Michael Finewax

The Week Ahead

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The Winter Classic

Friday, December 29, 2017


It’s the start of a brand new year and in the hockey world that means the Winter Classic. The Buffalo Sabres will travel to New York to take on the Rangers at Citi Field, the home of the Mets.

 

Buffalo will be the home team for this one as the Rangers have a deal in place with Madison Square Garden that all Rangers home games will be played there as MSG receives tax-exempt status but only of the Rangers do not cease playing home games there. It is usually interpreted as any home game not at Madison Square Garden.

 

It happened twice in 2014 during the Stadium series as the Rangers were the away team against New Jersey at Yankee Stadium and against the Islanders at the same venue.

 

There is plenty of information and good chatter always on the Rotoworld Hockey Podcast. Listen 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.

 

WEEK OF JANUARY 1-7

 

 

4 Games – Boston, Buffalo, Edmonton, Florida, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, San Jose, Tampa Bay, Vegas

 

3 Games – Anaheim, Carolina, Chicago, Colorado, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Montreal, Nashville, New Jersey, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, Winnipeg

 

2 Games - Arizona, Calgary, Washington

 

Philadelphia plays all four games at home.

 

Florida, San Jose and Tampa Bay play all four games on the road.

 

Colorado, Dallas, Detroit, Montreal, the New York Islanders and Toronto play three games at home.

 

Anaheim, Buffalo, Nashville, New Jersey and the New York Rangers play three games on the road.

 

INJURIES

 

Tyson Barrie is out four-six weeks with a hand injury. (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.

 

Editor’s Note: FanDuel’s main NHL contest, the NHL Breakaway, boasts thousands in cash prizes every night and costs less than $5 to enter.  Get in on the action!

 

ANAHEIM

 

Games this week

@ Vancouver, @ Edmonton, @ Calgary

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Ducks are in Western Canada all week. Ryan Kesler returned to action on Wednesday for the first time since undergoing offseason surgery on his hip. He got off to a rough start as he was held pointless and was a minus-three but he will get better as he gets his hockey legs back. Ryan Getzlaf saw his six-game points streak end on Wednesday. Rickard Rakell has scored a goal in each of his last three games and is leading the Ducks in goals and points with 11 and 25. Josh Manson leads the team with a plus-12 rating while Rakell is a team-worst minus-11. Corey Perry (lower body) is expected to start skating soon and is accompanying the team on their five game road trip that starts Tuesday. He may be able to play at some point during the trip.

 

ARIZONA

 

Games this week

vs. Nashville, vs. New York Rangers

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Clayton Keller is coming on again as he has a six game points streak. He has 13 goals and 31 points in 40 games thus far. Zac Rinaldo was suspended six games for sucker punching Samuel Girard of the Avalanche on December 23. The Coyotes recalled Lawson Crouse from the minors Tuesday and he scored his first of the season Wednesday in his eighth game with the Coyotes this season. He is a power forward and power forwards most of the time take longer to develop. The Coyotes have a dozen players with minus ratings in the double digits. Oliver Ekman-Larsson leads (or is it trails) the pack with a minus-26.  Joel Hanley is the only plus at plus-one but it was in four games and he is back in the minors.

 

BOSTON

 

Games this week

@ New York Islanders, vs. Florida, vs. Carolina, @ Pittsburgh

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: @ Pittsburgh (Sunday)

 

Notes

The Bruins play three games in four nights as part of their four game week, so look for Anton Khudobin to play once with Tuukka Rask getting the nod in net three times. The Bruins are flying of late and have charged into a playoff spot in the East, due mainly to their great goaltending from Tuukka Rask and their top line of Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak and Patrice Bergeron. It was helpful on Wednesday when the line was quiet and Riley Nash had a pair of goals to lead the team to a win. Danton Heinen continues to impress as the rookie has nine goals and 26 points in 32 games. David Krejci skated on Wednesday and could return shortly from an upper body injury that has kept him out since December 16. Adam McQuaid has yet to play since his leg injury on October 19 but he is ready to go.

 

BUFFALO

 

Games this week

vs. New York Rangers, @ Minnesota, @ Winnipeg, @ Philadelphia

 

Rested Team: @ Philadelphia (Sunday)

Tired Team: @ Winnipeg (Friday)

 

Notes

The Sabres continue with their road trip this week as the World Junior U20 Championships are in Buffalo. It looks like there is a home game against the Rangers but really Buffalo is the home team for the Winter Classic in New York as the Rangers must play all their home games at Madison Square Garden. The Sabres play four games this week with three coming in four nights. Robin Lehner should get the start in three games with Chad Johnson getting the call once. Zemgus Girgensons has two goals in two games but that only gives him three this season. Jack Eichel has five goals and nine points in his last five games to give him 13 goals and 33 points in 37 games. Unfortunately only three points have come on the man-advantage after getting 24 power play points last season.

