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Right on Schedule: Dealing with a full slate

by | Rotowire.com
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After a 61-game schedule last week, the NHL schedule dwindles down a bit from last week to 50 total games. However, just one team plays less than three games and all 11 teams playing four games this week play on back-to-back nights leaving plenty of room for developing an advantage.

Flying Four

Is there a team more confident in their goalie than Anaheim (@LA, NAS, MIN,@PHX) is in Viktor Fasth? Obviously it's not hard to suggest Matt Beleskey should continue his production as long as he's skating with the top line. However…SLEEPER SIGHTING: It's a risk, but we think Kyle Palmieri is due for a big week. The Long Island native has four goals in six career games versus the Kings, Wild and 'Yotes. Now it's just a matter of whether can continue breaking into third line depth.

Boston's (@NYI, OTT, TB, MON) Dougie Hamilton continued his pace towards consistency notching two assists in the Bruins 4-2 win over Tampa Bay. Tuukka Rask has yet to lose in regulation this month and only once all season. However, despite being in goal for the aforementioned win over the Lightning, Rask's career numbers against the Canadiens are better than those against the Lightning. So look for him to yield to Anton Khudobin against the Lightning on Saturday. SLEEPER SIGHTING: Nothing in his career stats versus these opponent's pops out, but Jonnny Boychuck has been historically more productive through his career in the month of March than February. Call this one a hunch.

A new coach in Buffalo (@TB, @FLA, NJD, @NYR), but the same old play? Three of 4 on the road are not exactly the best circumstances for such. There is no guaranteed win these days for the Sabres. Ryan Miller has exactly the same career GAA (2.20) against the Devils and Rangers. SLEEPER SIGHTING: If new head coach Ron Rolston decides to shake things up more, he could sit Jhonas Enroth (0-2, 4.73 GAA) for either the Devils or Rangers game and bring up more new blood like David Leggio who is 26-15-1-2 with a  2.74 GAA at Rochester of the AHL this season.

Carolina (@WAS, PIT, FLA, @FLA) has been the epitome of two steps forward, one step back all season. Losers of three in a row heading into Sunday's game with the Islanders, due to Tampa Bay's inconsistencies and a weak Southeast, the Canes are constantly a win away from jumping seven spots in the conference standings. Neither Cam Ward nor Dan Ellis has been stellar as of late, but Ward is still in control here. SLEEPER SIGHTING: Former first-round pick, Riley Nash scored his first NHL-point in Saturday's loss to Tampa Bay.

Chicago's (EDM, @STL, CBJ, @DET) record-setting start has been well documented. To say it will stop with this week's schedule would be a risk in itself. However, anything's possible. SLEEPER SIGHTING: Hard to find a sleeper on a roster of studs, but let's give it a shot. Johnny Oduya has a three-game point-scoring streak BUT his career numbers versus this week's opponents don't look so hot. Perhaps take the gamble and enjoy the ride. Also, former second-round pick, Brandon Saad, has three goals (two against San Jose) in the month of February.

No one expects much of the Dallas (@NSH, @CLS, EDM, STL) Stars this season. Kari Lehtonen (lower body) who has been plagued by lower back and groin issues for most of his career was officially placed on the IR Sunday, but could return at anytime. In the meantime, Cristopher Nilstorp got a confidence building 3-1 win against the slumping Sharks Saturday. SLEEPER SIGHTING: There's no two ways about it, Derek Roy has not filled the offensive void left by the departure of Steve Ott (or the scorching Mike Ribeiro), much less the leadership. But career numbers are pointing to a bit of a jolt this week as Roy averages about a point a game against all of this week's opponents except St. Louis. Hokey as it may sound, look for the highly-criticized Alex Goligoski (two goals, three assists in eight career games) to show some offensive spark Saturday against the Blues instead.

Taylor Hall will not be in Edmonton's (@CHI, @DAL, @STL, @MIN) line-up Monday in Chicago. But that's just the beginning of their nine-game road trip. Don't worry, Hall will get his chance to impress Blackhawks fans on the second-to-last game of this road trip on March 10. SLEEPER SIGHTING: Looking more and more like Devyn Dubnyk is losing his grip on the starting duties. There's a cozy little back-to-back scenario from Dallas to St. Louis. Look for 40-year-old Nikolai Khabibulin (2-2, 1.89 GAA) to take over the starting job once again.

