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Right on Schedule: Action-packed Week 14

by | Rotowire.com
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Despite being several games behind the games-played pace of the rest of the league, both Boston and San Jose remain as Conference finals favorites. Fourteen teams are playing on back-to-back nights, with 11 teams playing four games this week and only one (Florida) playing just two games, there is plenty of Fantasy action to decipher. Let's get to it.

NHL schedule

Anaheim (vs. DAL, @CAL, EDM, VAN) starts off the week hosting the Stars. After a night off, they play three road games in four nights against the Northwest division. The Ducks are 2-3 thus far against Northwest teams. Having scored five or more goals in five of their last 10 team games, the busting Boston Bruins have a weak schedule (vs. WPG, MON, @CAR) ahead. Simply a prelude to a rare five-game schedule next week, once they head to Carolina, the Bruins will play six of their remaining eight January games on the road. Pick up Tuukka Rusk (9-4-1, 3 SO, 1.49 goals-against average) if available, you're going to need him next week. Left-winger Benoit Pouliot has three goals and five assists in the last eight games.

After Buffalo (@TOR, vs. TOR, @NYI) starts off the three-game week with a home-and-home against Toronto, the Sabres then head to Long Island. From there, Buffalo plays out their remaining January games (7) in white jerseys. This week, three at home for the Flames (vs. NJ, ANH, LA), next week, three away, but not a back-to-back game to be found till the ground hog shows his face. Curtis Glencross (17 goals, 12 assists) has grabbed at least one point in nine of his last 12 games. Carolina (vs. PHI, @TB, vs. BOS, @WAS) has a very busy travel week, alternating one at home, one on the road, etc… Carolina's Brandon Sutter has two goals, two assists (plus-2) in his last three games.

Considered among the Western Conference favorites, let's see how Chicago (vs. CLS, MIN, @DET, vs. SJ) handles three quality teams gunning for them. Just like Buffalo, Colorado (vs. NSH, @NSH, @DAL) starts off hosting the opening of a home-and-home with Nashville, who took the season series (4-0) in 2009-10. Here comes the Varlamov roller coaster again. Semyon Varlamov tallied two wins (0.48 GAA, SHO) last week. The Avs' week finishes against the rival Stars on Saturday night. Dallas leads the season series 2-1.

Columbus (@CHI, vs. PHO, SJ) ends their four-game West Coast swing with a stop in Chicago this Tuesday. After a couple of days to recover, they host Phoenix and San Jose to end the week. Dallas (@ANH, LA, vs. COL) takes to the road for two against division rivals (Ducks, Kings) before heading home to host the Avs. For those have not picked up Richard Bachman (6-2, 253 of 276), now may be a good time to consider it. Whilst Kari Lehtonen has been Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde in his last four starts (three goals allowed in two wins, eight goals allowed in two losses), also consider Dallas plays on back-to-back nights twice next week.

Dating back to the beginning of December, Detroit (@NYI, vs. PHO, CHI) has played 13 of their last 18 games on the road. How about one more (NYI on Tuesday) before heading home? Pavel Datsyuk has really turned his season around since November 30th. Datsyuk, currently on a three-game point streak, has six goals, 17 assists over his last 19 games. Johan Franzen, who was a shadow of himself in December, has a three-game point streak (two goals, two assists). Edmonton (vs. NJ, ANH, LA), another NHL team that has been racking up the frequent flyer miles, enjoys a few days off before hosting three from home starting Wednesday. Three of the Oilers four leading scorers have a total of 59 years of life experience. Jordan Eberle (17 goals, 26 assists), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (13 goals, 22 assists) and Taylor Hall (14 goals, 15 assists) equate into 34 percent of Edmonton's point production this season.

