Michael Finewax

The Week Ahead

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Defensive Awareness

Friday, October 25, 2013


 

PHILADELPHIA

 

Games this week

vs. Anaheim, vs. Washington, @ New Jersey

 

Notes

The Flyers will be tired on Saturday in New Jersey after taking on the Capitals Friday. Steve Mason has played very well this season in spite of his 2-5-0 record as he has a 2.17 GAA and a .930 save percentage. Vincent Lecavalier returned to action on Thursday after missing two weeks with a lower body injury. He was held off the scoreboard but managed four shots on goal in a rare Flyers win. Kimmo Timonen is pointless in nine games thus far and has lost his spot on the top power play unit as Mark Streit has taken over. Michael Raffl saw plenty of time on the first line Thursday with Lecavalier and Claude Giroux and that bears watching in the short term while Scott Hartnell remains out of action.

 

PHOENIX

 

Games this week

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

 

Notes

Shane Doan missed Tuesday's game with a lower body injury but returned to action on Thursday. Mike Smith gave up four goals on only 15 shots Thursday before being pulled after the first period. He is now 5-2-2 with a mediocre 3.08 GAA and a middling save percentage of .907. Martin Hanzal has 10 points in 11 games with 17 penalty minutes and it looks like Mikkel Boedker is finally showing Coyote fans why Phoenix grabbed him eighth overall in the 2008 Draft as he now has two goals and nine points in 11 games, second best on the Coyotes. David Rundblad has been a healthy scratch in eight games thus far and could be sent to the minors to get in some playing time.

 

PITTSBURGH

 

Games this week

@ Carolina, vs. Boston, vs. Columbus, @ Columbus

 

Notes

The Penguins play three games in four nights this week so you can look Jeff Zatkoff to get a start this week in place of Marc-Andre Fleury. The Penguins play a back-to-back series against Columbus so expect some fireworks. Beau Bennett has been placed on injured reserve but the move is retroactive and he can return at any time from his lower body injury. Rookie Olli Maatta will stay past the nine game mark with the Penguins as the defenseman's play has been steady. Kris Letang is slated to return on October 25 and will likely be paired with Rob Scuderi. Evgeni Malkin has nine points in nine games while Sidney Crosby leads the league with 17 points in nine games after being held off the scoresheet Tuesday.  

 

ST. LOUIS

 

Games this week

vs. Winnipeg, @ Florida, @ Tampa Bay

 

Notes

Chris Stewart has been practicing with Jaden Schwartz and Patrik Berglund. Jaroslav Halak continues to shine as he is 5-1-0 with a 2.26 GAA and a .919 save percentage. Ryan Reaves leads the Blues in penalty minutes with 29 and has scored once in seven games. Alexander Steen leads the team with 11 points. Alex Pietrangelo should be good to good on October 25 as should Brenden Morrow and Barret Jackman.  Magnus Paajarvi has been given an opportunity to play alongside Vladimir Tarasenko and Derek Roy. We shall see if he is able to take advantage of the chance.

 

SAN JOSE

 

Games this week

@ Los Angeles, vs. Phoenix

 

Notes

The Sharks are the rested team on Wednesday in Los Angeles as they face a tired Kings squad who  are in Phoenix Tuesday. Once again Patrick Marleau is off to a very hot start with eight goals and 12 points in 10 games. He was the third star of the week.  Dan Boyle (upper body) is with the Sharks and participated in Thursday's morning skate but there is no timetable for his return. Antti Niemi is one of the top goaltenders this season with a 8-1-1 record, a 1.67 GAA and a .927 save percentage. Tomas Hertl has seven goals and 10 points in 10 games but has only one assist in his last four games.

 

TAMPA BAY

 

Games this week

@ New Jersey, @ Carolina, vs. St. Louis

 

Notes

Ben Bishop is 6-1-0 after defeating the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday. He has a 2.53 GAA and a .917 save percentage and has established himself as the number one netminder in the early going over Anders Lindback. Steve Stamkos leads the Lightning with seven goals and 14 points and his plus-seven rating is second only to Martin St. Louis who is one ahead. Former number one draft pick Brett Connolly was sent to the minors. Victor Hedman had a tough time Saturday as he was minus-five in a 5-0 loss to Boston. Sami Salo is pointless in his last two games after picking up a goal and five points in his previous four matchups.

 

TORONTO

 

Games this week

@ Edmonton, @ Calgary, @ Vancouver

 

Notes

The Maple Leafs play all three games in Western Canada where it may be tough to tell you the home team is as Toronto's hockey team is quite popular in Western Canada. They will be the tired team on Wednesday when facing Calgary as the Maple Leafs are in Edmonton Tuesday. The Maple Leafs are putting a third line together consisting of Mason Raymond, Dave Bolland and David Clarkson and that should cause havoc for many teams. Frazer McLaren and Nikolai Kulemin could both be back in the Toronto lineup this week. Joffrey Lupul suffered a bruised foot in practice Thursday and the Leafs recalled Josh Leivo in case Lupul is unable to go. Morgan Rielly will remain with the team beyond nine games and will burn up a year in his entry level contract.

 

VANCOUVER

 

Games this week

 vs. Washington. vs. Detroit, vs. Toronto

 

Notes

Roberto Luongo is 6-3-1 this season and while his peripherals are nothing special with a 2.54 GAA and a .908 save percentage, the Canucks are winning with him in net. Surprise, surprise. David Booth is injured again as he was hurt in the first period Thursday. It appears to be a lower body injury. Ryan Kesler is being used a lot by coach John Tortorella and was fourth among forwards in ice time heading into action on Thursday. Henrik Sedin leads the Canucks in points with 15, four clear of his brother Daniel. Surprisingly, Henrik is tied for the Canuck lead in penalty minutes as well with Tom Sestito as both have 12.

 

WASHINGTON

 

Games this week

@ Vancouver, @ Philadelphia, vs. Florida

 

Notes

The Capitals finish in Western Canada this week and then head back east. Braden Holtby got off to a horrible start but has now won four of his last five games to square his record at 4-4. His GAA has dropped to 2.78 with a .919 save percentage as he has stopped 172 of 182 shots in his last five. Marcus Johansson has 10 assists in 10 games this season with five coming in his last three games. He is playing on the top line with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. Backstrom has 12 points in 10 games while Ovechkin has 10 goals to lead the NHL and is tied for second behind Sidney Crosby with 15 points.

 

WINNIPEG

 

Games this week

@ St. Louis, vs. Chicago

 

Notes

Rookie Mark Scheifele picked up an assist on Tuesday to break a seven game scoring drought. He played with Evander Kane and Blake Wheeler and if he continues to get that assignment Scheifele will have a very good rookie season. Bryan Little, Evander Kane and Andrew Ladd lead the team with eight points apiece and Little and Kane have five goals. Kane also leads in penalty minutes with 19. Chris Thorburn could return to the lineup this week after being out since October 4 with a lower body injury. Congratulations to Anthony Peluso who scored his first NHL goal on Thursday.



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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