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Right on Schedule: The real work begins now

by | Rotowire.com
  •  

Planning on grabbing a beer and setting your lineup for the second half? Not so fast sir. Even with All-Star weekend upon us, there's still some work to do.

This Sunday, you'll be faced with some interesting lineup changes. Players who have been stashed on your bench all season long are ready to blossom and maybe give you that gooey feeling over the next three days of hockey. This week, we examine a backup goalie and one position player that may help you win some points in a three-day Fantasy week. Let's start with the Western Conference, who has six teams playing two games this week while the Eastern only has four.

NHL schedule

Western Conference

CLS (@NSH, TB): Columbus was truly the worst team of the first half, and although you were advised last week to trust no one Fantasy-wise, perhaps that was a bit harsh. Sure, they've only felt that winning locker room feeling four times since December 15, but that doesn't mean that they're completely devoid of Fantasy value, does it? Sure, Radek Martinek (concussion since early October) has been ruled out for the remainder of the season, but there's got to be someone to trust on the Blue Jackets team! Brett Lebda? Forget the fact that defenseman Grant Clitsome has been scratched for the last five games. Sure, they have a laundry list -- defenseman James Wisniewski (broken ankle), center Jeff Carter (separated shoulder), left winger Kristian Huselius (lower body), left winger R.J. Umberger (concussion) -- of imperative players out until at least mid-to-late February, but there's got to be a reason to bet on Columbus. The Jackets are one of 10 teams that have the raw advantage of two games, back-to-back this week. After taking Detroit to a shootout, surely there's a reason to invest in a team with whom no one else is pulling from the pool. Yeah, I've got nothing.

DET (vs. STL, @MON): Going into this past Saturday's action, an extension of their five-game winning streak was a foregone conclusion as the Wings were playing the aforementioned Blue Jackets. This week, the Red Wings put their six-game winning streak on the line against division rival St. Louis and slumping Montreal.

First year Motor City man, defenseman Ian White, Nicklas Lidstrom's partner in crime, has 24 points in 43 games.

Since allowing four goals on 18 shots to Toronto on January 7, Jimmy Howard (29-10-1) has won five straight, notching a shutout and a .937 save percentage in that span. Should the Wings split up this week's duties, deduct an embarrassing loss to a reinvigorated Islanders team and Ty Conklin has been solid (2-0, 1.88) on Howard's rest days this month against Chicago and Dallas.

EDM (vs. SJ, @VAN): According to his mom, Taylor Hall WILL be wearing a helmet in warm-ups at least for a while. What's worse? After the Hall mishap, the Oilers let a two-goal lead fade away against the Blue Jackets. Things don't get much easier as Edmonton's youth movement takes on two strong teams this week.

Jordan Eberle notched his first point (assist) since coming back from his knee injury in Saturday's 4-1 loss to Calgary.

Devan Dubnyk (2-2, 3.03 GAA in his previous five January games) took over on Saturday, after Nikolai Khabibulin (0-5-1 in January) yielded four goals on 16 Calgary shots.

NSH (vs. CLS, @CHI): Seven days after losing to the Preds in an Avs jersey, Brandon Yip was claimed off waivers from Colorado. Perhaps Nashville is banking on Yip and Colin Wilson to re-live the days of old, when they won a national championship (2009) together at Boston University. Both forwards Yip (41 points in 113 career NHL games) and Jerred Smithson (two of his five season points in the last five games) joined the Nashville lineup this past Saturday against Chicago. After a gimme game with Columbus, the Preds head to Chicago the next night for the second half of their home-and-home with Chicago. Nashville chased Chicago's Corey Crawford quite handily this past Saturday and tied the series at one game apiece.

Sergei Kostitsyn, seven goals, four assists (plus-8) in January, continues his consistent ways.

