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Right on Schedule: Gear up for a big week

by | Rotowire.com
  •  

With only eight of the 30 NHL teams playing four games this week, you might think it's going to be a slow week. Not so fast sir or madam. The remainder of the 22 teams will all play three games and 17 teams will play on back-to-back nights at one point. So with a very small variable, how can we gain at least a small edge over our opponent?

Ah, deadline time!

NHL schedule

Headed for the links

Probably the most gawked team in the NHL right now, Columbus' futility has the Blue Jackets at the storm's eye of the NHL trading deadline. The Columbus Dispatch reported a few of the key reactions. "It's extremely tough," left winger R.J. Umberger went on to elaborate. "A guy like Rick Nash being all over the news. Whether it's true, if it happens or doesn't happen, it affects our team because he is this organization. When you think Columbus Blue Jackets, you think Rick Nash. It's tough." Meanwhile, GM Scott Howson told The Dispatch something a bit more generic. "We're going to do whatever it takes to make our team better." If goalie(s) Steve Mason or Curtis Sanford are moved, look for pup Allen York to get more playing time. Another trading tool, defenseman, James Wisniewski is considered day-to-day after pulling a groin. To top things off, Columbus (vs. SJ, COL, @PIT) has a dirty schedule this week.

Edmonton's Ales Hemsky (4 goals, 20 assists) wants a long-term deal. With so many young guns to begin locking up on this squad, would it be a smart investment? You betcha! Hemsky is the iron man of this team, having played 534 straight games since joining the Oilers. Needless to say, this is the kind of attitude you want around a bunch of young kids. But, if the offer is right, GM Steve Tambellini could pull the trigger on just about anyone, including struggling tender Nikolai Khabibulin. Left-winger Ben Eager has two goals, an assist, seven penalty minutes and seven hits over his last three games. Edmonton (@CAL, vs. PHI, PHO) will play two of three from home.

With their most appealing trade-bait, Tuomo Ruttu, sidelined (upper-body) beyond the trading deadline, Carolina will most likely push the press on their intent to re-sign Ruttu. But how will that change the suitors of the 28-year-old? Defenseman Jaroslav Spacek (seven points in 22 games) is possibly on the move before the deadline as well. Left-winger Jiri Tlusty (14 goals, 11 assists) has a point in every one of his seven games (plus-7) this month. The Hurricanes (vs. WAS, ANH, FLA) will host three this week, including two divisional games starting with Washington on NBCS Monday.

Nearing what Buffalo spent on Ville Leino's (four goals, 13 assists, -6) six-year contract this past summer, are the Sabres' medical expenses this season. Though Leino has shown some spark (especially since moving to a younger second line unit) as of late, could the Fin be out as quick as he came in? Buffalo (vs. NYI, BOS, @NYR) hosts two of three.

Big schedule

We knew it was coming and for Blackhawks fans, it came in the nick of time. Chicago used a 4-2 win over the heavily favored Rangers to catapult themselves back into coherence. After losing their first six games (all on the road) in February, Chicago bounced back and outscored their opponents 10-3 to end their eight-game road trip on a high note. Hell, even Corey Crawford (2-0, .944) came around this week. Defenseman Brent Seabrook, averaging 26-plus minutes of ice time per game, has two goals and three assists in his last seven games. The Blackhawks (vs. DET, DAL, @LA, ANA) hope to continue their feeling with two at home and then two more on the road.

In what has been a very busy February, Dallas (4-4-2) has barely kept their head above water with .500 hockey. Things will begin to settle for the Stars after this week, but first they must get through some difficult teams including another back-to-back schedule. Dallas is 0-8-2 on the second night of back-to-back games. Jamie Benn missed both games this past weekend with a leg laceration and is listed as day-to-day. The Stars (@MON, CHI, vs. MIN, VAN) hit the road for two, then home for two more.

Fresh off welcoming center Dominic Moore (assist, four shots on goal in debut) to the team, San Jose may not be done with trade deadline. With right-winger Martin Havlat (hamstring) is expected to return in time for the playoffs, the Sharks may look to solidify their goaltending situation as Antti Niemi has been suspect in the month of February (1-3-1, .862) and rookie Thomas Greiss may not be ready to lead this team to a Cup. The Sharks (@CLS, TOR, NSH, MIN) will play four on the road.

It took all week, but that offensive Vancouver explosion we talked about in the schedule analysis last week did come against Toronto in the form of 6-2 win. More buzz-worthy was the arrival of Chris Tanev, 22-year-old defenseman. Tanev, who played 18-plus minutes in place of the injured Keith Ballard, registered 14 assists in 34 regular season AHL games with the Chicago Wolves. The Canucks (@NSH, DET, NJ, DAL) take to the road for a brutal schedule.

