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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
Jhonas Enroth
Sabres Coach Confident In Enroth
Jhonas Enroth, G, BUF
11:09 AM
News: Sabres head coach Ted Nolan believes Jhonas Enroth can be a starting goalie in the NHL, reports the Olean Times Herald.
Analysis: Jhonas Enroth will battle Michal Neuvirth for the starting job, but if one of them has the edge, it's Enroth. Despite his lack of wins the previous season, Enroth still had a respectable .911 save percentage on the league's worst team and made the Swedish national team for Sochi. He has been Ryan Miller's understudy for the past few seasons, but Neuvirth is also reunited with Arturs Irbe, his goaltending coach in Washington. Nolan will split starts between Enroth and Neuvirth for the time being. The Sabres have six exhibition games this season.

Tyler Bozak
Leafs' Bozak Dealing With Lower-Body Issue
Tyler Bozak, C, TOR
11:05 AM
News: Tyler Bozak is dealing with a lower-body injury, Terry Koshan of the Toronto Sun reports.
Analysis: Tyler Bozak reportedly skated in full equipment before the Leafs' practice Saturday, but didn't participate with the team. He and David Clarkson both suffered the injuries in pre-camp workouts, but both are believed to be minor injuries.

Matt Hackett
Sabres' Hackett Could Skate Soon
Matt Hackett, G, BUF
11:00 AM
News: Matt Hackett suffered an ACL injury on April 12 and could start skating soon, reports The Buffalo News.
Analysis: There is still no return date for Matt Hackett though he is expected to return midway through the season, perhaps in late December or early January. Hackett is coming off a tough season, losing the starting job in the AHL to Nathan Lieuwen. He is in a contract year and faces an uphill climb on a team deep with goaltending prospects. The 24-year-old goalie may not figure into the team's long-term plans. Jhonas Enroth and Michal Neuvirth are battling for the NHL job while Andrey Makarov and Lieuwen will handle the duties in the AHL.

David Clarkson
Leafs' Clarkson Dealing With Lower-Body Injury
David Clarkson, RW, TOR
10:52 AM
News: David Clarkson is dealing with a lower body injury, Terry Koshan of the Toronto Sun reports.
Analysis: David Clarkson joined Tyler Bozak as the two out for the practice, with both reportedly dealing with lower-body injuries. They both ocurred during pre-camp workouts, and coach Randy Carlyle believes the injury is minor.

Sidney Crosby
Pens' Crosby (Undisclosed) Held Out Saturday
Sidney Crosby, C, PIT
10:41 AM
News: Sidney Crosby (undisclosed) was held out of practice for precautionary reasons Saturday.
Analysis: Sidney Crosby was held out after reportedly having a good practice Friday. The star doesn't appear to be in danger of missing any regular season time barring a setback or another injury.

Alexander Wennberg
Jackets' Wennberg Already Impressing
Alexander Wennberg, C, CLB
9:22 AM
News: Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards was very impressed with his initial look at Alexander Wennberg during the first day of training camp, the Columbus Dispatch reports. "To me, he was at a level above a lot of guys that were (at the Traverse City prospect tournament), which says a lot, because there is some good talent up there," Richards said Friday. "You watch him out here and he fits right in. It's the first day (with) lots of energy, lots of excitement. But he comes across as a ‘headsy' player."
Analysis: Ryan Johansen's contract dispute could open up a spot at center in Columbus on one of the top three lines if it extends into the regular season, and the Jackets would love to see Alexander Wennberg step up and seize it. There's a lot of camp left yet, and the club has plenty of depth with NHL experience to compete with their prospects, but last year's 14th overall pick has the talent, hockey IQ and drive to force the Jackets' hand.

Ryan Murray
Jackets' Murray Has Lingering Knee Issue
Ryan Murray, D, CLB
9:12 AM
News: Ryan Murray was held out of the first day of training camp due to some soreness in his knee following an offseason scope, the Columbus Dispatch reports.
Analysis: The Jackets aren't treating this as a major issue, but given Ryan Murray's history of lower body injuries so far in his brief NHL career this is worth keeping an eye on.

Corey Potter
Flames' Potter Still Recovering From Surgery
Corey Potter, D, BOS
8:22 AM
News: Corey Potter is still a couple weeks away from being cleared for contact following shoulder surgery, the Calgary Herald reports.
Analysis: Corey Potter is hoping to nab one of the final blue line spots available in Calgary, as the first five spots are pretty much locked down. Potter played sparingly with Edmonton and Boston last season, but the Flames like his game.

Tyler Wotherspoon
Flames' Wotherspoon Awaiting Contact Clearance
Tyler Wotherspoon, D, CGY
8:16 AM
News: After offseason shoulder surgery, Tyler Wotherspoon still has yet to receive medical clearance, the Calgary Sun reports.
Analysis: Tyler Wotherspoon is one of the contenders for the final few defenseman spots, so he's hoping to get cleared soon so he can show what he can do. He had a couple of points in limited action last season but has shown a lot of potential in both the AHL and NHL.

Mikael Backlund
Calgary's Backlund Has Abdominal Strain
Mikael Backlund, C, CGY
8:13 AM
News: Mikael Backlund has been limited in his practice with an abdominal strain, according to the Calgary Sun.
Analysis: Mikael Backlund should be fine for when the season starts, but be does have a history of being plagued with injuries. He's coming off a 39-point season, his best in the NHL so far.

 
 
 
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