Twenty of the 30 NHL teams will play on back-to-back nights this week. However, just two of the 20 will have the task twice.
Let's Play Two ... Twice
Montreal is one of the NHL's busiest teams this week. With four games and more notably two back-to-back occurrences, the good news is Montreal (vs. WPG @OTT vs. BUF vs. OTT) will play three of four this week from home. Bad news, can Max Pacioretty catch a break? Pacioretty will miss 3-4 weeks due to appendectomy surgery. Raphael Diaz (owned in 36 percent) has five assists and Andrei Markov has three goals and an assist. P.K. Subban who? Sin bin seekers can look to center Ryan White who has 33 penalty minutes, could also help out in blocked shots and hits.
After losing leads to both Chicago and St. Louis, Dallas has one of the most intriguing schedules. All four games are on back-to-back nights for the mix of veterans and rookies, and all are very winnable. Stephane Robidas (27%) is a plus-5 with two assists and four penalty minutes. Michael Ryder (59 percent owned) had an outburst (two goals) in Detroit the other night. Dallas (@CLS @DET vs. PHO @PHO), who plays three of 4 from the road, not only gets Jamie Benn (contract)back in uniform, but Jaromir Jagr (back) should return on Monday night as well. Cristopher Nilstorp left the St. Louis game with what appeared to be a groin injury. Regardless of the severity, don't be surprised to see an AHL call up of either Richard Bachman or Jack Campbell to back up Kari Lehtonen.
The Rest of Back-to-Back
Twelve teams will play four games this week, but it's the Western Conference teams that leave us curious.
While Columbus (vs. DAL @MIN vs. STL vs. DET) is not the bottom of the barrel (29th in goal differential), looking at their schedule, that could change quick.
Colorado (@EDM @VAN @CAL vs. EDM) has a full slate. Three games on the road to start, where they are 0-2 thus far, but the Avalanche will reset with two total games next week. Matt Duchene and P.A. Parenteau are the closest thing they have to an offensive spark right now. You may want to put in a call on Gabriel Landeskog's owner, chances are they are sweating pulling the trigger too early on him in the draft. Semyon Varlamov (2-2) had a problem with the Sharks on Saturday, but who hasn't this season?
Edmonton (vs. COL @PHO @SJ @COL), much like Columbus, will play three of their four in the first four nights this week, unfortunately for them, they play three away, including two with the aforementioned Avs. What's next for Nail Yakupov, Teemu Selanne's rookie-record celebration?
Last week we reported Matthew Lombardi's trade to Phoenix (vs. NSH vs. EDM @DAL vs. DAL). This week, he's on the IR, and according to Don Maloney, may miss a "significant amount of time." Oliver Ekman-Larsson (two goals, one assist) and Steve Sullivan (four goals, one assist) had a bit of an awakening last week, albeit against Columbus. Each has been quiet since. Phoenix travels just once this week.
Two for Two
Regardless of where they're playing, here are two Western Conference teams you should probably not count on this week.
With just two games on the docket for Calgary (vs. COL vs. CHI), can Lee Stempniak keep it going? Can Alex Tanguay (two goals, one assist, 4 PIM in last two games) return to form? Believe it or not, the Flames power-play (4-for-11) has been fairly dependable.
As promised, St. Louis (@CLS @DET) is off to a quick start. In addition to Vladimir Tarasenko's fiery start, the Blues players' Fantasy impact has been heavenly thus far. Kevin Shattenkirk and T.J. Oshie are meeting expectations while David Perron busted out of his slump with two goals against the Stars. However, with just two games this week, there is little chance for epic offensive explosions. Hitchcock will most likely use both goalies as their only two games are on the road in back-to-back contests. Oh yeah, that Wade Redden guy is already sticking it to his former employer with a goal in his second game with the team.
Scavenger or Scorer?
Scott Hartnell and Joffrey Lupul injuries may have some of you looking through the waiver wire already. Is it the shortened camp, leaving goalies without a rhythm or are these guys going to produce all year? The following players are owned by less than 50-percent (or so) of CBS owners.
Forward: Looking beyond this week, Alex Steen (47 percent) is a good pick up with a plus-4 and four assists. Though Daniel Winnik (26 percent) has four goals, he had doughnuts on Friday against a much sharper Cory Schneider. Saku Koivu (25 percent) is a plus-5 with a goal, four assists. Former AHL MVP, Keith Aucoin (1 percent owned, three goals, an assist in four games) finally escaped the log jam in Washington. Can he take advantage of what should be considered "time to develop" in Hempstead? Here comes Michael Grabner, again. Sooner or later this guy is destined to become a consistent goal scorer. For now, three goals and two assists and owned in 53 percent of CBSSports.com leagues is reason enough to decide your involvement. Zack Kassian (49 percent) and Mason Raymond (25 percent) have been gelling (tied for team lead with three goals), how consistent they remain is the question.
