Week 8 (Nov. 23-29)
Teams playing four games: Anaheim, Boston, Calgary, Carolina, Colorado, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Edmonton, Florida, Nashville, N.Y. Islanders, N.Y. Rangers, Ottawa, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, St. Louis
Teams playing three games: Atlanta, Buffalo, Chicago, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Montreal, New Jersey, San Jose, Tampa Bay, Toronto, Vancouver, Washington
Teams playing two games: None
New Jersey Devils: Coach Jacques Lemaire had encouraging statements about recent call-up Tyler Eckford. The blueliner, who made his NHL debut on Thursday against the Predators, had five goals and 15 points in 18 games with Lowell of the AHL. Lemaire said Eckford will "be a good player" but he is definitely referring to his long-term appeal. Eckford, a 2004 seventh-round pick, is likely head back to the minors as soon as New Jersey is back at full strength ... Left wing Patrik Elias is starting to come around offensively with three assists and a plus-3 rating his last two games. Elias has only played six games after starting the year on injured reserve with a groin injury.
N.Y. Islanders: Coach Scott Gordon is trying his best to prod 2008 first-round pick Josh Bailey. Gordon made the 20-year-old center a healthy scratch on Nov. 13 against the Hurricanes, saying he didn't want Bailey to "get too comfortable." Bailey has only six points in his first 20 games, but his faceoff ability is improving ... Left wing Matt Moulson continues to be the top story of the young season for New York. He leads the team with 10 goals in the first 21 games ... Forward Richard Park moved to the top line recently with Moulson and John Tavares. He has six assists in his last five games, but we don't expect his hot streak to last since Park is still more of a penalty-killing specialist.
N.Y. Rangers: Coach John Tortorella told rookie defenseman Michael Del Zotto he needs to be more selfish on the power play. Del Zotto has been deferring a lot to Marian Gaborik and Ales Kotalik, but the Rangers coaching staff wants to take advantage of the 19-year-old's heavy shot on the power play. That can only mean good things for Fantasy owners ... Believe it or not, but the Rangers are encouraging Sean Avery to keep up his tough-guy personality. New York says they need Avery's personality on the ice, but the enforcer does need to watch his Ps and Qs after last year's suspension for improper conduct ... Center Chris Drury, who has been out since Nov. 7 with a concussion, is inching closer to a return. The trainers have told Tortorella Drury has had a few good days. Still, Drury is an injury-risk start for Week 8 unless we hear more encouraging news.
Philadelphia Flyers: Arron Asham might return in Week 8 from an oblique injury, but he is still a risky play ... Rookie forward James van Riemsdyk is turning into a clutch scorer for the Flyers. He scored the game-winning goal in three straight games from Nov. 14-18 and he is among the league leaders with four game winners. van Riemsdyk has a point in 12 of his first 15 games and has a chance to become the first NHL Rookie of the Year in the Flyers' 42-year history ... Center Mike Richards has only three goals in his last 13 games after scoring six times in his first five appearances.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Defenseman Kris Letang (shoulder) is back on the ice but wearing a non-contact jersey. He is slated to return in late November but remains a risky start for Week 8 ... Chris Kunitz could also be back in Week 8 from a lower-body injury but is also an injury-risk option ... Unfortunately, fellow blueliner Alex Goligoski is out until at least early December with a lower-body injury ... In a bit of good news, Sergei Gonchar returned from a broken left wrist on Thursday against the Senators and is a safe play again in Fantasy ... Penguins center Jordan Staal, one of our sleeper starts for Week 7, has scored in consecutive games and is tied for second on the team with six goals.
Favorable matchup: Pittsburgh (@FLA, MON, @NYI, NYR). The Penguins have a lot of winnable games in Week 8. It helps that they face three teams -- Islanders, Canadiens and Panthers -- all in the bottom half of the league for defense, allowing 2.86 or more goals per game. They are also averaging 3.00 or more goals per game against the Rangers, Islanders and Canadiens.