Florida (vs. VAN, PIT) continues their slow start to the month with a second consecutive two-game week. Los Angeles' schedule (vs. WAS, DAL, @CAL, EDM) starts off with two home games, before beginning a road trip against the Northwest division, starting with two (of 3) to end this week. Montreal (vs. STL, @BOS, vs. OTT, NYR) has one of the toughest schedules in January. Aside from playing the Penguins and Red Wings late on this month, the Canadiens visit Boston and host the Rangers this week. Nashville (@COL vs. COL, PHI) begins the week on the road, hosting the aforementioned Avs, before heading home to host Colorado and Philadelphia. When Patric Hornqvist scores (11 goals, 7 assists), the Preds are 7-1-1. The fourth year man's production has been trending downwardly since 2009-10, but has 16 career goals in January, more than any other month in his career. The home-and-home will be the first match up(s) of the season for the two teams.

New Jersey (@CAL, EDM, WPG), doing its best to stay within the elite eight of the Eastern Conference, have rebounded from an 0-2 start to 2012 by owning the Panthers (5-2) and Pens (3-1) to end last week. The Islanders (vs. DET, PHI, BUF), who started the new calendar year riding a three-game winning streak, have lost two in a row again. Being outscored 9-3 by Anaheim and Phoenix is not exactly how the Islanders wanted to head into a week they play host to Detroit, Philadelphia and Buffalo. The Rangers (vs. PHO, OTT, @TOR, MON), still atop of the NHL in points, will be at home for two this week before they finish out with two on the road. Second worst in the league for shots on goal, New York is highly dependent on their goaltending. Ottawa (@PIT, NYR, MON) plays three difficult road games. It gets worse as nine of their remaining 10 games in January are seen from the visitor's bench. Still producing like a young buck, Sergei Gonchar (2 goals, 21 assists) is enjoying a four-game point streak.

Just like Ottawa, the Flyers (@CAR, NYI, NAS) have three games on the road. The big difference is Philly's (fourth in Eastern Conference points) strength of schedule. Phoenix (@NYR, DET, CLS) is our third straight team trending the road and filling out this week's schedule. Oliver Ekman-Larsson (7 goals, 10 assists), still owned in less than (48%) half of CBS leagues, has registered three points in as many January games.

Losers of four straight games, adding insult-to-injury (Jordan Staal), the Penguins schedule is picking up as of late. Eight games in the next two weeks starts off with hosting Ottawa. Pittsburgh (vs. OTT, @WAS, FLA, TB) finishes out the week with three on the road against the Southeast division. Certainly one of the toughest schedules this week, San Jose (@MIN, WPG, CLS, CHI) hits the road for a four game road trip. Sandwiched in between two big conference matchups, the Sharks have two 'gimme' games. Dan Boyle (4 assists, plus-6, 19 SOG) has been among the more offensive defensemen in the NHL over the last seven days.

St. Louis (@MON, vs. VAN, MIN) looks to capitalize on the first of their only two road games (9 home) in the month of January, before heading back home to host the Canucks and Wild. Defenseman Alex Pietrangelo (six goals, 11 assists) has a goal, five assists -- including four power play points -- so far in 2012. Tampa (@MON, vs. VAN, MIN) has a busy week ahead, hosting three of four from home. Their only road game will be against fellow under-performing Southeast Division rival Washington.

Toronto (vs. BUF @BUF vs. NYR) has that aforementioned home-and-home with Buffalo before hosting the red hot Rangers. In conjunction with last season's series (3-3), the Leafs and Sabres have continued their tight games as each team owns a win this season. Jonas Gustavsson played in three straight starts last week, notching (88 of 94) a shutout and three wins. Tim Connolly, who had his three-game point streak snapped in the Leafs 4-3 win over Detroit, has 24 career January goals. After a win in Boston to start their four-game road trip, Vancouver (@FLA, TB, STL vs. ANH) is second in NHL points. The Canucks visit the Panthers, Lightning and Blues before heading home to host the slumping Ducks. Savor the flavor, cause after this week, the Canucks play only four games in the final 15 days of January.

