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Right on Schedule: Who should you drop this week?

by | Rotowire.com
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With just six weeks remaining in the season, while we're seeing some teams trending in the wrong direction, no team in the league is more than 11 points from a playoff spot. With that being said, there are 50 NHL games to plan for this week, so let's get to it.

Rare Bird

The rare bird is our team with five games in 7 nights, good for fantasy owners, or is it?

Vancouver (MIN, STL @PHX, @LA, @COL) - The Canucks have five games, but all against tough teams. Alexandre Burrows finally broke his goal scoring drought of 10 games, but still the Canucks could not muster much else and were beat 5-2 by Detroit. David Booth can't catch a break, or can he? Poor choice of words - he left Saturday's game against Detroit with a lower body injury. Zack Kassian (back) missed all of Saturday night's game and is considered day-to-day. GOALIE IDEAS: The week for Cory Schneider and Roberto Luongo owners will get interesting. You should see Schneider in Minnesota on Monday. Luongo would take on the Blues on Tuesday. Depending on how they play in those home games will most likely determine who plays two of three on the road. PREDICTED WEEKLY RECORD: 2-3

Four Of A Kind

All teams playing four or more games (for good or ill) this week and their latest goalie news for their back-to-back occurrence.

For Good

Los Angeles (PHX, PHX, DAL, VAN) and the Rangers (CAR, @NJ, FLA, WAS) play almost exclusively at home against weak opponents. Don't question it, just go with it.

Anaheim (SJ, CHI, DET, DET): The Ducks play four from home (11-1-0) this week, including two with Detroit on Friday and Sunday. Saku Koivu ended a three-game pointless streak Saturday. GOALIE IDEAS: Although the 2-1 loss to St. Louis on Saturday was anything but damaging, it certainly allows for Viktor Fasth to get back into the pipes as coach Boudreau is clearly going with the hot hand. After Hiller's loss, it's Fasth's turn to earn and burn. But Fasth has beaten Chicago this season. Monitor this one closely, but if we had to guess, Fasth gets that Chicago start on Wednesday.

Colorado (CHI, DAL, @DAL, VAN): No, it doesn't look pretty on the surface, but after the Chicago game (the team they beat handily last week), you've got a Stars squad showing its kinks and the Canucks. The Avs are 8-4-1 at home and we think it's going to be a good week for those in Denver. Matt Duchene is really beginning to heat up. GOALIE IDEAS: Considering Semyon Varlamov is one of just two NHL goalies to beat the ‘Hawks in regulation this season, so he's likely to get the nod. In fact, after Jean-Sebastien Giguere's showing against the Wild, he will likely only play the road game in Dallas this Saturday.

Calgary (@DAL, @NAS, @CLS, STL): Although they're on the road (3-6-2) for the first three games this week, Calgary is finally on our go list. Calgary has manhandled Dallas this season and also beat Columbus. Our only worry will be the Blues, when they're at home. Michael Cammalleri is a no brainer this week with four goals and four assists in four games this season against this week's opponents. Lee Stempniak is your back-up plan. GOALIE IDEAS: Miikka Kiprusoff is a winner of two (Nashville, Detroit) straight, but he can't do it alone, at least not this week. The Flames will probably give Nashville another look in Joey MacDonald, then back to Kiprusoff in Columbus.

Winnipeg (BOS, WAS, WAS, TB): The Jets have won three in a row and seven of their last 10. Although their schedule shows weakness in three of four games, all four of them will be from home, where the Jets (6-6-0) simply have not gotten it done. Continued production from sleepers like Kyle Wellwood (goal, 3 assists in last three games) and Antti Miettinen (two goals last two games) will be needed and most likely had. More importantly will be the return of Tobias Enstrom who is expected back sometime this week. GOALIE IDEAS: Ondrej Pavelec is 4-0-1 in his last five starts. Eddie Pasqual is up as Al Montoya aggravated a lower-body injury this past week.

For Ill (likely to lose the majority of their games)

Dallas (CAL, @COL, @LA, COL): The Stars were on this list prior to getting manhandled by Chicago. Regardless of whether head coach Glen Gulutzan can use this 8-1 loss to his advantage, they just don't have the talent moving forward. Add in Dallas's issues with the second half of b2b games, so look for them to get torched by the Kings. The other three games are intermittent shows of success by Jaromir Jagr, Jamie Benn (played against Chicago) and Cody Eakin dragged down by a young blue-liner core earning their stripes this season. GOALIE IDEAS: There's a solid chance you'll see Richard Bachman take two games this week. As for the b2b, it's likely you'll see Bachman against the Avs Wednesday and Kari Lehtonen in Los Angeles Thursday.

