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Right on Schedule: Holiday happenings

by | Rotowire.com
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For most, Santa Claus visits just as you're entering into your slumber on Christmas Eve. For Tom Fenton, good 'ole Santa came early when Phoenix G Ilya Bryzgalov (flu) became ill Thursday afternoon. With Bryzgalov unable to suit up for the game against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden, the Coyotes, desperate for a warm body to backup Jason LaBarbera, signed the 26-year-old former goalie Fenton to a 1-day contract. Of course the very next morning Phoenix recalled Matt Climie, who was 13-5 with the San Antonio Rampage of the AHL, and Fenton was out. But hey, it still makes a good story. Rather than goalies, let's focus on a few teams anxiously waiting with milk and cookies hoping the jolly old feller will bring an offensive breakout.

Though Nashville (17-9-6) is keeping pace with first place Detroit, it has little to do with their offense. After collecting four goals in the first three games of the season, Steve Sullivan is managing to lead the team with just 10 goals. If the Preds are to continue their persistence in the Central division, Sullivan, (ten points in the last 12 games) is going to have to find the back of the net more. Some good second-line center Cal O'Reilly has pitched in a bit with 12 assists (18 points) this season, but if he is to stay in Nashville all season, he needs to shake his streakiness. Though a plus-4 in his last five games, he is pointless over that span.

Until their embarrassing 6-1 home loss to Los Angeles, Nashville had been on a roll. Even after watching number one goalie Pekka Rinne head to the injured reserve, the Preds had been undefeated in ten games. Rookie backup goaltender Anders Lindback posted two shutouts and went undefeated in seven games. Reports say Rinne, after undergoing arthroscopic surgery earlier this month is back at 100 percent. However, just as you could hear the zippers of Mark Dekanich’s travel gear heading back to Milwaukee (AHL), Lindback gave up three goals on nine shots against Los Angeles and Dekanich came in to clean up. All of a sudden … it's Rinne's job to lose again?

Under the AHL tree:
RW Chris Mueller in 30 games played is a plus-8 and has 12 goals (18 points)
LW Linus Klasen in 27 games played has 13 goals (24 points)
D Teemu Laakso in 27 games is a plus-4 and has 11 points
D Jonathan Blum in 29 games has 16 points

This week: @ CHI vs. OTT, @ STL

After a relatively terrible 2009-10 campaign for Cam Ward, it seems he is back to his old self with a 14-9-3 record and 2.54 GAA. Problem is, if his record is to ever reflect that change, the Carolina Hurricanes (15-12-4) have got to get their offense going. Despite the fact that Eric Staal and Jeff Skinner have combined for merely five points in the month of December, the Hurricanes are winners of their last four games. And now, GM Jim Rutherford has decided to unwrap his gift(s) a little early this season.

Last week, Carolina called up D Bryan Rodney and Zach Boychuk. Rodney, who has appeared in three games since his recall, has 18 points in 28 games with Charlotte of the AHL. Boychuck is second in the AHL's scoring with 32 points (10G, 22A) in 28 games. Though an uneventful, 5:51 of ice time, I believe the moons are aligning here for Boychuck. Having already tapped the system once, here's what's left for the NHL's All-Star game hosts.

Under the AHL tree:
C Zac Dalpe is averaging a point a game (12 goals, +10) in just 19 games played
RW Jerome Samson who had 37 goals (78 points) with last season, is a plus-11 with 31 points this season
D Brett Carson is a plus-4 and has seven assists in just 19 games
RW Jared Staal won't be getting a call to Carolina anytime soon, but he was recently promoted to the AHL. So far, the youngest Staal is pointless in ten games this season with Charlotte.

This week: @TB, vs. MON, WAS

Let's play four: ATL, PIT, STL, TB, VAN
Let's play two: BOS, BUF, CHI, COL, OTT, SJ, TOR

A few other gifts unwrapped early (link) this holiday season

Montreal, desperate to jump start their veterans, called up LW Max Pacioretty. Pacioretty, only 22, proceeded to collect a goal and an assist in his second NHL game.
This week: @ DAL, CAR, NYI

Losers of their last eight games, Washington will try to scare its team back into production. As suggested earlier in the year, RW Andrew Gordon got the call Friday. Though he had 16 goals (points) with AHL Hershey before being called up, reportedly head coach Bruce Boudreau will ease him into the Capitals lineup with a few spot starts. He quickly got a chance last Saturday night. Gordon was a minus-1 in a modest 12 minutes of ice time.
This week: @ OTT, vs.NJ, PIT, @CAR

