Mike Finewax

The Week Ahead

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It's Early. Don't Panic

Friday, October 11, 2013


 

PHILADELPHIA

 

Games this week

vs. Vancouver, vs. Pittsburgh

 

Notes

The Flyers fired their coach Peter Laviolette after only three games and replaced him with Craig Berube who the players apparently love. The Flyers broke through on Tuesday with their first victory of the season.  Scott Hartnell and Wayne Simmonds are projected to play on the first line with Claude Giroux pushing Jakub Voracek down the depth chart. Voracek stated that he is still feeling the effects of a lower back injury suffered during training camp. Kimmo Timonen told the Finnish press that the Flyers were playing too much as individuals under Laviolette and that he will decide in the summer if he will play another NHL season. He said that if he does, it will be for the Flyers. Steve Mason and Ray Emery are splitting the net in the early going.

 

PHOENIX

 

Games this week

vs. Ottawa, @ Anaheim, vs. Detroit

 

Notes

The Coyotes will be the tired team on Saturday at home to Detroit as Phoenix is in Anaheim Friday. Rostislav Klesla made his seasonal debut on Thursday as he started the season on the injured reserve list with a concussion and whiplash suffered during training camp. Paul Bissonnette is now eligible to play after a three game suspension. Mike Ribeiro picked up his first point of the season Thursday in his fourth game of the season. The Coyotes placed Chris Summers on waivers and recalled Brandon Yip and Tim Kennedy from the minors.  I still think that Oliver Ekman-Larsson is one of the best young defensemen in hockey and Sweden is awfully lucky to have him and Erik Karlsson to patrol their blueline during the Olympics and for many years after that.

 

PITTSBURGH

 

Games this week

vs. Edmonton, @ Philadelphia, vs. Vancouver

 

Notes

The Penguins the rested team on Tuesday against the Oilers who take on the Capitals in Washington Monday. Good news for the Penguins in that Kris Letang (knee) is skating and could return as early as October 11 to the lineup. They sure could use him on their power play as it has been suspect without him and James Neal. They are still winning as Jussi Jokinen has been stellar substituting for Neal  as he had a hat trick in his third game. Defenseman Olli Maatta has been great and may stick around after Letang returns. Don't expect Matt Niskanen's scoring to continue when Letang returns but enjoy it while you can. The same goes for Chuck Kobasew up front as he had two goals in his first two games. He is a bottom six forward but the only way he will continue to have fantasy value is if he plays with either Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin and he'll need plenty of injuries up front for that to happen.

 

ST. LOUIS

 

Games this week

vs. San Jose, @ Chicago, @ Winnipeg

 

Notes

The Blues play three games in four nights so look for Brian Elliott to get one start while Jaroslav Halak gets two. The Blues are the tired team Friday in Winnipeg after playing the Blackhawks in Chicago Thursday. I've been pleasantly surprised by the play of Halak who came into the season in fantastic shape as he dropped from 14 percent body fat to eight percent in the off-season. He could be the man in St. Louis for the entire season. I find Magnus Paajarvi to be an enigma. He was drafted 10th overall by the Oilers in the 2009 Draft and was traded in the off-season to the Blues for David Perron. He has been a healthy scratch this season. I know power forwards sometimes take longer to make their way into the NHL so there is still hope for the 22-year-old. Keep your eye on Jaden Schwartz as well.

 

SAN JOSE

 

Games this week

@ St. Louis, @ Dallas, vs. Calgary

 

Notes

The story of the week is definitely the four goal game of Tomas Hertl, especially his fourth goal, which was shown across North America (and we assume the Czech Republic) as he beat Martin Biron with a trick shot between his legs. Hertl was drafted 17th overall in the 2012 Draft and while he is off to a great start with six goals and seven points in four games, he is unlikely to be a top-20 scorer. Pencil him in for 55-60 points this season if he remains healthy, which is a great rookie season. Brad Stuart was suspended for three games for his elbow to the head of Rick Nash. The Sharks are off to a hot start as they have won their first four games and have outscored their opponents 21-5, but remember last season as they won their first seven in a row before losing 12 of the next 15.

 

TAMPA BAY

 

Games this week

vs. Los Angeles, vs. Minnesota, vs. Boston

 

Notes

Steve Stamkos ended all talk of a slump by potting a hat trick on Thursday as the Lightning beat their cross-state rivals the Florida Panthers 7-2. Matt Carle is off to a nice start with three assists and a plus-three rating in four games. It looks like Ben Bishop is the first string netminder in Tampa Bay as he has played the last three after sitting on the bench in favor of Anders Lindback in the opener. Bishop is 3-0-0 with a sparkling 1.93 GAA and a .927 save percentage. Tom Pyatt is out indefinitely with a broken collarbone. Teddy Purcell was playing on the third line with Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat although he does get first unit power play time.

 

TORONTO

 

Games this week

vs. Minnesota, vs. Carolina, @ Chicago

 

Notes

The Maple Leafs will be the rested team on Tuesday when hosting the Wild as Minnesota is in Buffalo on Monday. The Maple Leafs don't seem to be missing the suspended David Clarkson as they are 4-1 to start the season. Cody Franson was injured when he was knocked into the curved glass against Nashville and required stitches to close a cut on his nose. David Broll almost scored in his first NHL game Thursday but did get into a fight. Jonathan Bernier has been sensational in the early going and it looks like the Maple Leafs have a goaltender who is able to control rebounds and handle the puck behind the net. He is worth grabbing in all pools if he is available for some reason. Bernier is 3-1 with a 0.85 GAA  and a fabulous .974 save percentage.

 

VANCOUVER

 

Games this week

@ Philadelphia, @ Buffalo, @ Pittsburgh, @ Columbus

 

Notes

The Canucks play three games in four nights so Eddie Lack should get the net in one game as Roberto Luongo is likely to start the other two. Who would have thought Mike Santorelli would be leading the Canucks in goals with four after just five games. In a big surprise (but not to those who know the coach) John Tortorella split up the Sedin twins last Sunday in the third and the results were terrific as Daniel Sedin set up a goal to cut the margin to 3-2 and Henrik Sedin set up Santorelli to tie the game. Don't be surprised if this happens more often during the season as Tortorella looks to provide a spark to the Canucks.

 

WASHINGTON

 

Games this week

vs. Edmonton, vs. New York Rangers, vs. Columbus

 

Notes

Braden Holtby gave up three goals on 36 shots Thursday and actually improved his peripheral stats as his GAA is now 4.04 with a .873 save percentage. He is 0-3. Michael Latta was recalled earlier in the week and is centering Martin Erat and Tom Wilson on the fourth line. Jack Hillen is out four-six months after blowing out his knee last weekend. Alex Ovechkin was the first star of week one and now has five goals in just four games. Mikhail Grabovski has only one assist in his last three games after opening the season with a hat trick and a helper.

 

WINNIPEG

 

Games this week

vs. Montreal, vs. St. Louis, vs. Nashville

 

Notes

The Jets are the rested team twice this week. The first time is Friday against the Blues as St. Louis take on Chicago Thursday. Winnipeg is also the home and rested team on Sunday against Nashville as the Predators are in Montreal Saturday. The Jets were horrible on the draw Thursday as they won only 16 of 61 in a 2-1 loss to the Wild. Grant Clitsome was activated off the injured reserve list on Sunday after recovering from a lower body injury. The Jets have a lot of talent on the blueline with Dustin Byfuglien, Tobias Enstrom, Zach Bogosian and Jacob Trouba. It will be good for a long time.



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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