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Michael Finewax

The Week Ahead

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Entering the Second Half

Friday, January 4, 2019


The holidays are over, the 2019 Winter Classic is in the books and now it’s time to concentrate on the second half of the NHL season.

 

The Eastern Conference looks to be a nine-team race for the playoffs as the Rangers, Florida, Carolina, New Jersey, Detroit, Philadelphia and Ottawa are going to have to play amazingly well just to get back in the race and that seems highly unlikely based on their track records.

 

It’s a little tighter in the weaker Western Conference, as only Los Angeles, Arizona, St. Louis and Chicago seem to be out of it. Edmonton, Minnesota and Vancouver are currently on the outside looking in and need to start getting hot to get back in the thick of things. The Ducks currently are in the second wild card spot but have slumped of late and are a minus-18 in goal differential.

 

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 power play 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 7-13

 

 

4 Games – Calgary, Carolina, Columbus, Florida, Minnesota, Montreal, Nashville, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia, San Jose, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Winnipeg

 

3 Games – Arizona, Anaheim, Boston, Buffalo, Chicago, Colorado, Dallas, Detroit, Edmonton, Los Angeles, New Jersey, Ottawa, Pittsburgh, Toronto, Vegas, Washington

 

2 Games - Vancouver

 

Florida and Nashville play all four games away from home.

 

Calgary, Chicago, San Jose and Winnipeg play three games at home.

 

Arizona, Colorado, the New York Rangers and Ottawa play three games on the road.

 

INJURIES

 

Dustin Byfuglien suffered a lower-body injury and is out at least four weeks. (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

vs. Ottawa, vs. Pittsburgh, @ Winnipeg

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

John Gibson is the Ducks representative for the All-Star game and deservedly so. He is 15-11-6 this season with a 2.59 GAA and a .924 save percentage and has been the main reason the Ducks are still in the playoff race at the halfway mark of the season. Ondrej Kase has been a revelation this season and has seven goals and 11 points in his last 10 games. Daniel Sprong continues to improve offensively since his trade from Pittsburgh as he has all four of his goals in 12 games since the deal. He should provide Anaheim with excellent scoring from the second line in the years to come. There is some nice young talent in Anaheim with Kase, Sprong, Rickard Rakell, Pontus Aberg and Maxime Comtois who had a good World Junior tournament offensively (especially against Denmark). With Hampus Lindholm, Cam Fowler and Brandon Montour on the blueline as well as Gibson in net, there is a lot to look forward to for the Ducks.

 

ARIZONA

 

Games this week

@ Vancouver, @ Edmonton, @ Calgary

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: @ Calgary (Sunday)

 

Notes

The Coyotes are in Western Canada this week where they play three games in four nights. Look for Darcy Kuemper to play twice with Adin Hill getting the call once. The Coyotes have been having trouble scoring and have scored two goals or less in 21 of 40 games this season. Brad Richardson, a bottom-six forward, continues to be the only Coyotes in double-digits in goals as he has 11. Nick Schmaltz is day-to-day with a lower body injury. Oliver Ekman-Larsson became the all-time leading Coyote in points by a defenseman this week with his 312th, one better than Keith Yandle. The Coyotes dealt Trevor Murphy to Anaheim for Giovanni Fiore.

 

BOSTON

 

Games this week

vs. Minnesota, vs. Washington, @ Toronto

 

Rested Team: vs. Minnesota (Tuesday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Bruins defeated the Blackhawks in the Winter Classic Wednesday but it came with a cost as Joakim Nordstrom suffered a non-displaced fracture of his fibula. He will be out at least three weeks. Sean Kuraly had the game winner in the game at Notre Dame and it was the second straight game in which he had the GWG. Noel Acciari finally found the back of the net Saturday for the first time all season. He has two points in 34 games. Tuukka Rask is finally looking like the Rask of old as he has won his last two games, giving up two goals in each on 66 shots. Hopefully he is able to regain the net as Jaroslav Halak has been sensational this season.

 

BUFFALO

 

Games this week

vs. New Jersey, @ Carolina, vs. Tampa Bay

 

Rested Team: @ Carolina (Friday)

Tired Team: vs. Tampa Bay (Saturday)

 

Notes

The Sabres were dealt a blow on Thursday when it was announced that Jack Eichel would miss at least the next couple of games with an upper body injury. He could be back this week but don’t necessarily count on it. He was replaced on the top line by Evan Rodrigues who played alongside Sam Reinhart and Jeff Skinner. Linus Ullmark has been great as the Sabres backup goalie. He is 9-1-3 with a 2.63 GAA and a .922 save percentage. Kyle Okposo finally halted a 21-game goalless streak with the Sabres only goal on New Years Eve. He has six in 41 games this season. Skinner has 28 goals in 41 games this season after his two goal outburst on Thursday. Reinhart has nine goals and 40 points in 41 games.

