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Right on Schedule: Plenty of moving parts

by | Rotowire.com
  •  

The blood pumps harder as I scan this week's schedule. Looking over the league standings, the Western Conference is still log-jammed, 10 spots (3rd-13th) are separated by only 10 points. In the Eastern Conference, 10 points separates six teams for the eighth and final playoff spot. Over the next seven days, you'll experience a week of Hockey more exciting than stats on a screen, or your place in a league. The trade deadline has been known to flip the NHL upside down and by the time we meet again next week, this year's deadline will have come-and-gone. So let's break down the schedule and minor-league crops for a few teams on the move.

St Louis Blues are a combined 5-5-2 against this week's opponents
vs. CHI, COL @ VAN, EDM, CAL

 A five-game weekly schedule is not a common occurrence for an NHL team. A busy week is nothing new for the St. Louis Blues (26-21-9), who were very active last week as well. Captain Eric Brewer agreed to waive his no-trade clause and was sent to Tampa Bay. The St. Louis Blues received Brock Bukeboom (Jeff Bukeboom's son) and a third-round pick in 2011. St. Louis was not done however, including some swapped conditional draft-picks, the Colorado Avalanche acquired former No. 1 pick Erik Johnson and Jay McClement from the Blues. St. Louis fetched early-season fizzle Chris Stewart and defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. Blues Executive V.P. and GM Doug Armstrong told NHL.com, "These are two solid young players who will help us now as we continue to grow and improve our team. I would like to thank Erik and Jay for their service to the St. Louis Blues and wish them nothing but the best of luck." You've got to wonder if Armstrong will feel the same on Tuesday, when the Blues host the Avalanche at The Scottrade Center.

St. Louis is currently in the midst of a 10-day span when they will play seven games, including two back-to-back nights. The first of these are two at home versus Chicago and Colorado, but after a day off, St. Louis travels to Vancouver and onto Edmonton the next evening. The largest problem St. Louis has with a five-game schedule will be Jaroslav Halak's (right hand) health. Exhibit A; Ty Conklin's three goals allowed on five Anaheim Ducks shots. Ironically, Denver native, Ben Bishop, who has a GAA of 2.52 (15-12-2) at Peoria (AHL) was recalled to back-up Conklin for now. Bishop quickly backstopped the Conklin bleeding as an energetic Blues team took a 9-3 win against the Ducks. Immediately, the Colorado deal paid dividends as Stewart had two goals and Shatternkirk added an assist. For the time being the Blues have also called up Philip McRae, and Tyson Strachan from Peoria as well. Speaking of the Peoria Rivermen, the departure of Eric Brewer may have been designed to add another T.J. to the roster. Here's a look at the future of the St. Louis Blues.

Peoria Rivermen (AHL)
RW Graham Mink 34 points (14 goals, 20 assists, 103 PIM) in 47 games
LW Nicholas Drazenovic 28 points, 114 shots (second on the team) in 50 games
C  T.J. Hensick 52 points (16 goals, 36 assists) in 43 games.
G Jake Allen is 16-9-5 with a GAA of 2.17

Boston Bruins are a combined 0-0 against this week's opponents
@CAL, VAN, EDM

Perhaps it's not so coincidental that the Boston Bruins (33-19-7) have been one of the most active teams as we approach the trading deadline. Adding Tomas Kaberle, Rich Peverley and Boris Valabik last week were certainly moves designed to keep them atop the Northeast division. Boston, only four points ahead of Montreal in the division, gears up for nine of their next 12 games on the road. It shouldn't be a problem as the Bruins' record on the road (18-7-4) is far and away more impressive than their record (15-12-3) at home. Third in the Eastern Conference and armed with fresh faces, can Boston pull away the Northeast pack? If the Bruins don't get the expected spark from Peverley and Kaberle, these trades may backfire. Considering Joe Colborne was third in Providence Bruins team-scoring, a call from the ranks is not likely to spark a change later on. But here's the cream of their crop.

