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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
Braden Holtby
Caps' Holtby Pulled In First Period Saturday
Braden Holtby, G, WAS
12:59 AM
News: Braden Holtby surrendered three goals on thirteen shots, and was pulled late in the first period of Washington's 4-3 loss to the Predators on Saturday.
Analysis: It was a poor outing for Braden Holtby, who had won four of his last five starts heading into Saturday's match against the Predators, a powerhouse in the Western Conference. The decision to pull him early in the game likely means he will be called upon to start Sunday's crucial showdown with the Metropolitan Division leading Rangers, but check before game time to confirm the start. Despite the poor performance, Holtby owns a sterling 36-19-9 record, with a 2.18 GAA and .925 save percentage, on the season.

Jonas Hiller
Flames Turn To Hiller On Sunday
Jonas Hiller, G, CGY
12:49 AM
News: Jonas Hiller will be in the net Sunday against the Predators.
Analysis: Jonas Hiller has been the forgotten man in goal of late for the Flames, but he'll have a chance to stake his claim to the No. 1 gig with a strong outing against the Predators. Coach Bob Hartley has shown a tendency to ride the hot hand this season, and with Ramo's ratios starting to flat line, opportunity knocks for Hiller, who has a 21-18-4 record and 2.44 GAA this season.

Patrick Kane
Hawks' Kane Still On Target For Return
Patrick Kane, RW, CHI
12:43 AM
News: Patrick Kane, who is out with a broken clavicle, is still on track to return by the Western Conference Finals in the Stanley Cup playoffs if the Blackhawks get that far, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
Analysis: The original diagnosis was that Patrick Kane would miss 12 weeks that put his return by the Western Conference Finals. Blackhawks' coach Joel Quenneville though sort of left open the door that he could return earlier. Kane has recently been skating on his own so it has spurred some optimism in the Blackhawks' camp that he will return before the conference finals.

Brandon Sutter
Pens' Sutter Exits With Injury
Brandon Sutter, C, PIT
12:35 AM
News: Brandon Sutter exited Saturday's game against the Coyotes in the third period with an injury, Josh Yohe of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports.
Analysis: With only a few minutes left in the match, it appears unlikely that Brandon Sutter will return. He's the second player to exit for the Penguins, after defenseman Kris Letang was removed from the game in the second period following a hit into the boards. Sutter should be viewed as day-to-day heading into Sunday's match against the Sharks.

Trevor Daley
Stars' Daley Back In Saturday
Trevor Daley, D, DAL
12:22 AM
News: Trevor Daley (knee) will return to the lineup Saturday against the Canucks, Elliott Pap of the Vancouver Sun reports.
Analysis: It will be Trevor Daley's first game since March 3, when he suffered a knee injury following a hit from the Isles' Matt Martin. While his return probably comes too late to help the Stars chase down a wild-card spot in the Western Conference, Daley should bolster many fantasy rosters with postseason play underway in many leagues. Despite the missed time, Daley's 16 goals still rank him tied for third among all NHL defensemen.

Jason Garrison
Bolts Rule Out Garrison With Upper-Body Injury
Jason Garrison, D, TB
12:10 AM
News: Jason Garrison was ruled out from returning to Saturday's game against the Red Wings due to an upper-body injury, Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times reports.
Analysis: Jason Garrison skated just two shifts and logged 0:41 of ice time before departing. He should be considered questionable ahead of Monday's game in Montreal until the Lightning issue further word on the severity of his injury.

Markus Granlund
Flu Keep Flames' Granlund Out Of Practice
Markus Granlund, C, CGY
12:05 AM
News: Markus Granlund missed Saturday's practice due to a case of the flu.
Analysis: The illness could put Markus Granlund at missing Sunday's game against the Predators. Josh Jooris centered the Flames' third line at practice with Granlund unavailable.

Patrik Berglund
Blues' Berglund: Two Points, But First In 12 Games
Patrik Berglund, C, STL
3/28/2015
News: Patrik Berglund picked up his first points in 12 games when he scored a goal and added an assist in Saturday's 4-2 loss to Columbus.
Analysis: So much potential, so little production. Patrik Berglund has incredible talent, but it looks like he's settling into a 30-point kind of center. Unfortunately, this year, he's sitting at 22 (nine goals, 13 assists). He's not worthy.

Chris Stewart
Wild's Stewart Grabs Two Assists
Chris Stewart, RW, MIN
3/28/2015
News: Chris Stewart picked up two assists, five PIM, and was a plus-3 in Saturday's win over the Kings.
Analysis: A great fantasy outing for Chris Stewart, who has recorded points in back-to-back games. Skating on a line with Mikko Koivu, Stewart has recorded nine points (three goals) in 14 games since being traded to Minnesota. He's seeing power-play time and has been producing steadily for a surging Wild team, so he's worth riding while he's hot.

Sergei Bobrovsky
Jackets' Bobrovsky: Eight Wins In Last Nine Starts
Sergei Bobrovsky, G, CLB
3/28/2015
News: Sergei Bobrovsky made 29 saves in Saturday's 4-2 win over the Blues.
Analysis: Don't look now, but Bob the Goalie has won eight of his last nine starts -- can you imagine where the Jackets would be in the standings had Bob not missed so much time? Take advantage of this streak. He's smoking hot.

 
 
 
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