Florida (PIT, BUF, @CAR, CAR) ends a seven out of nine-game homestand with the Pens and Sabres. Heading back to the beginning of last season, a 6-1 record against the Canes certainly bodes well for the Panthers chances in a traditional home-and-home against their divisional opponents. SLEEPER SIGHTING: 34-year-old defenseman Mike Weaver has been productive as of late. Five of his seven February points have come in the last five games. Take the good with the bad though as Weaver is a minus-2 and second on depth in Florida the season. Also keep an eye out for Jacob Markstrom to make another start soon, possibly against Carolina.

Even with an embarrassment of upgrades in the off season, Minnesota (CAL, @PHX, @ANA, EDM) 4-5-1 in February, has been the definition of mediocre this season, with just a taste of sub-par. Two of their regulation wins have come against their fellow Northwest foes the Flames and Oilers. It's those Pacific road games the Wild fans need to be concerned with this week. SLEEPER SIGHTING: No word yet on Josh Harding's progress but Darcy Kuemper has done well (1-1) 2.02 in two starts against solid opponents.

You have to like the consistent production (two goals, three assists last six games) Montreal (@OTT, @TOR, PIT, @BOS) is getting from Alex Galchenyuk. SLEEPER SIGHTING: Andrei Markov has been eerily quiet all month. After starting out the season with eight points in nine January games, the veteran defenseman is likely to break out sooner or later. We think 94 points in 131 career games versus Toronto, Pittsburgh and Boston indicates sooner rather than later.

After losing Craig Anderson (day-to-day) in another freak incident, Ottawa's (MON, @BOS,@PHI,@NYI) luck couldn't get much worse. But they're still fighting through it and we expect Ben Bishop to do well. Robin Lehner has been recalled to back him up. SLEEPER SIGHTING: Right-winger Jakob Silfverberg (three goals, three assists) is starting to put things together in his first full season. The former second-round pick (2009) had multiple scoring chances in last week's tilt against the Rangers and has a goal and two assists during his current three- game point scoring streak heading into Saturday nights action with Toronto.

Short Trip

Sure they should sweep the set, but with New Jersey (@WIN,@BUF) playing only two games, you may want to head in another direction. Don't stress, they'll be all in with FIVE GAMES next week.

Back-to-Back Three's

Detroit (@LA,@SJ, CHI) finally put a stop to that pesky five-game skid with a 4-0 win over the Preds. But this week shapes up to be quite ugly with two on the road, regardless if they're slumping. Then of course, Chicago anywhere is a problem. GOALIE IDEAS: With the Kings and Sharks on back-to-back nights, Jimmy Howard's career numbers are slightly better against the surging Kings than the Sharks. Jonas Gustavsson should take on San Jose for the first time in his career.

Winners in seven of their last 10 games, Toronto (@PHI,MON,@NYI) hits the road (7-3- 0) again for two this week. GOALIE IDEAS: It's looking like James Reimer (knee) is travelling with the team, but is expected to be out another week or so. Newly crowned rookie Ben Scrivens has a decidedly (2.02 GAA in two games) better brief history against Montreal than the Islanders. Looks like the Fin, Jussi Rynas, will make his first start of the season -second of his career- against the fishermen.

After Vancouver (PHX, LA,@CAL) had their six-game winning streak stopped by Dallas, they hit a bump in the road, loss twice in overtime to St. Louis and Chicago. Ryan Kesler has four points in five games this season. Calgary figures to be a break out night as Kesler has 30 points in 48 career games against the Flames. GOALIE IDEAS: Based on performance this season, Roberto Luongo should take on the Kings at home Saturday and Cory Schneider Sunday in Calgary. Both have had good starts this season against the respective teams.

Four points from anyone on your roster is a good sign. But three goals and an assist in one game from Alex Ovechkin is the largest sigh of relief from any team all season. However, the most valued production lately from a fantasy owner perspective can come from right-winger Eric Fehr, who has four goals, three assists in his last six games.Washington's (CAR, @PHI, @WIN) head coach Adam Oates decided to make us look like fools by starting Braden Holtby (5-6, 3.37 GAA) in both Devils games last week. He wasn't too shabby either. GOALIE IDEAS Michal Neuvirth hasn't started since a 5-2 loss to Pittsburgh on February 7 and is just 1-4-1 this season. It's looking more and more like it will be March before he gets another shot, but there's no telling what the Caps are up to.