Relaxing for the Holidays:

-Toronto (12-16-4) starts off the week hosting Atlanta (18-11-5), takes five days off and heads to the Meadowlands to take on the New Jersey Devils (9-21-2) this Sunday.
-As hot as your talent from Philadelphia (22-7-5) is, you may want to sit them. After hosting the Florida Panthers (14-16-0) to start the week, the Flyers won't play again till next Tuesday.
-The New York Rangers (20-14-1) schedule this week is separated only by a clash with the Tampa Bay Lightning (18-10-4) at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night.

No fairytale, this is assured

The Calgary Flames are beginning to defrost, and Mark Giordano is a big part of it. He has a colorful 40 PIM total and nine points in his last 10 games. A 15-goal, 35 assists season is possible this year.
This week: @ MIN, CLB, DAL

Are the New York Islanders (6-18-6) on your opponents’ schedule?

They have been very giving this holiday season, with a 65/104 GF/GA ratio. Most of their gifts have come on the road (2-11-3); so with two of their three games this week away from Nassau Coliseum, I'm sure your opposing players will be marked as "nice" on Santa's list.
This week: vs.TB, @NJ vs. MON

Team Away Home Total
Atlanta 2 2 4
Pittsburgh 2 2 4
St. Louis 1 3 4
Tampa Bay 3 1 4
Vancouver 3 1 4
Anaheim 3 0 3
Carolina 1 2 3
Calgary 3 0 3
Columbus 1 2 3
Dallas 0 3 3
Detroit 1 2 3
Edmonton 3 0 3
Florida 3 0 3
Los Angeles 1 2 3
Minnesota 1 2 3
Montreal 3 0 3
New Jersey 1 2 3
Nashville 1 2 3
N.Y. Islanders 1 2 3
Phoenix 3 0 3
Washington 1 2 3
Boston 0 2 2
Buffalo 0 2 2
Chicago 0 2 2
Colorado 0 2 2
Ottawa 1 1 2
San Jose 0 2 2
Toronto 1 1 2
N.Y. Rangers 0 1 1
Philadelphia 0 1 1

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Player News
Nazem Kadri
Leafs' Kadri: Working To Improve Shot Release
Nazem Kadri, C, TOR
8/31/2014
News: Nazem Kadri has been working on his shot over the summer and is looking to put up a lot more points this season, reports Sportsnet.ca. "Every single year I like my production to go up and up, so I want to get better [in terms of] goals, points, assists, plus/minus, time on ice," he said. "These are all things I think about and can improve on."
Analysis: He's been in the gym working on wrist curls and strengthening his forearms and shoulders to improve his shot. "I've really been working on my shot and my release, knowing a lot of NHL goalies can't be beat without a quick release," said Nazem Kadri. "The power doesn't necessarily have to be there, but the release definitely does. I'm trying to score a few more goals and get more pucks on net." The center once potted 35 goals in 56 OHL games with the London Knights, but he will be hard pressed to replicate that scoring rate in the NHL. Still, he could certainly be in line for an improvement over his 20 goals from last season and 60 points could be in the offing.

Sheldon Brookbank
Flames Invite Brookbank To Training Camp
Sheldon Brookbank, D, CHI
8/31/2014
News: The Flames have extended a tryout to Sheldon Brookbank at their training camp in the fall, the Calgary Sun reports.
Analysis: Sheldon Brookbank spent the past two seasons with the Blackhawks, and collected two goals and five assists in 48 games last season. He will get a shot at the sixth or seventh defenseman spot, and his experience may give him an early edge.

Eric Staal
Canes' E. Staal (Abdomen) Back On Ice
Eric Staal, C, CAR
8/30/2014
News: Eric Staal (abdominal surgery) was back on the ice Friday at an informal skate with the Hurricanes, reports the Raleigh News Observer
Analysis: He had surgery in late July for a core-muscle issue that was described more as an abdominal wall injury rather than a sports hernia. He had changed his offseason training approach after delivering his lowest offensive numbers in a full season since his rookie year. The injury was characterized as a training injury, but it's behind him now and he's been on the ice for 10 days. "It was frustrating," he said. "At the time of the injury I thought I was in the best shape I've ever been in." If that's the case and if he can get out of the blocks strong, Eric Staal could be in line for a fantasy rebound. But he's going to turn 30 in October, so don't expect his output to recover to his previous best.

