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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
Darcy Kuemper
Wild's Kuemper Expected To Start Wednesday
Darcy Kuemper, G, MIN
11/27/2014
News: Darcy Kuemper is expected to start Wednesday's game against the Kings.
Analysis: After going with backup Niklas Backstrom on Monday night, coach Mike Yeo will turn the net back over to Darcy Kuemper, who seems to have put his early-November swoon behind him. Since being pulled from a Nov. 13 outing against the Sabres after allowing goals on the first two shots he faced, he's won in three of his four appearances, yielding only five goals during that time.

Matt Cooke
Wild's Cooke Showing Improvement
Matt Cooke, LW, MIN
11/27/2014
News: Matt Cooke (hip flexor) has begun skating without full gear this week, Rachel Blount of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.
Analysis: Matt Cooke has missed the last 12 games with the ailment and appears set to sit out several more contests, since he'll some time to make up for the lost conditioning work. Nonetheless, the Wild seem to be encouraged that he's at least back on the ice after he had failed to make much progress with his recovery over the last couple weeks.

Alex Tanguay
Avs' Tanguay Likely To Play Wednesday
Alex Tanguay, LW, COL
11/27/2014
News: Alex Tanguay (fractured jaw) is considered likely to play Wednesday against the Blackhawks, Adrian Dater of the Denver Post reports.
Analysis: Alex Tanguay appeared set to play Tuesday night in Arizona, but the Avs ended up scratching him after he was still suffering from blurred vision during the team's morning skate. This latest report would seem to indicate that Tanguay's being held out Tuesday was a precautionary measure, so assuming that he's now experiencing some improvement, it looks promising that he'll suit up. The veteran forward is tied with Matt Duchene for the team lead with seven goals on the season.

David Booth
Leafs Activate Booth
David Booth, LW, TOR
11/27/2014
News: David Booth (foot) has been activated from injured reserve in advance of Wednesday's game against the Penguins, James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail reports.
Analysis: David Booth will make his Leafs debut Wednesday after the broken foot cost him nearly eight weeks of action. He figures to slot in among the Leafs' bottom-six forwards this season, which won't allow him to gain much traction in fantasy circles.

Joffrey Lupul
Leafs Activate Lupul
Joffrey Lupul, RW, TOR
11/27/2014
News: Joffrey Lupul (hand) was taken off injured reserve in preparation for his return Wednesday versus the Penguins, James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail reports.
Analysis: The broken hand cost Joffrey Lupul approximately four weeks, but lengthy absences aren't new for the forward at this stage of his injury-riddled career. Though his track record suggests he'll miss time later on this season due to another injury, Lupul has been a productive player when he's been able to suit up. He collected two goals in his first nine games this season before suffering the broken hand.

Brandon Dubinsky
Jackets' Dubinsky Not Expected Back Friday
Brandon Dubinsky, C, CLB
11/27/2014
News: Brandon Dubinsky (abdomen) is not expected to be ready to play in either of the Blue Jackets' games over the weekend, Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch reports.
Analysis: Brandon Dubinsky first returned to the ice Monday following a recent setback in his recovery from abdominal surgery, so he'll still need several more practices to get back up to full speed. The Blue Jackets have dealt with a number of lengthy absences due to injury this season, but few have been more significant than Dubinsky's. While not an elite scorer, Dubinsky is sound in just about every phase of the game and will represent a welcome addition to Columbus' top-six once he's healthy.

Brian Elliott
Blues' Elliott Week-To-Week With Knee Injury
Brian Elliott, G, STL
11/27/2014
News: Coach Ken Hitchcock announced after Wednesday's practice that Brian Elliott is considered week-to-week with a suspected knee sprain, Lou Korac of NHL.com reports.
Analysis: Though Brian Elliott will miss multiple games as a result of the injury sustained Tuesday night, he appears to have avoided a more serious issue, as the Blues determined surgery won't be necessary. Still, the week-to-week timetable will make it tough to pin down an expected return date for the netminder. Jake Allen is expected to carry the load for the Blues as the No. 1 netminder and should make for an upper-tier fantasy option in the interim now that he won't have to share duties with Elliott.

Tyler Myers
Sabres' Myers A Scratch Wednesday Night
Tyler Myers, D, BUF
3:59 PM
News: Tyler Myers will be a scratch Wednesday night against the Jets, Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News reports.
Analysis: The exact reason for Tyler Myers' absence has yet to be disclosed by the team, but Sabres Hockey Central suggests it may be due to a hand injury sustained Saturday. Andre Benoit would be one potential candidate to move up to the third defensive pairing Wednesday, though this is merely speculative at this point.

Ben Bishop
Bolts' Bishop Gets The Starting Nod
Ben Bishop, G, TB
3:51 PM
News: Ben Bishop will start in goal Wednesday against the Rangers, the Tampa Tribune reports.
Analysis: Ben Bishop has allowed just eight goals in his last four contests -- three of which has resulted in victories for the Bolts. he has a .923 save percentage so far in November, and a 2.30 GAA on the year.

Chris Vande Velde
Flyers Place VandeVelde On IR
Chris Vande Velde, C, PHI
3:34 PM
News: VandeChris Vande Velde was placed on injured reserve Thursday.
Analysis: VandeChris Vande Velde was set to miss his third straight game with the lower-body injury and the Flyers needed to open up a roster spot for Michael Raffl (ankle), so it made sense for the team to move VandeVelde to IR. The forward hasn't resumed skating since suffering the injury last week, making it difficult to gauge when he might be able to return.

 
 
 
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