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Right on Schedule: Eriksson's Star on the rise

by | Rotowire.com
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Of the four teams playing only twice this week, it seems Niklas Backstrom (3-2-2) and the Minnesota Wild (3-2-3) have the least favorable Fantasy setup, drawing only two games with Anaheim (4-2) and Detroit (5-1).

Tyler Seguin (3 goals, 6 assists, plus-7) has two goals and two assists in his last two games but Boston's week is compact. The Bruins' (3-5) week consists of a traditional home-and-home series with the Canadiens.

The NHL's only unbeaten team, Washington (7-0), plays only two games in Edmonton and Vancouver.

Meanwhile, division cellar-dwelling Calgary (2-4-1) has Colorado (6-2-0) and St. Louis (4-4-0).

The Grid

GP = Games Played
B2B = Back-to-Back games
H = Home
A = Away
GPNW = Games Played Next Week

NHL schedule

Play Like the Lotto (playing four games)

Florida (4-3) hits the road for the first three of four games this week. They announced this past Saturday that the personnel would be a bit different. Vancouver Canucks get: LW David Booth (A, minus-6), C Steve Reinprecht and a (2013) third-round draft pick. Florida Panthers get: Marco Sturm (0 points, minus-5) and Mikael Samuelsson (1 G, 2 A, plus-1). Later that night, Jose Theodore left the game (DTD) with a “cramping” issue and watched on as Jacob Markstrom earned his first NHL win, 4-2 over the Islanders. Is Kris Veesterg (4 G, 4 A, plus-2 ) available in your FA pool? He seems to be jostling himself of slumps quicker.

Columbus, the league's worst team (0-7-1), has arguably the hardest (vs. DET @BUF, CHI vs. ANH) four-game week ahead.

Ottawa, flip-flops (@CAR vs. FLA @NYR vs. TOR) during a four-game week.

Outside of Northeast-leading Toronto (5-1-1), Philadelphia enjoys a favorable schedule against Montreal (1-4-2), Winnipeg (2-4-1) and Carolina (3-3-2).

Anaheim heads to the heart of the country for four games (@CHI, MIN, NSH, CLS).

While Edmonton enjoys three games at home this week, all four Oilers' games (vs. VAN, WAS, @COL, vs. STL) look to be demanding on either goalie they may start. The NKOTB team of Hockey is fresh off a 2-0 win over travel team, the New York Rangers.

Call me a schmuck, but a draft oversight cost me Jack Johnson (3, 2, plus-4) in a deal for Semyon Varlamov. Varlamov (3-2, .936 save percentage) snagged me a shootout win (4 GA) in the goalie column Saturday. Then I called myself a schmuck as I watched Johnson break a tightly played scoreless game between the Stars and Kings. This kind of behavior could go on all season ... is there a Fantasy pill for buyer's remorse? Los Angeles (5-1-1) plays host to New Jersey, before three white jersey nights with Dallas, Phoenix, Colorado.

After a two-goal performance in Saturday's 5-4 loss to Toronto, Travis Moen (one assist) now has four goals on 12 shots in seven games. The third line nine-year veteran, entering his fourth season with the Habs is nearly halfway to breaking his career-best (11) for goals in a season. With Michael Cammalleri (two goals in five games) and the amazing Max Pacioretty (second in NHL SOG) ahead of Moen, he likely will not see an increase in ice time. Montreal will look to change their luck with three of their four at home, including the aforementioned home-and-home against Boston.

Reading Between the Lines (playing three games)

Can you imagine if James Neal (first in NHL SOG) and Jamie Benn (2 G, 5 A, plus-5) were still playing for the same team? Both Pittsburgh (@NYI vs. NYI @TOR) and Dallas (@PHO, vs. LA NJ) head into the week hoping to cement their positions as conference leaders. Although Los Angeles (5-1-1) snapped his five-game point streak, Stars leader Loui Eriksson (5 G, 2 A, plus-4) may be awakening. Mike Ribeiro (six points in 8 games) is starting off a lot like last year. Even back up, Andrew Raycroft looked good in the loss to Jonathan Quick (3 SO's in a row) and Anze Kopitar (4 G, 6 A, plus-5). If Kari Lehtonen's (6-0) back holds up for another full campaign, they may keep the steam until April.

Tobias Enstrom (G, 3 A) is officially out-producing Dustin Byfuglien (G, 2 A). Was someone saying something about switching Buff back to right-wing? Anything to get this high-draftee going. After beating (2-1) visitor Pittsburgh last week, a big risk and big reward situations is still awaiting for Ondrej Pavelec. Pavelec has a difficult (vs. NYR @PHI, TB) schedule, as his under-whelming win-less Jets offense (0-3-1) is on the road. If anyone is going to take over for this Winnipeg squad, it needs to initiated by their goalie. Later that night Pavelec (two goals on five shots) was yanked in the first period of Saturday's game against Carolina. Would this be happening in Quebec? Chris Mason anyone?

Truly, it gives me a headache trying to gauge who on a team of young Blues will take the reins of leadership. I have already stashed T.J. Oshie (G, 3 A), Patrik Berglund (2 G, 2 A) and Alex Steen (3 G, 3 A) with late draft-picks and it's beginning to yield a few points. Alex Steen has a point in six of his eight games this season. But it was Matt D'Agostini (4 G, A, plus-7) who invaded the slot for an O.T. game-winner against Carolina this past Friday. Oshie scored his first goal of the season as St. Louis 4-2 in Philadelphia the following night. St. Louis endures a three-game road-trip against the mediocre Canucks, Flames and Oilers.