Florida (@CAR, @NYR, @NJ @NYI): There are very few certainties in this league of parity, but the Panthers as opponents are usually one that will benefit fantasy owners. No, they're not the same team as last season, but perhaps four on the road will turn them into the David versus Goliath. Last season, the Panthers were an amazing 11-4-3 versus this week's opponents. GOALIE IDEAS: Both Jacob Markstrom and Scott Clemmensen have been pedestrian as of late. Look for Markstrom to start the week in Carolina and end it in Long Island.

Tampa Bay (PHI, @TOR, @OTT, @WPG): Two more young forward for the Lightning have popped up. Ondrej Palat scored his first career goal in his seventh career game and Tyler Johnson had a goal and an assist in just his second career NHL game. GOALIE IDEAS: Despite a rollercoaster record in March, Anders Lindback seems to have regained his confidence. Mathieu Garon won over Carolina Saturday night. That being said, Garon has a career 5-1-0 (1.60 GAA) record against the Jets franchise, so look for Lindback on Saturday against the Sens.

Islanders (OTT, MON, PIT, FLA): Most teams enjoy the thought of a four game homestand. It seems the Islanders (5-8-2 at home) have already checked into the Barclay Center. GOALIE IDEAS: Kevin Poulin looks good (10-for-11) in replacing Evgeni Nabokov against the Pens last Sunday. Look for Nabokov to play against the Canadiens (2-0, 2.92 GAA this season) and Poulin to get thrown to the wolves, whoops, we mean, Pens.

Washington (@PIT, @WPG, @WPG, @NYR): We don't see any one of the Caps' opponents this week struggling, and you may want to make their opponents your focal point, especially the streaking Jets. GOALIE IDEAS: Career numbers suggest Michal Neuvirth has had a bit more success against the Jets, but that won't stop head coach Oates from playing his number one goalie Braden Holtby the next night against the same team.

Three's Company

Breaking down teams playing three games or less with a tilted schedule.

Montreal (BUF, @NYI, BUF) and Nashville (@CLS, CAL, CLS) have juicy schedules and players from their teams should be considered over other three game players.

Minnesota (@VAN, @DET, SJ): Devin Setoguchi is certainly looking good. Six goals, two assists in 8 games this month. More importantly, 10 of his 17 points this season have come on the road, he should continue. Also Pierre-Marc Bouchard has three points in two games since returning from being a healthy scratch.

Pittsburgh (WAS, @NYI, PHI): No definitive word on Kris Letang's official injury, who some are reporting as a lower-body one; others say it's a wrist or hand issue. Consider him day-to-day for now. Good thing Beau Bennett is making waves floating between the Pens' second and third lines. He has two goals, five assists in his last 10 games. Also keep an eye on Dustin Jeffrey who is soaking up Evgeni Malkin's (upper-body) minutes and had two assists on Saturday against the Rangers.

San Jose (@ANH, @EDM, @MIN): Brent Burns has two goals and three assists since returning to the lineup three games ago. San Jose is just 1-2 in that span. Burns and company hit the road this week, including a tilt in Burns' old stomping grounds. Dan Boyle (four goals, five assists in 11 games) is another Sharks defenseman who enjoys playing in Minnesota. As for Thomas Greiss, it looks like he'll miss most of their current five-game road trip. Alex Stalock is Antti Niemi's backup.

St. Louis (@VAN, @EDM, @CAL): Although he should be considered day-to-day, T.J. Oshie (ribs) was placed on the injured reserve Saturday. Alex Pietrangelo (flu) is considered day-to-day as well. In his first game back in over a month, Vladimir Tarasenko (concussion) played in 12-plus minutes and had an assist. Jake Allen is riding high, but the Blues Northwest division road trip could change that quick. With Jaroslav Halak rebounding from losses to Los Angeles and Anaheim, it's possible we could see Allen, and then Halak and Brian Elliott each starting a game this week.

Toronto (TB, @BUF, BOS): Phil Kessel has four goals and seven assists during his current four-game point streak. Nazem Kadri broke a three game pointless streak with two assists against Winnipeg. The same game, Joffrey Lupul scored his first two goals of the season. James Reimer is likely to get the start at home against the Lightning on Tuesday. Though Ben Scrivens was pulled after two periods against the Jets on Saturday, expect to see him in Buffalo (1.53 GAA in two games) Sabres on Wednesday.