GOALIES: Josh Harding, Mathieu Garon, Chris Mason, Michal Neuvirth, Martin Biron, Dan Ellis, Leland Irving and Ben Bishop all unowned by an estimated 70 percent of Fantasy leagues. More noticeable is their current predecessors' troubles. Anders Lindback, Sergei Bobrovsky and Niklas Backstrom are less likely to yield playing time while names like Cam Ward, Henrik Lundqvist, Miikka Kiprusoff and Braden Holtby may see a game or two of pine this week to find their focus. Neuvirth is really the only one who could take a starter's job. While Kiprusoff is the least of Calgary's defencies, Irving beat out Henrik Karlsson for the back-up position in Calgary and has been ruling the AHL for quite some time. Bishop likewise over Robin Lehner, but got struck by Lightning (five goals) this past Friday. Karlsson was traded to Chicago for a 2013 seventh-round pick in the entry draft and Lehner joined him in the AHL earlier this week. With all this in mind, NHLTradereport.com indicated last Wednesday, Edmonton may be shopping for Bishop and/or Roberto Luongo.
Home for Three
The remaining 16 teams will play three games this week. Winnipeg, Chicago and Nashville will exclusively play visitor while Tampa Bay and San Jose won't leave home at all this week.
It didn't take long for people to jump on the Tampa Bay (vs. FLA vs.WPG vs.NYR) bandwagon and with an average of five goals for a game, who can blame them? Vincent Lecavalier's (82 percent) one goal, four assists and Cory Conacher's (69%) two goals, five assists and plus-4 is a pleasant surprise. There is a gem or two awaiting, such as forward Ryan Malone who has three goals (54 percent) or defenseman Sami Salo's (23 percent) three assists and plus-8 presence.
Chicago's (@MIN @VAN @CAL) Michal Rozsival has two assists and is a plus-two. He's trying to learn a new system in a lock out shortened season, but also has the pressure of a one-year deal. Let's see how the 35-year-old reacts to that sense of urgency on what seems to be an NHL powerhouse. Johnny Oduya (7% owned) has two assists as well, but is a plus-five. The Blackhawks will be away from the United Center until February 12th, six straight games, starting at Minnesota Wednesday.
Four straight multi-goal games to start the season, is anyone more out of his mind than Patrick Marleau? Nuff said! It's not all good times for San Jose (vs. ANH vs. EDM vs. NSH) with Brent Burns out indefinitely, needing sports hernia surgery. However, Burns' move to the IR makes room for the newly acquired Scott Gomez.
The Jets and Predators have an interesting opportunity to raise themselves from mediocrity as this week's opponents have a 9-10-3 record combined headed into Saturday's action. Nashville (@PHO @LA @SJ), who finished out last week traveling to St Louis and Anaheim, continues their road trip. Phoenix and Los Angeles are more their speed (or lack thereof) right now, but Pekka Rinne is going have his hands full Saturday in San Jose. Yikes, add in St Louis to begin next week.
Winnipeg (@MON @FLA @TB) is coming off a 4-2 win over the Pens where both Evander Kane and Dustin Byfuglien enjoyed two-point nights and Ondrej Pavelec continued his confidence. Pavelec is 2-0-1, having allowed only five goals since opening night's 4-1 loss to the Sens.
Cody Hodgson has scored in three straight games and is still un-owned in 25-percent of leagues, though that number should be very different by this time next week, for good or ill. If you have no room to add Hodgson, it says here Marcus Foligno (0 points) is owned by 35-percent of you. It's certainly a gamble to let this kid go, but how long do you wait? Those in keeper leagues will obviously wait longer. ... At the time of this entry, Kyle Turris (four goals, one assist) is actually a benefit (plus-2) to his team in Ottawa, but how long will it last? ... Never known for his scoring, Mike Ribeiro (two assists) has been shut out by NHL goalies and refs alike thus far, but that hasn't stopped him and Joel Ward from leading a sad Capitals scoring leaders list with a combined seven of their 22 total points. ... Earlier this week, Devils coach Pete DeBoer said Adam Henrique (thumb) is "a week to 10 days" away from being ready. Reports are Stefan Matteau will skate with the first line tonight. Were you ignoring Chris Kreider's (0 points) minus-2 until his ankle injury? Benn Ferriero has been called up from the AHL and Arron Asham returned in the meantime. Additionally, the Rangers have signed Jason Arnott to a one-year deal. Perennial AHL'er Devils defenseman Krys Barch makes his NHL-debut Saturday.
TV TIME (all games EST)
Islanders at Penguins, 7:30 p.m., NBCSports
Blackhawks at Wild, 8 p.m., NBCSports
Penguins at Capitals, 12:30 p.m., NBC