Truly more applicable to "headed for the links," the Islanders are just playing with the emotions of their fans. John Tavares (24 goals, 34 assists) and P.A. Parenteau (12 goals, 41 assists) are doing all they can to provide a glimmer of hope for the Nassau Coliseum faithful, but this team hasn't felt a winning streak since mid-January. Defenseman Travis Hamonic (nose) has resumed skating and Kevin Poulin (won 4-3 over Carolina Saturday) is up from AHL Bridgeport while Evgeni Nabokov (flu) gets better. The Islanders (vs. OTT, @BUF, vs. NYR, @OTT) will continue the audition of their trading chips (i.e. Steve Staios) with an alternating home-and-road schedule, including two with Ottawa.

Ottawa (seventh in the Eastern Conference) on the other hand, has quietly taken control of their playoff-life, going 3-0-1 and outscoring (17-9) their last four opponents heavily. Neither are Fantasy-applicable, but a few former first-round players are contributing to the confidence as of late. Defenseman Brian Lee registered his first multi-point effort and center Jim O'Brien scored his first NHL goal last week against the Panthers. The Senators (@NYI, vs. WAS, BOS, NYI), as previously mentioned will take on the indecisive Isles twice this week.

Also more applicable to headed for the tee, general manager Stevie Y [Yzerman] has made it clear, his team (11th in conference) will not be buyers. After trading veteran role players like Dominic Moore and Pavel Kubina, there's not a lot to say about their playoff chances. Though I'm sure Martin St. Louis (18 goals, 34 assists), Vincent Lecavalier (21 goals, 25 assists) and Steven Stamkos (40 goals, 27 assists) feel differently. To top it off, the Lightning (vs. ANH, @WPG, PIT, NJ) host Anaheim then hit the road for three this week.

Warding off division rivals Tampa Bay and Winnipeg is Dale Hunter and his barely breathing Washington Capitals. The good news is defenseman Mike Green returned last week and played 14-plus minutes in a 2-1 loss to the aforementioned Lightning. With Nicklas Backstrom (concussion symptoms) still out and Keith Aucoin having been ineffective in five NHL games, the Caps (averaging 2.22 goals scored per game) need an offensive jolt. Though their playoff chances won't be clear until well after the deadline, the Capitals (@CAR, OTT, vs. MON, @TOR) hope to have a great week on the road with the personnel they currently have.

Gearing Up

No, Chris Pronger won't be back, but the Philadelphia Flyers (@WPG, EDM, CAL) have added two veteran defensemen, Nicklas Grossman (Dallas) and Pavel Kubina (Tampa Bay) to offset that. Left-winger James van Riemsdyk returned from a concussion with three hits and an assist. Recently recalled left-winger Eric Wellwood has a goal and two assists in his first four games this season. Having given up four draft picks -- and AHL forward Jon Kalinski -- in the last three days, regardless of their teetering goal-tender situation, I think it's safe to say Philly is pushing for a cup run now. The Flyers (@WPG, EDM, CAL) have three on the road this week.

The St. Louis Blues' plan to add "from within" is seemingly working. Not only is David Perron (10 points in last seven games) as hot as anyone in the league, but he's awakening players like T.J. Oshie and Patrik Berglund. Add in the unbreakable tandem of Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott, and one of the league's top scoring defenseman in Alex Pietrangelo, yep, the St. Louis is finally playing the right tune at the right time. The Blues (vs. BOS, @NSH, WPG) have a fairly tough road ahead of them after hosting the defending Stanley Cup champion Bruins.

Some Others

Pittsburgh's Jordan Staal may catch up to more productive brother Eric very soon. Jordan (four goals, two assists since returning five games ago) logged 16.5 CBS Fantasy points last week. The Penguins (vs. NYR, TB, CLS) will play three this week. Prior to publishing, word is Matt Duchene (24 points in 39 games) will return (knee) to the Avalanche (vs. LA, @CLS, DET) lineup this Sunday, lining up with Paul Stastny and Milan Hejduk. Montreal's (vs. DAL, @WAS, FLA) Tomas Kaberle has a goal and an assist in his last three games. New Jersey's (@TOR, vs. VAN, TB) Adam Henrique (four points in his last four games) is back to his productive ways. Minnesota's (@FLA, DAL, vs. SJ) Mikko Koivu (undisclosed) is day-to-day. Detroit's (@CHI, vs. VAN, COL) Jimmy Howard (broken finger) is expected to start this Tuesday against Chicago.

