Michael Finewax

The Week Ahead

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The Penultimate Week

Friday, March 24, 2017


This is the penultimate week of the schedule (right Larry?). There are only a few games left if you are playing roti style and down to the nitty-gritty if you are in the playoffs. As always, good luck everyone.

 

On another note, my first cousin Paul Wernick has a new movie out: Life. As most of you who have read my column may have remembered, Paul also wrote Deadpool as well as Zombieland. Way to go Paul!!

 

Listen to the Rotoworld Hockey Podcast with yours truly and Joey Alfieri here.


Editor's Note
: Rotoworld’s Season Pass is now available for the low price of $19.99. You get plenty of extra articles including the minor league report, the junior report and much, much more. Buy it now!

 

Don’t forget, for everything NHL, check out Rotoworld's Player News, and follow @Rotoworld_ HK and @mfinewaxhockey on Twitter.

 

Now to The Week Ahead.

 

WEEK OF MARCH 27-APRIL 2

 

5 Games - Carolina, Nashville, 

 

4 Games -  Anaheim, Arizona, Boston, Calgary, Chicago, Colorado, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Florida, Los Angeles, Minnesota, New York Islanders, Philadelphia, St. Louis, San Jose, Tampa Bay, Washington

 

3 Games –Buffalo, Edmonton, Montreal, New Jersey, New York Rangers, Ottawa, Pittsburgh, Toronto, Vancouver, Winnipeg

 

 

Anaheim, Dallas, Florida and Washington play all four games on the road.

 

Calgary, Carolina and Tampa Bay play four games at home.

 

Boston, Edmonton, Minnesota, Philadelphia and Vancouver play three games at home.

 

Detroit, Los Angeles, Nashville, Ottawa and San Jose play three games on the road.

 

INJURIES

 

Rasmus Ristolainen is out three games with a suspension. (Click here to see the rest of the injury list.)

 

Note: A tired team is one that has played the day or night before and is going against a team that did not play the previous day or night. The reverse is true for a rested team.

 

ANAHEIM

 

Games this week

@ Vancouver, @ Winnipeg, @ Edmonton, @ Calgary

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: @ Calgary (Sunday)

 

Notes

The Ducks play four games this week including three games in four nights. Jonathan Bernier has taken over as the number one goalie in Anaheim as John Gibson is still out with a lower body injury. Gibson took part in a 30 minute practice and could return this week. If so, he should play once or twice with Bernier getting the remainder of the starts. Bernier is 8-2-1 in his last 11 starts. Ryan Getzlaf had three assists on Wednesday and has 48 this season. The Ducks are in Western Canada all week. First round pick Sam Steel won the WHL scoring title with 132 points, two ahead of teammate Brooks Adam.

 

ARIZONA

 

Games this week

@ St. Louis, vs. St. Louis, vs. Washington, @ Los Angeles

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

 

Notes

The Coyotes play four games this week. Mike Smith should get the call in three games with Louis Domingue playing once. The Coyotes also play a home-and-home series against St. Louis so look for Luke Schenn to get involved if there is any rough stuff. Oliver Ekman-Larsson has two goals in the last week and it looks like he has recovered from the broken hand he suffered at the end of November. Christian Fischer was recalled Tuesday and it should be interesting to see what he is capable of doing as he has three goals in five NHL games. Shane Doan is still out with a lower body injury and has missed the last four games.

 

BOSTON

 

Games this week

vs. Nashville, vs. Dallas, vs. Florida, @ Chicago

 

Rested Team: vs. Nashville (Tuesday)

Tired Team: @ Chicago (Sunday)

 

Notes

The Bruins play three games in four nights as part of a four game week. Tuukka Rask should play three games with Anton Khudobin getting the start once.  It could be Rask for all four as the Bruins are fighting for their playoff lives and he did play three in four nights including Thursday. Dominic Moore has been a pleasant surprise with 11 goals this season. Torey Krug got off to a bad start this season but has been strong ever since and has seven goals and 48 points, the best of his career with eight games still on the docket. The Bruins are in fourth place in the Atlantic Division one behind the Maple Leafs.

 

BUFFALO

 

Games this week

vs. Florida, @ Columbus, @ New York Islanders

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: @ Columbus (Tuesday)

 

Notes

Rasmus Ristolainen was suspended for three games on Thursday for his blindside hit on Jake Guentzel of the Penguins. He will be eligible to return for the Islanders game on Sunday. Kyle Okposo should return this week as he has been out with a rib injury that has cost him 10 games thus far. Dmitry Kulikov has been out for almost three weeks with an upper body injury but he practiced on Thursday. He should be back this week. I’ve said in the past this season to take Sam Reinhart. He is up to 17 goals and 44 points in 72 games. I can see a 60 point season in his future next season.   