The next two weeks could prove to be a momentum changer for Washington (@LA, vs. PIT, TB, vs. CAR), who plays four road and four home games over the next 14 days. But first this week. Monday they finish their two game West Coast swing against LA and head home for the Penguins, Lightning and Hurricanes. Missing defenseman Dustin Byfuglien, who missed his sixth game Saturday night with a knee injury, nine of Winnipeg's 13 games this month are on the road. The Jets are really going to miss Buff's presence in Boston. After Boston, the Jets (@BOS vs. SJ, NJ) head home for the week.

AHL quick glance

Hershey Bears (Washington Capitals): Keith Aucoin, center -- 8 goals, 50 assists in 35 games played.
Lake Erie Monsters (Colorado Avalanche): Cedrick Desjardins, goalie -- 8-5-1, 1.85 GAA in 14 games played.
Norfolk Admirals (Tampa Bay Lightning): Mark Barberio, defenseman -- 4 goals, 28 assists, 27 PIM in 34 games played.

TV Time (all games EST)

NBC Sports Network

Jan. 10: Sharks at Wild 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 11: Penguins at Capitals 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 15: Rangers at Canadiens 7:0 p.m.

NBC Sports

Jan. 14: Blackhawks at Red Wings 12:30 p.m.

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Player News
Ondrej Pavelec
Goaltender Rotation Will Continue In Winnipeg
Ondrej Pavelec, G, WPG
12:44 PM
News: Head coach Paul Maurice has stressed that the Jets' goalie rotation between Ondrej Pavelec and Michael Hutchinson will continue after the NHL's three-day holiday break, Tim Campbell of the Winnipeg Free Press reports.
Analysis: Ondrej Pavelec will continue to split starts with Hutchinson for the time being. However, Pavelec has struggled as of late, losing three of his last four games while giving up at least three goals in each of those losses. Meanwhile, Hutchinson has gone 8-2-2 this season while posting a league-leading 1.67 GAA as well as a league-leading .944 save percentage. If Pavelec continues to struggle, and Hutchinson continues to dominate, Pavelec may find himself on Winnipeg's bench more often than he finds himself starting in net moving forward.

Michael Hutchinson
Goaltender Rotation To Continue In Winnipeg
Michael Hutchinson, G, WPG
12:09 PM
News: Head coach Paul Maurice has made it clear that the Jets' goalie rotation between Michael Hutchinson and Ondrej Pavelec will continue after the NHL's three-day holiday break, Tim Campbell of the Winnipeg Free Press reports.
Analysis: Michael Hutchinson's fantasy owners don't have to worry about Pavelec getting the majority of starts in net for the Jets moving forward, as Maurice has clearly indicated that Hutchinson and Pavelec have both performed well enough this season to warrant an even split in playing time. In fact, Maurice may ultimately be forced to give Hutchinson the majority of starts in net in the second half of the season, as he bests Pavelec in both major goaltending statistical categories. Hutchinson boasts a 1.67 GAA and a .944 save percentage, while Pavelec has posted slightly less impressive figures, with a 2.34 GAA and a .913 save percentage. If Pavelec struggles in a few key games down the stretch, Hutchinson may suddenly find himself as the primary goaltender for the Jets. Hutchinson has been phenomenal this season, and fantasy owners lucky enough to own him can plug him into their lineups with confidence each and every time he starts.

Craig Anderson
Sens' Anderson To Receive Saturday Start
Craig Anderson, G, OTT
10:38 AM
News: Craig Anderson will be gifted the start in goal Saturday versus the Red Wings, Brent Wallace of TSN reports.
Analysis: With Robin Lehner sitting out Saturday's morning skate with an illness, turning to Craig Anderson for the start was an easy decision for coach Dave Cameron. It's certainly helped matters that Anderson appears to have gotten back on track over his last three starts, surrendering two or fewer goals against the Devils, Ducks and Capitals, in that order. Detroit will counter Anderson with Jimmy Howard in their net Saturday.