Providence Bruins (AHL)
C Jamie Arniel 32 points, minus-10 in 55 games
C Zach Hamill 29 points, minus-16 in 46 games
RW Kirk Macdonald 26 points, minus 3 in 55 games

Phoenix Coyotes are a combined 4-1 against this week's opponents
@PHI, TB, CLB, CHI

Another team with an advantage (16-9-4) in road games, this week is filled with opportunity for Phoenix (32-19-9) to prove its worth. After trading Wojtek Wolski to the Rangers, a lot of people assumed the Coyotes to be very active on the seller's market come the deadline. Since then, Phoenix has finagled their way to third in the conference, and first in the Pacific. Having been outscored in the first two games of the month, very decidedly (11-3) to San Jose and Vancouver, the Coyotes take a seven-game winning streak into the new week. Ilya Bryzgalov has been terrific, posting two shutouts in back-to-back games this month. This week will be the first four of five road games to end the month for Phoenix. However, the mirage begins to appear for 'Yotes fans when your leading scorer is/has been a defenseman (Keith Yandle, 51 points) all season. On the brink, LW Lauri Korpikoski registered seven points during a five-game point streak last month. After going pointless in six-games and an injury to Taylor Pyatt, Korpikoski's ice-time (18+ minutes) was increased a few games ago. The 24-year-old Finn has responded, posting two goals and an assist (+4) in two games. Sixth-overall pick (2009), defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson could be a dark-horse ready to start contributing more consistently. However, play-making wingers are the shopping list. In the scenario GM Don Maloney does not make a deal by this Sunday, here's what the future in the desert looks like.

San Antonio Rampage (AHL)
RW Brett MacLean has 47 points (22 goals, 25 assists) in 48 games.
RW Mathieu Beaudoin has 36 points (14 goals, 22 assists) in 38 games
D  Garrett Stafford has 35 points (11 goals, 24 assists) and 51 PIM in 43 games

San Jose Sharks are a combined 2-2 against this week's opponents
@DET, PIT, CAL

The Sharks (33-21-6) acquired D Ian White from the Hurricanes on Friday in exchange for a 2012 second-round pick. White managed an assist in his Sharks debut, a 4-0 win over Colorado. This is the second time this year White has been traded, each time (Calgary, Carolina) being upgraded to a more likely playoff-bound team. Speaking of Calgary, White's original team, the Flames (6-1-2 in February) are one of three strong opponents on San Jose's schedule this week, all three slated to host the team most in need of Tomas Vokoun's services. Or are they? G Antti Niemi, who stopped 30 of 31 shots in Nashville last week, has been very dependable. Having started 14 consecutive games, Niemi is 7-2 (1.90 GAA) in February with three shutouts, including two in consecutive starts. The Sharks also called up defenseman Matt Irwin (21 points, 93 SOG in 46 games) from Worcester of the AHL. Let's have a look at who else lurks in the Sharks' pipeline.

Worcester Sharks (AHL)
RW Jonathan Cheechoo 17 goals, 27 assists, 147 shots in 49 games
C Michael Swift 16 goals (30 points with Albany/Worcester) in 51 games
LW T.J. Trevelyan 12 goals (26 points) in 47 games
RW Dan DaSilva 26 points, plus-14 (leads team) 58 PIM in 53 games
D Sean Sullivan 26 points in 46 games

Toronto Maple Leafs are a combined 6-4-1 against this week's opponents
vs. NYI @MON vs, PIT @ATL

Toronto (25-27-7) is maybe more intriguing as the waiting is over. Like a breath of fresh air finally coming through town, the trading of Kaberle and Francois Beauchemin is complete. As for the men defending twine, General Manager Brian Burke said that Jonas Gustavsson (heart surgery) will be out "probably only another few days." No one tell James Reimer, who is 3-1-1 and aside from an ugly five-goal performance against lackluster Buffalo, has things under control. G Jean-Sebastien Giguere's is still 7-10 days away. If you remove the s10ch of the 6-2 loss to the Sabres, Reimer has logged an outrageous GAA (1.74) and a shutout to boot in February.

Toronto Marlies (AHL)
C Mike Zigomanis 36 points, 54 PIM in 50 games
C Nazem Kadri 12 goals (31 points) 52 PIM in 32 games
LW Ryan Hamilton nine goals (17 points), plus-10, 17 PIM in 24 games
C Joe Colborne a goal in his Marlies debut, has 26 points, 35 PIM in 56 AHL games

More notes...