Unfavorable matchup: New Jersey (OTT, @BOS, NYI). The Devils have played all three opponents this season but have not scored more than three goals against of them. They have been held to two goals against the Islanders and Bruins.
|1.||Maxim Afinogenov, RW, Thrashers||29|
|2.||Andy Greene, D, Devils||13|
|3.||Anton Stralman, D, Blue Jackets||13|
|4.||Mason Raymond, LW, Canucks||12|
|5.||Matt Moulson, LW, Islanders||9|
|6.||Mike Fisher, C, Senators||9|
|7.||Tobias Enstrom, D, Thrashers||8|
|8.||David Clarkson, RW, Devils||8|
|9.||Niclas Bergfors, RW, Devils||8|
|10.||Brian Pothier, D, Capitals||8|
Boston Bruins: There is some encouraging news for center Marc Savard. Not only is he close to signing a contract extension, but the All-Star center is also nearing a return from a broken foot. Coach Claude Julien is in no rush to activate Savard, but there is a chance he plays on Monday against the Blues. If you feel lucky, you might consider starting Savard in Week 8 ... Goalie Tim Thomas is battling a short-term undisclosed injury, but it is no reason to remove him from Fantasy lineups ... Left wing Milan Lucic is also back in the lineup after missing 14 games with a broken finger ... Right wing Michael Ryder has three goals in his last three games after going 10 games without a score ... Center David Krejci is finally starting to spring to life. He has one goal and three assists during a three-game point streak.
Buffalo Sabres: Right wing Drew Stafford only missed one game with a hip injury and returned to the lineup on Wednesday against the Panthers to score his sixth goal. Unfortunately, he then suffered a leg injury on Friday against the Bruins and is back to being a risky start fir Week 8.
Montreal Canadiens: Brian Gionta is out indefinitely with a broken left foot. Take him out of Fantasy lineups ASAP. Glen Metropolit has temporarily moved to the team's top line with Scott Gomez and Mike Cammalleri to replace Gionta ... Goalie Carey Price has won three of his last five starts and hasn't allowed more than three goals in any of those games. He also has three games with 30-plus saves in that span. Price is starting to get his career back on track.
Ottawa Senators: Alexei Kovalev missed Saturday's game against the Sabres to tend to personal matters, but he is not expected to miss a lot of time. It's safe to keep him active, if you choose ... Coach Cory Clouston has challenged Peter Regin and Ryan Shannon to up their intensity after being a healthy scratch for a few games ... Defenseman Anton Volchenkov (elbow) is nearing a return to the lineup, but he is still not a recommended start for Week 8 ... Defenseman Chris Phillips had a two-goal night on Thursday against the Penguins in his 800th NHL game. Before you get overly excited, Phillips' last multi-goal game before Thursday came on Nov. 22, 2001 ... Jason Spezza is starting to frustrate Fantasy owners again as he has been held off the stat sheet in six straight games. We wouldn't be surprised if his wonky back remains a problem.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Colton Orr is day to day with a foot injury ... Coach Ron Wilson has said he will not move defenseman Ian White to right wing, a position he played frequently in 2008-09. White has the most even-strength points for a Toronto blueliner and is also the defense's leader in plus-minus ... Center Matt Stajan, who has been a frequent resident in Wilson's doghouse, has two goals and three assists during a four-game point streak. He has worked his way up to the team's top line with Alexei Ponikarovsky and Phil Kessel.
Favorable matchup: Montreal (CLB, @PIT, WAS). All three of the Canadiens' opponents are in the bottom 10 in the league for defense, allowing 2.91 or more goals per game.
