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Week 1 schedule analysis

Rotowire.com
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We now return to your regularly scheduled programming of the Schedule Analysis. After an abbreviated campaign last season and an eternity of a summer, the landscape of the NHL has changed. Set aside last season's stats that are skewed and hard to analyze. Set aside all the normal variables, such as players with new sweaters, new lines, new coaches and the always useless trends of preseason standings.

This summer's realignment brings the most mysterious of obstacles. We won't profess to know how this is going to play out, but we're all in this together. With that out of the way, let's get back to basics and go from there.

Three of a Kind: Nine of the 30 NHL teams have three tilts on the docket this week. Of those 27 games in total, 18 will be on the road. Not one team playing three games this week will be exclusively from home.

Anaheim (@COL, @MIN, @WPG) started off last season's campaign with a bang. Teemu Selanne (two assists) and Daniel Winnnik each netted a pair of goals in the opening game versus Vancouver. The Canucks (@SJ, EDM, @CAL), Buffalo (@DET, OTT, @PIT), Calgary (@WAS, @CLS, VAN), Detroit (BUF, @CAR, @BOS), Philadelphia (TOR, @MON, @CAR) and Toronto (@MTL, @PHI, OTT) will all spend the week in road jerseys.

Washington (@CHI*, CAL, @DAL) and Winnipeg (@EDM, LA, ANH) have the most interestingly consistent schedules, lacing up nearly every other day. While it's feasible Braden Holtby and Ondrej Pavelec COULD play all three this week, percentages suggest even number one goalies will be eased into the new season like your star closer.

Two for 20: Aside from the Rangers one (nine game road trip to start the year) game this week, the rest of the NHL will play two tilts this week.

After the stabilizing Phoenix (NYR, @SJ) franchise hosts the aforementioned Rangers, six of their next seven will be on the road. Carolina (DET, PHI) starts with two, but ends up one of the busiest NHL franchises, contesting nine games in the first 15 days. Ottawa (@BUF, @TOR) begins a six-game road trip against Atlantic (pfft, weird) division rivals.

Back-to-Back: While the slow week allows you to gear up and shake the rust, 11 teams are playing on back-to-back days. This not only means your goalie management will need to be in mid-season form, but you could see a few number one goalies dethroned. Let's give you an idea of what we mean.

Both Anaheim and Los Angeles will play in Minnesota and Winnipeg on consecutive nights. Calgary plays back-to-back games on the road in Washington and Columbus to begin the season Thursday. Nashville will play in St. Louis and Colorado on consecutive nights. Buffalo will host Ottawa on Friday then travel to Pittsburgh on Saturday. Detroit, who hosts Buffalo on Wednesday, visits Carolina and Boston on Friday and Saturday night. Columbus will host Calgary on Friday then travel to play the Islanders on Saturday night. Vancouver will host Edmonton then visit Calgary. Toronto spends opening night in Montreal, followed up by travelling to Philadelphia. Philadelphia will be in Montreal, then Carolina the next night. Ottawa is in Buffalo, then Toronto the next night. New Jersey will travel to Pittsburgh, and then host Isles in Jersey. The Isles then head home for Columbus on the following night.

Low Percentage: Although, 5-1 (22 GF, 15 GA) the preseason record looks pretty nifty, Tampa (@BOS, @CHI) travels to play last year's Stanley Cup runner up and winner in the same week.

High Percentage: First of all, we usually exclude Devan Dubnyk from any good fantasy news out of Edmonton, but his combined career stats (7-4-3, 2.88 GAA in 15 starts) against this week's opponents are not too shabby.

Based solely on preseason efforts, we like the schedules of Dallas (FLA, WAS) and Edmonton (WPG, @VAN) for the most offensive punch of the opening week. After the offseason/preseason these two teams have had, look for the youngest legs and most creative coaches to come out of the gate running. But if I were you, I wouldn't count on either team playing any defense.

TV Time

The season begins on a slow, six-day week beginning Tuesday. For your viewing pleasure, the Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks will host the Capitals on NBCSports Network.

TUE OCT. 1, Caps @ Blackhawks NBCS

WED OCT. 2, Sabres @ Red Wings NBCS

SAT OCT. 5, Red Wings @ Bruins NHLN

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Player News
Vincent Lecavalier
Flyers Transfer Lecavalier To IR
Vincent Lecavalier, C, PHI
12:47 AM
News: Vincent Lecavalier (foot) was placed on injured reserve Friday, CSNPhilly.com's Sarah Baicker reports.
Analysis: Vincent Lecavalier returned to practice Friday for the first time since suffering the injury Oct. 11. Because he's already missed over a week of action, the Flyers will be able to stash Lecavalier on injured reserve retroactively. Lecavalier looks on track to play at some point next week, perhaps as early as Tuesday against the Kings.

