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Right on Schedule: Final week offers fireworks

by | Rotowire.com
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While you're tempted to switch all your Fantasy energies over to the pending MLB season and you're thinking the rest of the NHL season is red tape, think again. For our last schedule analysis, we'll break down four teams in each conference, most of them vying for the remaining two playoff spots in each conference. With several of them playing each other, it's going to be a sizzling final week in the NHL's regular season.

NHL schedule

Going through the motions

First, let's take care of some variables. Playing four games, the Lightning (vs. WAS @MON @TOR @WPG) do not have much left to play for. Even with a full eight-point sweep of the week the Lightning still fall one point short of Washington's current team point total. ... If you own a goalie on any of the following teams playing two games this week you may want to re-think your roster. The barely squeaking Blackhawks (@MIN @DET) fortunately already locked up their playoff spot. The Flames (vs. VAN vs. ANH) will host two before closing up shop for the summer. The Avalanche (vs. CLS vs. NSH) are scheduled off until Thursday and have very slim playoff hopes even after beating Calgary 4-1 last Friday. Although they do play Columbus (@PHO, @COL vs. NYI) on Thursday, the Blue Jackets haven't exactly been pushovers, winning three straight heading into the final week.

Most likely candidates

Eastern Conference

Losers of two straight, the up-and-down Buffalo Sabres (vs. TOR @PHI @BOS) are currently trailing the Capitals by two points, and both teams have three games remaining. Buffalo is a combined 4-7-2 against this week's opponents. One to watch: Although Tyler Ennis continues to be one of the most productive Sabres, it's Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek that may provide the most offense. Pominville (six goals, nine assists) and Vanek (six goals, six assists) have a combined 27 points this season against this week's opponents.

After surviving the weekend with not one, but two blown leads only to win in a shootout each time, the cardiac kids of the NHL are the Washington Capitals (@TB vs. FLA @NYR). The Caps will literally have fate in their own hands with not only a chance to make the playoffs but a chance to win the Southeast division. Washington is a combined 7-5-1 against this week's opponents. One to watch: With Nicklas Backstrom (concussion) just coming back, the offensive expectation is on Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin for the final week of the season. However you may be surprised that Jason Chimera could be the wild card for the Caps. Chimera has a combined five goals and four assists in 13 games against this week's opponents.

Also losers of two straight, if the Florida Panthers (vs. WPG @WAS vs. CAR) are to continue their spring slide and actually fall to second place in the Southeast, it could cause a domino effect of changes here. Florida is a combined 7-5-1 against this week's opponents. One to watch: Kris Versteeg has had a great year against Winnipeg, scoring six goals, grabbing two assists in just four games. Against Washington (0 points in 4 games) and Carolina (2 points) is a different story. Look for the usual contributors Tomas Fleischmann and Brian Campbell to be the big punch this week in Florida. In 15 games against this week's all divisional schedule, Fleischmann has seven goals and six assists while Campbell has 13 assists this season against this week's opponents.

With only three games remaining, the Winnipeg Jets (@FLA @NYI vs. TB) could end up the spoiler here, especially on Tuesday in Florida. Winnipeg is a combined 6-4-3 against this week's opponents. One to watch: Yes, Evander Kane has been quiet lately, but regardless of playoff berth, the Jets still have a bit of pride to play for and Kane figures to be a part of that. Kane has a combined seven goals, six assists in ten games against this week's opponents.

Western Conference

On the outside looking in, the Dallas Stars (vs. SJ @NSH vs. STL) had their chance last weekend to take over the eighth and final playoff spot. The Sharks won that game 3-0, leaving the Stars losers of two straight and limping into the final week. The Sharks lead the season series 4-1. Overall Dallas is 4-7 against this week's opponents. One to watch: Mike Ribeiro had a very streaky (four goals, 10 assists) March, registering a point in just about every other game. If the Stars are going to survive and go past the first round, there's no two ways, it's going to have to be cause of Ribeiro. Ribeiro particularly has liked the Predators this season, scoring three goals and two assists in just three games against Nashville.

