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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

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Player News
Dennis Seidenberg
Bruins' Seidenberg Eyes Training Camp
Dennis Seidenberg, D, BOS
1:15 PM
News: Dennis Seidenberg (knee) expects to be ready for training camp, NHL.com reports.
Analysis: Dennis Seidenberg, who last suited up on Dec. 27, had surgery in early January to repair an ACL/MCL injury in his right knee in. At the time, the estimated timetable for a return was in the 6-8 month range. With no reported setbacks since then, and given that the sturdy blueliner indicated that he probably could have returned to action had the Bruins advanced to the Eastern Conference Final, things appear to be on track for him to be at, or near, 100 percent in advance of the upcoming regular season.

Henrik Zetterberg
Wings' Zetterberg: Healthy Heading Into Camp
Henrik Zetterberg, LW, DET
8:40 AM
News: Coach Mike Babcock relayed that Henrik Zetterberg (foot) said he was "feeling the best he has in years" this offseason, suggesting he'll be a full participant in training camp, NHL.com's Dan Rosen reports.
Analysis: With both Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk missing 37 games apiece last season, the Red Wings were forced to get by with a patchwork forward ranks to so-so results. Now that both players are feeling healthy, the depth chart should enjoy more stability in 2014-15, but don't be surprised if Zetterberg notices a drop in ice time for maintenance purposes as he enters his age-34 season. Still, Zetterberg hasn't had many health issues prior to last season, and managed to supply 48 points over the 45 contests in which he suited up. There's plenty of value to be had in Zetterberg, even as he takes on a more deferential role to emerging wings Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar in the years to come.

Pavel Datsyuk
Red Wings' Datsyuk Feeling Good Heaing Into Camp
Pavel Datsyuk, C, DET
8:30 AM
News: Coach Mike Babcock relayed that Pavel Datsyuk (knee) said he was feeling "the best he has in years" this offseason, suggesting he'll be ready to go for training camp, NHL.com's Dan Rosen reports.
Analysis: Considering Pavel Datsyuk hasn't played since late April, it's no surprise he's feeling spry, but there's serious questions he'll hold up for 82 games as he enters his age-34 campaign. He's missed a total of 76 games over his last four seasons, muting the impact of the nearly point-per-game production he provides when healthy. Considering his injury history, Datsyuk might not be worth the markup price his name will cost fantasy players on draft day.

Stephen Weiss
Red Wings' Weiss (Hernia) Feeling Healthy
Stephen Weiss, C, DET
8:23 AM
News: Stephen Weiss indicated he's feeling healthy following his April 21 surgery to repair his sports hernia, NHL.com's Dan Rosen reports.
Analysis: Stephen Weiss was a disaster in his first season with the Red Wings after inking a five-year, $24.5 million deal last summer, appearing in only 26 games and totaling four points. He ultimately required a pair of sports hernia surgeries that prevented a second-half return, but after spending the last four months recovering, he appears ready to go for 2014-15. Weiss will be given the opportunity to win back his job as the Wings' No. 2 center, but it seems dubious that he'll be able to return to the 50-point form he showed during his prime years with the Panthers.

Mike Mottau
NHLer Mottau Calls It A Career
Mike Mottau, D, FLA
8/19/2014
News: Mike Mottau announced his retirement from professional hockey Tuesday, Joe Haggerty of CSNNE.com reports.
Analysis: The Massachusetts native was exploring the option of playing with AHL Providence to stick with his hometown Bruins organization, but decided he was content to spend more time with his family. Mike Mottau, 36, appeared in 321 career NHL games with the Rangers, Flames, Devils, Islanders, Bruins and Panthers, with his most productive seasons coming in the late-2000s with New Jersey.

Josh Harding
Wild's Harding Cleared For Training Camp
Josh Harding, G, MIN
8/19/2014
News: Wild GM Chuck Fletcher said Josh Harding is "a go" for training camp, Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. "Everybody seems to be feeling pretty good, and at this stage, all of our players who were banged up at the end of the season are feeling better. Josh has felt good. Right now we're not expecting any issues for anybody with respect to passing training camp medicals."
Analysis: With an 18-7-3 record, 1.65 GAA and .933 save percentage, Josh Harding was playing as well as any goal in hockey before a setback in his treatment for multiple sclerosis sidelined him after the end of December. Because he's missed large chunks of both of the last two seasons while dealing with the effects of the illness, fantasy players shouldn't look to invest heavily in Harding. Even if healthy, he's no lock to open the season as the regular starter in goal for the Wild with Niklas Backstrom and Darcy Kuemper still around.

Niklas Backstrom
Wild's Backstrom Good To Go For Camp
Niklas Backstrom, G, MIN
8/19/2014
News: Wild GM Chuck Fletcher said Niklas Backstrom (abdomen, hip) is feeling good and and will be ready to participate in training camp, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.
Analysis: Any way you spin it, Niklas Backstrom had a miserable 2013-14 campaign, as the veteran netminder suited up for 21 games and posted a lousy 3.02 GAA and .899 save percentage before undergoing season-ending abdominal and hip surgery. Though he's ostensibly healthy, Backstrom is now 36 and doesn't appear poised to enter the season as the club's starter, especially with Darcy Kuemper and Josh Harding still around. His sizable contract may be the only thing keeping him around.

Jonas Hiller
Flames' Hiller: Fully Recovered From Appendicitis
Jonas Hiller, G, CGY
8/19/2014
News: GM Brad Treliving said Jonas Hiller is "100 percent" recovered from the appendicitis attack that sidelined him in July, NHL.com reports.
Analysis: The incident prevented Jonas Hiller from working out for about three weeks, but he's since returned to the ice to resume his usual pre-camp routine in his native Switzerland. Hiller, 32, is the heavy favorite to serve as the Flames' No. 1 goalie this season after inking a two-year contract with Calgary on the first day of free agency.

Ryan Malone
Free Agent Malone Pleads No Contest
Ryan Malone, LW, TB
8/19/2014
News: Ryan Malone pleaded no contest Tuesday to his DUI charge stemming from an April arrest, but did agree to a pretrial diversion program for the cocaine possession charge he received in the same incident, Matt Baker of the Tampa Bay Times reports.
Analysis: The diversion program will help Ryan Malone's chances of getting the felony drug charge dismissed if he completes the required criteria. Malone's pending legal issues have made teams reluctant to extend a contract offer just yet, but several clubs are said to be interested in the 34-year-old. Once he completes the program and completes community service for his DUI charge, Malone should latch on with a team.

Nick Petrecki
Ex-Shark Petrecki Signs AHL Deal
Nick Petrecki, D, SJ
8/19/2014
News: Nick Petrecki signed a one-year AHL contract with Rochester on Tuesday.
Analysis: Nick Petrecki spent most of the past season with AHL Worcester of the San Jose organization, before joining Rochester in a late-season loan. In total, the former first-round selection totaled a goal, three assists and 82 PIM in 49 minor league games. He'll function as a depth player for the Buffalo organization.

 
 
 
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