 

CALGARY

 

Games this week

vs. Colorado, vs. Los Angeles, vs. San Jose, vs. Anaheim

 

Rested Team: vs. Los Angeles (Wednesday), vs. San Jose (Friday), vs. Anaheim (Sunday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

For the second time in three weeks the Flames play all four games at home and they have a huge advantage as they are the rested team in three of the four matchups. Look for Chad Johnson to get the start once with the red-hot Brian Elliott seeing the crease the other three times. Dougie Hamilton has nine points in his last nine games as he has taken over from Mark Giordano as the offensive star among Calgary defensemen with 12 goals and 48 points. Giordano has only 34 in one more game. Micheal Ferland returned to the lineup on Thursday after missing a couple of games with a suspected case of the mumps. He drew an assist on the top line with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan.

 

CAROLINA

 

Games this week

vs. Detroit, vs. Detroit, vs. Columbus, vs. Dallas, @ Pittsburgh

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: @ Pittsburgh (Sunday)

 

Notes

The Hurricanes get five games in seven days for the second time in two weeks but to be fair to the schedule makers, the second game against Detroit is a makeup one as the two teams were unable to play in January due to a problem with the ice making equipment. Look for Cam Ward to play three times with Eddie Lack seeing action twice. There is less of a chance of anyone fighting despite the fact the Canes and Red Wings go head-to- head two days in a row this week as Carolina’s leading penalty minute players are Jordan Staal and Lee Stempniak with 32 apiece. Speaking of Stempniak, he broke a 10 game goalless drought on Thursday with a pair. Elias Lindholm has a 10 game points streak.

 

CHICAGO

 

Games this week

@ Tampa Bay, @ Pittsburgh, vs. Columbus, vs. Boston

 

Rested Team: vs. Columbus (Friday), vs. Boston (Sunday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Blackhawks have bolted to the top of the Central Division standings as they have flown past the Minnesota Wild and hold an eight point lead with eight games to go, although the slumping Wild do have a game in hand. Richard Panik picked up his 20th goal of the season on Tuesday, the first time in his career he has hit the milestone. Marian Hossa returned to action Tuesday after missing a couple of games with a lower body injury. He has two goals and an assist in the two games since coming back. Don’t be surprised if the Blackhawks rest some of their stars and older players down the stretch as it appears that they have locked up first place in the West.   

 

COLORADO

 

Games this week

@ Columbus, vs. Washington, vs. St. Louis, @ Minnesota

 

Rested Team: vs. Washington (Wednesday), @ Minnesota (Sunday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Avalanche have had few bright spots in their dismal season as they are dead last in the NHL standings but the play of Mikko Rantanen has to make management happy. He scored a pair on Thursday to halt a 15 game goalless drought, and is up to 16 goals this season. If you do not play plus/minus, look at him late in deeper pools next season. The Avs have started Jeremy Smith in two of the last three games but he has given up 11 goals on only 62 shots so look for them to use Calvin Pickard more. The Avs have to be disappointed with the offensive production from Nathan MacKinnon who has only 15 goals and 47 points in 73 games. He was drafted first overall in 2013 and had a great rookie campaign but has lost ground in the last three seasons.

 

COLUMBUS

 

Games this week

vs. Buffalo, @ Carolina, @ Chicago, vs. Washington

 

Rested Team: vs. Buffalo (Tuesday)

Tired Team: @ Chicago (Friday)

 

Notes

The Blue Jackets play four games this week including three games in four nights. They are in a huge battle for the top three spots in the Metropolitan Division (by far the best in the NHL) so expect to see Sergei Bobrovsky play three times with Joonas Korpisalo playing once. Oliver Bjorkstrand is out after being smashed into the boards by Roman Polak, a discretion that got Polak a two game suspension. Bjorkstrand was replaced in the lineup Thursday by Scott Hartnell who was a healthy scratch the previous night. Hartnell has been in a horrible slump with only four assists in his last 21 games and he has not found the back of the net since January 21. Alexander Wennberg returned to the lineup on Wednesday after missing a game with a neck injury.

 

DALLAS

 

Games this week

@ Montreal, @ Boston, @ Carolina, @ Tampa Bay

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Stars play four games this week and including three contests in four nights. Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi should split the net, but if you have either Dallas goalie on your starting roster, you are asking for trouble although Lehtonen did get a shutout over San Jose Monday. Jason Spezza has missed the last three games with back spasms. Ales Hemsky scored twice on Thursday and now has three goals and five points in 11 games this season. Jamie Benn missed a game a week ago with an eye injury but had a couple of assists Thursday in his second game back. He has 65 points in 68 games, and is tied for 15th in NHL scoring.


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Michael Finewax is entering his 13th season as the Senior Hockey Writer and Editor for Rotoworld. You can follow him on Twitter @mfinewaxhockey.
Email :Michael Finewax



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