Unfavorable matchup: Boston (@STL, @MIN, NJ, OTT). The Bruins continue to deliver erratic performances on offense, so until that changes, they are a tough play in Fantasy. They face two top 10 defenses -- St. Louis and New Jersey -- in Week 8.
|1.||Pekka Rinne, G, Predators||57|
|2.||Ryan Kesler, C, Canucks||50|
|3.||Marc-Andre Bergeron, D, Canadiens||32|
|4.||Jonas Hiller, G, Ducks||34|
|5.||David Krejci, C, Bruins||39|
|6.||Ron Hainsey, D, Thrashers||22|
|7.||Ruslan Fedotenko, LW, Penguins||10|
|8.||Tomas Holmstrom, LW, Red Wings||16|
|9.||Alexander Edler, D, Canucks||48|
|10.||Todd White, C, Thrashers||12|
Atlanta Thrashers: First-line center Nik Antropov scored his first goal of the season on Thursday against the Bruins. He had 16 assists in his first 17 games with Atlanta. He admitted that his lack of goals has been because of the adjustment to his center role after playing on the wing for so many seasons ... Right wing Bryan Little is back in the lineup after missing two games with a groin injury.
Carolina Hurricanes: Goalie Cam Ward is eyeing a Dec. 5 return from a leg injury, so that means you can keep him reserved for Week 8 ... The team put Eric Staal (upper body) on injured reserve Wednesday. The move is retroactive, so Staal can return during Week 8. The hope is that he will be back during Thanksgiving weekend; however, that still makes him a risky play ... Defenseman Tim Gleason had his first multi-goal game of his career on Thursday against the Maple Leafs. He has four goals in his last six games, but still has just 11 in 348 career contests ... Right wing Tuomo Ruutu tallied four assists on Thursday and has eight points (three goals) in his last five games.
Florida Panthers: David Booth had a setback in his recovery from a concussion. He began to start light workouts but was then stopped when he started to feel post-concussion symptoms. He will need to go a week without any other setbacks before Florida clears him to start skating ... Veteran forward Cory Stillman continued his hot streak on Wednesday against the Sabres by scoring in his third straight game. All of his six goals this season have come in the last nine games. Unfortunately, Stillman injured his left leg on Friday against the Red Wings and is expected to miss some time. Tough time for the veteran to suffer an injury.
Tampa Bay Lightning: The Lightning have removed Vincent Lecavalier from the point on the power play and replaced him with Martin St. Louis. Lecavalier is now situated more along the right boards and right circle on the man advantage. Perhaps this is what he needs to pick up his scoring pace ... Defenseman Mattias Ohlund is day to day with a lower-body injury.
Washington Capitals: As the Capitals got Alex Ovechkin back from a shoulder injury on Tuesday, they lost another top scorer in Alexander Semin to a sore wrist. He is technically day to day, but could sit out the weekend. If that happens, he becomes a risky start for Week 8 ... Defenseman John Carlson made his NHL debut on Friday against the Canadiens. The 2008 first-round pick had a plus-14 rating and 10 points in 17 games with Hershey of the AHL. Carlson is one of the Capitals' top prospects and a must-own long-term keeper.
Favorable matchup: Atlanta (@DET, @CAR, PHI). Detroit and Carolina are both allowing 2.89 or more goals per game. Philadelphia is a top five defense, however, Atlanta gets them on home ice where the Thrashers are scoring 3.78 goals per game (3rd).
Unfavorable matchup: Carolina (@DAL, @ANA, ATL, @BUF). The NHL's worst-road scoring team (1.80 GFA) has three of their four games in Week 8 away from home. Two of those games -- Dallas and Buffalo -- are against teams in the top half of the league for defense.
Chicago Blackhawks: Marian Hossa, who has been out all year recovering from shoulder surgery, is still on track to make his debut during the team's current road trip. He is targeting Wednesday against the Sharks, so if you feel Hossa will make an immediate impact, then start him for Week 8 ... Kris Versteeg returned to the lineup on Thursday against the Flames after missing one game with an upper-body injury and scored twice. It's safe to put him back into active lineups ... Defenseman Duncan Keith has two goals and eight assists in his last six games. He has three multi-assist outings in that span ... Right wing Patrick Kane has scored in four straight games and has a point in eight straight. He has 11 points in that span.