Much like Washington, headed into Monday's action, the San Jose Sharks (@DAL @LA vs. LA) have the most control over their spring plans. With one game against aforementioned Stars and a home-and-home series with Los Angeles, it's going to be an exciting week for the NHL in California. San Jose is 6-3 against this week's opponents. One to watch: Logan Couture (30 goals, 30 assists) is in the midst of the biggest goal-scoring dry spell (10 games without a goal) in his short NHL career. Will it continue? Couture has a combined four goals and three assists in nine games against the Stars and Kings this season.

Of all the teams in the Pacific and Western conference still battling it out, the Los Angeles Kings (vs. EDM vs. SJ @SJ) have the most to lose. Currently first in the Pacific and third in the conference, the Kings will host the Oilers and then prepare for the Sharks. With Jeff Carter (ankle) out, the Kings may need their defense and goaltending to weather the storm. Los Angeles is a combined 3-2-2 against this week's opponents. One to watch: Drew Doughty and Willie Mitchell will be an integral part of any run the Kings have this season. Mitchell has two assists and is a plus-3 in four games against San Jose this season while Doughty has three assists against the Sharks.

Though tied with Los Angeles for the lead in the Pacific, the Phoenix Coyotes (vs. CLS @STL @MIN) are actually seventh in the conference. However, with a bit of determination and lower strength of schedule, it could be the Coyotes celebrating by the end of the week. After hosting the suddenly warm Blue Jackets (lead season series 3-0), the Coyotes will play the Blues and Wild on back-to-back nights to end the regular season. Phoenix is a combined 1-7-1 against this week's opponents. One to watch: While Ray Whitney (24 goals, 51 assists) has been the talk of the town in Phoenix this season, you may want to keep the other eye on Radim Vrbata. Vrbata (33 goals, 27 assists) has a combined 56 points in 95 career games against this week's opponents.

Resting for the road ahead

A lot of teams who have already clinched their ticket to the playoffs are now looking ahead of this week. Teams like the Rangers (@PHI @PIT vs. WAS) that are still attempting to lock up the President's Trophy may not rest as much as you think. However, be cognizant of teams like Nashville (vs. MIN vs. DAL @COL), who may elect to rest Pekka Rinne and in the process sharpen Anders Lindback for what is expected to be a deep run by Nashville.

TV Time

As for TV Time this week, it's chalk-filled with some terrific match-ups that include teams jockeying for a final playoff spot as well as some possible preview matches for what's to come in the post-season. A week of action so exciting you'll need to evict everyone from the living room to enjoy!

April 2: Capitals at Lightning, 7 pm (NBC Sports)

April 3: Penguins at Bruins, 7:30 pm (NBC Sports)

April 4: Red Wings at Blues, 7:30 pm (NBC Sports)

April 5: Rangers at Penguins, 7 pm (NBC Sports)

April 6: Coyotes at Blues, 8:30 pm (NBC Sports)

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Player News
Clayton Stoner
Ducks' Stoner Scores Game Winner Sunday
Clayton Stoner, D, ANA
12:29 PM
News: Clayton Stoner scored the game winner in the third period of Sunday night's clash in Dallas.
Analysis: Not normally known for his goal-scoring prowess, the defenseman was able to score his first goal in nearly a full calendar year. Seeing as how his career total is now at five goals and 33 assists, don't expect the 30-year old to suddenly become fantasy viable.

Corey Perry
Ducks' Perry Hits Scoresheet Twice In Win Sunday
Corey Perry, RW, ANA
12:22 PM
News: Corey Perry tallied a goal and an assist in Sunday's win over the Stars.
Analysis: The points give Corey Perry 45 points on the season. Despite missing 15 of his team's 64 games this season, Perry is only second to linemate Ryan Getzlaf in team scoring.

Ryan Getzlaf
Ducks' Getzlaf Records Milestone Marker
Ryan Getzlaf, C, ANA
12:16 PM
News: Ryan Getzlaf tied Paul Kariya for second on the Ducks' all-time scoring list with a goal and an assist Sunday in Dallas.
Analysis: This gives Ryan Getzlaf 669 points in 693 career games for the Ducks. He now has 61 points in 61 games this season, good enough for eighth place in NHL scoring.

