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Right on Schedule: Give us a break!

by | Rotowire.com
  •  

Did you hear that? That collective sigh from the RotoWire Hockey Staff and Fantasy team owners everywhere relaxing for the first time since September. The All-Star Break brings a respite not quite as lengthy as Christmas Break to the Capitol Hill but effectively comparable in spirit. With 16 teams playing twice this week on only three game days this week, how will you set your rosters this week? While some of the teams on this list could easily be seen as an easy 'W', many teams may look to rest a goalie or a semi-healed talent, so let's have a gander at their position heading into the break.

BOS this week: @LA, vs. FLA (3-1 last week)

Milan Lucic scored twice in last Saturday's pummeling of the struggling Craig Anderson and the Colorado Avalanche. Boston (27-14-7) blue-liners have scored 14 goals in their last 11 games. Boston is a league best (+41) in GF/GA, 15-5-4 on the road, finish their quick trip out West against Los Angeles. Then head home to host the Panthers.

1st in the Northeast +3

CAL this week: vs.NAS, STL (2-1-1 last week)

Perhaps separating themselves from Edmonton, or still attempting to remain in the playoff hunt, here come the Calgary Flames. The Flames (22-21-6), overwhelmed in a very tight conference, were having a very mediocre (3-4-3) month. But since their embarrassing 6-0 home loss to the Wild last week, the Flames managed to come away with wins against the Stars and Canucks.

4th in the Northwest -18

CAR this week: vs TOR, @NYI (1-3 last week)

The 'Canes (23-19-6) will host the Maple Leafs, then head to Long Island this week. These will not be back to back, so Cam Ward could get both starts. They of course enjoy some time at home before becoming gracious hosts of the NHL All-Star Game.

4th in the Southeast -11

COL this week: vs. STL, PHO (1-2 last week)

WOW!!! "Peter The Great" making a comeback? He may be worth the pick-up in a deep league. So far this month, the Avs (24-18-6) are 2-1 in three games against Conference favorites, Vancouver and Detroit. As for the rest of the month, the Avs have managed just a 2-4-1 record against teams like The Islanders and a 5-1 loss to Nashville. It's going to be a long break if they don't take at least one game this week.

2nd in the Northwest -12

DAL this week: @VAN, vs. EDM (2-1 last week)

After winning eight road games in a row, Dallas (29-14-5) blows it in Calgary of all places. As strong as this team can look at times, there just is not enough leadership on the blue-line or certainty in ownership to remain confident they will continue their success as the second half begins.

1st in the Pacific +6

EDM this week: @PHO, DAL 5th (0-3 last week)

In a battle with New Jersey for quickest to the golf course, Edmonton’s (14-25-7) brass can at least take solace in the experience their kids are experiencing together. With Shawn Horcoff (knee) back, if the Oilers can get the goalie situation figured out, I wouldn't rule out a strong second half from these young legs. Then again, anything would be an improvement.

5th in the Northwest -21

FLA this week: @NYR, BOS (0-0-3 last week)

After tossing them out for fantasy uselessness earlier this season, it appears Florida (21-20-5) may have the most attention all of a sudden. Yes, it’s almost time to drop your back-up goalie or young-spec winger in hopes that Scott Clemmensen will bring you a fruitful second half. But more intriguing is the hockey the Panthers have been playing. After going 3-0-0 two weeks ago and 0-0-3 this past week Florida is gaining steam. Regardless of what occurs this week, several young players (i.e.Dmitry Kulikov) will get a chance to shine in the second half.

5th in the Southeast -16

LA this week: vs. BOS, SJ (1-3 last week)

If only the Kings could play all their games on Saturdays. Los Angeles (25-22-1) is 12-2-1 this season on Saturday. That is the good news. Including 3-1 this month on the sixth day of the week, but it’s every other day of the week that seems to be a problem (0-7) in January. Having lost 10 of their last 13, the Kings could very well find themselves in second to last place in the Western Conference as we head into the All-Star Break.

5th in the Pacific -12

NAS this week:@CAL, VAN (2-1 last week)

Nashville (26-15-6) will play three games in four nights on the road, including this past Sunday’s trip to Edmonton. They're on a two-game winning streak, and strong fundamental hockey has them hanging in the Central. Few teams in the league need two wins from their schedule more than the Preds this week.

2nd in the Central -6

NYI this week: @PIT, vs. CAR (1-2 last week)

There's a phenomenon going on for the New York Islanders (15-24-7), let's call 'em the M&M boys of the blue line. Milan Jurcina joined Mark Streit, Mike Mottau and Mark Eaton on the Isles injured reserve list this week. Jurcina, who began to show some spark last week, is now gone for two-to-four weeks with an upper-body injury. From the book of literal, adding insult to injury, the goalie-thirsty Islanders who placed a claim on KHL reject, Evgeni Nabokov, were reportedly snubbed by the unemployed Nabokov. In other news, RW Kyle Okposo had his first point of the season in a 5-2 win over Buffalo.

4th in the Atlantic -30

NYR this week: @WAS, vs. FLA (2-2 last week)

Fresh off a 3-2 S/O win over Atlanta, the Rangers are one of the stronger teams ravaged by injury, hoping the All-Star Break brings health and good fortune. Mats Zuccarrello (3 SO goals) continues to impress, and the last three-years of playing young defenseman is finally paying off. In the shadow of constant adversity, they have managed a respectable first half (28-19-3), even with a quiet Marian Gaborik. Either way, sooner or later, the Rangers will have to decide if they are a contender or pretender.