Columbus Blue Jackets: Derek Dorsett is out indefinitely with a head injury suffered Thursday against the Stars. Keep him reserved in Fantasy until further notice ... Goalie Steve Mason is back in net after missing a week of action recovering from back spasms ... The Blue Jackets have loaned 2008 first-round pick Nikita Filatov to CSKA of the KHL (Russia). Filatov initiated the move after he wasn't getting regular playing time with the Blue Jackets. Filatov said this will help in his development and he will be back with the club for training camp next season. Only time will tell if Filatov keeps his word, but he can't come back to the NHL this season, so he is nothing more than a long-term Fantasy keeper.
Detroit Red Wings: Goalie Chris Osgood finally returned from a nasty bout of the flu on Friday against the Panthers. Osgood lost eight pounds while he was sick and needed an IV to regain his strength, but it's safe to get him active for Week 8 ... Defenseman Niklas Kronwall has crept up to third on the team with 13 points. He trails only Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk ... All the early-season injuries and offseason exodus has forced Zetterberg to increase his role on the offensive end of the ice. After a ho-hum start, Zetterberg is rolling along in November. He has seven goals and 12 points in seven games.
Nashville Predators: Pekka Rinne is starting to put distance between himself and Dan Ellis in the goaltending battle. Rinne has won his last four starts and eight of nine ... Jason Arnott scored twice on Thursday against the Devils, his first goals since Oct. 12 ... Right wing J.P. Dumont has 11 assists in his last nine games. He has three multi-assist games in that span.
St. Louis Blues: Keith Tkachuk broke a 14-game goal drought with his fourth goal of the season Thursday against Phoenix. Tkachuk had three goals in the first three games of the season but hadn't scored before lighting the lamp Thursday. We are not surprised since Tkachuk got off to a fast start last season before fading ... Defenseman Erik Johnson is the team's leading scorer with 13 points in 19 games. He has definitely gotten back on track after missing last season with a torn ACL.
Favorable matchup: Detroit (@NSH, ATL, CGY, @STL). The Red Wings are going to play some good defenses in Week 8, but they have had success this season scoring against Calgary and St. Louis. They are averaging 3.00 goals against each team. Detroit is also playing much better as of late, averaging 5.00 goals in their last four games.
Unfavorable matchup: Nashville (DET, @COL, STL, FLA). A team with three homes games usually doesn't end up on this list, and while Nashville is 6-3 on home ice, they don't score a lot at the Sommet Center. They are 28th in home GFA (2.11). They also face a pair of top 10 defenses in Colorado and St. Louis in the upcoming scoring period.
Calgary Flames: Rene Bourque is not on the team's California trip to play the Kings and Ducks. He is day to day with an undisclosed injury and risky start for Week 8 ... For all those patient Olli Jokinen owners, the Finnish forward is finally heating up after his slow start. He has six points in his first eight November games after totaling six points in all of 12 October games.
Colorado Avalanche: Defenseman John-Michael Liles returned from a shoulder injury on Friday. It's safe to activate him for Week 8 ... Forward Milan Hejduk has three goals in three games since returning from a back injury. He leads Colorado with 10 goals ... Matt Duchene ended a seven-game pointless drought with two assists Wednesday against the Oilers. Still, the rookie has scored only twice in 22 games ... Right wing David Jones has seven goals in 18 games, one goal shy of the career high he set while playing in 40 games last season. Jones has four goals in his last seven games.
Edmonton Oilers: Coach Pat Quinn said Thursday that defenseman Denis Grebeshkov (knee) "is still out for a period of time." Keep him reserved through Week 8 ... Center Mike Comrie's return date from mono is also unknown ... Defenseman Tom Gilbert grabbed some pine on Wednesday after making mental mistakes on the Avalanche's first two goals. He sat most of the last two periods as Quinn hoped the benching would spark a positive result from Gilbert.
