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Right on Schedule: Full slates push Fantasy races

by | Rotowire.com
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Some of you owners with maximums and minimums on the mind definitely need to dissect the next 14 days carefully. With only two full weeks left in the season, a quick glance at the remaining schedule shows us 14 NHL teams are playing a full (four-game) schedule this week. Furthermore, 17 teams are playing four games next week, so it's certainly imperative to insert only the best players on your roster. Here it begins - the light at the end of the tunnel.

NHL schedule

Hanging On

Toronto (@BOS vs. NYI @NJ vs. NYR): The Leafs have merely a mathematical hope of making the playoffs. But the Jekyl-side of James Reimer (2-0 63-65) has appeared the past two games against Tampa Bay and Ottawa and has Maple Leafs loyal clammering about more than just mathematics. Toronto has games on back-to-back nights on two occurrences this week.

San Jose (vs. ANH @LA vs. BOS vs. PHO): With a tough road of fellow playoff-hungry conference rivals in their schedule, oddly enough, only Boston looks like an appealing game. Center Tommy Wingels has missed three straight games with an undisclosed upper-body injury while veteran right-winger Martin Havlat returned to the scoring sheet in a big way. Havlat grabbed two goals in just his second game back during the Sharks 3-2 win over Detroit.

Buffalo (@ TB vs. MON @NYR vs. MIN): The Sabres have been one of the most consistent teams since the trading deadline, causing a ruckus in their conference playoff hunt. Having lost two straight going into Sunday, this week's four-game schedule could put an end to that ruckus. Tyler Ennis has 15 points (seven goals, eight assists) in his last 16 games.

Los Angeles (vs. SJ vs. STL vs. BOS): Most concerning for Kings fans should be that their team will play San Jose (series tied 1-1-1) three times in the final three weeks. Right-winger Dustin Brown has not been the same since whispers of a possible trade began before the deadline. Despite being kept quiet in a 4-2 win over Nashville on St. Patrick's Day, the veteran winger has six goals and 11 assists in his last 13 games. Additionally, Brown has been a plus-9 for the Kings, who are tied for eighth in the conference headed into Sunday's action.

Tampa Bay (vs. BUF vs. EDM vs. NYI): After a showdown with the Sabres, the Lightning has a fairly low strength of schedule this week. Let's face it, though, even their GM started paying more attention to their AHL affiliate after the trading deadline. If the Lightning make the playoffs, I'll fly there for their first home game. At least the future looks good for Tampa Bay as the aforementioned Norfolk Admirals have won an AHL-record 17 straight games. What a number!

Calgary (@COL @MIN @DAL): Regardless of the fact that the Flames have half an army of role players on the injured reserve, they're hanging tough. Defenseman Mark Giordano (three goals, five assists in nine March games) appears to be heating up just in the nick of time and Lee Stempniak returned Sunday from an ankle injury.

Winnipeg (@PIT @WAS @NSH): Winnipeg had a commanding 5-2 win over Dallas, but as mentioned last week, they'll need to rely on Ondrej Pavelec, who has been less-than-stellar on the road.

Washington (@DET @PHI vs. WPG vs. MIN): If the Caps can survive the first half of their week, the second half may provide them with some breathing room on the eighth and final spot in the East. Mike Green is back, and Roman Hamrlik is back to street clothes.

Dallas (vs. PHO vs. VAN vs. CAL): Currently first in the Pacific has the Stars ranked third in the West. This can change quickly as the Stars will face three strong teams from home this week. Loui Eriksson (15 points in his last 11 games) is finally burning bright. Despite a 4-1 loss to Chicago, Kari Lehtonen is 8-1-1 in his last his last 10 starts.

Easy Pickings

Minnesota (vs. VAN vs. CAL @BUF @WAS): By far the team to pick on, players taking on the Wild could be considered easy fantasy points this week. Going into Sunday's action with Carolina, Minnesota is being outscored 32-14 in nine March games. All four of Minnesota's opponents this week have something to fight for and may bloody an already beat up Twin Cities squad. Mikko Koivu is still day-to-day for Monday's game against Vancouver. Meanwhilte, Wild.com is reporting Niklas Backstrom (groin) is nearing a return to action.

Columbus (vs. CHI vs. CAR vs. EDM): After starting out the month 5-0 and hanging tough with St. Louis and Vancouver, the Blue Jackets have lost four in a row heading into their Sunday match up with Calgary. Columbus heads home for three straight.