Twos and Threes to Bench

If you could take schedules for Chicago (@COL, @ANH), Edmonton (SJ, STL) and Philadelphia (@TB, PIT) and combine them for your players, you'd be in great shape. But each of these teams' players will likely yield you very few results. Here are a few others to consider benching this week.

Carolina (@NYR, FLA, NJ): Though neither impact you owners, we like Carolina's pick up of Adam Hall, but cringe at the thought of veteran defenseman Joe Corvo (lower-body) missing time. We know, it looks like a favorable schedule, but something does not sit right. At most the ‘Canes will take out the Panthers and even that is questionable.

Detroit (MIN, @ANH, @ANH): With Kyle Quincey (upper-body) out indefinitely, Jakub Kindl's ice time will increase. Kindl leads the team with a plus-14 rating and has eight points. Damien Brunner has been held without a goal for nine straight games. The Red Wings will host the Wild then head to LaLa land for the rest of the week. We think this will cause a continuance of their fuzzy season.

Phoenix (@LA, @LA, VAN): The Coyotes have a short but compact week. After playing in Los Angeles on back-to-back nights starting Monday, they host Vancouver on Thursday and take the rest of the week off; look elsewhere for production.

OTHER NEWS AND NOTES: Martin Brodeur is expected to return to practice by the middle of next week. Ville Leino (hip) had an assist in nearly 16 minutes of ice time in his season debut.

TV Time (all games in EST)

MAR 18 - Flyers @ Lightning 7:30 NBCSports
MAR 19 - Capitals @ Penguins 7:30 NBCSports
MAR 20 - Wild @ Red Wings 7:30 NBCSports
MAR 20 - Stars @ Avalanche 9:30 NHLNetwork
MAR 21 - Devils @ Hurricanes 7:00 NHLNetwork
MAR 22 - Penguins @ Islanders 7:00 NHLNetwork
MAR 22 - Red Wings @ Ducks 10:00 NHLNetwork
MAR 23 - Canucks @ Kings 4:00 NHLNetwork
MAR 23 - Bruins @ Maple Leafs 7:00 NHLNetwork
MAR 24 - Flyers @ Penguins 7:30 NBCSports

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Player News
Ryan Wilson
Flames Ink Wilson To PTO
Ryan Wilson, D, COL
2:53 PM
News: Ryan Wilson signed a professional tryout offer with the Flames on Thursday, Randy Sportak of the Calgary Sun reports.
Analysis: Ryan Wilson was limited to just three games as a member of the Avalanche last season, as he suffered a shoulder injury in late October that would ultimately require surgery. Prior to the injury, the 28-year-old wasn't expected to be a major part of the Avs' plans on the blue line, and he'll have an even more difficult time trying to carve out a role in Calgary's defensive corps, which may be the deepest in the NHL.

Nicklas Backstrom
Caps' Backstrom (Hip) "Not In A Rush" To Play
Nicklas Backstrom, C, WAS
1:57 PM
News: Nicklas Backstrom (hip) skated during informal workouts Thursday morning, but is "not in a rush" to return to action, Alex Prewitt of The Washington Post reports.
Analysis: Nicklas Backstrom began skating in August following hip surgery during the offseason, and while he hasn't experienced any setbacks, he doesn't appear to have a specific target date in mind for his return. "I'm not going to be back to 100 percent before I start playing," the 27-year-old pivot remarked, "I'm not going to play on 90 percent. We'll see how it goes. We don't know yet." The uncertainty surrounding Backstrom's return has lowered his standing somewhat in fantasy rankings. While the situation should be monitored closely, Backstrom should provide some serious value if he can get up to speed quickly on the top line with Alex Ovechkin and newcomer T.J. Oshie, as he has been one of the more productive playmakers and power-play performers over the last several seasons. Don't sleep on him too long in your draft if he continues to progress according to plan.

Joe Pavelski
Pavelski Expected To Be Named Sharks' Next Captain
Joe Pavelski, C, SJ
1:01 PM
News: Joe Pavelski is expected to be named the Sharks' next captain, CSN Bay Area's Kevin Kurz reports.
Analysis: Captaincy has been a delicate issue in San Jose over the last year, as former coach Todd McLellan stripped longtime leader Joe Thornton of those honors heading into 2014-15, straining the relationship between the star center and team brass. While Thornton is still around, it's clear that the 31-year-old Joe Pavelski is now the face of the franchise, after ranking fourth in the NHL in goals over the last four seasons with 161. Pavelski figures to pace the Sharks in scoring once again during the upcoming campaign, while taking on more of a leadership role in the locker room.

