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Right on Schedule: Busy time to be an owner

by | Rotowire.com
  •  

After a yawning rise on Sunday, right about - perhaps exactly - after the result of Caps/Pens rematch, it seems like a nice jumping point. With 10 weeks left in the regular season, let's hear those seat-belts click as it's going to be a hectic week. It's one of the busiest weeks of the second half NHL schedule until March 28, as 27 of the 30 NHL teams will play at least three games this week, including 11 teams playing four games over the next seven days. It's time to for a few NHL teams to develop a grip for their playoff hopes. More daunting, is the majority of these games will be in their opponents arena, so here's some road tunes for the way.

Should I stay or should I go?

Carolina Hurricanes - Still hungover from last week's All-Star festivities, the Canes went 1-2 this past week. The young and restless Carolina (26-21-6) team will take to the road, where their 12-12-4 will get them little respect. Look for Zach Boychuck (just under seven minutes of TOI) to get more ice time this week. If Carolina is to make the playoffs, it's going to take a lot more than just a consistent Eric Staal or a productive Joni Pitkanen. Surviving with a GF at 2.89, this will take a stranglehold defense, and a post-break consistency from goalie Cam Ward. Carolina finds out what they're made of, facing three of four teams playing strong hockey and another rematch with division rival Atlanta.

- Combined record (5-3) against this week: @NJ, PHI, TB, ATL

Chicago Blackhawks - It's clear now that Corey Crawford (16-10-2) is the goalie to lead the way, but after giving away a lead in the third period to the Canucks last week, Chicago's staying power for the rest of the season is currently in question. Facing ninth place in the Western Conference and four road games (11-8-4), this road trip is more important than most Blackhawks fans realize.

- Combined record (3-5) against this week: @CAL EDM, DAL, PHO

Colorado Avalanche - It seems like lately postponements are the only result saving the Avs from a check-mark in the loss column. After a sharp start to the season, conditioning may have cost Craig Anderson (12-7-3) another Venzina-numbers like year. In fact, the most exciting news in Denver is Peter Forsberg's impending return. Shuuush, tell no one, LW Peter Mueller (concussion) is skating again and soon will join in for non-contact practice. John-Michael Liles (-7 in last five games) is the key to the Avs' success at this point. It seems like he is the variation missing right now, and if Colorado (56 points) is to make a move from 12th place, it also starts where the Avalanche are a respectable 11-8-3 on the road. They were 2-for-2 against Columbus, but 0-2 against Phoenix. Peter or not, Colorado has a twisting week ahead. Two forwards to look out for: T.J. Galiardi has been quiet for far too long, and Brandon Yip should be moved up in the depth charts. In the end, it will be David Jones who moves ahead of Chris Stewart soon, which could cause an actual Avalanche.

- Combined record (4-5) this week: @ PHX, MIN, CLB, NSH

Columbus Blue Jackets - Before anyone starts spouting off their position (14th) in the Western Conference, let's consider they are fresh off a solid 2-0 defeat of Detroit. Steve Mason was brilliant, shutting down Johan Franzen (five goals the previous night) and the rest of the Motor City Wings. Columbus is 2-2-1 against one of the NHL's best, a team Columbus has yet in franchise history to beat in a season-series. Antoine Vermette is heating up, registering three goals in his last four, and six points in last seven games. One only needs to look at their schedule this week to say redundantly, it's do-or-die time in Columbus.

- Combined record (3-5) this week: @ PIT, vs. SJ, COL, @DAL

On the road again

Los Angeles Kings - The Kings have a few season firsts on the way. In the midst of a 10-game road trip to start February, it's time to forget about wins and losses. Los Angeles (last in the Pacific) MUST have an offensive break out in the next three games, or 10th place can be 14th real quick. The Kings (28-22-2) will have to improve their 11-13-1 road record against three of the Eastern Conference's best. In their only meeting against any of these teams, Philly took a commanding 7-4 win. I dont even know where to start on their offense, but the truth is it's the defense. Jack Johnson has four points in the last nine games, while Drew Doughty (four points in last five games) may be awakening. Yes indeed, offense begins with defense. The battle of Jonathan's got a little-warmer when Jonathan Bernier went toe-to-toe with Niklas Backstrom in the 1-0 shootout loss to Minnesota. Then again, Jonathan Quick has been the Jaroslav Halak of Hollywood, and has nothing to worry about.

- Combined record (0-1) this week: @PIT, WAS, PHI

San Jose Sharks - Also playing most of their games (nine of 12) on the road this month, the Sharks (28-19-6) are probably the scariest sleeping giant of the National Hockey League. With six potential 30-goal scorers on their team, this mediocre Northern Californian squad is a quiet fourth place in the conference. Logan Couture got the game-winner the other night against Boston, and San Jose even had a strong Antti Niemi (14-13-3) showing, shutting out the Bruins. However, they will need to depend on Niemi, as Antero Niittymaki (groin) is already on the IR, recent call-up Alex Stalock was sent back to Worcester with an unspecified injury and Carter Hutton will become Niemi's back-up.