Stay Put

Last week's five-game schedule didn't exactly start well -outscored 10-1 in two losses - but the Islanders (BOS, TOR, OTT) hung tough, beating Montreal and Buffalo later in the week. Just three games this week. SLEEPER SIGHTING: Rick DiPietro cleared waivers and has been officially assigned to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Kevin Poulin is headed in the opposite direction to back up Evgeni Nabakov. Poulin is 15-14-2 with a 3.22 goal-allowed-average in 32 games at Bridgeport this season.

The Rangers (WIN, TB, BUF), who have been teetering on a very thin wire for weeks, are finally starting to show the imbalance. Rick Nash (undisclosed) is eligible to come off the IR today, but was just placed there last night. After two consecutive nights off, the Rangers (0-2-2 in their last four games) will host three from home starting with Winnipeg who went 0-4 against New York last season. SLEEPER SIGHTING: He had a minus-2 in the 3-0 loss to Montreal, but Anton Stralman has moved up the depth charts in light of Michael De Zotto's (lowerbody) issues. He has two goals this season so keep the expectations limited, but he should see an increase in ice time at the very least. Also, it may be time for the streaky Marian Gaborik to show his face, especially since he has 21 points in 17 career games against the Winnipeg franchise.

If Philadelphia (TOR, WAS, OTT) could only play from home all season, they might have a bigger cushion on the eighth conference spot. Though they are not near the shadow of the team they were last year, the Flyers had a 9-2-1 record against this week's opponents. SLEEPER SIGHTING: Erik Gustafsson has two points since joining the Flyers five games ago. Keep an eye on this undrafted Swede.

It took San Jose (COL, DET, NAS) three weeks, but they finally won their first game of February. Ceremoniously they began another losing streak this past Friday when yielding 2-1 to Chicago and 3-1 to Dallas. The silver lining is they are unbeaten (1-0-2) in a combined three games this season against this week's opponents. SLEEPER SIGHTING: Dan Boyle has just three assists this month; look for him to possibly break out against Colorado.

Quick Notes

Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin is experiencing concussion symptoms.

Artem Anisimov (head) has been released from a Detroit Hospital.

TV Time (all games EST)

Monday, Feb. 25: Stars at Predators 8 p.m. -- NBCSports

Tuesday, Feb. 26: Bruins at Islanders 7:30 p.m. -- NBCSports

Wednesday, Feb. 27: Capitals at Flyers 7:30 p.m. -- NBCSports

Wednesday, Feb. 27: Red Wings at Kings 10 p.m. -- NBCSports

Thursday, Feb. 28: Penguins at Hurricanes 7 p.m. -- NHL Network

Friday, March 1: Blue Jackets at Blackhawks 8:30 p.m. -- NHL Network

Saturday, March 2: Senators at Flyers Noon -- NHL Network

Saturday, March 2: Capitals at Jets 3 p.m. -- NHL Network

Saturday, March 2: Kings at Canucks 10 p.m. -- NHL Network

Sunday, March 3: Blackhawks at Red Wings 12:30 p.m. -- NBC

Sunday, March 3: Blues at Stars 3 p.m. -- NHL Network

Sunday, March 3: Canadiens at Bruins 7:30 p.m. -- NBCSports

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Player News
Patrick Maroon
Ducks' Maroon Tallies First Point In Series
Patrick Maroon, LW, ANA
12:55 PM
News: Patrick Maroon scored one of his team's two goals -- his first of the series -- in their 2-1 Game 3 victory over the Blackhawks.
Analysis: Patrick Maroon had been silent in both games at the Honda Center to start the series, but wasted no time in Game 3 as he opened the scoring on a power play in the first. The goal comes as his fifth of the postseason, tied with Matt Beleskey and trailing only Corey Perry's eight for the team lead.

Joakim Nordstrom
Nordstrom Back In For 'Hawks
Joakim Nordstrom, C, CHI
12:35 PM
News: Joakim Nordstrom made just his third appearance of the playoffs Thursday in a Game 3 loss to Anaheim, skating 7:06 and going minus-1 with a shot on goal and three hits.
Analysis: Joakim Nordstrom hasn't seen much playing time in the postseason, obviously, but he and Kris Versteeg were surprising additions to Thursday's lineup, with Antoine Vermette and Teuvo Teravainen sitting out to make room. Even if Nordstrom stays on the ice come Saturday's Game 4, he's a very low-upside fantasy option.