Keith Ballard
Ex-Wild D-Man Ballard Leaning Toward Retirement
Keith Ballard, D, MIN
9:55 AM
News: Keith Ballard (concussion) confirmed last week that he's leaning toward retirement, Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.
Analysis: Keith Ballard is still experiencing concussion symptoms from the head injury he suffered Dec. 9 of last season, and it sounds like he's leaning toward hanging up his skates rather than risking permanent health issues. The 32-year-old had previously experienced several concussions during his NHL career, likely leaving many teams disinterested in Ballard's services even if he opts to keep playing.

Andrew Copp
Jets' Copp To Challenge For NHL Job
Andrew Copp, C, WPG
9:47 AM
News: Andrew Copp is expected to compete for the Jets' fourth-line center duties during training camp, Jeff Hamilton of the Winnipeg Free Press reports.
Analysis: Andrew Copp, who finished up his sophomore season at the University of Michigan last spring before turning pro, made his NHL debut for the Jets in their final regular season game in 2015-16, when the team was just trying to rest its regulars in advance of the playoffs. The 2013 fourth-round pick went unused during the Jets' first-round series exit, but the size he presents (6-foot-2, 210 pounds) along with the strong leadership and decision-making he demonstrated during his time at Michigan could make him the Jets' best internal option to pivot the checking line. Holdovers Anthony Peluso and Matt Halischuk likely represent Copp's top competition for that role.

Joakim Nordstrom
Nordstrom, Blackhawks Agree On One-Year Deal
Joakim Nordstrom, C, CHI
9/2/2015
News: Joakim Nordstrom signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Blackhawks on Wednesday, Brian Hedger of NHL.com reports.
Analysis: Joakim Nordstrom waited several months before agreeing to his qualifying offer, but he's at least in the fold to compete for a spot in the Blackhawks' crowded bottom-six ranks. The forward recorded no goals and three assists in 38 games with the parent club last season, so a return trip to AHL Rockford could be in the works to open 2015-16.

Tom Sestito
Penguins Sign Sestito To PTO
Tom Sestito, LW, PIT
9/2/2015
News: Tom Sestito signed a professional tryout contract last week with the Penguins, Josh Yohe of DKonPittsburghSports.com reports.
Analysis: As a tough guy who gobbles up penalty minutes, Tom Sestito doesn't seem to mesh well with coach Mike Johnston's vision of rolling out four lines with scoring ability. Don't expect him to crack the Penguins' 23-man roster out of training camp, barring a litany of injuries.

Evgeni Malkin
Pens' Malkin Healthy Heading Into Camp
Evgeni Malkin, C, PIT
9/2/2015
News: Penguins coach Mike Johnston said Evgeni Malkin is healthy heading into training camp, NHL.com reports. "[Malkin] was injured before the playoffs last year; he's in skating already," Johnston said.
Analysis: The Penguins are expected to tinker with their top-six ranks in training camp after adding Phil Kessel to the mix in the offseason, but it's expected that Kessel will play on the top line with Sidney Crosby, while Evgeni Malkin centers a line of Patric Hornqvist and a yet-to-be-determined left winger. Regardless of which player among David Perron, Chris Kunitz, and rookie Sergei Plotnikov ultimately settles next to Malkin, staying healthy is more essential to the star center's fantasy production than anything else. Malkin has missed 103 regular-season contests over the last six years.

Peter Budaj
Kings Ink Budaj To Tryout Offer
Peter Budaj, G, LA
9/2/2015
News: Peter Budaj has signed with the Kings on a professional tryout contract, Jon Rosen of LA Kings Insider reports.
Analysis: Peter Budaj struggled while seeing limited ice time with AHL St. John's in the Winnipeg organization last season, going 0-9-6 with a 3.55 GAA and .888 save percentage. The 33-year-old clearly seems to be on the downswing of his career, but as a veteran with 296 NHL appearances on his ledger, he could provide insurance in goal for the Kings at the minor-league level.

Markus Soberg
Jackets' Soberg Out 4-6 Weeks
Markus Soberg, RW, CLB
9/2/2015
News: Markus Soberg (groin) will miss the next four-to-six weeks as he recovers from surgery to repair a sports hernia, Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch reports.
Analysis: A sixth-round pick by the Blue Jackets in 2013, Markus Soberg was hampered by an abdominal injury throughout much of last season, ending up with 13 goals and 17 assists in 61 games for OHL Windsor. It's unclear whether he would've been able to make the jump to Columbus this season even if healthy, but the surgery will certainly delay his progress to North American hockey.

 
 
 
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