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Right on Schedule: Who's hot, who's not?

by | Rotowire.com
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This week's NHL schedule features 11 teams playing four games, as more than half of the league is playing on back-to-back nights at some point. So let's get your lineups straight before you switch focus to your Valentine's Day.

NHL schedule

Spending time with those backups

Headlining those playing on back-to-back nights is Washington and San Jose. Washington, despite playing only three times this week, will technically play on back-to-back nights twice, starting with their game Monday against San Jose. All four of San Jose's games this week will occur on back-to-back nights, more on this later. Also playing on back-to-back nights will be Anaheim, Boston, Buffalo, Carolina, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Minnesota, Ottawa, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Toronto, Vancouver, Winnipeg.

I ain't missing you

Los Angeles, Ottawa and Philadelphia play only twice this week. The Sens go on back-to-back nights against the NHL's two Floridian teams, while the Flyers take on Sabres and Penguins from home. Meanwhile, the Kings will host the ‘Yotes and Flames. Of the three teams, only Ottawa will bounce back with four games next week.

True love plays

Anaheim (@MIN, PIT, NJ, FLA), which started out the road trip with an OTL (2-1) in Detroit, hopes to bounce back and avenge their 3-2 home loss to the Blue Jackets earlier this month. From there, the Ducks' road trip goes to slumping Minnesota. After their game with the Wild, it's time for the Ducks to take on three strong Eastern Conference teams. Will Teemu Selanne be moved before the trade deadline?

After squeaking by Nashville on Saturday, Boston (vs. NYR, @MON, WPG, MIN) enjoys a few days off. The Bruins will then host the Rangers on Tuesday and take to the road for three in a row to end the week. Bruins centers may be the reason for their lack of consistency lately. One of their key centers is David Krejci, who has one point in his last seven games.

Buffalo (vs. NJ, @PHI, vs. MON, PIT) looks to continue their new ways with four games this week. The Sabres shocked a few people, blowing out the previously mentioned Bruins 6-0 in Buffalo last Wednesday. In fact, if not for two one- goal losses, Buffalo could be 5-0 in February. We'll find out just how alert Lindy Ruff's bunch is with a four-game schedule this week. Defenseman Christian Ehrhoff is showing some spunk lately, registering a goal, an assist and two penalty-minutes in his last three games.

I'm just not sure things can get any uglier for the Hawks in February. Winless in their last eight games, Chicago (@NSH, NYR, CLS, vs. STL), has been outscored 24-10 in their five regulation losses this month. Granted, all five games has been a part of an eight-game road trip, but that road trip continues this week. The once favored Blackhawks now find themselves heading to the Music City and Manhattan with absolutely no steam. Literally adding injury to insult, two of Chicago's defenseman Niklas Hjarlmarsson (concussion) and Steven Montador (upper-body) are dealing with injuries.

As their schedule has heated up Dallas (@DET, vs. CAL, @PHO, vs. NSH) has shown flickers of youth, for good or ill. A disheartening OTL to Buffalo on Friday leaves them 11th in a very tight Western Conference race heading into their home game with the Kings. Including tonight's game with Los Angeles (seventh, 63 points), the Stars will need to start notching a few two-point nights against those they're battling for conference position. Perhaps Detroit is out of reach, but Nashville, Phoenix and Calgary all currently sit within 11 points of Dallas. Loui Eriksson finally broke the snide and registered his first point of the second half last Friday. Alex Goligoski had a productive week (11.5 points going into Sunday night) for CBS Fantasy owners. Kari Lehtonen had to be pulled halfway through back-to-back starts.

Minnesota (vs. ANH, WPG, @STL, vs. BOS), much like Dallas and Chicago, has found the month of February to be damning to their playoff-cause. Unlike the Stars and Blackhawks, the problem with Minnesota is they simply never had the offensive threats to get back to good in the first place. Our case-in-point is a 3-1 home loss to Columbus this past Saturday night. Niklas Backstrom (1-3-1, .911 save percentage, SHO) has started five consecutive games, but should get a break at some point this week.