3rd in the Atlantic -8

PHO this week: vs. EDM, @ COL (1-3 last week)

Going into last week, the Coyotes (24-16-9) had really looked alive in the month of January. Carrying a 7-3-2 record into All-Star week, a complimenting mix of youth, veterans and role players has some heads turning. Looking past the Oilers, the Coyotes look to gain a little more momentum by beating Colorado for the second time this month.
3rd in the Pacific -6

STL this week: @COL, CAL (1-1-1 last week)

Next to Ottawa, the surprising St. Louis Blues (22-18-7) are the coldest team in Hockey. No team in the league needs two wins more than St. Louis. Granted, the Blues have had a tough schedule in January as every opponent has been arguably a quality team. Sure, T.J. Oshie is back, and the team is excited about David Backes joining Alex Steen on the first line. Bottom line, with a 7-10-4 record on the road, nothing short of two shutout wins by Jaroslav Halak will send this team to the break feeling good after the start they had.

4th in the Central -13

TOR this week: @CAR, TB (1-2 last week)

Maple Leafs fans were expecting a little more than 19-23-5, that is about the only surety in Toronto. Mike Komisarek is all over TMZ after reportedly hitting a woman in Los Angeles, and from one week to the next Francois Beauchemin and Tomas Kaberle are the targets of trade talk. Currently 12 points out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, do-or-die time is approaching for the Leafs.

4th in the Northeast -18

VAN this week: vs. DAL, NAS (0-1-3 last week)

Regardless of what a winless week may suggest, the only thing that can slow down the Canucks (29-10-9) is the All-Star Break. Even with Kevin Bieska (black eye) leaving Saturday's game against the Flames, Sami Salo is near return. Despite an uncharacteristic 0-1-3 last week, the only question mark heading into the break for Vancouver fans is will the Sedin's end up as opponents for the All-Star Game? Vancouver finishes the first half with two at Rogers Arena, where they have only been beaten three times in 22 games.

1st in the Northwest +12

WAS this week: vs. NYR, @ATL (3-0-1 last week)

It's not been a pretty month for the Washington Capitals. After beating the Penguins on New Year's Day, the Caps (27-14-8) were then shutout by the Lightning twice, and mustered only one win in two weeks against the Panthers. A weak schedule last week certainly helped, and even Alexander Ovechkin got in on the action. Ovechkin, had his first multi-goal game of the year since October 30th, netting three-goals (one EN) this past Saturday against the host Maple Leafs.

2nd in the Southeast -3

Finally, a pair in Columbus?

Columbus has rarely been known for its production on the point. With the Mike Commodore saga finally over, there's buzz in a Blue Jackets uniform, and if someone beat you to Kyle Cumiskey, check your FA for two Columbus names. Grant Clitsome (five points in five games) and Fedor Tyutin (11 points in his last 13 games).

Nationally Televised Action in EST (4-3 record this season)

VERSUS Jan. 24 -- NY Rangers at Washington, 7:30 PREDICTION: Rangers 5-3

VERSUS 25 -- Montreal at Philadelphia, 7:30 PREDICTION: 3-2 Philadelphia

VERSUS 26 -- New Jersey at Detroit, 7:30 PREDICTION: Detroit 4-3

VERSUS 28 -- NHL All-Star Player Fantasy Draft Powered by Cisco, 8:00

VERSUS 29 -- Honda NHL Skills Competition, 7:00

VERSUS 30 -- NHL All-Star Game Presented by Discover, 4:00

Full Schedule Grid

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

Want an edge in your draft? Download the Fantasy Draft Kit App.

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Player News
Frederik Andersen
Ducks' Andersen (Knee) Likely No. 1 to Open Camp
Frederik Andersen, G, ANA
4:37 PM
News: Frederik Andersen (knee) will likely be the Ducks' No. 1 goalie when training camp opens, NHL.com's Curtis Zupke reports.
Analysis: Both Frederik Andersen and fellow competitor for No. 1 duties John Gibson ended up surpassing incumbent Jonas Hiller on the depth chart for the Ducks during the postseason, but it was Andersen's MCL sprain in Round 2 against the Kings that allowed Gibson to leave the last impression. However, Andersen was nearly as good as Gibson over a much larger sample of starts last season, going 20-5-0 with a 2.29 GAA and .923 save percentage. The greater amount of experience confers an early advantage to Andersen in the job battle, but whomever opens the season as the No. 1 goalie will largely earn the gig based on training camp performance.

Shawn Horcoff
Stars' Horcoff Primed For Bottom-Six Duty
Shawn Horcoff, C, DAL
4:09 PM
News: Shawn Horcoff is expected to see most of his action as a bottom-six forward for the Stars this season, Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News reports.
Analysis: Shawn Horcoff, 35, is entering the final campaign of a six-year deal and seems to have accepted his role as a depth player at this stage of his career. A former top scorer for the Oilers during his prime, Horcoff averaged just 12:51 of ice time over 77 games with the Stars in 2013-14, totaling seven goals and 13 assists. He'd do well to eclipse the 20-point mark again during the upcoming season.

Jordin Tootoo
Free Agent Tootoo Still Looking For Work
Jordin Tootoo, RW, DET
8:25 AM
News: Jordin Tootoo is unlikely to re-sign with the Predators, Joshua Cooper of The Tennessean reports.
Analysis: Jordin Tootoo, who became an unrestricted free agent in June when the Red Wings bought out his contract, is likely not a good fit to re-join the Preds, as the team has already made several free-agent pickups this summer to bolster depth. Tootoo recorded just a single assist in 11 games for Detroit last season, and spent most of his time in the AHL. His best days as an NHL forward - and viable fantasy option - are likely behind him at this point.

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."

 
 
 
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