Kimmo Timonen
Flyers Planning On Season Without Timonen (Clots)
Kimmo Timonen, D, PHI
8/30/2014
News: Kimmo Timonen (blood clots) is back in the U.S. after undergoing treatment in Finland, but the Flyers are planning as though he won't be contributing to the squad this season, reports the Courier-Post.
Analysis: "We haven't had a chance to look at him yet," general manager Ron Hextall said, "but there's something going on there" when asked if Kimmo Timonen was on a regimen of blood thinners like warfarin or herparin. Both drugs are used to prevent clots from developing in the future, but put the patient at risk of bruising and make it hard to get bleeding wounds to clot. Hockey would definitely be off-limits because of the body contact, but Timonen is making good progress.

Nicklas Grossmann
Flyers' Grossmann (Ankle) Will Be Ready For Camp
Nicklas Grossmann, D, PHI
8/30/2014
News: Nicklas Grossmann (ankle) was on the ice this week and will be ready for training camp, reports the Courier-Post. "It's a matter of just getting better and better, but I'm feeling pretty good," said the defender.
Analysis: The surgery to repair tendons in his right ankle required six-to-eight weeks of rehab. The big Swede delivered one goal, 13 assists and 55 PIMs in 78 games with the Flyers last season and should replicated those totals this season. Unfortunately, that won't make him much of a fantasy play.

Sean Couturier
Flyers' Couturier (Ankle): Ready For Training Camp
Sean Couturier, C, PHI
8/30/2014
News: Sean Couturier (ankle) has been skating since July and will be ready by training camp, reports the Courier-Post. "I feel great," said the center who had surgery in June. "I feel stronger than last year."
Analysis: He had a month of rehabilitation and then hit the training hard in July and August. Consider him good to go -- slot him onto your cheat sheet where you expected him to be pre-surgery.

Scott Gomez
Gomez Gets Tryout With Devils
Scott Gomez, C, NJ
8/30/2014
News: Scott Gomez will attend Devils' training camp on a tryout basis, reports Tom Gulitti of The Record. He hopes to follow a path similar to that of Petr Sykora, who attended Devils' camp on a tryout in 2011 and ended up making the team.
Analysis: Scott Gomez played sparingly last season in Florida, recording two goals and 10 assists in 46 games. He admitted to Gulitti that he'd thought about retiring at points last season, but realized he still had something to give when he did see playing time late in the season. "I've still got a lot to prove," said Gomez. "I still want to play. There's a lot of hockey left." He's working with Vladimir Bure, the Devils' former fitness consultant and the man who helped him prepare for his Calder-winning rookie season. Still, that alone won't win him a job. "There's nothing guaranteed," continued Gomez. "I've got to make them keep me."

Justin Schultz
Oilers Sign Schultz To One-Year Deal
Justin Schultz, D, EDM
8/29/2014
News: Justin Schultz signed a one-year, $3.8 million deal with the Oilers on Friday, Ryan Rishaug of TSN reports.
Analysis: The restricted free agent defenseman averaged 23:21 of ice time per game last season, registering 11 goals and 22 assists. His production has still been somewhat disappointing, though, as he hasn't quite shown the consistent offensive game that vaulted him to college stardom. Still, he's been a consistent contributor and should return in a similar role in 2014-15.

Ryan White
Flyers' White Undergoes Surgery On Chest Muscle
Ryan White, C, MON
8/28/2014
News: Ryan White underwent surgery Wednesday to repair his left pectoral muscle.
Analysis: The Flyers haven't provided a timetable for a return for Ryan White, who signed with the organization on a one-year, two-way contract on Aug. 7. White, 26, totaled six points and 50 PIM in 52 games with the Canadiens last season. He was slated to compete for a fourth-line role with the Flyers in training camp, but those hopes could be dashed as a result of the procedure.

Lance Bouma
Flames' Bouma Inks One-Year Deal
Lance Bouma, LW, CGY
8/27/2014
News: Lance Bouma signed a one-year contract with the Flames on Wednesday.
Analysis: Lance Bouma is coming off his first full season in the NHL, in which the center supplied five goals and 10 assists over 78 games. The 24-year-old probably has room to grow as a scorer given his relative youth, but he may not amount to more than a second- or third-line center at his peak.

 
 
 
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