Having won 15 of his last 18 starts, there's no doubt Pekka Rinne (7-1 in January) is the number one man in town. However, with back-to-back games, expect Anders Lindback to steal you a couple points this week. No, Lindback hasn't exactly been terrific in limited action (2-5 in five starts this season), but regardless, he should be licking his chops readying for Columbus.

SJ (@EDM, CAL): San Jose (1-3 last week), who started out 2012 on a hot streak is limping to the break. Going through a bit of a scoring drought, the Sharks hit the road for two games. Defenseman Colin White (lower-body injury) returned last week and was a minus-2 with one shot on goal, three blocked shots, averaging around 14 minutes of ice time in two games.

Second-year center Andrew Desjardins has four assists (plus-3, 2 PIM) over his last four games.

With San Jose playing in back-to-back games, if anyone other than Antti Niemi starts, I can assure you, it will not be Antero Niittymaki. Niittymaki, was assigned to Worcester of the AHL for a second conditioning assignment in two months.

STL (@DET, PIT): No longer the alpha team of the Central division, we're all about to find out if the Blues are contenders or pretenders. By the time they're done visiting Detroit and Pittsburgh, they'll need the rest of All-Star weekend.

David Backes enjoyed a two-goal, two-assist night against the injury depleted Buffalo Sabres. This gives Backes five goals, seven assists, a plus-8 and 23 PIM in nine January games.

After the Blues signed Brian Elliott to a two-year extension Wednesday, there's a traffic jam in the St. Louis net-minding scheme. Jaroslav Halak (14-7-5) has been a solid goalie lately. So, what should they do with Ben Bishop, who waits in the AHL wings? Bishop (17-12, 2.36 GAA) was recently named the AHL Player of the Week. Bishop notched his league-leading sixth shutout last week. The 25-year-old is waiting to hear about the AHL All-Star game.

Eastern Conference

NYI (@TOR, vs. TOR): Ebbs and flows? Who knows, but for the second consecutive week, we're talking about a team that WAS ebbing and now is flowing. The Islanders are turning things around and heading into a traditional home-and-home with yet another slumping Canadian team, Toronto.

Arguably the most productive NHL forward in January, John Tavares (19 goals, 29 assists) is pulling the Islanders out of their dire straits. Would you consider Tavares, who is on a 12-game point streak (21 points), for league MVP if he continues this type of pace?

Evgeni Nabakov (6-3, SHO in January) has allowed an average of one goal per game over his last four starts. The consistency is of course bringing the W's for the Islanders. Al Montoya was activated and Kevin Poulin returned to the AHL last week after a disappointing 3-1 loss to Nashville. It's not guaranteed that Montoya will give Nabakov a rest this week, as the Russian is hot to trot.

OTT (@LA, PHO) The Senators continue their four-game west coast swing with two more games before heading home to enjoy the All-Star festivities. Already 8-2-1 in January heading into the week, Ottawa would love to roll into Boston (after the break) full of steam.

Colin Greening (11 goals, 15 assists) has certainly showed a propensity for producing more consistently this campaign. Greening, who notched two goals against the Sharks, last week, has three goals and five assists (+3) in the month of January.

Since (12.27.11) allowing three goals on seven Montreal shots, Craig Anderson (25-13, 4) has not only been the key to Ottawa's success, but quite possibly the hottest (.950 SV %) goalie in hockey. He has started 17 straight games, but will he get a rest with back-to-back games this week? Alex Auld is 1-3-2 with a 3.73 goals against average.

TOR (vs. NYI, @NYI): Maybe it's the hypothetical tinkering of GM Brian Burke, but after starting out 2012 on a four-game winning streak, the Leafs have now lost four of their last five games. Two weeks ago, had you asked Toronto how they felt about a home-and-home with the Islanders going into the All-Star break, I'm sure an ear-to-ear smile would have been the natural reaction. All of a sudden, this could be an interesting mini-series.

It's possible defenseman John-Michael Liles (concussion) and right-winger Colby Armstrong (concussion) could play one game before All-Star weekend, but more than likely they will both sit it out till after the break. Either way, you may want to sit Liles due to rust, and just keep Armstrong on the watch list.

