Michael Finewax

The Week Ahead

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Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 20, 2013


 

 

PHILADELPHIA

 

Games this week

vs. Minnesota, @ Edmonton

 

Rested team: vs. Minnesota (Monday), @ Edmonton, (Saturday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Claude Giroux now has 10 points in his last five games as he is back to the form he had shown over the previous three seasons. After starting the season with only seven assists in 15 games, he is now up to nine goals and 30 points in 35 games. Vincent Lecavalier is practicing and he could return this week.  Jakub Voracek is hot as well, as he has six goals and 10 points in his last six games but Brayden Schenn has not found the back of the net in his last 13 contests. Lecavalier has been out since November 30 with a non-displaced fracture in his lower back. He said that the spasms are decreasing every day.

 

PHOENIX

 

Games this week

@ Buffalo, vs. San Jose, @ Anaheim

 

Rested team: None

Tired Team: @ Anaheim (Saturday)

 

Notes

Mike Smith made a correction in his game and is now full of confidence. He made the correction three games ago and is 0-2-1 but has allowed only five goals on 86 shots in those three games so look for a big improvement in his stats the rest of the way. Shane Doan is still out with an illness but is feeling better as his medication is now working. He could return to the Phoenix lineup this week. Derek Morris was out of action for 16 days before returning on Thursday. Martin Hanzal scored on Thursday for the first time in eight games. He is having a fine fantasy season with nine goals and 23 points in 31 games to go with 39 penalty minutes.

 

PITTSBURGH

 

Games this week

@ Ottawa, @ Carolina, @ Columbus

 

Rested team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Penguins are getting battered on the blueline but they keep on winning despite a defensive corps that should be playing in the AHL. Kris Letang, Brooks Orpik, Rob Scuderi, Paul Martin and Deryk Engelland are all out of action although Engelland is out with a suspension with the rest of the unit injured. Matt Niskanen and rookie Olli Maatta have really taken on the responsibility and Maatta had his best offensive game of his career on Thursday with a goal and two assists. James Neal completed his five game suspension for kneeing Brad Marchand on Thursday and had an assist and seven penalty minutes in his return.

 

ST. LOUIS

 

Games this week

@ Calgary, vs. Chicago, @ Dallas

 

Rested team: vs. Chicago (Saturday)

Tired Team: @ Dallas (Sunday)

 

Notes

Alexander Steen inked a new contract this past week and celebrated with a couple of goals in the Blues’ 5-1 win over Montreal Thursday. Jaroslav Halak faced his former Montreal teammates for the fourth time since he was traded and he is still perfect against them with a 4-0 record, a 0.98 GAA and a .960 save percentage. David Backes suffered a possible concussion on December 14 but the good news is that he skated before practice on Thursday and could be close to returning. He is having an outstanding season in traditional fantasy pools with 16 goals, 30 points, a plus-11 rating and 62 penalty minutes in 32 games. Backes has also excelled on the power play with six goals and nine points.

 

SAN JOSE

 

Games this week

vs. Colorado, @ Phoenix, vs. Anaheim

 

Rested team: vs. Anaheim (Sunday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Jason Demers was a healthy scratch on Thursday after going six games without a point. Scott Hannan returned from an upper body injury and replaced Demers on the blueline. Logan Couture has been struggling of late with two assists in his last eight games and a minus-two rating. He has 10 goals and 30 points in 35 games with a plus-11 rating and a turnaround should be coming shortly. The Sharks sent Matthew Nieto to the minors this past week. Mike Brown is back after being out with a lower body injury and the Sharks could use the extra grit in the lineup.

 

TAMPA BAY

 

Games this week

@ Florida, vs. Montreal, vs. New York Rangers

 

Rested team: None

Tired Team: vs. New York Rangers (Sunday)

 

Notes

Alex Killorn has struggled since Steve Stamkos went down with a broken leg as he has only two goals and two assists in his last 16 games but he has two goals and three points in his last three.  The Lightning got Victor Hedman back in the lineup on Thursday as he played for the first time in two weeks after suffering a lower body injury. Put him back in your fantasy lineup in deeper pools. Ben Bishop continues to excel with an 18-5-2 mark, a 1.96 GAA and a .932 save percentage. Valtteri Filppula has vaulted into second place in Lightning scoring, one ahead of Stamkos, but Filppula has played 18 more games than the injured Stamkos.

 

TORONTO

 

Games this week

@ New York Rangers, vs. Buffalo, vs. Carolina

 

Rested team: @ New York Rangers (Monday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Maple Leafs are still hurting down the middle with Trevor Smith (broken hand) joining Tyler Bozak and Dave Bolland on the sideline. Phil Kessel is pointless in his last three games and has only one goal in his last seven. He is a streaky player so look for him to break out with some gusto soon. Peter Holland has been a pleasant surprise offensively with two goals and five points in his last four games. Jonathan Bernier has an ailment that forced him to be the backup on Thursday. The Leafs will be keeping Morgan Rielly and not send him to Sweden to play for Canada at the upcoming World U20 Championships.

 

VANCOUVER

 

Games this week

@ Calgary

 

Rested team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Canucks only play once this week as they get the longest Christmas break of any NHL team, so I suggest benching all your Canucks in weekly transaction pools. Mike Santorelli continues to be a fantasy asset with eight goals and 26 points in 37 games. He is also a plus-14 but has yet to pick up a power play point despite playing 51:51 minutes with the man advantage. The puzzling thing is that the Canucks have not scored with the extra man while Santorelli has been on the ice. David Booth has five goals and nine points in 25 games with two goals coming in last three games.

 

WASHINGTON

 

Games this week

vs. Anaheim, vs. New York Rangers, @ Buffalo

 

Rested team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Michal Neuvirth (ankle) has finished his conditioning stint in the minors and look for him to play once this week. Tom Wilson did not receive any supplemental discipline for his charge on the Flyers Brayden Schenn. Mikhail Grabovski has missed the last two games with the flu. Alex Ovechkin was named the NHL’s first star of the week for his five goals, including four in one game against the Lightning. Ovechkin is first in the NHL in goals, power play goals and shots on goal but his minus-12 rating hinders his fantasy value a bit.

 

WINNIPEG

 

Games this week

@ Edmonton, vs. Minnesota

 

Rested team: None

Tired Team: @ Edmonton (Monday)

 

Notes

Zach Bogosian is expected back in the lineup on Friday after missing the last 15 games with a groin injury. He has struggled offensively with only one goal and three assists in 21 games. The Jets might have a goaltending controversy as Ondrej Pavelec has struggled of late with a 0-4-1 record in his last five as his save percentage is at a weak .850 in those games. Backup Al Montoya has played well of late, winning his last three while going 5-2-1 this season with a 2.23 GAA and a .920 save percentage. Coach Claude Noel gave Pavelec a vote of confidence but if he continues to struggle, I can’t see Noel sticking with Pavelec while Montoya continues to play well. Evander Kane returned to the lineup on Monday after missing six games with a lower body injury and had a goal and a helper upon his return.



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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