This could be the week I pull the trigger and release Craig Anderson from my CBS format. Only to pick up former New York Rangers first-rounder (2004), Al Montoya? Montoya was with the San Antonio Rampage when he was traded to the goalie desperate Islanders. Of course, I may regret this drop as Anderson was traded to the Senators for Brian Elliott. Yes, a change of scenery is known to have an impact on a man's play, as evident in Anderson's win (47 saves) on Saturday against Toronto. However, it is unlikely for anyone to play consistently in a Senators jersey this season. Montoya, the latest addition to the land of misfit toys, came on in relief after Nathan Lawson gave up five goals (18 shots) to Boston. The twenty-five-year-old Montoya stopped 15 of the Bruins remaining 16 shots in a 6-3 loss. As a result, Montoya's first NHL start in two years brought immediate   reason for hope. Although a 3-0 shutout of Los Angeles should be tempered as the Kings (8-1-3 run) have just recently found their winning touch. Perhaps armed with their goalie for the rest of the year, the team from Long Island is among nine other teams to play four times in seven nights this week.

In addition to the Phoenix, St. Louis and Toronto, back-up goalies from Calgary, Colorado, Edmonton, Florida, Nashville and Pittsburgh should be considered for quick points in daily leagues. Florida should be interesting as "The Tomas Voukon affair" will heat up. Without research I jest, San Jose has the biggest need for Voukon. Oddly enough, it was Scott Clemmensen who minded the net this past Saturday in the Panthers' (3-2 SO) win over Floridian rival Tampa Bay. Digging into their runaway stance from the Eastern Conference, the Philadelphia Flyers added a vital right-winger in Kris Versteeg. Yes, Versteeg is barely on pace to match career highs and has not quite matched the breakout potential expected since leaving Chicago for Toronto in the off-season. Ignoring his slow start in Philly (four shots -1), Versteeg will prove to be a major pick-up after everything's said and done. Versteeg should be in for a more productive week against Phoenix, New York (Islanders) and Ottawa.

Nationally televised action in EST
21 -- Washington at Pittsburgh, 7:30
22 -- New Jersey at Dallas, 8:30
23 -- San Jose at Pittsburgh, 7:30 

The Full Schedule Grid

Team Away Home Total
St. Louis 3 2 5
Colorado 3 1 4
Edmonton 2 2 4
Florida 3 1 4
Nashville 2 2 4
N.Y. Islanders 2 2 4
Phoenix 4 0 4
Pittsburgh 2 2 4
Toronto 2 2 4
Anaheim 0 3 3
Atlanta 1 2 3
Boston 3 0 3
Buffalo 0 3 3
Carolina 1 2 3
Calgary 0 3 3
Chicago 2 1 3
Columbus 1 2 3
Dallas 1 2 3
Detroit 1 2 3
Los Angeles 1 2 3
Minnesota 2 1 3
Montreal 1 2 3
New Jersey 3 0 3
N.Y. Rangers 2 1 3
Ottawa 1 2 3
Philadelphia 1 2 3
San Jose 3 0 3
Tampa Bay 1 2 3
Vancouver 0 3 3
Washington 2 1 3

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Player News
Marian Gaborik
Kings' Gaborik Unlikely For Thursday
Marian Gaborik, RW, LA
6:09 AM
News: Marian Gaborik (undisclosed) took part in the Kings' practice Wednesday but seems unlikely to play Thursday, the LA Kings Insider reports.
Analysis: Marian Gaborik figures to need at least one more practice session before rejoining the Kings as he's been sidelined since October 12.

Paul Stastny
Blues' Stastny Not Being Ruled Out For Thursday
Paul Stastny, C, STL
12:54 AM
News: Coach Ken Hitchcock said Paul Stastny (upper body) is not being ruled out for Thursday's game against the Ducks, NHL.com's Lou Korac reports.
Analysis: Paul Stastny was on the ice at Wednesday's optional session for a third straight day, but it doesn't sound like he's resumed taking much contact, making it more likely than not that he sits out Thursday. Still, the feeling from the Blues is that Stastny is making progress and is close to a return. Keep stashing him on your bench until he's given the green light to return.

Pekka Rinne
Preds Expected To Start Rinne
Pekka Rinne, G, NSH
12:44 AM
News: Pekka Rinne is expected to start Wednesday against the Oilers, Eric Stromgren of The Tennessean reports.
Analysis: After a woeful start to the season, the Oilers have reeled off four straight wins behind the play of goalie Ben Scrivens, presenting Pekka Rinne with a more formidable adversary than initially thought just two weeks ago. Still, given that Rinne's 5-1-1 with a 1.81 GAA, his fantasy owners aren't going to have any hesitation about using him no matter the opponent.

