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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.

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Player News
Brendan Gallagher
Habs' Gallagher Nets Two Points
Brendan Gallagher, RW, MON
4:38 AM
News: Brendan Gallagher had a goal and an assist in Sunday's 3-2 win over Tampa Bay in the third game of their opening-round playoff series. He finished at plus-2 in 12:40.
Analysis: Brendan Gallagher finished off a pretty play by defenseman P.K. Subban to give Montreal what proved to be the winning goal in the game. He has points in all three games in the series.

P.K. Subban
Habs' Subban Sets Up Game Winner
P.K. Subban, D, MON
4:32 AM
News: P.K. Subban had two assists, including one on Brendan Gallagher's game-winning goal, in Sunday's 3-2 win over the Lightning in the third game of their playoff series.
Analysis: P.K. Subban finished with a game-high 28:03 of ice time and was plus-2. His assist on the Gallagher goal was the prettiest play of the game, perhaps the series, and is a reminder of Subban's sometimes-sublime play for the Canadiens.

Raffi Torres
Sharks' Torres Scores Again
Raffi Torres, LW, SJ
4:17 AM
News: Raffi Torres scored, kickstarting a seven-goal rally, in a Game 2 win over LA.
Analysis: Raffi Torres, who all told has played seven games this season, has been incredible, netting five goals and two assists in very limited time. It'd be tough to find someone who won't say that Torres should regress to the mean — after all his shooting percentage in this series is 100% — but analysts have been saying that he'll regress since his first game back from injury this season. He should regress, but on the other hand, he's hot right now.

James Sheppard
Sheppard Continues Surge For Sharks
James Sheppard, LW, SJ
4:12 AM
News: James Sheppard had an assist, three shots, and a plus-2 rating in just 11:07 of playing time in a Game 2 win over Los Angeles.
Analysis: James Sheppard, who had been playing third line center throughout his late season surge, was moved back to wing mid-game when coach Todd McLellan returned Joe Pavelski to his previous third line center role. Sheppard is strongest on wing and he has the potential for a lot more production with the 40-goal scorer centering his line. He's playing well already and, if the move sticks, it could be an upgrade for Shep.

Mike Brown
Sharks' Brown Nets First Career Playoff Goal
Mike Brown, RW, SJ
4:08 AM
News: Mike Brown had a goal, a plus-2 rating, eight hits, and 12 penalty minutes in a Game 2 win over LA.
Analysis: Mike Brown's offensive production shouldn't be counted on, but in a series that has recorded 214 hits through the first two games, you can count on seeing the hits and probably the penalty minutes there with some consistency.

Joe Thornton
SJ's Thornton Has Goals In Back-To-Back Games
Joe Thornton, C, SJ
4:03 AM
News: Joe Thornton had a goal and three shots in a Game 2 win over the Kings.
Analysis: Joe Thornton has goals in back-to-back games for the Sharks. This from the guy who scored only 11 in the regular season. He also has zero assists in the postseason and tallied 65 during the season. Also, he's averaging 3.5 shots per postseason game, up from 1.5 during the regular season. Everything has flipped around for Thornton, but owners shouldn't mind.

Dan Boyle
Sharks' Boyle Grabs A Pair Of Assists In Game 2
Dan Boyle, D, SJ
3:59 AM
News: Dan Boyle had two assists, a hit, and three blocked shots in a Game 2 win over LA.
Analysis: Dan Boyle finished the regular season creating offense like you expect him to, so it's good to see him putting points on the board after not registering any in the opening game.

Logan Couture
Couture Has Two Points In Sharks' Win
Logan Couture, C, SJ
3:56 AM
News: Logan Couture had a goal and an assist through 19:06 of ice time in a Game 2 win over the Kings.
Analysis: Logan Couture is putting up points exactly how you hoped he would this postseason. He has three points (1G, 2A) through the opening two games. The only thing lagging are his shots. The Sharks have taken 73 shots in the first two games and only three were from Couture. That's uncharacteristic for a player whose 233 regular season shots was good for 33rd in the NHL, despite missing 17 games this season. You should expect to see that change as the series moves to LA and the Sharks have to lean on their big guns a little more.

Tomas Hertl
SJ's Hertl Moves Back To Top Line
Tomas Hertl, C, SJ
3:50 AM
News: Tomas Hertl had one shot and one hit through 15 minutes of ice time in a Game 2 win over LA.
Analysis: Tomas Hertl didn't have much of an impact on the scoresheet in Game 2. In fact, he was of only five players on the team who didn't record a point in the 7-2 win. However, it's worth noting that coach Todd McLellan rejiggered the lines in the second period, placing Hertl on Joe Thornton's top line where he had thrived early in the season before his injury. With Joe Pavelski back on the third line, the Kings won't be able to focus on shutting down the top line and things may open up for Hertl.

Tommy Wingels
Sharks' Wingels Has Assist In Game 2 Win
Tommy Wingels, C, SJ
3:46 AM
News: Tommy Wingels had an assist, six hits, a blocked shot, two shots, and two takeaways in a Game 2 win over the Kings.
Analysis: Tommy Wingels breakout season runs through the stat sheet. It wasn't just goals and assists where he proved his value in fantasy. He's one of those rare wings who is going to score and rack up the hits. He can also pull in stats in niche categories like blocked shots and takeaways, upping his value in some formats.

 
 
 
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