 

CALGARY

Games this week

@ Chicago, vs. Colorado, vs. Florida, vs. Arizona

 

Rested Team: @ Chicago (Monday), vs. Colorado (Wednesday), vs. Florida (Friday), vs. Arizona (Sunday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Flames have the rarest of week’s this week as they play four games and in all four games they are the rested team. Look for Mike Smith and David Rittich (if healthy) to split the goaltending duties this week. Otherwise Smith will get three starts with Jon Gillies getting the net once. Good news for Calgary fans as they will take on the Winnipeg Jets in the Heritage Classic next season in Regina’s Mosaic Stadium on October 26. Elias Lindholm continues to have an outstanding season with a career high 20 goals and 48 points. He still has the second half of the season to play and could be an 85-plus point player. James Neal ended his 24-game goal drought on December 31. Johnny Gaudreau had 23 goals and 61 points in 42 games as he is heading to easily crush his career best of 84 points set last season.

 

CAROLINA

 

Games this week

@ New York Islanders, @ Tampa Bay, vs. Buffalo, vs. Nashville

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: vs. Buffalo (Friday)

 

Notes

The Hurricanes play four games this week including three games in four nights. Look for Petr Mrazek and Curtis McElhinney to split the net. Congratulations go out to Justin Williams who played in his 1,200th NHL game on Monday. The Hurricanes power play has been a disaster, especially of late and it is not sitting well with coach Rod Brind'Amour. They are 19-for-132. Sebastian Aho has 41 points to lead the Canes in scoring, nine better than Teuvo Teravainen who is second. Aho leads in goals with 15, four better than Micheal Ferland and rookie Andrei Svechnikov. Carolina sent Janne Kuokkanen to the minors and brought up Saku Maenalanen.

 

CHICAGO

 

Games this week

vs. Calgary, vs. Nashville, vs. Vegas

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: vs. Calgary (Monday)

 

Notes

Patrick Kane was the first star of the week as he had five goals and an assist in six games. The Blackhawks dealt defensemen Brandon Manning and Robin Norell to Edmonton for winger Drake Caggiula and defenseman Jason Garrison. Chicago placed Garrison on unconditional waivers and he passed through after he refused an assignment to the AHL. Look for Chicago to release him. Collin Delia has been strong in net for Chicago in a limited role as he 3-0-1 this season with a 1.98 GAA and a .952 save percentage. Jonathan Toews has hit the 70-point mark only once in his career (76 points in 2010-11) but is on pace for a 72-point season this year.

 

COLORADO

 

Games this week

@ Winnipeg, @ Calgary, @ Montreal

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: @ Calgary (Wednesday)

 

Notes

Tyson Jost put a halt to a 16-game goalless streak on Wednesday with a couple of goals to give him six this season in 37 games. Tyson Barrie equaled John-Michael Liles franchise mark for career points by a defenseman with his 275th on Wednesday. Colin Wilson is still out with an upper-body injury suffered on December 21 but did partake in an optional skate on Tuesday. Semyon Varlamov missed Wednesday’s game with a lower-body injury and the Avalanche recalled Pavel Francouz from the minors to backup Philipp GrubauerNathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog lead Colorado in goals with 24 while Mikko Rantanen still leads the team with 62 points, two better than MacKinnon.   

 

COLUMBUS       

 

Games this week

@ Tampa Bay, vs. Nashville, @ Washington, vs. New York Rangers

 

Rested Team: vs. Nashville (Thursday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Blue Jackets are on the ice for four games this week including three contests in four nights. Sergei Bobrovsky will get three starts while Joonas Korpisalo should get one start. It was a big night Monday as Zach Werenski and Pierre-Luc Dubois each had two goals while Dubois also chipped in with a couple of assists. Cam Atkinson had a goal and three points in the same game and is up to 24 goals and 42 points in 38 contests, one point behind team leader Artemi Panarin. Alexander Wennberg has only one goal in 39 games this season. Brandon Dubinsky has 36 penalty minutes in 29 games this season but 26 came in back-to-back games on December 20 and 22.

 

DALLAS

 

Games this week

@ St. Louis, @ Philadelphia, vs. St. Louis

 

Rested Team: vs. St. Louis (Tuesday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Stars play St. Louis twice this week so look for Brett Ritchie or Roman Polak to be in the middle of things if there is any rough stuff. Jamie Benn is day-to-day with an upper-body injury suffered Wednesday. The Stars sent Denis Gurianov to the minors and recalled Erik Condra. Miro Heiskanen had two goals Wednesday to give the rookie defenseman nine this season. He has more goals than any other Dallas forwards, save for Tyler Seguin, Benn and Alexander Radulov. The Stars are going to host the 2020 Winter Classic next season against an unnamed opponent. It will take place at the Cotton Bowl. Valeri Nichushkin still has yet to score in 32 games. He has seven assists.


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Michael Finewax is entering his 14th season as the Senior Hockey Writer and Editor for Rotoworld. You can follow him on Twitter @mfinewaxhockey.
Email :Michael Finewax



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