Michael Finewax

The Week Ahead

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Opening Night!

Friday, September 27, 2013


 

PHILADELPHIA

 

Games this week

vs. Toronto, @ Montreal, @ Carolina

 

Notes

The Flyers will be rested on Wednesday as the Maple Leafs go to Philadelphia after opening the season in Montreal. Philadelphia will be tired on Sunday when in Carolina to as they are in Montreal Saturday.  Claude Giroux will start the season in the lineup after undergoing offseason surgery to repair tendons in a finger which occurred when he golf club snapped and splintered. There was no information at the time as to whether or not he birdied the hole. It should be quite the goaltending battle between Ray Emery and Steve Mason this season but I see Emery getting the majority of the starts barring injury. Jakub Voracek, who is expected to be on the top line once again with Giroux, should be healthy when the season starts on Wednesday after suffering an upper body injury earlier in the week.

 

PHOENIX

 

Games this week

vs. New York Rangers, @San Jose

 

Notes

The big offseason news in Phoenix was that the Coyotes finally have themselves a new owner and will stay in Glendale for at least five years. They will be renamed the Arizona Coyotes in the 2014-15 season. They picked up a top center when they signed Mike Ribeiro in the offseason. He finished last season tied for first with Alex Ovechkin with 27 power play points as well as being on the ice for the most power play goals with 40. The Coyotes need to improve with the man advantage as they were 25th in the NHL last season with a 14.8 percent efficiency rating. Rostislav Klesla is out of action indefinitely after suffering a concussion/whiplash when hit by Jordan Nolan. Klesla is still unable to do off-ice workouts.

 

PITTSBURGH

 

Games this week

vs. New Jersey, vs. Buffalo

 

Notes

It looks like Beau Bennett will start the season on a line with Evgeni Malkin and James Neal and that has to boost his fantasy value. Tomas Vokoun is out indefinitely after undergoing surgery to remove blood clots from his pelvis. It was thought that he would battle the shaky Marc-Andre Fleury for the net as he played extremely well in the playoffs last season while Fleury floundered. Fleury is still having problems between the pipes and is not being drafted as high as he used to be in Yahoo! pools. Kris Letang is poised to have a big season if he can stay healthy.

 

ST. LOUIS

 

Games this week

vs. Nashville, vs. Florida

 

Notes

The Blues temporarily fixed their three headed goaltending problem by sending Jake Allen to the minors leaving Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott to handle the duties for now. Don't be surprised if the Blues trade one of their netminders at some point during the season. Coach Ken Hitchcock loves the play of Jaden Schwartz saying "He's been our best player." Look for Schwartz to start on a line with Derek Roy and Chris Stewart. Brenden Morrow was signed this week and should see bottom six minutes which will hurt his now limited fantasy value. Alex Pietrangelo should have a big fantasy season. Don't be surprised if he is a top-ten fantasy defenseman.

 

SAN JOSE

 

Games this week

vs. Vancouver, vs. Phoenix

 

Notes

Tomas Hertl has been the big surprise of training camp and it looks like he'll start the season on the top line with Joe Thornton and Brent Burns. If Burns has eligibility on defense in your pool, he should be a top-ten blueliner as he could score 20 goals. Alex Stalock and Harri Sateri are battling it out to be the backup for Antti Niemi. Niemi will likely play 60-65 games this season so Stalock and Sateri could be shuffling between the bench and Worcester of the AHL. Defenseman Brad Stuart has an undisclosed injury and could miss the start of the season.  Raffi Torres is out for the next three-four months after undergoing surgery to repair a torn ACL.

 

TAMPA BAY

 

Games this week

@ Boston, @ Chicago

 

Notes

The Lightning still have yet to decide whether or not to keep Jonathan Drouin who was selected third overall in the 2013 Draft. I think they will give him a trial for nine games and then decide if he is better served going back to junior or sticking in the NHL. Steve Stamkos and Martin St. Louis will get time killing penalties this season, adding a bit to their fantasy value if shorthanded points are a category in your pool. Surprise, surprise. Ryan Malone is out with an injury. It has been a common occurrence over the last few years as his fantasy value has plummeted. Valtteri Filppula will take over the job as the second line center from the departed Vincent Lecavalier.

 

TORONTO

 

Games this week

@ Montreal, @ Philadelphia, vs. Ottawa

 

Notes

The Maple Leafs are the only team to start off the season playing the first two nights and will be the tired team in Philadelphia Wednesday after playing in Montreal Tuesday. They have two nights off before playing the Senators Saturday after Ottawa is in Buffalo Friday. David Clarkson will be lost to the team for the first 10 games as he was suspended for leaving the bench during a fight. The battle for the top goaltending spot between Jonathan Bernier and James Reimer will carry on into the season with the duo splitting the first two games on the road before coach Randy Carlyle decides who will play in the home opener. The signing of Cody Franson probably means that Morgan Rielly will be sent back to junior hockey. He'll get another chance to play for Team Canada at the U20 World Championships over Christmas.

 

VANCOUVER

 

Games this week

@ San Jose, vs. Edmonton, @ Calgary

 

Notes

The Canucks play three times in four nights, so expect to see Eddie Lack once in net as Roberto Luongo should get two starts. They are the tired team Sunday in Calgary after playing Edmonton Saturday. Jordan Schroeder is out three weeks after breaking a bone in his foot or ankle. Zack Kassian received a five game suspension in the regular season for breaking the jaw of Sam Gagner with his stick.  Bo Harvat and Hunter Shinkaruk are on the bubble as the Canucks whittle down their lineup. The top two picks, ninth and 24th overall in the 2013 Draft will likely be sent back to junior hockey before they play ten games in the NHL.  

 

WASHINGTON

 

Games this week

@ Chicago, vs. Calgary, @ Dallas

 

Notes

Brooks Laich is out of action with a hip flexor after missing all but nine games in the truncated 2013 season with a groin injury. He will get second line time once healthy where he will be centered by Mikhail Grabovski. Grabovski had a tough time last season in Toronto under Randy Carlyle but will take on a more offensive role in Washington which will add to his fantasy value. Mathieu Perreault is on the bubble as far as making the Capitals. Expect Braden Holtby to have a big year in net for the Capitals with Michal Neuvirth in the back up role. Alex Ovechkin may be tired for the opener in Chicago Tuesday as he will travel to Greece on Friday to participate in the Olympic torch relay before heading back to Washington Sunday.

 

WINNIPEG

 

Games this week

@ Edmonton, vs. Los Angeles, vs. Anaheim

 

Notes

The Jets get a break this week as they are the only team to be playing tired squads twice this week. They take on the Kings Friday after Los Angeles is in Minnesota Thursday while the Ducks will be the tired team on Sunday as they take on the Wild Saturday.  Mark Scheifele is making a concerted effort to crack the Jets lineup after being drafted as their top pick, seventh overall, in the 2011 Draft. The Jets have a lot of talent on their blueline with Dustin Byfuglien, Tobias Enstrom, Zach Bogosian and Jacob Trouba. The foursome will be a force for many years to come. Blake Wheeler is out with an undisclosed injury but should be ready for the start of the season. He'll start on the top line with Bryan Little and Andrew Ladd while Evander Kane will start on the second line with either Scheifele or Olli Jokinen centering him.



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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