After starting out February on a three-game losing streak, Montreal (vs. CAR, BOS, @BUF, vs. NJ) has seemingly found their groove. The Habs head into the week with a four-game winning streak capped off by ruining (5-0) Mats Sundin's jersey night in Toronto last Saturday. Montreal is outscoring their opponents 15-4 during this win streak. As long as players like Max Pacioretty (four goals in the last 34 minutes of ice time) keep producing, they have a good chance to extend it against this week's inconsistent opponents.

San Jose (@WAS, TB, CAR, DET) takes the cake of ugliest schedule over the next two weeks. Starting with this Sunday night in St. Louis, the Sharks head out on a nine-game road trip. Technically they have two back-to-back games this week, with the first coming on Monday and then a back-to-back set against the Southeast Division's Lightning and Hurricanes. They then close out the week with the Red Wings at 12:30 p.m. (EST) on NBC. San Jose backup, Thomas Greiss is 3-0-1, with a .942 save percentage in four starts since the beginning of the new calendar year.

It's been almost a month since Vancouver (vs. PHO, COL, TOR, @EDM) lost in regulation. Another team heavily dependent upon the one-goal win, the Canucks are 3-0-2 this month and have outscored their opponents 17-14 in that span. This week's schedule may suggest an offensive boost or two, as Vancouver is 8-1 against their opponents over the next seven days, outscoring those teams 36-16 in their previous contests. Just be mindful that Henrik Sedin has been playing through an ankle injury.

Up until the offensive showdown with Pittsburgh this past Saturday, Winnipeg (vs. NYI, @MIN, vs. BOS, COL) has been teetering on the one-goal decisions all month. Now .500 on the month heading into a very busy week, it appears the Jets most offensive weapon is warming up. Although he missed the end of December and all of January due to injury, it's a good sign when Dustin Byfuglien (two goals, two assists in last two games) has points in consecutive games.

Team of the Week

St. Louis (@CLS, vs. NYI, MIN, @ CHI), enjoying the month of February, is playing four games this week. Winners in four of their five February games, the Blues have preferred the one-goal win variety lately. Outscoring their opponents 12-9 in the month of the groundhog, St. Louis is getting the job done and is firmly planted within the top five of the conference. T.J. Oshie is on the rise again as well, three points in his last two games.

TV Time (all games EST)

Feb. 13: Sharks at Capitals; 7:30 p.m. on NBCSports Network
Feb. 14: Ducks at Wild; 7:30 p.m. on NBCSports Network
Feb. 15: Bruins at Canadiens; 7:30 p.m. on NBCSports Network
Feb. 19: Devils at Canadiens; 6 p.m. on NBCSports Network

Regional games on NBC Sunday

Feb. 19: Penguins at Sabres; 12:30
Feb. 19: Blues at Blackhawks; 12:30
Feb. 19: Sharks at Red Wings; 12:30
Feb. 19: Bruins at Wild; 3:30

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
Jake Muzzin
Kings' Muzzin Returns To Lineup
Jake Muzzin, D, LA
6:36 AM
News: Jake Muzzin logged over 20 minutes of ice time in his return to the lineup Thursday.
Analysis: Jake Muzzin didn't factor into the scoring in a 2-0 win over the Sabres but was able to log some pretty heavy minutes in his first game back. He could see some extra time on the team's second power play until Slava Voynov's situation is resolved.

Marco Scandella
Wild's Scandella Off To Strong Defensive Start
Marco Scandella, D, MIN
5:43 AM
News: Marco Scandella had three shots on goal and was a plus-two in Thursday's win over Phoenix.
Analysis: Marco Scandella doesn't have a point this season but he's played solid defense as he's plus-five and has seven blocked shots. Sandella's value isn't in scoring points, but it looks like he's set for another strong year in plus/minus rating and other defensive stats.

Jay Harrison
Canes' Harrison Benched
Jay Harrison, D, CAR
5:28 AM
News: Jay Harrison was a healthy scratch for Thursday's loss to the Flames, sitting in favor of John-Michael Liles who was returning to the lineup following a bout of upper-body soreness.
Analysis: This is not a surprising move, as Liles gives the struggling Canes a bit of an offensive boost from the back end. With Liles' return, the team now has a full contingent of eight healthy defensemen, making it difficult to predict when Jay Harrison will be inserted back into the lineup. For fantasy purposes, go with another viable alternative if you have one.

