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Right on Schedule: Calm before the storm

by | Rotowire.com
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It was the night before Christmas, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. In fact, buckle up, because this week's Fantasy results will be played out by the end of Friday night, so choose wisely.

A dozen NHL teams will play only two games and not one team will play four times this week. Instead of hoping for Santa to heal some of the NHL's concussed stars, perhaps a strange schedule can give you a competitive edge out there.

NHL schedule

Buffalo: Before an 8-3 defeat at the hands of Pittsburgh last week, Buffalo (@OTT, TOR) played host to Ottawa and Toronto. This week, they'll take to the road versus the same two teams. From there, the Sabres play four games in six nights to end the calendar year, including a third matchup in three weeks with Ottawa on New Year's Eve.

Fire or Ice: Headed into Sunday's match up with Chicago, Calgary still has an opportunity to put together a solid December record. After going 4-1-2 in their first seven games this month, the Flames lost three very tight road games last week, including a 2-1 loss to Nashville. Next week, Calgary looks for a little revenge as they play Nashville on New Year's Eve. As for this week, Calgary (vs. MIN, DET @VAN) plays host to several strong Western Conference teams before finishing 2011 on the road.

What have you done for me lately?: Arguably the NHL's most consistent (12-4-1) team over the last six weeks, Chicago (@PIT vs. MON) has a light week. Puzzling, as it's with little thanks to Corey Crawford, who hasn't seen action since December 5. Ray Emery has seemingly taken over the job for now, winning six of his seven December starts (goals-against average of 1.93 and save percentage of .933).

Home for the holidays: They won't be easy games, but Colorado (vs. PHI, STL, TB) and Dallas (vs. ANH, PHI, NSH) will not be required to travel at all this week. How will being home all week prior to the Christmas break affect their play? Meanwhile, Columbus (@NSH) gets a much needed one-game week.

Traveling Red Wings: After beating up on the leaderless Kings (@TOR vs. ANH @SJ) this past Saturday, the last two weeks of December are the prime example of what Detroit (@EDM, VAN, CAL) has been griping about during the fuss of realignment. Playing seven games (five on the road) in the next 12 days, six of them will be on back-to-back nights.

Leading the pack: Minnesota (7-1-2) follows in Detroit's footsteps with nearly the exact same itinerary this week. After losing 2-1 in a shootout to the Islanders, do the Wild (@VAN, CAL, EDM) have enough fire power to maintain the top position in the NHL through Christmas?

Estranged fresh slate: The good news? With Jacques Martin out and Randy Cunneyworth (interim rest of the season) in, there's hope Montreal's spiraling ways has hit rock bottom. The bad news? Although the Canadiens are headed out on the road where they seem to be more in control these days (8-6-1), unfortunately, it will be against three (@BOS, CHI, WPG) of the NHL's hotter teams.

Gifts under the tree: Both Ottawa (vs. BUF, FLA @CAR) and Phoenix (@FLA, CAR vs. STL) test out their new toys with very similar schedules. After some bad blood between forward Kyle Turris and Coyotes general manager Don Maloney, the Senators acquired Turris from Phoenix on Saturday for defenseman David Rundblad and a second-round draft pick. Also noteworthy, Ottawa, which plays host to this year's All-Star Game, will unveil yet another Christmas gift for its fans next week. A $5-million video scoreboard that will feature two 360-degree LED rings over the ice at Scotiabank Place.

Flying confidently: Boasting the best road record in the NHL, Philadelphia (12-3-1) has won eight of its last 10 games. They'll need that kind of road-warrior confidence as they have a difficult schedule (@COL, DAL, NYR) this week.

Blue calm before the storm: St. Louis (7-1-2) enjoys a two-game week, or at least they better enjoy it. Next week (vs. DAL, @DET, vs. NSH, @DET) could be the ugliest schedule for any NHL team all season, which includes two games at Joe Louis Arena in one week!

Cruising Canucks: Mason Raymond (three goals, three assists in seven games) has been consistent since coming back and Alexandre Burrows has four points (two goals, two assists) in his last two games. Since a 5-1 home loss to Chicago on November 16th, Vancouver (10-3) has been in complete control, outscoring opponents 50-24 in that span.

Got Versus?

(All times Eastern)

Dec. 19: Anaheim at Dallas 8 p.m.
Dec. 20: Chicago at Pittsburgh 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 21: Philadelphia at Dallas 7:30 p.m.

Get player news notifications, manage your team and check scores
- all updated in real time. Download the CBS Fantasy App.

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Player News
Nathan MacKinnon
Avs' MacKinnon Dishes Out Two Assists
Nathan MacKinnon, C, COL
12:53 PM
News: Nathan MacKinnon dished out a pair of helpers in Friday's win over Nashville.
Analysis: The two points snapped a three-game scoring drought for Nathan MacKinnon, who now has nine goals and 29 points in 50 games. While he's been held off the scoresheet in seven of his last nine games, the Avs are playing good hockey right now, picking up at least one point in six of their last seven games. MacKinnon's only 19, so we wouldn't give up on him just yet this season. His whopping 152 shots on goal indicate more goals are on the way. Patience is a virtue.