Braydon Coburn
Flyers Place Coburn On IR
Braydon Coburn, D, PHI
12:45 AM
News: Braydon Coburn (lower body) was placed on injured reserve Friday, CSNPhilly.com's Sarah Baicker reports.
Analysis: With Braydon Coburn ruled out four weeks Friday due to the injury, he'll unsurprisingly move to IR to create some roster space. Coburn suffered the foot injury in the Flyers' first game of the season against the Bruins, but had taken pregame warmups as a recently as Tuesday before suffering a setback. Mark Alt will be recalled from AHL Adirondback in a corresponding move.

Alex Stalock
Sharks' Stalock To Start Saturday
Alex Stalock, G, SJ
12:42 AM
News: Alex Stalock will be between the pipes on Saturday against Buffalo, Kevin Kurz of CSN Bay Area reports.
Analysis: The Sharks started the year alternating games between Alex Stalock and Antti Niemi, but after two consecutive losses by Stalock, Niemi has started the past two. He struggled in those two games, taking 5-3 and 5-4 losses, so Stalock could continue to earn more starts with a solid performance against the struggling Sabres.

Zdeno Chara
Bruins Place Chara On IR
Zdeno Chara, D, BOS
12:35 AM
News: Zdeno Chara (knee) was placed on injured reserve Friday.
Analysis: The move comes as little surprise after Zdeno Chara was ruled out four-to-six weeks after suffering a PCL tear in his left knee Thursday night. Zach Trotman and Joe Morrow were recalled from AHL Providence in corresponding moves to give the Bruins some replacement options on the blue line.

Paul Stastny
Blues' Stastny Skating, But Not Doing Much Else
Paul Stastny, C, STL
12:31 AM
News: Paul Stastny (upper body) has been able to skate the last two days, NHL.com's Lou Korac reports.
Analysis: It seems as though Paul Stastny has returned to the ice strictly for conditioning purposes, as he hasn't attempted shots or taken any contact yet. The Blues remain steadfast in their belief that a lengthy absence isn't in store for Stastny, but it's looking increasingly unlikely that he'll be back before the end of the month.

John Gibson
Ducks Confirm Gibson For Friday
John Gibson, G, ANA
12:25 AM
News: John Gibson has been confirmed as the starter for Friday's game against the Blue Jackets, Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register reports.
Analysis: While John Gibson has been surpassed by Frederik Andersen on the team's depth chart, coach Bruce Boudreau stated that he still intends to give the 21-year-old semi-frequent action in order to build his confidence. Boudreau will instead save the red-hot Andersen for the more critical matchup of the weekend, when the division-rival Sharks come to Anaheim.

Mikhail Grabovski
Isles' Grabovski Could Return Saturday
Mikhail Grabovski, C, NYI
12:20 AM
News: Mikhail Grabovski (concussion) felt good while practicing Friday and could play Saturday against the Stars, Arthur Staple of Newsday reports.
Analysis: Mikhail Grabovski took part in Friday's session in a full capacity, joining Frans Nielsen and Cory Conacher on the Isles' second line. The team will reexamine him after Saturday's morning skate before reaching a determination on his status for the game later that evening, but if his concussion symptoms don't resurface, expect the team to activate him from IR.

Sonny Milano
Blue Jackets Activate Milano, Assign Him To OHL
Sonny Milano, LW, CLB
12:13 AM
News: Sonny Milano (face) has been activated from the Blue Jackets' non-roster injury list and assigned to OHL Plymouth.
Analysis: Sonny Milano hasn't played since suffering two fractures in his face during the NHL Prospects Tournament in mid-September. The Blue Jackets' first-round selection in this past June's draft, Milano has elected to bypass a collegiate career with Boston College in favor of testing himself at the junior level. He's probably at least two years away from contributing for the Blue Jackets.

Carl Gunnarsson
Blues' Gunnarsson: (Hip) Still Not Ready To Go
Carl Gunnarsson, D, STL
12:09 AM
News: Carl Gunnarsson (hip) still doesn't sound like he's ready to make his season debut, NHL.com's Lou Korac reports.
Analysis: The Blues' medical staff has granted Carl Gunnarsson clearance to play and is simply waiting for the defenseman to alert them when he's good to go, but he's evidently not comfortable with his hip just yet. Jordan Leopold will continue to occupy a regular spot on defense for the Blues until Gunnarsson feels the pain in his hip has fully dissipated.

Karri Ramo
Flames Go With Ramo On Saturday
Karri Ramo, G, CGY
12:05 AM
News: Karri Ramo will be in the crease Saturday against the Capitals, Pat Steinberg of Sportsnet 960 The Fan reports.
Analysis: With both Karri Ramo and Jonas Hiller playing well, coach Bob Hartley seems content to alternate starts between the two goalies until one of the two netminders sees their productivity tail off. Ramo will carry a strong 2.20 GAA and .917 save percentage into Saturday's start, but it still seems likely that Hiller will ultimately take the reins of the No. 1 job.

 
 
 
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