Losing Steam

New York Rangers (vs. NJ vs. DET vs. BUF @TOR): Losers of two in a row, the MSG faithful have their Stanley Cup contending boys at home for a busy, three of four at home. Rangers captain Ryan Callahan is back from injury and Mats Zuccarello is back from Connecticut of the AHL. Zuccarello scored the team's lone-goal in their loss to Colorado this past weekend.

Vancouver (@MIN @ CHI @ DAL @ COL): After squeaking out a 4-3 win over Columbus, no one is quite sure where to seed the Canucks. Let's see if four games away from home can help straighten the ship. Once again, talk around the British Columbia ice hockey club is to replace Roberto Luongo with Cory Schneider. Schneider (two assists this season) is 9-1-1 in his sporadic spot starts since the December 29. Defenseman Alexander Edler has three goals and an assist in his last five games. Left-winger Chris Higgins has two goals, seven assists in his last nine games and is currently riding a five-game point scoring streak.

Boston (vs. TOR @SJ @LA @ANH): Same goes here for the Bruins, who after hosting the hungry Leafs, will head out West for three games. Right-wingers Rich Peverley (torn MCL in right knee) has resumed skating, while deadline pickup Brian Rolston has a goal and an assist in last two games.

Building Momentum

Pittsburgh (vs. WPG vs. NSH @OTT vs. NJ): Though Sidney Crosby (17 points in 11 games this season) has yet to find the back of the net since coming back three games ago, he has notched five assists since Thursday. Pittsburgh has not lost in regulation since a 6-2 loss to Buffalo on Feb. 19.

Ottawa (vs. NJ @MON vs. PIT): As if Boston wasn't playing bad enough for the Sens to take over the lead in the Northeast Division, Ottawa can also attribute their new-found divisional lead to their GM Bryan Murray. In hindsight, they may turn out to have completed the most underrated trade in quite some time. Traded from St. Louis due to a traffic jam for a mere second-round draft pick (2012), goalie Ben Bishop (3-1-2) has been everything he was at the AHL level. The Sens are gearing up for a deep run this year with a rookie goalie that may have the chops to get it done. Last week the Canadian (TOR, MON) rivalry, this week a few east coast visitors for Bishop.

St. Louis (@ANH @LA @PHO): The Blues are the first team to eclipse 100 points in the 2011-12 campaign. How they handle this road-trip against those clawing to make the playoffs could make for an interesting week. Left-winger Jaden Schwartz made the most of first NHL shot on goal, scoring during his debut this past weekend. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports a bit of good new on the horizon as Jason Arnott (general soreness) should return to the Blues' lineup this week, possibly Wednesday against Anaheim. Andy McDonald began treatment for his injured shoulder and did some off-ice stick-handling drills.

Your CBS Stream

Still no return date for New Jersey's Travis Zajac (Achilles). Nashville's Paul Gaustad (upper body) did not play Sunday against the Ducks. Rene Bourque had a goal and five shots on net, Aaron Palushaj scored his first NHL goal and defenseman Andrei Markov played a season-high 21:49 of ice time in a losing cause as the Canadiens fell to Isles in a 3-2 shootout. Preds forward Colin Wilson was a healthy scratch for two games this past weekend. Taylor Hall (concussion) missed Sunday's night's game against Phoenix.

TV Time (all games in EST)

March 19: Devils at Rangers, 7:30 p.m., NBC Sports

March 20: Coyotes at Stars, 8 p.m., NBC Sports

March 21: Red Wings at Rangers, 7:30, NBC Sports

March 25: Wild at Caps, 5 p.m., NBC Sports

March 25: Predators at Blackhawks, 7:30 p.m., NBC Sports

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- all updated in real time. Download the CBS Fantasy App.

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Player News
Bryan Bickell
Hawks' Bickell Scores First Goal Of Season
Bryan Bickell, LW, CHI
6:48 AM
News: Bryan Bickell scored his first goal of the 2014-15 season and also registered an assist in the Blackhawks' 4-0 victory over the Flyers on Tuesday.
Analysis: Bryan Bickell earned a new contract a couple of years ago for his work in the Stanley Cup playoffs en route to winning the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals. The Blackhawks are looking for more during the regular season than the 11 goals and four assists he had last season in 59 games. For this season he has one goal and two assists in the first five games.

