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What's on Schedule: Looking for a sleeper?

by | Rotowire.com
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It's going to be a light week in the NHL, comparatively speaking. Before we can get to next week's busy schedule -- which will even feature the rare five-game schedule for one team -- let's find a trend in the calm before the storm. On the shallow end, Edmonton plays only twice this week and Washington has only seven left in the month of February. With 24 teams playing three games this week, perhaps we can find an advantage amongst the five teams playing four games.

Four Games

Name a position and the Flames have a problem there. Mikael Backlund is out 4-6 weeks with sprained MCL and Michael Cammalleri is day-to-day with a hip flexor issue. With Miikka Kiprusoff (lower body) still out after a win over Columbus Calgary (MIN, DAL, STL, @DAL) shuffled Leland Irving out there for another start against Vancouver. Not only did Irving disappoint in the 'Nucks 5-1 win, but Alex Tanguay and Dennis Wideman had their point scoring streaks snapped. Danny Taylor is also with the big club to back up Irving for now, that is of course if his skates are regulation. Your best bet this week is to bet with those playing Calgary. SLEEPER SIGHTING: Center Ben Street made his NHL debut in the Vancouver game, registering a minus-2 with two shots on goal. The 25-year-old Street has 31 points (12G, 19A) through 44 games with the Abbottsford Heat this season.

Dallas (@EDM, @CAL, @VAN, CAL), who plays Calgary in a non-traditional home-and-home this week, is starting to get some normalcy back. Alex Goligoski was back in the lineup Friday against the Ducks, and had two assists. So far, Jamie Benn is flourishing, having posted four goals, two assists in three games. Even Derek Roy (58% owned) is rolling, having posted five of his six points this season during this current four-game point streak. SLEEPER SIGHTING: He's been quiet lately, especially since he only logs about 11 or 12 minutes per game, but center Cody Eakin (8% owned) has five assists this season and is a bit of a spark plug. If the young Stars look to shake things up, Eakin might be the wrench in the normalcy spokes.

St. Louis (LA, @DET, @CAL, @VAN) is not devoid of their own issues, mostly between the pipes. Another one of the teams playing the troubled Flames will be the Blues. After the Blues face L.A. at home, it's three straight on the road. Ordinarily I'd be in their corner, especially against Calgary, but all bets are off with Brian Elliott struggling in Jaroslav Halak's (groin) absence. SLEEPER SIGHTING: When the Blues traded away Ben Bishop last season, it wasn't just because of their excellent tandem of Elliott and Halak, but to make room for Jake Allen. Allen, despite giving up two goals to a lackluster Preds team last week, it was done in relief for the pulled Elliott who struggled again this past Saturday as well. Reportedly Hitchcock was "disgusted" with Elliott's last performance. If Halak remains on the shelf, it's looking like Allen will face Los Angeles at least.

With a 2-1 win over Nashville Saturday, Minnesota (@CAL, @VAN, COL, DET) has stopped the bleeding of a three-game losing streak. Zach Parise (illness), who missed practice last week in between games, logged 30 shifts for nearly 25 minutes of ice time Saturday in the win, so his health is not a concern. However, with just one point in his last six games, his production of late is. SLEEPER SIGHTING: Former first-round pick, defenseman Jonas Brodin (three assists in 8 games) is a trendy uptick pick and I tend to agree. Keep an eye on this one.

Since their 3-2 loss in Washington on the first of the month, Philadelphia (@TOR, @WPG, @NJD, @MTL) is on the uptick themselves. The Flyers are 3-0-1 since losing to the Caps, including a 2-1 win over Tampa Bay. However, before making parade plans in Philly, they will exclusively play games on the road this week including two back-to-back occurrences as well. So you're likely to look to their goalie as a sleeper, or will you? BACK UP GOALIE STATUS: Michael Leighton gave up five goals on 26 shots faced in his only game this season. Though a small sampling, Leighton's combined GAA (2.39) in eight career games against New Jersey and Montreal is fairly decent, but not so much against Toronto or Winnipeg. Then again, don't be surprised if Ilya Bryzgalov plays three of four. Speaking of three games, the follow teams will play three games this week, at least one of which will land on ...

Back-to-Back

Having won five of their six games this month the Ducks are nearly as hot as the Hawks, who they'll travel to play Tuesday. Anaheim (@CHI, @DET, @NAS) will then play the Wings and Preds on Friday and Saturday. Viktor Fasth (54 percent) has definitely been a large part of Anaheim's February success, and now with Jonas Hiller (groin) day-to-day, Fasth moves up on the depth charts until otherwise notified. BACK UP GOALIE STATUS: If Hiller's groin issue proves to be bothersome, Jeff Deslauriers (owned by 1 percent in CBSSports.com leagues) was called up from Norfolk of the AHL where he has a 3.51 GAA with a 1-1-0 record thus far. His limited career numbers against any of this week's opponents average well above four goals a game allowed.

