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

 

Notes

The Bruins play three games in four nights as part of a four game week so expect to see Anton Khudobin in net at least once in place of Tuukka Rask. Boston will be a tired team Thursday when hosting the Islanders after playing in New Jersey Wednesday. They play the Hurricanes twice this week and I expect Milan Lucic, Shawn Thornton and possibly Zdeno Chara to add to their penalty minute totals. The Bruins made a great move in picking up Jaromir Jagr from Dallas as the Czech is great on the power play, the only weakness of the Bruins. He had the lone goal in a 1-0 win Thursday as he played alongside Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand. Patrice Bergeron is out with a concussion.

 

BUFFALO

 

Games this week

@ Winnipeg, vs. Montreal, vs. Philadelphia, vs. Tampa Bay

 

Notes

The Sabres will play three games in four nights so look for Ryan Miller to play three times while Jhonas Enroth will play once. The Sabres traded for Matthew Hackett on Wednesday and there is always the chance he will be called up to replace Enroth. Johan Larsson also came over from Minnesota in the trade for Jason Pominville and he has a chance to be a future captain of the Sabres. Thomas Vanek is out with an upper body injury. Coach Ron Rolston was not happy with the defensive play of Cody Hodgson and dropped him to the fourth line.

 

CALGARY

 

Games this week

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

 

Notes

The Flames play three games in four nights so expect to see Joey MacDonald play at least once in place of Miikka Kiprusoff. The Flames will be tired on Saturday when they take on Edmonton after playing the Coyotes Friday.  They were busy at the deadline as they dealt Jay Bouwmeester to the Blues for Reto Berra, Mark Cundari and a first round draft pick while also dealing Jarome Iginla last week. Miikka Kiprusoff was almost dealt but decided to stay in Calgary to be with his wife and new-born baby and it appears that he will retire at the end of the season and return to Finland.

 

CAROLINA

 

Games this week

@ Boston, vs. Pittsburgh, @ Washington, vs. Boston

 

Notes

The Hurricanes play three games in four nights  so look for Dan Ellis to split the net with Justin Peters. The Hurricanes will be tired Tuesday when they host Pittsburgh after playing in Boston Monday. They play the Bruins twice this week and expect to see Jay Harrison and Tim Gleason spend time in the penalty box.  Jeff Skinner has not picked up a point in his last six games and has only 19 points in 31 games. Joni Pitkanen is out 10-12 weeks with a broken heel. The Hurricanes stood pat at the deadline. Jiri Tlusty was slumping despite playing with Eric Staal and Alexander Semin as he had a hat trick on Tuesday. He had  only one goal in his previous nine games.

           

CHICAGO

 

Games this week

@ Minnesota, vs. Detroit, @ St. Louis

 

Notes
The Blackhawks just tweaked their lineup, adding bottom-six forward Michal Handzus from the Sharks for a draft pick. Brandon Saad has thrown himself into the Calder race with 15 points in 14 March games. Marian Hossa returned to action on Thursday after being out for over two weeks, and Patrick Sharp is very close to returning as he has been out 12 games with a shoulder injury. Expect him back this week. If you are looking for penalty minutes then the recently recalled Brandon Bollig could be your man as he had 157 penalty minutes in 35 AHL games this season.

 

COLORADO

 

Games this week

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

 

Notes

The Avs play four games this week including three in four nights and look for Jean-Sebastien Giguere to play once this week with Semyon Varlamov playing the rest of the week. Colorado made only one minor deal as they picked up Tomas Vincour from Dallas in exchange for Cameron Gaunce. Matt Duchene continues to leave his injury-plagued season of 2011-12 behind him as he has 35 points in 35 games. Last year's 28 point effort was just an aberration and look for him to average a point a game or better for the next few seasons. Milan Hejduk is on injured reserve with a shoulder injury and his season could be finished.

 

COLUMBUS

 

Games this week

vs. San Jose, vs. St. Louis, @ Minnesota

 

Notes

The Blue Jackets are rested Friday when hosting St. Louis who are in Minnesota Thursday. The tables are turned Saturday when they are in Minnesota who will be rested and waiting for the tired Columbus team. The Blue Jackets were one of the most active team's in the trade market, doing very well to pick up Marian Gaborik from the Rangers for Derek Dorsett, Derick Brassard and defenseman John Moore, and then managed to trade Steve Mason to the Flyers for Michael Leighton. They also picked up Blake Comeau. Gaborik will feel at home as the Blue Jackets already had Artem Anisimov, Brandon Dubinsky and Tim Erixon who they picked up from New York in the Rick Nash deal over the summer.

 

DALLAS

 

Games this week

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

 

Notes

The Stars are tired when they host the rested Sharks after Dallas play in Nashville Friday. Dallas made a couple of big trades as they unloaded Jaromir Jagr to the Bruins for Lane McDermid, Cody Payne and a conditional second round pick and then dealt Derek Roy to Vancouver for Kevin Connauton and a second-round pick. The Stars also picked up Cameron Gaunce from the Avs for Tomas Vincour. Antoine Roussel has been a fantasy surprise with five goals and 10 points in 27 games with 73 penalty minutes while Loui Eriksson has been a disappointment with only 23 points in 36 games. Stephane Robidas has had some nice fantasy seasons of late but his value could be done as he has only 10 assists with nary a goal in 36 games.

 

DETROIT

 

Games this week

vs. San Jose, @ Chicago, @ Nashville

 

Notes

The Red Wings play three games in four nights so expect to see Jonas Gustavsson play once with Jimmy Howard playing between the pipes twice. The Red Wings were trying to get Jay Bouwmeester but were outbid by the Blues and Detroit ended up sitting on their hands. They are in trouble as they could miss the playoffs for the first time in 22 seasons. Todd Bertuzzi (back) is getting close to returning after missing almost two months of action. Henrik Zetterberg played on Thursday after missing a couple of games with a groin injury. Damien Brunner has an undisclosed injury. Valtteri Filppula is closing in on a new deal with Detroit.


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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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