Calle Jarnkrok
Preds' Jarnkrok Struggling To Add Offense
Calle Jarnkrok, C, NSH
5:32 AM
News: Calle Jarnkrok was held off the scoresheet for the sixth consecutive game Tuesday against the Coyotes.
Analysis: Calle Jarnkrok has a boatload of offensive talent, but is having a hard time realizing it while skating on the Preds' third line with Olli Jokinen and Viktor Stalberg. The best fantasy owners can probably hope for is for Jarnkrok to receive a promotion to a scoring line, however the team is deep at center with Mike Ribeiro and Derek Roy anchoring the top two lines. Furthermore, the roster will soon become even more crowded down the middle with Mike Fisher (Achilles) due back in late November. Jarnkrok owners may want to start looking around for viable alternatives.

Taylor Beck
Preds' Beck Riding Pine
Taylor Beck, LW, NSH
5:19 AM
News: Taylor Beck was a healthy scratch for the third consecutive game Tuesday against the Coyotes.
Analysis: Taylor Beck has only managed to find his way into the lineup for two games this season, posting an assist in one of them. For now, coach Peter Laviolette is opting to roll with a combination of Viktor Stalberg, Olli Jokinen, Gabriel Bourque and Eric Nystrom as his checking line forwards, leaving Beck on the outside looking in. He should not be on anyone's fantasy roster right now.

Derek Roy
Preds' Roy Chips In For Win Over Coyotes
Derek Roy, C, NSH
5:07 AM
News: Derek Roy tallied an assist during Tuesday's 4-3 shootout win over the Coyotes, giving him four points in six games to start the season.
Analysis: Derek Roy has been a steady source of offense for the new-look Preds this season, skating primarily on the team's second line alongside Colin Wilson and Craig Smith. Going forward, Roy should continue to see plenty of opportunities to add to his totals, both at even strength and on the power play.

Carey Price
Canadiens' Price Wins Again
Carey Price, G, MON
4:23 AM
News: Carey Price stopped 27 of 28 shots in Tuesday night's 2-1 win over the Red Wings. It was his fifth win in six starts.
Analysis: Carey Price has weathered a shaky start to the season while the team bailed him out. Now, with two straight normal Price-performances, the goals-against average is below 3.00 and the save percentage above .900.

David Desharnais
Habs' Desharnais Pots OT Winner
David Desharnais, C, MON
4:10 AM
News: David Desharnais scored in overtime to seal Tuesday night's 2-1 win over the Red Wings. It was the first goal of the season for Montreal's top-line center.
Analysis: Aside from a big night against the Bruins last week, the first line has been relatively quiet to start the season. That'll change. David Desharnais, Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher will be team scoring leaders before the season is done.

Alex Galchenyuk
Canadiens' Galchenyuk Scores Late
Alex Galchenyuk, C, MON
3:58 AM
News: Alex Galchenyuk scored late in regulation in Tuesday night's 2-1 overtime win against Detroit. The streaking Galchenyuk has goals in two consecutive games and at least one point in six of the first seven.
Analysis: The kid also doled out another three hits and used his physicality at the crease to slip one by the Wings' Jimmy Howard, who didn't deserve to take this loss. A more physical Alex Galchenyuk has stood out early in the season.

Aaron Ekblad
Panthers' Ekblad Earns Assist In OT Win
Aaron Ekblad, D, FLA
3:58 AM
News: Aaron Ekblad assisted on Aleksander Barkov's goal in the first period Tuesday against the Avalanche.
Analysis: The first overall pick in the 2014 entry draft continues to impress for the Panthers. The assist was his second of the season and he had just over 20 minutes of ice time.

Dale Weise
Canadiens' Weise On Third Line
Dale Weise, RW, MON
3:54 AM
News: Dale Weise was inserted into the active lineup for Tuesday night's game against Detroit, playing right wing on the third line in place of rookie Jiri Sekac.
Analysis: Dale Weise had three shots on goal and a team-high six hits in 13:14 of ice time. The third line were a combined minus-17 with one goal through the first six games, so head coach Michel Therrien thought a change was needed.

Jiri Sekac
Canadiens Scratch Sekac
Jiri Sekac, LW, MON
3:47 AM
News: Jiri Sekac was a healthy scratch for Tuesday night's game against Detroit. Dale Weise, himself a healthy scratch three times in the first six games, took his spot in the active lineup.
Analysis: The third line has been the laggard in Montreal's hot start to the season, so head coach Michel Therrien changed it up by inserting Weise on the combination with Rene Bourque and Lars Eller.

 
 
 
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