Mike Ribeiro
Preds' Ribeiro Piles On PIM
Mike Ribeiro, C, NSH
12:39 PM
News: Mike Ribeiro took a break from scoring Friday, racking up 22 PIM in a loss to Colorado.
Analysis: While Mike Ribeiro has 43 points (33 assists) in 48 games this season, he is also now among the league's top-100 PIM leaders. Producing at basically a point-per-game pace and sporting a steady plus-15 rating, Ribeiro is worth owning in most formats.

Marek Mazanec
Preds' Mazanec Gives Up Two Goals In Loss
Marek Mazanec, G, NSH
12:35 PM
News: Marek Mazanec gave up two goals on 27 shots in Friday's loss to Colorado.
Analysis: It was a good effort from Marek Mazanec, who got no offensive support in the shutout loss. It was the first start of the season for the 23-year-old, who had been giving way to Carter Hutton in Pekka Rinne's (knee) absence. Considering Hutton has given up seven goals in his last two starts, Mazanec could be worth a temporary pick-up until Rinne returns.

Semyon Varlamov
Avs' Varlamov Makes 23 Saves, Blanks Predators
Semyon Varlamov, G, COL
12:24 PM
News: Semyon Varlamov stopped all 23 shots he faced in Friday's shutout win over Nashville.
Analysis: A perfect outing for the workhorse, who has started 14 of the Avs' past 15 games. Semyon Varlamov is now 13-10-7 on the season with a .922 save percentage and 2.62 GAA. He's delivered some consistency play of late, allowing more than three goals just once in his last 10 appearances. Considering he's starting almost every game for an Avs team that has picked up at least one point in six of their last seven games, Varlamov is a great own in almost all formats.

Ryan Miller
Canucks` Miller Topples Former Team
Ryan Miller, G, VAN
8:06 AM
News: Ryan Miller turned aside 20 of 22 shots in a 5-2 win over the Sabres on Friday. It was the first time facing his former team.
Analysis: Both goals came off the stick of Chris Stewart, one of the players in the deal that shipped Ryan Miller out of Buffalo last March. Miller is now up to 24 wins to go with a .917 save percentage and 2.32 GAA this year, and will continue to be influential in Vancouver`s push to the playoffs in the final 35 games of the campaign.

Maxime Talbot
Avs Talbot Finds Net Friday
Maxime Talbot, C, COL
7:38 AM
News: Maxime Talbot potted his fourth goal of the season in Friday's 3-0 triumph over the Predators.
Analysis: The tally went down as Maxime Talbot's first game-winner of the season. As a fixture in the Avs' bottom six, scoring opportunities are rare for Talbot, and he typically doesn't deliver an overwhelming amount of hits or PIM to compensate for it.

James Reimer
Leafs Turn To Reimer For Saturday Start
James Reimer, G, TOR
7:36 AM
News: James Reimer will be between the pipes for Saturday's match against the Flyers, Jonas Siegel of TSN Radio 1050 reports.
Analysis: Though regular starting goalie Jonathan Bernier's final numbers weren't terrible in the Leafs' last game against the Coyotes, he allowed a couple of inexcusable goals in the outing. As a result, Toronto will turn to James Reimer in an attempt to bust their ongoing losing skid, which sits at eight games. With a 3.32 GAA and .906 save percentage over 19 appearances, Reimer has been quite unreliable as a streaming option, and his career numbers in six outings against the Flyers (2-3-0, 3.11 GAA, .904 save percentage) don't inspire much confidence, either.

Chris Stewart
Two More Tallies For Sabres` Stewart
Chris Stewart, RW, BUF
7:35 AM
News: Chris Stewart found the back of the net twice in Friday`s 5-2 loss to the Canucks.
Analysis: Chris Stewart has just 18 points in 48 games this year, but it`s important to note that eight of those -- including four goals -- have come in the last nine contests. Is the 27-year-old motivated by the potential of being moved out of the barren wasteland that is Buffalo prior to the March 2 trade deadline? We`re not sure, but Stewart`s recent production certainly garners attention. Keep an eye on him, and don`t be afraid to pull the trigger if and when he gets traded -- as his value would instantly spike if he gets a shot to play for literally any team other than the Sabres.

Gabriel Landeskog
Avs' Landeskog Tallies Goal In Win
Gabriel Landeskog, LW, COL
7:29 AM
News: Gabriel Landeskog found the back of the net for his 10th goal of the season in Friday's defeat of the Predators.
Analysis: Gabriel Landeskog has now locked up his third career 30-point campaign, but the Avs undoubtedly expected more from him at this juncture. He hasn't been helped by a career-worst 6.9 shooting percentage, so with a little more puck luck in the second half, it's conceivable that Landeskog could make a run in the second half to justify his draft day sticker price.

Nathan Horton
Jackets' Horton Shows Some Improvement
Nathan Horton, RW, CLB
7:29 AM
News: Nathan Horton (back) was in Columbus on Thursday to speak to the front office, and hasn't yet given up on the possibility of playing again, the Columbus Dispatch reports. "There's been some progress there. He is feeling a little better," president of hockey operations John Davidson said. "I don't know what that means in the big picture, but he's better now than he was earlier this season. His whole attitude was different — better — than the last time we saw him."
Analysis: Nathan Horton may yet have to undergo career-ending back surgery, and he's not going to be a factor for the Blue Jackets this season in any case, but this is the first remotely good news on Horton in months. Expect his hockey future to become clearer in the offseason.

 
 
 
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