Go with the Gustavsson ... Jonas Gustavsson is the key to the Leafs turning things around and locking them into a playoff spot. Though James Reimer hasn't been a pushover, he hasn't shown nearly as much consistency this season as Gustavsson. Either way, you're likely to see each goalie get a start this week.

WPG (@CAR, NYR): Neither team is a pushover, so it could be yet another tough week for the Jets (3-6-1 in January), who travel to Raleigh and Manhattan this week. In order to find the good news for Manitoba ice hockey, you'll need to look beyond this week. The month of January ends with their ninth of 13 January games in Philadelphia after the All-Star break.

Up until Saturday night, defenseman Tobias Enstrom had a three-game goal scoring streak. Although Enstrom's (minus-4 in January) turnover resulted into a Florida goal, he did manage an assist, totaling three goals, five assists in 10 January games.

Although Ondrej Pavelec (2-5 in January) has continued his inconsistent ways, its noteworthy, in his two wins this month, Pavelec carries a .965 save percentage.

NOTES and QUOTES: Canucks forward David Booth has two goals and an assist since returning to the lineup three games ago. The Hurricanes made several moves last week, including trading left winger Alexei Ponikarovsky to the New Jersey Devils for minor-league defenseman Joe Sova and New Jersey's fourth-round pick in this year's draft. Ponikarovsky, (seven goals and eight assists in 49 games with Carolina) paid immediate dividends, scoring the Devils only goal in a 4-1 loss to the Flyers on Saturday. Kyle Palmieri (goal, assist in 10 NHL appearances) was recalled by Anaheim on Saturday.

NBCSports Network (all games EST)

Monday: Blues at Red Wings, 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday: Wild at Avalanche, 9 p.m.
Wednesday: Red Wings at Canadiens, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday: All-Star Skills Competition, 7 p.m.
Sunday: All-Star Game, 4 p.m.

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Player News
Alex Tanguay
Avs Reverse Course, Rule Tanguay Out Tuesday
Alex Tanguay, LW, COL
11/26/2014
News: Alex Tanguay (fractured jaw), who was expected to return to the lineup Tuesday against the Coyotes, will instead miss his second consecutive game, Mike Chambers of the Denver Post reports.
Analysis: After it was indicated a day earlier that Alex Tanguay wouldn't have to miss further time due to the jaw injury, coach Patrick Roy said the forward was still experiencing blurred vision and pain on the side of his head following Tuesday's morning skate. Fortunately, it doesn't sound like the setback is significant for Tanguay at the moment, so with an extra day off, the possibility exists that he could be ready to go when the Avs return home for a game Wednesday versus the Blackhawks.

Clayton Stoner
Ducks' Stoner Skates Tuesday Morning
Clayton Stoner, D, ANA
11/26/2014
News: Clayton Stoner (illness) took part in Tuesday's morning skate but doesn't think he'll be cleared to return until the weekend, Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register reports.
Analysis: Merely being on the ice amounts to a good sign for Clayton Stoner, as it was feared that he had been the latest Ducks player to succumb to the debilitating mumps virus. Stoner's symptoms were believed to be similar to the virus, but team doctors determined his particular illness wasn't contagious after he never experienced a fever. He's still need to skate for a few days to get his conditioning back up to par before coach Bruce Boudreau decides whether or not to use him Friday versus the Blackhawks.

Donald Brashear
Ex-NHLer Brashear Signs With Swedish Team
Donald Brashear, LW, ATL
11/26/2014
News: Donald Brashear signed a contract with MODO of the Swedish Hockey League on Tuesday.
Analysis: The move seemingly comes out of nowhere, as Donald Brashear hasn't played professional hockey since the 2009-10. It appears Brashear's relationship with former Flyers teammate Peter Forsberg, who serves as MODO's assistant GM, might have influenced the club's decision to bring him aboard. The long-time tough guy will be tasked with protecting MODO's stars, which most notably includes Maple Leafs prospect William Nylander, a top-10 pick in last June's NHL Entry Draft.