Semyon Varlamov
Avs Confirm Varlamov As Friday Starter
Semyon Varlamov, G, COL
12:57 AM
News: Coach Patrick Roy confirmed Semyon Varlamov (groin) as the Avs' starter Friday against the Canucks.
Analysis: Semyon Varlamov will officially be activated from injured reserve prior to Friday's game, with Calvin Pickard likely heading back to AHL Lake Erie in a corresponding move. The goalie missed only three games due to the groin injury and should man the net for the entirety of Friday's game, barring an early scoring barrage by the Canucks.

Corey Crawford
Chicago's Crawford Could Skate In Next Day Or Two
Corey Crawford, G, CHI
12:53 AM
News: Coach Joel Quenneville said Thursday that Corey Crawford (upper body) could begin skating in the next day or two, CSN Chicago's Tracey Myers reports.
Analysis: The Blackhawks continue to view Corey Crawford's upper-body injury as short-term concern, with the team only ruling him out for their next two games thus far. With Crawford unavailable Thursday, Antti Raanta will make the start against the Predators. Raanta or call-up Scott Darling would then be called upon to man the net in the final game of the Blackhawks' road trip, which will take place Saturday in St. Louis.

Jonas Hiller
Flames Go With Hiller On Thursday
Jonas Hiller, G, CGY
12:49 AM
News: Jonas Hiller has been confirmed as Thursday's starter in goal for the Flames' tilt with the Hurricanes, Scott Cruickshank of the Calgary Herald reports.
Analysis: Coach Bob Hartley will continue to deploy his pattern of alternating starts between his two goalies, as Jonas Hiller gets the nod after resting Tuesday against the Lightning. The Flames are expected to turn the net back over to Karri Ramo on Saturday, when the Capitals will come to town.

Jhonas Enroth
Sabres Will Start Enroth On Thursday
Jhonas Enroth, G, BUF
12:38 AM
News: Jhonas Enroth will be in the crease Thursday against the Kings.
Analysis: After backup Michal Neuvirth received the nod in Thursday's loss to the Ducks, Jhonas Enroth will return to the net against a tough Kings squad on the road. Enroth may need to hold the opposition to one or fewer goals to give the Sabres any chance at salvaging a point Thursday.

Anthony Peluso
Jets' Peluso Nursing Upper-Body Injury
Anthony Peluso, RW, WPG
12:32 AM
News: Anthony Peluso missed Thursday's practice with what was described as a minor upper-body injury, Ken Wiebe of the Winnipeg Sun reports.
Analysis: While it doesn't look like the ailment is serious enough to result in a move to injured reserve for Anthony Peluso, he could still be forced out of Friday's game against the Lightning. Since Peluso's a fourth-liner who averages only 6:35 of ice time per game, the Jets wouldn't lose much by swapping him out for Matt Halischuk for a game or two.

Evander Kane
Jets' Kane Making Positive Progress
Evander Kane, LW, WPG
12:28 AM
News: Coach Paul Maurice said Evander Kane (knee) is progressing well and could begin skating before the end of the week, Ken Wiebe of the Winnipeg Sun reports.
Analysis: The Jets likely won't have a definitive timetable on Evander Kane until after he starts taking part in practices in some capacity, but an early- to mid-November return would seem realistic at this time. The winger was set to play a vital role for the Jets on the second line to open the season, before he suffered the knee injury after just 1:24 of action in the team's first game.

Thomas Hickey
Isles' Hickey Will Play Thursday
Thomas Hickey, D, NYI
12:22 AM
News: Thomas Hickey (face) will play Thursday against the Bruins.
Analysis: Thomas Hickey exited Tuesday's game against Toronto after suffering a cut to his face, but it was never viewed as serious enough to keep him out of further action. He'll occupy a spot on the Islanders' second pairing, where he'll be joined by a new partner in Lubomir Visnovsky (back), who was activated from IR on Thursday.

 
 
 
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