Minnesota Wild: Right wing Martin Havlat is day to day with a lower-body injury ... Defenseman Brent Burns is also day to day with an undisclosed illness. He seems far less of a risky start than Havlat for Week 8 ... Petr Sykora had a minor setback in his recovery from a concussion and is still not back on an exercise bike. He is not close to returning ... First-line center Mikko Koivu has 15 points in his last 14 games and is finally starting to meet the expectations of being a standout player in Todd Richards' fast-paced system.
Vancouver Canucks: Left wing Daniel Sedin (foot) is expected to play on Sunday against the Blackhawks. Even if he misses the game, he is probably a safe start for Week 8 ... A person who could suffer from the return of Sedin is Mason Raymond, who has five goals and six assists in his last eight games ... Mikael Samuelsson has only two goals in his last eight games after scoring six times in his first 13 appearances.
Favorable matchup: Vancouver (LA, EDM, SJ). The Canucks don't have to leave the General Motors Place in Week 8. That's good news since they are eighth in home GFA (3.44). They also face two teams -- Los Angeles and Edmonton -- in the bottom 10 for defense.
Unfavorable matchup: Edmonton (PHO, LA, SJ, @VAN). The Oilers are going up against three tough defenses -- Phoenix, San Jose and Vancouver -- in Week 8. All three teams are allowing 2.71 or fewer goals per game. They have also scored only twice in two games against Vancouver this season.
Anaheim Ducks: Center Saku Koivu is having a tough time returning from a groin injury and could be an injury-risk start for Week 8, if he is not back over the weekend ... Defenseman James Wisniewski is back on the day-to-day watch with a foot injury ... Corey Perry has nine goals and 19 points during a 13-game point streak. It is the NHL's longest streak since Phil Kessel had an 18-game run last season ... Defenseman Nick Boynton has an assist in four straight games, matching his career-high point streak.
Dallas Stars: James Neal has been suspended two games for a hit on Derek Dorsett on Thursday. He is eligible to return Wednesday against the Blues and will have three games left to play in Week 8, so keep him active if you choose ... Veteran center Mike Modano has three goals and two assists during a four-game point streak ... Rookie Jamie Benn hasn't been as successful as of late. After a stellar first month in the NHL (10 points in 14 games), Benn has no goals and two points in seven November appearances.
Los Angeles Kings: Left wing Ryan Smyth could miss up to a month with an upper-body injury. Alexander Frolov is expected to fill his role on the top line with Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams.
Phoenix Coyotes: Defenseman Ed Jovanovski and Matthew Lombardi remain on the day-to-day watch with lower-body injuries. If not back over the weekend, then both players are considered injury-risk starts for the upcoming scoring period ... Radim Vrbata continues to be a streaky scorer for the Coyotes. After scoring three times in his first two games, he went 16 games with only one score. He is once again in a rhythm, with three goals in his last four games.
San Jose Sharks: Defenseman Rob Blake practiced with his teammates on Thursday, but could still miss another week of action recovering from an upper-body injury. He is a risky start for Week 8 ... Devin Setoguchi is back on the injured list with a leg injury. He missed seven games earlier this season with the same leg injury and San Jose has no firm timetable for his return.
Favorable matchup: Anaheim (CGY, CAR, CHI, PHO). The Ducks are on a long homestand at the Honda Center, where they are averaging 3.18 goals per game (12th). They have scored four goals in each of their last three homes games. They have only faced Phoenix this season, but is averaging 3.00 goals in two games against the Coyotes.
Unfavorable matchup: Los Angeles (@EDM, @VAN, CHI). Los Angeles knows all too well how good Vancouver and Chicago are on defense. The Kings managed only one goal in each of their matchups against the Canucks and Blackhawks this season. Los Angeles is also on the road for a pair of games, where they average 2.43 goals per game (20th).
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