Cory Schneider
Devils' Schneider To Take Net Saturday
Cory Schneider, G, NJ
10:35 AM
News: Cory Schneider will be between the pipes Saturday against the Rangers, Tom Gulitti of The Record reports.
Analysis: Cory Schneider enters the game riding a five-game losing streak that has mostly been a byproduct of the Devils' utter lack of offense. While the netminder did manage to turn in two performances with a sub-.900 save percentage during that five-game stretch, the Devils have mustered one or fewer goals in four of those contests. That could spell disaster against a Rangers squad that is currently riding a seven-game winning streak behind sound goalie play and a hot offense.

Robert Bortuzzo
Pens' Bortuzzo Activated From IR
Robert Bortuzzo, D, PIT
10:21 AM
News: Robert Bortuzzo (upper body) was officially activated from injured reserve Saturday.
Analysis: Coach Mike Johnston called Robert Bortuzzo a game-time decision after he was able to participate in Saturday's morning skate, but his activation suggests it's likely he'll end up suiting up in the match later in the evening against the Capitals. It's certainly possible that Johnston keeps Bortuzzo out an extra game as a precaution, but either way, it looks like he's now being viewed as healthy. If Bortuzzo does end up playing Saturday, he'd likely do so as a member of the club's third pairing with Scott Harrington.

Anton Forsberg
Jackets Recall Forsberg From AHL
Anton Forsberg, G, CLB
10:01 AM
News: Anton Forsberg was recalled from AHL Springfield on an emergency basis Saturday, Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch reports.
Analysis: With Sergei Bobrovsky coming down with a stomach ailment Saturday morning, Anton Forsberg will be needed to serve as the backup to Curtis McElhinney for the Jackets' game later in the evening against the Bruins. Bobrovsky is expected to be ready to play for the team's next match Wednesday, which will more than likely make Forsberg's stay with Columbus a brief one.

Jake Allen
Blues' Allen To Start Saturday
Jake Allen, G, STL
9:58 AM
News: Jake Allen will start in net Saturday against the Stars, NHL.com's Lou Korac reports.
Analysis: Jake Allen struggled in his last outing, allowing five goals on 31 shots before getting pulled during the game's second intermission. Allen has been inconsistent recently, winning three straight before giving up a total of eight goals in back to back losses. The 24 year old goaltender will look to bounce back on Saturday against the Stars.

Curtis McElhinney
Jackets' McElhinney To Get Rare Start Saturday
Curtis McElhinney, G, CLB
9:56 AM
News: Curtis McElhinney will man the net Saturday against the Bruins, Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch reports.
Analysis: Curtis McElhinney was informed of the surprise start prior to the team's morning skate, when it was then revealed that Sergei Bobrovsky would be unavailable due to a stomach bug. The expectation is Bobrovsky will be available for the Jackets' next game Wednesday versus the Wild, making McElhinney a rather poor speculative pickup in weekly leagues that start multiple netminders. McElhinney, who was horrendous in his previous run as the team's starter in the first half of November when Bobrovsky was out with a fractured finger, owns an ugly 1-6-1 record, 3.49 GAA and .895 save percentage on the season. Even in daily formats for Saturday's slate of games, McElhinney looks like one of the weaker starting goalie options on the board.

Josh Jooris
Flames' Jooris A Game-Time Decision
Josh Jooris, C, CGY
9:53 AM
News: Josh Jooris (wrist) is a game-time decision for Saturday night's game, Pat Steinberg of Sportsnet 960 reports.
Analysis: Josh Jooris is having a terrific rookie season, although he has only one point in his past eight games. He had five days off to rest his ailing wrist, but it remains to be seen if he's at 100 percent. If you have better options, it's best to hold off on him until he gets fully healthy and breaks out of his drought.

Olli Maatta
Pens' Maatta Out Four More Weeks
Olli Maatta, D, PIT
9:52 AM
News: Olli Maatta is expected to miss another four weeks while he rehabs from an upper-body injury.
Analysis: Coach Mike Johnston said that Olli Maatta is looking good as far as his fitness is concerned, but the timetable is estimate -- it could be more or less than four weeks. It was originally feared that the defender might need season-ending shoulder surgery, but it appears that has been ruled out at this juncture. The 20-year-old hasn't played since Dec. 6.

 
 
 
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