- Combined record (2-1-1) this week: @WAS, CLB, NJ, FLA

Anaheim Ducks - With a 17-8-1 record in Orange County, it's clear I was dead wrong about the Anaheim Ducks. The fifth place (62 points) Ducks' real problem is on the road (12-13-3). On the other hand, lock your jaw for this - Anaheim is third in the league in Power Play percentage. Ryan Getzlaf is due to return in the first of their three games this week. Interestingly, LW, Joffrey Lupul hasn't gone pointless two games in a row in almost six weeks. Registering nine of his thirteen points on the season in the last 14 games may not seem like much, but for a team with little beyond super-freak Corey Perry (hat-trick on Saturday), Teemu Selanne and Bobby Ryan, the Ducks, would love to see Lupul (17% owned in CBS) become a big producer in the second half.  

- Combined record (4-1-1) this week @VAN, CAL, EDM

Johnny I hardly knew ya

Boston Bruins - Having been a Rangers fan most of my life, I've always taken pleasure watching the Bruins bury themselves, year after year. Though they really need to pick up a second-line center and a stay at home defenseman before the deadline, this year looks to be different. They're a bit dirty at times (see highlights from last week against Dallas), but Tim Thomas and Tuukka Rask provide all the consistency needed for the B's to go flying into the playoffs. First they must get past Montreal (0-2-1 in previous three tries) and a non-traditional home-and-home with Detroit. Perhaps another Boychuck, Johnny Boychuck (five shots in last two games), who played over 16 minutes in the 2-0 loss to San Jose, will finally get more involved offensively.

- Combined record (0-2-1) this week:vs. MON, DET @ DET

Back-to-Back

St. Louis Blues vs. Minnesota Wild (0-0 Season Series)

Here's an interesting match-up; St. Louis and Minnesota meeting for the first time this season in a traditional home-and-home series. Both teams are hard-working, low-budget teams in desperate need of a deep playoff chase. St. Louis may seem younger, but Niklas Backstrom is on the mend and warming. Two shutouts in his last four starts, albeitagainstCalgary and Los Angeles, the Fin goalie turns 33 next week and should be considered a target of buy-low while still available. Of course, Jaroslav Halak, has played 39 of the Blues' 51 games, with only a non-reflective (17-16-5) record of his reliability. It appears now the busy first-half schedule may have worn down the 25-year-old Halak,who sustained an upper-body injury and is now listed as day-to-day.
Streaking St. Blue: McDonald is back, how will Patrick Berglund, David Backes, Alex Steen and T.J. Oshie benefit?
Wild Week:, D, Jared Spurgeon, is a sleeper to look out for. After a mere 23 games (nine points) with the AHL's Houston Aeros, he registered his first NHL point against Chicago last week and is a plus-5 over the last seven games.

Nationally televised action in EST

VERSUS Feb. 7 - NY Rangers at Detroit, 7:30
VERSUS Feb. 8 - Buffalo at Tampa Bay, 7:30
VERSUS Feb. 9 - Montreal at Boston, 7:00
NBC Feb. 13 - Boston at Detroit 12:30

The Full Schedule Grid

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

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Player News
Jarret Stoll
Kings' Stoll At Full Speed Following Hip Surgery
Jarret Stoll, C, LA
6:14 AM
News: Jarret Stoll, who had offseason hip surgery, has been a full participant in training camp so far, the LA Kings Insider reports.
Analysis: Jarret Stoll's expected to fill a checking line role again for the Kings this season.

Ryan Ellis
Preds, Ellis Still At Odds Over New Contract
Ryan Ellis, D, NSH
12:49 AM
News: Preds GM David Poile addressed Ryan Ellis' contract situation Saturday, saying the main stumbling block continues to be money, according to the Tennessean. "Unfortunately at this time we have not agreed what they think and what we think is fair compensation," Poile said. "We want [Ellis]. We are not trading him, we really like him. We really like the way he played last year. It's just a disagreement on dollars."
Analysis: Ryan Ellis, who has missed the first two days of training camp so far, played in 80 games last season for and finished with 27 points - his highest full season total to date. And while there is still plenty of time left to get a deal done before the start of the season, the clock is ticking. Not only is he missing out on conditioning drills and scrimmages, the more Ellis misses of training camp, the greater the chances of some other defenseman impressing the coaching staff and grabbing a roster spot that might otherwise go to Ellis. Bottom line, we think Ellis will get signed by the start of the regular season, but what his role on the team will be is anybody's guess. He's a risky fantasy pick right now, until all of the above gets sorted out.

Jon Merrill
Devils' Merrill Misses Practice With Head Injury
Jon Merrill, D, NJ
12:48 AM
News: Jon Merrill missed the second day of Devils' training camp on Saturday due to a head injury he suffered after colliding with teammate Ruslan Fedotenko during Friday's practice, Rich Chere of NJ.com reports.
Analysis: Luckily for Jon Merrill, the Devils' first regular season game isn't until October 9. While head injuries are never a good thing, the promising young defender should have ample time to get healthy before the regular season kicks off.