After posting consecutive 40-save efforts last week, Cam Ward allowed four goals in an OT-loss to the Flyers. Carolina (@NYI, @NJ, TOR) is going to need Ward to be sharp early and often with back-to-back road tilts against the Islanders (Monday) and Devils (Tuesday), before heading home to host Toronto Thursday and then nothing till next week. BACK UP GOALIE STATUS: Prior to being horrific (four goals allowed on 12 shots) in last week's 5-3 loss to Philly, Dan Ellis (11 percent) had allowed just two goals in three games. Perhaps he can right the ship.

Losers of two straight, Columbus (SJ, @LA, PHO) will host San Jose, go idle until Friday only to go back-to-back on the road with Los Angeles and Phoenix this weekend. Steve Mason (17 percent) has been fairly dependable, but a 4-2 loss to Los Angeles last Tuesday may have inspired a start for Sergei Bobrovsky (46 percent) against Calgary two nights later. BACK UP GOALIE STATUS: Of course, Bobrovsky lost that game 4-3 in overtime and neither he nor Mason has shown an aptitude in taking this job by the horns. Mason does seem to be a bit more stable, but you may want to stay away from both against this week's opponents.

New Jersey (CAR, PHI, @NYI) stays at home for Carolina, Philly on Friday then to Long Island on Saturday. BACK UP GOALIE STATUS: Not a lot to say for the most under-used back up in the NHL. Johan Hedberg (14 percent) has done well (1-0-1, 0.48 GAA) in his time played, your guess is as good as ours whether or not he plays this week.

Buffalo visits Ottawa (BUF, @PIT, TOR) for the second week in a row. The Sens will then travel to Pittsburgh the next evening. A few days rest later they'll take on Toronto for what should be a good match-up Saturday. Craig Anderson has been human (eight goals allowed, last three games) lately, but there is no dethroning going on here. BACK UP GOALIE STATUS: Ben Bishop (12%) was fantastic in the 1-0 loss to Winnipeg Saturday. Again, if we had to guess, Anderson back in between the pipes in Buffalo, leaving Bishop to take on the Pens.

Starting with Columbus (Monday) and Nashville (Tuesday), San Jose (@CLS, @NSH, @CHI) will spend the entire week on the road. The winless (0-2-2) for February Sharks will take two days off and travel to Chicago for one of Friday's marquee games. Although Antti Niemi (6-1-2) did allow four goals to Chicago earlier this month, the Sharks' woes have little to do with their netminders. BACK UP GOALIE STATUS: We stand corrected; Thomas Greiss (13 percent) is perhaps more neglected than Hedberg. The Cory Schneider of the 2013 season with a little less organizational drama is currently 1-1-0 with a scintilating 1.01 GAA in his only two starts backing up Niemi.

AROUND THE LEAGUE SATURDAY: Brent Burns (lower body) made his season debut against the Coyotes. Burns had two hits, a minor penalty and one shot on goal. What else weird could possibly get in the way of Max Pacioretty's career. This time, Mikhail Grabovski's teeth? Vancouver's Jordan Schroeder scored his first two NHL goals against the Flames. Colorado's Gabriel Landeskog (concussion) is now considered day-to-day. Despite a minus-2 against Toronto, Brendan Gallagher continues a solid stay in Montreal. Gallagher (four goals, two assists) is a plus-5 with 15 penalty minutes and 23 shots on goal in just 10 NHL games. Petr Mrazek made his NHL debut in goal last Thursday, winning 5-1 over the Blues. With Jimmy Howard's ups and downs, Detroit is certainly hoping Mrazek can provide a stability they haven't had on their bench in a long time. Both Josh Bailey (12 TOI) and Lubomir Visnovsky (20 TOI) made their season debut in the Islanders 3-2 loss to Buffalo. Ryan Nugent Hopkins (22 TOI) also returned to the Oilers line-up Saturday after missing a game last week with general soreness in his shoulder.

TV Time (all game times EST)

Monday, Feb. 11: Kings at Blues, 8 p.m., NBCSports
Tuesday, Feb. 12: Rangers at Bruins, 7:30 p.m., NBCSports
Wednesday, Feb. 13: Blues at Red Wings, 7:30 p.m., NBCSports
Thursday, Feb. 14: Capitals at Lightning, 7:30 p.m., NHL Network
Friday, Feb. 15: Ducks at Red Wings, 7:30 p.m., NHL Network
Saturday, Feb. 16: Lightning at Panthers, 3 p.m., NHL Network
Sunday, Feb. 17: Penguins at Sabres, 12:30 p.m., NBC
Sunday, Feb. 17: Kings at Blackhawks, 3:30 p.m., NBC
Sunday, Feb. 17: Capitals at Rangers, 6 p.m., NBC Sports

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Player News
Taylor Chorney
Pens Reassign Chorney
Taylor Chorney, D, PIT
7:41 AM
News: Taylor Chorney was reassigned to AHL Wilkes-Barre Scranton on Wednesday.
Analysis: Taylor Chorney was one of three players that was reassigned to the minors Wednesday, joining Jeff Zatkoff and Dominik Uher. It likely signals that the three players that were isolated from the team the last two games out of concern that they might be dealing with the mumps -- Steve Downie, Brandon Sutter, and Thomas Greiss -- have tested negative for the virus. Official word on their status should come when the team resumes practicing Friday. Chorney had averaged just 5:32 of ice time over his two contests.

