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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
Slava Voynov
Voynov's Attorney Hopes Suspension Is Lifted Soon
Slava Voynov, D, LA
6:09 AM
News: Slava Voynov's attorney is hopeful that the indefinite suspension could be lifted soon, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Analysis: Slava Voynov's attorney contends that the criminal case against Voynov has no merit and that the injuries and subsequent investigation were muddied by some language issues on both sides. Voynov figures to miss his first game since the incident when the Kings take on the Sabres on Thursday.

Alexander Wennberg
Jackets' Wennberg Shifts To Center
Alexander Wennberg, C, CLB
5:22 AM
News: Alexander Wennberg will center the Blue Jackets' second line on Thursday, skating between Matt Calvert and Cam Atkinson, the Columbus Dispatch reports.
Analysis: To date the rookie, who has just one assist and a minus-6 rating through five games, had been working on the wing, but Jackets coach Todd Richards is using the club's west coast swing as an opportunity to shake up his forward lines. Hopefully, playing his natural position will light a spark under Alexander Wennberg.

R.J. Umberger
Flyers' Umberger: Two Points In Win
R.J. Umberger, LW, PHI
5:06 AM
News: R.J. Umberger collected a goal, an assist, and five PIM in Wednesday's 5-3 win over the Penguins.
Analysis: It's the 32-year-old's first goal with his original team, and he seems to have settled in nicely. He's averaging just over 15 minutes of ice time, which fantasy owners hope will lead to a return to an 80-plus points season.

Pierre-Edouard Bellemare
Flyers' Bellemare Scores First NHL Goal
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, RW, PHI
5:00 AM
News: Pierre-Edouard Bellemare scored his first NHL goal in Wednesday's 5-3 win over Pittsburgh.
Analysis: Pierre-Edouard Bellemare took a pretty feed from Sean Couturier and redirected it past Penguins' keeper Marc-Andre Fleury. It's his first point of the season, though his ice time could be limited once center Vincent Lecavalier (foot) returns.

Mark Streit
Flyers' Streit Nets Goal In Win
Mark Streit, D, PHI
4:54 AM
News: Mark Streit scored his second goal of the season in Wednesday's 5-3 win over Pittsburgh.
Analysis: Mark Streit has seven points through seven games, so he's on pace to match his points total from last season. Even better news for owners: two of those seven have come from goals -- Streit hasn't scored over 10 goals since the 2009-2010 campaign.

Corey Perry
Ducks' Perry Gets Tricky Again Wednesday
Corey Perry, RW, ANA
4:37 AM
News: Corey Perry lit up the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday for three goals and his second hat trick of the season in a 4-1 win. He also fired six shots on net and skated to a plus-3.
Analysis: Is this guy money or what? Corey Perry now has eight goals and 10 points in seven games and even though he only has six PIM and two assists, we really don't mind. The guy is a perennial fantasy stud who fills the net and looks well on his way to again being a cornerstone of fantasy rosters this season.

Teddy Purcell
Oilers' Purcell Adds Two Helpers
Teddy Purcell, RW, EDM
4:34 AM
News: Teddy Purcell grabbed two assists in Wednesday's 3-2 victory over the Capitals.
Analysis: His two points came with relatively limited ice time (13:23) and brings the former Lightning's point total to five in seven games this year. If he can find just the right chemistry with one of the Oilers' young stars like Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Teddy Purcell could be a sneaky fantasy commodity this season. Just don't count of much by way of plus/minus, if your league counts it.

Braden Holtby
Caps' Holtby Mediocre In Loss Wednesday
Braden Holtby, G, WAS
4:30 AM
News: Braden Holtby managed to stop just 17 of 20 shots in a loss to the Oilers on Wednesday.
Analysis: Braden Holtby was underwhelming against an Oilers team that had just one win heading into the game. He now owns a 2-1-1 record to go with a 2.13 GAA and .917 save percentage and should continue continue to get the bulk of the starts ahead of backup Justin Peters for head coach Barry Trotz.

Ben Scrivens
Oilers' Scrivens Wins Second In A Row
Ben Scrivens, G, EDM
4:25 AM
News: Ben Scrivens thwarted 32 of 34 shots Wednesday in 3-2 win over the visiting Capitals.
Analysis: After failing to record a victory in his first four appearances, Ben Scrivens has turned things around against two very good teams in the Capitals and Lightning, who the Oilers beat Monday. If this isn't just an aberration, Scrivens could provide some much needed stability between the pipes for an inconsistent Oilers squad. We wouldn't jump the gun just yet, but go ahead and keep an eye on Scrivens to see if he and the rest of the boys from Oil Country can parlay their short-term success into something more.

Jarred Tinordi
Canadiens' Tinordi Settling In
Jarred Tinordi, D, MON
4:24 AM
News: Jarred Tinordi has moved ahead of Nathan Beaulieu for the sixth spot on defense, the Montreal Gazette reports. Beaulieu had opened the season in that spot, but Tinordi has played the last five games.
Analysis: His spot as a top-six blue-liner was confirmed Wednesday when the Canadiens sent Beaulieu down to Hamilton of the American Hockey League for some ice time. Jarred Tinordi had a wild and unbridled preseason, something head coach Michel Therrien does not want in young defensemen looking for a roster spot, but he's played with composure and maturity in his most recent stretch.

 
 
 
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