John Gibson
Gibson Shines For Ducks In Win Over Stars
John Gibson, G, ANA
12:05 PM
News: John Gibson stopped 39-of-40 shots faced Sunday night in Dallas.
Analysis: This was John Gibson's fifth win in his last six starts, as it appears that both him and his team have worked their way out of a slump. However, it appears that Gibson will be relegated to backup duties very soon with regular starter Frederik Andersen fully recovered from a head/neck injury. Keep a close eye on Gibson's status for upcoming games.

Chad Johnson
Sabres Trade Neuvirth For Islanders' Johnson
Chad Johnson, G, NYI
10:56 AM
News: The Sabres acquired Chad Johnson and a third-round pick in 2016 for Neuvirth on Monday.
Analysis: The tank job is on full blast in Buffalo and poolies shouldn't touch either Chad Johnson or Anders Lindback with a 50-foot pole. Johnson has played in 19 games this season and sports a 8-8-1 record with a .889 Sv% and 3.08 GAA on a good Islanders team. Those numbers will get worse with the Sabres, but at least Johnson will get his chance to play. Going forward, a timeshare with Lindback is expected since both goalies are considered below average.

Colin Wilson
Preds' Wilson Struggling To Add Offense
Colin Wilson, C, NSH
10:53 AM
News: Colin Wilson was held off the scoresheet for the fourth consecutive game Saturday against the Red Wings.
Analysis: Most fantasy owners probably jumped on the Colin Wilson bandwagon back in December, when he closed out the month with seven points in five games, and followed that up with 13 points in 12 games during the month of January. However, the lion's share of these points were recorded when Wilson was playing on the Preds' second line with Mike Fisher and James Neal; since then, he's been bumped down to the third line with Calle Jarnkrok and Mike Santorelli, where the scoring opportunities are harder to come by. At this point, it's probably best to keep Wilson on your fantasy bench until his prospects improve.

Henrik Sedin
Canucks' H. Sedin Scores To Extend Points Streak
Henrik Sedin, C, VAN
10:53 AM
News: Henrik Sedin potted a goal in the second period Sunday, helping the Canucks to a 6-5 shootout win over the Blues.
Analysis: Henrik Sedin extended his points streak to seven games with the marker, and he's now littered four goals and 13 assists in box scores since February began. He'll look to continue the hot streak Tuesday for a home tilt against the Sharks.

Michal Neuvirth
Neuvirth Headed To Long Island In Goalie Swap
Michal Neuvirth, G, BUF
10:49 AM
News: Michal Neuvirth was dealt to the Islanders on Monday in exchange for goalie Chad Johnson and a 2016 third-round draft pick, Sportsnet.ca reports.
Analysis: With Michal Neuvirth sent packing, the Sabres have now traded away both of their top two goaltenders from the start of the season. It was after the trade that sent Jhonas Enroth to Dallas earlier this month that Neuvirth began to receive more intrigue around the league, as he thrived during his stint as the No. 1 goalie, finishing February with a 3-4-2 record, 2.28 GAA, and .938 save percentage. While he will now be the clear backup to Jaroslav Halak on Long Island, Neuvirth will make for a serviceable spot starting option nearly any occasion he takes the ice, due largely to the massive upgrade in his supporting cast that should result in more wins. However, as a byproduct of having a superior defense in front of him, Neuvirth doesn't figure to see nearly as many shot attempts as he often did in Buffalo, which could lead to a decline in his save percentage.

Cam Ward
Canes' Ward In Net Monday
Cam Ward, G, CAR
10:48 AM
News: Cam Ward will start in net Monday against the Blackhawks.
Analysis: Cam Ward has been hot in net lately, winning each of his last four contests between the pipes. He cooled down a bit in his last outing, allowing three goals in the tilt, but still came out victorious. He will have to be up to the task Monday to continue his streak, as he will face one of the most powerful offenses in the league in the Blackhawks.

Tyler Kennedy
Islanders Obtain Kennedy
Tyler Kennedy, C, SJ
10:39 AM
News: The Islanders acquired Tyler Kennedy from the Sharks on Monday in exchange for a conditional third-round draft pick, Newsday's Arthur Staple reports.
Analysis: Tyler Kennedy, who recorded four goals and five assists in 25 games for the Sharks this season, will boost the Islanders' depth up front, though a wait-and-see approach is in order from a fantasy perspective until his linemates/role with his new team are solidified.

 
 
 
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