Sergei Bobrovsky
Jackets To Start Bobrovsky On Tuesday
Sergei Bobrovsky, G, CLB
11/26/2014
News: Sergei Bobrovsky will be in the net Tuesday against the Jets.
Analysis: Since holding the Sharks to one goal on 37 shots in his return from injured reserve Nov. 15, Sergei Bobrovsky has dropped his last three turns, yielding at least three goals in all of them. Fortunately, he'll have a good chance to turn the tide versus a struggling Jets attack that rank 29th in the NHL in scoring with 1.95 goals per game.

Bo Horvat
Horvat To Stick With Canucks
Bo Horvat, C, VAN
11/26/2014
News: Bo Horvat will remain with the Canucks rather than return to his junior team after his nine-game trial ends.
Analysis: Recalled by the Canucks earlier in November after missing the season's first month while recovering from a shoulder injury, Bo Horvat needed to impress out of the gate to warrant staying in Vancouver, and he was able to do just that. He's been especially superb over the Canucks' last two games, potting his first NHL goal on Nov. 20 and gathering three assists in Sunday's victory Sunday night. The 19-year-old could notice increased ice time after the three-assist performance, so it's certainly worthwhile to track him the next few games and possibly pick him up if he continues to thrive.

Ryan Miller
Canucks Going With Miller On Tuesday
Ryan Miller, G, VAN
11:53 AM
News: Ryan Miller will be between the pipes Tuesday against the Devils, Tom Gulitti of The Record reports.
Analysis: Ryan Miller remains tied for the league lead with 13 wins, but he's paled in comparison to the top netminders in nearly every other statistical category. Nonetheless, he'll continue to ride the coattails of the Canucks' impressive attack and should be viewed as the favorite to come away with the victory Tuesday in Vancouver. Former Canuck goalie Cory Schneider gets the starting nod for the Devils.

Ryan McDonagh
Rangers' McDonagh Not Returning Wednesday
Ryan McDonagh, D, NYR
11:49 AM
News: Despite getting in a full practice Tuesday, Ryan McDonagh (shoulder) doesn't expect to play Wednesday versus the Lightning, Andrew Gross of the Bergen Record reports.
Analysis: Ryan McDonagh was a full participant in practice and was encouraged by how the skate went, but seemed to acknowledge that he needs some additional time to get his conditioning back up to snuff. The captain has been out for over three weeks with the separated shoulder, but may be ready to reenter the lineup Friday against the Flyers.

Jimmy Howard
Red Wings' Howard To Start Wednesday
Jimmy Howard, G, DET
11:28 AM
News: Jimmy Howard will start Wednesday's game against the Flyers, Ansar Khan of MLive.com reports.
Analysis: Jimmy Howard and the Red Wings will square off against a Flyers team that went 1-4-1 and averaged just two goals per contest over its last six games.

Alec Martinez
Kings' Martinez Takes Part In Morning Skate
Alec Martinez, D, LA
11:22 AM
News: Alec Martinez (finger) took part in Tuesday's morning skate, Jon Rosen of LA Kings Insider reports.
Analysis: Alec Martinez stayed on the ice for extra work following the session, so it does not appear he will play Tuesday. It's not entirely clear when he will be able to play next, as it was reported earlier this week that he would be "out a while;" however, with him skating each of the last two days, it looks like he could return earlier than expected.

Frederik Andersen
Ducks' Andersen To Start Tuesday
Frederik Andersen, G, ANA
11:05 AM
News: Frederik Andersen will be between the pipes for Tuesday's game against the Flames, Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register reports.
Analysis: Frederik Andersen has won two straight starts after losing five of six to start the month. He will face off against a hot Calgary team that has scored at least four goals in seven of its last 11 games.

 
 
 
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