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Player News
Cam Talbot
Rangers' Talbot Silences Flyers
Cam Talbot, G, NYR
11/29/2014
News: Cam Talbot stopped all 26 shots he faced to blank the Flyers on Friday.
Analysis: That gives Cam Talbot back-to-back shutouts against the Flyers, who failed to get one by the netminder when the two teams met last week. Despite his extraordinary success against Philadelphia, coach Alain Vigneault will resist the temptation to go back to him in Saturday's rematch, as Henrik Lundqvist has already been announced as that game's starter. In any case, the back-to-back positive turns amount to a nice confidence boost for Talbot, who had mostly struggled in his other outings this season.

Frederik Andersen
Ducks To Start Andersen On Friday
Frederik Andersen, G, ANA
11/29/2014
News: Frederik Andersen led the Ducks on to the ice and will make the start in goal Friday versus the Blackhawks.
Analysis: Frederik Andersen has reeled off three straight wins on the heels of a five-game losing streak, but he'll face a stiff test at home against Chicago. Friday's game will mark the first of a back-to-back set for the Ducks, so it's possible coach Bruce Boudreau will turn to backup Jason LaBarbera on Saturday.

Jesse Blacker
Ducks Recall Prospect Blacker
Jesse Blacker, D, ANA
11/29/2014
News: Jesse Blacker was recalled from AHL Norfolk on Friday, Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register reports.
Analysis: Clayton Stoner was officially diagnosed with the mumps virus and ruled out of Friday's game against the Blackhawks, forcing the Ducks to bring up Jesse Blacker for his NHL debut. The 23-year-old, who is considered one of the organization's better blue line prospects, has four points in 14 games with Norfolk.

Clayton Stoner
Ducks' Stoner Has Mumps, Out Saturday
Clayton Stoner, D, ANA
11/29/2014
News: Clayton Stoner (illness) has been officially diagnosed with the mumps virus and will not play Friday against the Blackhawks, Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register reports.
Analysis: Clayton Stoner practiced Thursday and seemed well on his way to returning to action, but apparently some late-emerging symptoms of the mumps will knock him out of action. The setback has to be concerning for the Ducks, who now might have to worry about further players potentially being infected by Stoner. Corey Perry and Francois Beauchemin previously missed multiple games with the illness.

Mike Green
Caps' Green To Sit Again Friday
Mike Green, D, WAS
11/29/2014
News: Mike Green (upper body) will not play Friday against the Islanders, Alex Prewitt of the Washington Post reports.
Analysis: Jack Hillen will spell him in the Capitals' lineup for the second straight game. It hasn't been reported that Mike Green has resumed skating since suffering the injury, so it's not clear when he might rejoin the lineup.

Johnny Boychuk
Isles' Boychuk Ruled Out Friday
Johnny Boychuk, D, NYI
11/29/2014
News: Johnny Boychuk will miss Friday's game against the Capitals with an upper-body injury.
Analysis: Johnny Boychuk had been missing practices recently with a suspected knee issue, so the fact that he'll sit out Friday with an upper-body injury comes as a surprise. The blueliner, who has been highly productive since coming over in a trade with the Bruins late in training camp, will be considered day-to-day for the time being. Brian Strait takes his spot in the lineup Friday.

Chad Johnson
Isles To Go With Johnson
Chad Johnson, G, NYI
11/29/2014
News: Chad Johnson will be in the crease Friday against the Capitals.
Analysis: Chad Johnson will spell the red-hot Jaroslav Halak in goal, but only because the Islanders are playing the first game of a back-to-back set. The move from Boston to Long Island hasn't proven overly kind for Johnson, despite the 5-2 record he carries into Friday's contest. His 3.33 GAA and .876 save percentage rank 38th and 42nd, respectively, among the 42 qualifying goaltenders.

Chris Kreider
Rangers' Kreider Won't Play Saturday
Chris Kreider, LW, NYR
2:35 PM
News: Chris Kreider won't play Saturday due to the death of his grandfather, Jim Cerny of the Rangers' official site reports.
Analysis: Chris Kreider did play in Friday's game, recording an assist, but Saturday is a different story. The team also recalled J.T. Miller on Friday, who will likely replace him in the lineup.

Ben Scrivens
Oilers Start Scrivens Friday
Ben Scrivens, G, EDM
2:17 PM
News: Ben Scrivens will start in net Friday against the Blues, John Shannon of Sportsnet reports.
Analysis: Ben Scrivens was pulled in his last start last Saturday after allowing five goals on 13 shots. He now carries a 4-9-1 record, a .887 save percentage and a 3.35 GAA with him into Friday's matchup with the Blues.

Tom Gilbert
Canadiens' Gilbert Scratched Friday
Tom Gilbert, D, MON
1:49 PM
News: Tom Gilbert is a healthy scratch Friday night, Hockey Inside Out reports.
Analysis: Head coach Michel Therrien will go with just six defensemen Friday, so someone had to sit.

 
 
 
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