A goal, three assists and 11 shots on goal isn't exactly living up to the hype for Matt Duchene. But the Avs may have staying power nonetheless. Kyle Quincey (G, 3 A, 25 SOG) continues his productive way return to the lineup. The Avs have an interesting (@CGY, vs. EDM, LA) schedule ahead.

San Jose's Logan Couture scored his first goal in a 4-2 road win against Boston. Will Joe Pavelski, two goals, two assists, plus-4 in the last two games, continue his uptick on the road versus the Predators, Red Wings and Islanders?

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Player News
Derick Brassard
Rangers' Brassard Will Play Saturday
Derick Brassard, C, NYR
12/21/2014
News: Derick Brassard (illness) will play Saturday against the Hurricanes, Andrew Gross of The Record reports.
Analysis: Coach Alain Vigneault signed off on Derick Brassard's return after he was able to take part in the team's morning skate. The center missed the Rangers' last two contests with the mumps virus.

Ryan Carter
Wild Activate Carter (Upper Body)
Ryan Carter, C, MIN
12/21/2014
News: Ryan Carter (upper body) was activated from injured reserve Saturday, Rachel Blount of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.
Analysis: After missing the Wild's previous three games, Ryan Carter was cleared to return after practicing Friday. He'll be reinserted on the fourth line for Saturday's game against the Predators.

Jonathan Quick
Kings Tap Quick For Saturday Start
Jonathan Quick, G, LA
12/21/2014
News: Jonathan Quick led the Kings on to the ice for pregame warmups and will thus get the start Saturday against the Coyotes, Elliott Teaford of the Los Angeles Daily News reports.
Analysis: Jonathan Quick will likely be a heavy favorite to come away with the victory against a Coyotes squad that has lost eight of its last 10 games, with its lone two wins during that stretch coming against the sad-sack Oilers. The netminder hasn't been particularly sharp lately, so this should represent a good bounce-back opportunity for him.

Matt Cooke
Wild's Cooke (Hip) Activated For Saturday's Game
Matt Cooke, LW, MIN
12/21/2014
News: Matt Cooke (hip) was activated from injured reserve Saturday and will suit up against the Predators, Rachel Blount of the Minneapolis Stat Tribune reports.
Analysis: He'll replace Justin Fontaine in the lineup, joining Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter on the Wild's third line. Matt Cooke last played on Oct. 28 before missing the last 22 games with a hip flexor.

Jonas Hiller
Flames To Start Hiller Saturday
Jonas Hiller, G, CGY
12/21/2014
News: Jonas Hiller will get the start in net Saturday, Scott Cruickshank of the Calgary Herald reports.
Analysis: Jonas Hiller and the Flames have hit the skids in December, as Calgary has lost seven straight and Hiller has lost six in a row. Until they right the ship, Hiller should be avoided, especially with his mates giving him a grand total of four goals combined in his last four outings.

Jake Allen
Allen, Blues Looking For Road Victory
Jake Allen, G, STL
12/21/2014
News: Jake Allen will be between the pipes Saturday against the Sharks, Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
Analysis: Things have started to turn ugly for Jake Allen here in December, despite the fact that he's won each of his last three starts. He's posted a horrid .884 save percentage in five outings this month, which has resulted in him yielding more work to Martin Brodeur than anticipated. Still, with a powerful offense and strong defense supporting him, the wins should keep coming rather steadily for the struggling netminder.

Antti Niemi
Sharks' Niemi To Take Aim At Seventh Straight Win
Antti Niemi, G, SJ
12/21/2014
News: Antti Niemi will be between the pipes Saturday night against the Blues, Kevin Kurz of CSN Bay Area reports.
Analysis: Antti Niemi will take aim at his seventh straight victory Saturday, though he hasn't been as consistently sharp as the winning streak would suggest. During that stretch, he's surrendered three goals or more on three occasions, but did manage to capture his second shutout of the season. He'll have his work cut out for him against the Blues, who rank sixth in the NHL in goals and fifth in shot attempts per game.

Josh Jooris
Flames' Jooris A Game-Time Decision Saturday
Josh Jooris, C, CGY
1:35 PM
News: Josh Jooris will be a game-time decision Saturday against the Canucks due to a foot injury, Pat Steinberg of Sportsnet.ca reports.
Analysis: Josh Jooris took a hard shot off the foot in Friday's loss to the Stars and was sporting a walking boot Saturday morning, but coach Bob Hartley said that he's still counting on the forward to suit up later in the evening. Since becoming a popular waiver wire pickup following his Dec. 2 hat trick against the Coyotes, Jooris has gone ice cold, contributing just one point in his last eight games.

Christian Ehrhoff
Pens Place Ehrhoff On IR
Christian Ehrhoff, D, PIT
1:30 PM
News: Christian Ehrhoff (lower body) was placed on injured reserve Saturday, Seth Rorabaugh of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.
Analysis: With the Penguins already ruling out the blueliner until after the Christmas break, his placement on injured reserve doesn't really qualify as much of a surprise. He won't be eligible for activation until Dec. 29, though his return could be pushed back further if he fails to progress as rapidly as the Penguins hope. Top prospect Derrick Pouliot was recalled from AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in a corresponding move and could make for an intriguing replacement option for Christian Ehrhoff.

Nikita Nikitin
Oilers' Nikitin Skates Saturday
Nikita Nikitin, D, EDM
1:24 PM
News: Nikita Nikitin (back) resumed skating with the Oilers on Saturday, Jack Michaels of the Oilers Radio Network reports.
Analysis: Nikita Nikitin's participation with the team gives him a shot at playing Sunday against the Stars, but it's more likely that the Oilers will want to see him practice one or two more times before activating him. The rearguard wasn't especially impressive prior to suffering the injury and may not be guaranteed a regular lineup spot upon his return.

 
 
 
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