Kris Versteeg
Hawks' Versteeg Back In For Game 3
Kris Versteeg, RW, CHI
12:33 PM
News: Kris Versteeg was reinserted into the Chicago lineup for the first time in nearly a month Thursday. He skated 13:31 and didn't record a point in a Game 3 loss to Anaheim.
Analysis: It was his first appearance since Game 6 of the first round against Nashville, way back on April 25. Kris Versteeg and Joakim Nordstrom were surprise additions to the Hawks' lineup, with Antoine Vermette and Teuvo Teravainen sitting out. We'll see whether Chicago redeploys Versteeg in Game 4, but he's not much of a fantasy option at this point.

Ryan Getzlaf
Getzlaf's Helpers Boost Ducks Yet Again
Ryan Getzlaf, C, ANA
12:29 PM
News: Ryan Getzlaf assisted on both Anaheim goals Thursday in Game 3 against Chicago, helping out on Patrick Maroon's power-play tally and Simon Despres' game-winner.
Analysis: Ryan Getzlaf may only have two goals this postseason -- and he didn't so much as put a shot on goal Thursday -- but he's racked up 14 assists in 12 games, which is good enough to put him in a three-way tie for the second-most playoff points. No one else in these playoffs has even cracked double digits in assists.

Simon Despres
Anaheim's Despres Scores Game 3 Winner
Simon Despres, D, ANA
12:25 PM
News: Simon Despres scored his first goal of the playoffs in Game 3 on Thursday, beating Chicago's Corey Crawford with 55 seconds remaining in the second period to break a 1-1 tie, which ended up being the winning tally.
Analysis: The former Penguin has had a good time in these playoffs, with a goal and six assists in the Ducks' dozen playoff game so far. That's an improved scoring rate over what Simon Despres was able to do in the regular season, as even after coming over to Anaheim, he recorded only a modest six points in 16 contests. The Quebec native's got significant long-term offensive upside, and the experience he's gaining here in his first deep NHL playoff run will serve him well in the future.

Corey Crawford
Crawford, 'Hawks Take Tough Game 3 Loss
Corey Crawford, G, CHI
12:19 PM
News: Corey Crawford allowed just two goals on 27 shots, but took the loss in Thursday's Game 3 against Anaheim.
Analysis: Frederik Andersen was one better on the other end, with Simon Despres' late-second-period goal against Corey Crawford holding up as the winner. After Crawford put up a bit of a clunker in Game 1, he's been terrifically sharp in the last two games, but the 'Hawks still face a 2-1 series deficit heading into Game 4 in Chicago.

Frederik Andersen
Andersen's 27 Stops Carry Ducks To Series Lead
Frederik Andersen, G, ANA
12:16 PM
News: Frederik Andersen turned aside 27 of 28 shots Thursday, leading the way to a 2-1 win in Game 3 against the Blackhawks.
Analysis: Several of those saves came during the frantic final minutes, with Chicago trying desperately to tie the game and Frederik Andersen making heroic stops. Over three games in this series now, he's allowed just five goals on 117 shots -- a .957 save percentage.

Kyle Cumiskey
Blackhawks' Cumiskey Expected To Play In Game 3
Kyle Cumiskey, D, CHI
12:24 AM
News: Kyle Cumiskey is expected to again see ice time in Game 3 against the Ducks, the Chicago Tribune reports.
Analysis: Kyle Cumiskey, who saw his first playoff action since 2010 in Game 2, admitted he was nervous, but coach Joel Quenneville said he liked what he saw from the 28-year-old. "I expect him to even improve because he's got another layer with the puck," Quenneville said. "I think offensively he has speed and quickness, he can get involved a little bit more with moving up ice, off the point as well. I think defensively he's fine."

Mats Zuccarello
Rangers' Zuccarello Remains Out
Mats Zuccarello, RW, NYR
12:19 AM
News: Mats Zuccarello (upper body) was on the ice Thursday, but has yet to join the team for practice, Steve Zipay of Newsday reports.
Analysis: The winger hasn't practiced in nearly a month, and he'll have to do so before he has any chance to return during the Rangers' playoff run.

Antoine Vermette
Blackhawks' Vermette A Healthy Scratch Thursday
Antoine Vermette, C, CHI
5/21/2015
News: Antoine Vermette was a healthy scratch Thursday for Game 3 because head coach Joel Quenneville wanted fresh legs on the ice, Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
Analysis: Antoine Vermette and Teuvo Teravainen were both scratched for Game 3, but both were out of the lineup due to fatigue rather than injury. During Tuesday's marathon game in Anaheim, Vermette logged 21:14 minutes on the ice. After being rested Thursday, Vermette should draw back in Saturday for Game 4.

 
 
 
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