Calle Jarnkrok
Preds' Jarnkrok Out With Injury Wednesday
Calle Jarnkrok, C, NSH
12:39 AM
News: Calle Jarnkrok has been ruled out of Wednesday's game against the Oilers due to an upper-body injury, Eric Stromgren of The Tennessean reports.
Analysis: Calle Jarnkrok still managed to skate with the Predators at their morning session, so it doesn't sound like a long-term absence is in the picture. The young center may have to worry about a possible demotion to the AHL, however, after failing to provide a point in the Preds' first eight games.

Jake Allen
Blues' Allen To Start On Thursday Against Anaheim
Jake Allen, G, STL
12:35 AM
News: Jake Allen will be in net for the Blues on Thursday against the Ducks, Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
Analysis: Jake Allen has been a decent backup for Brian Elliott so far this season, appearing in two games and posting a 1-1-0 record and a .915 save percentage. The Blues may just be giving Elliott a day off, so expect Allen to continue to be the backup for at least the near future.

Jacob Trouba
Jets' Trouba Finally Gets Point
Jacob Trouba, D, WPG
12:29 AM
News: Jacob Trouba tallied his first point of the season -- a second-period goal -- in Tuesday's win over the Islanders.
Analysis: Big things were expected from Jacob Trouba heading into the campaign after he compiled 29 points in 65 games for the Jets as a 19-year-old, but he's been a disappointment to date. The lack of production hasn't been a huge drain to his plus/minus rating, but he'll need to begin showing more involvement offensively in order to justify a roster spot in shallower leagues.

Jaroslav Halak
Isles' Halak Dealt Loss Tuesday
Jaroslav Halak, G, NYI
12:24 AM
News: Jaroslav Halak surrendered four goals on 30 shots in Tuesday's 4-3 loss to the Jets.
Analysis: Benched the previous two games in favor of backup Chad Johnson, Jaroslav Halak didn't give the Islanders any encouraging returns upon reentering the lineup. Fortunately for Halak, Johnson performed rather unevenly in his two turns, which will likely result in no change atop the team's goalie depth chart. However, with a 3.51 GAA, .889 save percentage and three straight losses on Halak's ledger, the glow of his 3-0 start is beginning to dim.

Ondrej Pavelec
Jets' Pavelec Evens Record
Ondrej Pavelec, G, WPG
12:18 AM
News: Ondrej Pavelec held the Islanders to three goals on 21 shots in Tuesday's victory, evening his record at 4-4 in the process.
Analysis: Three of Ondrej Pavelec's wins have come in his last four starts, but he needed his offense to pick him up a bit Tuesday night. Pavelec owns mediocre ratios (2.52 GAA, .901 save percentage) and doesn't figure to will the Jets to victory most nights, but Winnipeg probably has enough talent at forward and on the blue line to make a .500 record sustainable over the course of an 82-game schedule.

Nikita Nikitin
Oilers' Nikitin To Miss Wednesday's Game
Nikita Nikitin, D, EDM
12:09 AM
News: Nikita Nikitin (back spasms) will remain out of the Oilers' lineup for their game on Wednesday against the Predators, Bob Stauffer of 630 CHED reports.
Analysis: Nikita Nikitin was diagnosed with back spasms on Tuesday after sitting out the Oilers' contest on Monday against Montreal. He will likely undergo an MRI to determine the severity of his injury and the team will assess his status after that. Nikitin has scored one goal and two assists in eight games so far this season.

Ben Scrivens
Oilers Stick With Red-Hot Scrivens
Ben Scrivens, G, EDM
12:05 AM
News: Ben Scrivens will be in the crease Wednesday against the Predators, Oilers play-by-play announcer Jack Michaels reports.
Analysis: After losing his first three starts of the season in miserable fashion, Ben Scrivens has done a dramatic 180 his last four times out, posting a .942 save percentage and capturing his first shutout of the season. He's expected to face off against the Predators' own red-hot goalie, Pekka Rinne, who has roared to a 5-1-1 record and 1.81 GAA over his seven outings this season.

 
 
 
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