Ryan Johansen
Jackets' Johansen: Is KHL Calling?
Ryan Johansen, C, CLB
9/20/2014
News: Ryan Johansen is set to receive a contract offer from CSKA Moscow of the KHL, reports TSN.ca. The deal is expected to be for one year and $5 million.
Analysis: The Jackets and Ryan Johansen are at an impasse in salary negotiations. Johansen doesn't think he should have to ink a bridge deal and instead go straight to the rich house, while the Jackets think he should prove his mettle with a P.K. Subban-like bridge contract. Still, reports indicate the team has offered as much as $32 million for six years and $46 million over eight, so those aren't exactly "bridge." Johansen sniped 33 goals and ended with 63 points in 82 games last season. A move to the KHL is unlikely, but leverage is leverage.

Joe Thornton
Sharks' Thornton Disagrees With General Manager
Joe Thornton, C, SJ
9/20/2014
News: Joe Thornton took issue Friday with general manager Doug Wilson's offseason comments about the Sharks rebuilding and becoming a "tomorrow team," reports the San Jose Mercury News. "That's Doug's opinion," said the big center. "I think if you'd ask anybody in here I don't think they have the same feeling."
Analysis: There have been plenty of rumors about Wilson doing all he can to push Jumbo Joe into a place where the center either demands a trade or the situation becomes ripe to ship him out of town. There seems to be a bit of a ripple starting in San Jose -- we'll see how far it goes.

Slater Koekkoek
Bolts' Koekkoek (Shoulder): Feels 100 Percent
Slater Koekkoek, D, TB
9/20/2014
News: Slater Koekkoek (shoulder) skated in practice Friday and said his surgically repaired shoulders "felt 100-percent," reports the Tampa Bay Times. "I didn't play with any hesitation," said the big defender.
Analysis: This guy has all the potential in the world and could be dominant. But he desperately needs to stay healthy for a full season, something that just hasn't happened in years after multiple shoulder surgeries. He'll spend a full season in the AHL this year and the Bolts hope he can prove those shoulder issues are a thing of the past.

Sven Andrighetto
Habs' Andrighetto Scores In Scrimmage
Sven Andrighetto, RW, MON
9/20/2014
News: Adrighetto scored a goal on a penalty shot during Montreal's intra-squad scrimmage Saturday, the Montreal Gazette reports.
Analysis: Sven Andrighetto showcased some of his offensive skill, forcing a hooking penalty that led to his penalty shot goal, but the 5-9 forward was also out-muscled in one-on-one battles and was on ice for three of his opponents' goals. That sums up Andrighetto at this stage of his career. If he were to stick with Montreal, it would have to be in a third- or fourth-line role, where he would have to play a more physical role than he's accustomed to.

Ben Bishop
Bolts' Bishop (Wrist) Feels "Really Good"
Ben Bishop, G, TB
9/20/2014
News: Ben Bishop (wrist) was encouraged with how he felt after Friday's on-ice work, reports the Tampa Bay Times. He did 15 minutes of individual drills and a 90-minute practice. "The first session felt really good, got a little sore toward the end of the second session, but that's kind of expected," Bishop said.
Analysis: This is great news for his owners and for the Bolts. The team's playoff hopes went down the drain when big Ben Bishop got hurt late in the year. He'll build on his Vezina-nominated season and should deliver similar output this year.

Ryan Callahan
Bolts Try Callahan With Stamkos
Ryan Callahan, RW, TB
9/20/2014
News: Ryan Callahan could start the season on the top line with Steven Stamkos and Ondrej Palat, reports the Tampa Bay Times. The trio was together at camp on Friday and head coach Jon Cooper was quick to tell reporters, "I don't think there's an open audition," to play with Stamkos.
Analysis: Ryan Callahan didn't really spend a lot of time with Stammer last season, so he's the likely odd man out if there's juggling. But Palat had great success beside Stammer late in 2013-14. Stamkos himself liked the trio: "Obviously you want a mix of everything on a line," Stamkos said. "You want a guy who can distribute the puck, a guy that can shoot, and a guy that can go into a corner and get it. With the guys I was playing with (Friday), we had a good combination of that."

Ondrej Palat
Bolts' Palat Back With Stamkos On Top Line
Ondrej Palat, LW, TB
9/20/2014
News: Ondrej Palat practiced with Steven Stamkos and Ryan Callahan on Saturday and Lightning coach Jon Cooper expects the trio to start the season together, reports the Tampa Bay Times. "We've got a group that has some success with him last year, and why wouldn't we go back to that again? At least at the start of the year," said the coach.
Analysis: Ondrej Palat was a finalist for the Calder trophy and was a two-way revelation for the Bolts last year. He can dish the puck and did that well last year when he skated with Stammer late in the year. Palat's star is on the rise -- push him up your draft list. His two-way sensibility should insulate him against a sophomore slump.

 
 
 
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