 

CALGARY

 

Games this week

vs. Los Angeles, vs. Anaheim

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Flames are not the busiest team in the NHL as they play twice this week. They are at home to both LA based teams. Jaromir Jagr has had trouble staying healthy this season and his current lower body ailment has forced him to miss eight of the last 11 games although he managed to play on Thursday. The Flames drafted two captains in this year’s World Junior Championships, Dillon Dube of Canada and Juuso Valimaki of Finland. David Rittich is putting up solid numbers as the backup to Mike Smith. Looks like the Flames finally have a good goaltending tandem. Johnny Gaudreau is the team leader in points with 41. Micheal Ferland is second in goals with 14 to Sean Monahan’s 17.

 

CAROLINA

 

Games this week

vs. Washington, @ Pittsburgh, @ Boston  

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team:  None

 

Notes

Cam Ward is the number one goalie in Carolina at this time as the Hurricanes have won five of their last six games with Ward in net for all five. The only loss Carolina has suffered in the last six was an 8-1 thrashing the Maple Leafs handed them with Scott Darling between the pipes. Sebastian Aho has 10 goals and 27 points in 36 games with all 10 goals coming in the last 21 games. Teuvo Teravainen scored his first goal in 17 games on Wednesday. Justin Faulk had a pair of goals on December 23 to give him three this season. He had scored 48 goals in his previous three seasons combined. Jeff Skinner has 12 goals and 26 points but is a team-worst minus-13.

 

 CHICAGO

 

Games this week

@ New York Rangers, vs. Vegas, vs. Edmonton

 

Rested Team: vs. Vegas (Friday), vs. Edmonton (Sunday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Blackhawks are struggling and having Corey Crawford out indefinitely with an upper body injury is not going to help. That will put the brunt of the load on Anton Forsberg who will take over the net with Jeff Glass as his backup. A big problem for the Blackhawks seems to be the aging of their defensemen with Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, two stalwarts on the blueline, combining for only one goal and 27 assists in 36 games this season. All those years of Stanley Cup wins, playing in the World Cup as well as Olympic competition have caught up with the duo. Patrick Kane has 36 points in 36 games to lead Chicago. Artem Anisimov has 13 goals which is second on the team to Kane. He was injured in the first period Thursday and did not return. Jonathan Toews is a great all-around player but his nine goals and 22 points in 36 games is nothing special.

 

COLORADO

 

Games this week

vs. Winnipeg, vs. Columbus, vs. Minnesota

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Avalanche complete their six game home stand this week. Tyson Barrie fractured his right hand and will be out for the next four-six weeks. Nikita Zadorov will get the first chance to quarterback the first power play in Barrie’s absence. Mikko Rantanen is having a quiet good season with 11 goals and 32 points in 36 games. He is on a seven-game scoring streak at this time with two goals and eight points in that span. Tyson Jost is highly regarded but was benched Wednesday after a giveaway led to the Coyotes winning goal. Nathan MacKinnon is pointless in his last two games but has 17 penalty minutes to give him 32 this season. His 15 goals and 40 points in 36 games aren’t too shabby either.

 

COLUMBUS

 

Games this week

@ Dallas, @ Colorado, vs. Florida

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Zach Werenski was placed on the injured reserve with a ‘body’ injury.  He is participating in practice so his return could be imminent. The Blue Jackets got bad news up front as Alexander Wennberg is out for four-six weeks with a back injury while Cam Atkinson is out four-six weeks with a fractured foot. The duo led the Blue Jackets in points last season so their loss to the lineup will be significant. Columbus recalled Sonny Milano, Jordan Schroeder and Tyler Motte. Seth Jones has a five game points streak and with three goals and six points in that stretch. The 23-year-old is up to seven goals and 22 points in 38 games. Boone Jenner leads the Blue Jackets with 29 penalty minutes.

 

DALLAS

 

Games this week

vs. Columbus, vs. New Jersey, vs. Edmonton

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

After starting three straight games, Kari Lehtonen has not played in the last five games as Ben Bishop has taken over again. Bishop has given up 12 goals in the five contests while going 2-1-2. The Stars continue to get great production from their top line of Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn and Alexander Radulov but are not getting a lot of secondary scoring as Radek Faksa and Mattias Janmark each have 17 points in 38 Dallas games while Devin Shore is one back and Jason Spezza two in arrears. The Stars need better secondary scoring if they hope to make the playoffs. Antoine Roussel leads the squad with 65 penalty minutes and saw his two game goal streak end on Wednesday. He has five goals and 11 points in 32 games.   


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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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