Jeff Zatkoff
Pens Reassign Zatkoff
Jeff Zatkoff, G, PIT
7:37 AM
News: Jeff Zatkoff was reassigned to AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Wednesday.
Analysis: Jeff Zatkoff's reassignment perhaps hints that Thomas Greiss tested negative for the mumps, which had forced him to isolate himself from the team for the past two games. Zatkoff had taken over backup duties during that time, very nearly leading the Penguins' to a comeback victory over the Lightning on Tuesday. He'll rank as the organization's first call-up option if Marc-Andre Fleury or Thomas Greiss are forced to miss future action.

John Curry
Wild's Curry Gets Reassigned
John Curry, G, MIN
7:28 AM
News: John Curry was reassigned to AHL Iowa on Wednesday.
Analysis: John Curry was an emergency call-up prior to Tuesday's game after Niklas Backstrom came down with an illness and was unavailable. It sounds like the Wild expect Backstrom to be back at full health coming out of the Christmas break, so Curry will head back to the minors, where he's been sharing goaltending duties with Johan Gustafsson this season.

Victor Hedman
Bolts' Hedman Snaps Scoring Slump
Victor Hedman, D, TB
12/24/2014
News: Victor Hedman registered an assist in Tuesday's 4-3 win over the Penguins.
Analysis: Victor Hedman also chipped in with a season-high six blocked shots, though he did bear some responsibility for a miscue that resulted in one Pittsburgh goal. In any case, the Bolts value Hedman primarily for his abilities on the offensive end, which haven't been readily evident of late. The assist snapped a streak of six games without a point for Hedman.

Steven Stamkos
Production Slowing In December For Bolts' Stamkos
Steven Stamkos, C, TB
12/24/2014
News: Steven Stamkos has recorded only three goals and an assist over his last nine contests.
Analysis: That level of production over that span of time certainly doesn't provide any reason for fantasy owners to sound the alarm, but it still represents the most significant dry spell of the season for Steven Stamkos. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Bolts have gone just 3-5-1 in those contests, though a slump of some extent was probably due to occur after the team's attack torched opponents over the season's first two months. The Tampa offense still looks like one of the league's strongest units in spite of its recent downturn in productivity, and Stamkos remains the lynchpin. Stay patient with the 24-year-old, as his resume of three 90-point campaigns suggest order will restore itself eventually.

Zach Redmond
Avs' Redmond Nabs Fourth Goal
Zach Redmond, D, COL
12/24/2014
News: Zach Redmond tallied his fourth goal of the season in Tuesday's 5-0 win over the Blues.
Analysis: Though he didn't enter the season with a regular role on the Avs' blue line, Zach Redmond has proven to be a suitable replacement for both Brad Stuart and now Ryan Wilson. With 10 points and a plus-5 rating over 23 games, Redmond offers more offensive upside than the typical third-pairing defenseman, making him legitimately interesting in deeper formats.

Martin Brodeur
Blues' Brodeur Perfect In Relief
Martin Brodeur, G, STL
12/24/2014
News: Martin Brodeur stopped all 10 shots he faced while playing the final period of Tuesday's loss to the Avalanche.
Analysis: Martin Brodeur's strong showing was largely ineffectual with the Avs already holding a 5-0 lead at the time of his entry into the game for the struggling Jake Allen. Neither Blues goalie is playing well at the moment, and while Allen will have a longer leash than Brodeur, there should be room for the 42-year-old to see a steady dosage of work until Brian Elliott (knee) returns.

Erik Johnson
Avs' Johnson Gets Goal In Third Straight
Erik Johnson, D, COL
12/24/2014
News: Erik Johnson netted his first game-winning goal of the season in Tuesday's 5-0 triumph over the Blues.
Analysis: Not only was Erik Johnson able to get some revenge of the team that formerly drafted him with the No. 1 overall draft choice, but he also extended his goal streak to three games. The 26-year-old has been one of the few positives to emerge out of a grim season thus far for the Avalanche, as his nine goals and 19 points have him on his way to eclipse his previous career bests of 10 and 39, respectively, in those categories.

Brad Stuart
Avs' Stuart Assists Twice Tuesday
Brad Stuart, D, COL
12/24/2014
News: Brad Stuart picked up two assists in Tuesday's 5-0 win over the Blues.
Analysis: The two helpers marked the first points in 18 games on the season for Brad Stuart, who offers his most value to the Avalanche on his own end of the ice. The 35-year-old blueliner won't blow you away with his hit or block totals either, making him mostly a non-entity in the fantasy game.

Steve Downie
No Mumps Update Until Friday For Pens' Downie
Steve Downie, RW, PIT
12/24/2014
News: The results of Steve Downie's tests for the mumps won't be available until Friday.
Analysis: With the NHL observing a three-day break in the schedule for the holidays, the status of Steve Downie, Brandon Sutter, and Thomas Greiss will remain shrouded in mystery until the Pens reconvene for practice. Downie has already missed the team's previous two games as a precaution.

 
 
 
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