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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
Mike Mottau
NHLer Mottau Calls It A Career
Mike Mottau, D, FLA
8/19/2014
News: Mike Mottau announced his retirement from professional hockey Tuesday, Joe Haggerty of CSNNE.com reports.
Analysis: The Massachusetts native was exploring the option of playing with AHL Providence to stick with his hometown Bruins organization, but decided he was content to spend more time with his family. Mike Mottau, 36, appeared in 321 career NHL games with the Rangers, Flames, Devils, Islanders, Bruins and Panthers, with his most productive seasons coming in the late-2000s with New Jersey.

Josh Harding
Wild's Harding Cleared For Training Camp
Josh Harding, G, MIN
8/19/2014
News: Wild GM Chuck Fletcher said Josh Harding is "a go" for training camp, Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. "Everybody seems to be feeling pretty good, and at this stage, all of our players who were banged up at the end of the season are feeling better. Josh has felt good. Right now we're not expecting any issues for anybody with respect to passing training camp medicals."
Analysis: With an 18-7-3 record, 1.65 GAA and .933 save percentage, Josh Harding was playing as well as any goal in hockey before a setback in his treatment for multiple sclerosis sidelined him after the end of December. Because he's missed large chunks of both of the last two seasons while dealing with the effects of the illness, fantasy players shouldn't look to invest heavily in Harding. Even if healthy, he's no lock to open the season as the regular starter in goal for the Wild with Niklas Backstrom and Darcy Kuemper still around.

Niklas Backstrom
Wild's Backstrom Good To Go For Camp
Niklas Backstrom, G, MIN
8/19/2014
News: Wild GM Chuck Fletcher said Niklas Backstrom (abdomen, hip) is feeling good and and will be ready to participate in training camp, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.
Analysis: Any way you spin it, Niklas Backstrom had a miserable 2013-14 campaign, as the veteran netminder suited up for 21 games and posted a lousy 3.02 GAA and .899 save percentage before undergoing season-ending abdominal and hip surgery. Though he's ostensibly healthy, Backstrom is now 36 and doesn't appear poised to enter the season as the club's starter, especially with Darcy Kuemper and Josh Harding still around. His sizable contract may be the only thing keeping him around.

Jonas Hiller
Flames' Hiller: Fully Recovered From Appendicitis
Jonas Hiller, G, CGY
8/19/2014
News: GM Brad Treliving said Jonas Hiller is "100 percent" recovered from the appendicitis attack that sidelined him in July, NHL.com reports.
Analysis: The incident prevented Jonas Hiller from working out for about three weeks, but he's since returned to the ice to resume his usual pre-camp routine in his native Switzerland. Hiller, 32, is the heavy favorite to serve as the Flames' No. 1 goalie this season after inking a two-year contract with Calgary on the first day of free agency.

Ryan Malone
Free Agent Malone Pleads No Contest
Ryan Malone, LW, TB
8/19/2014
News: Ryan Malone pleaded no contest Tuesday to his DUI charge stemming from an April arrest, but did agree to a pretrial diversion program for the cocaine possession charge he received in the same incident, Matt Baker of the Tampa Bay Times reports.
Analysis: The diversion program will help Ryan Malone's chances of getting the felony drug charge dismissed if he completes the required criteria. Malone's pending legal issues have made teams reluctant to extend a contract offer just yet, but several clubs are said to be interested in the 34-year-old. Once he completes the program and completes community service for his DUI charge, Malone should latch on with a team.

Nick Petrecki
Ex-Shark Petrecki Signs AHL Deal
Nick Petrecki, D, SJ
8/19/2014
News: Nick Petrecki signed a one-year AHL contract with Rochester on Tuesday.
Analysis: Nick Petrecki spent most of the past season with AHL Worcester of the San Jose organization, before joining Rochester in a late-season loan. In total, the former first-round selection totaled a goal, three assists and 82 PIM in 49 minor league games. He'll function as a depth player for the Buffalo organization.

Eric Selleck
Coyotes Ink Selleck To AHL Contract
Eric Selleck, LW, FLA
8/19/2014
News: Eric Selleck signed a minor-league contract with AHL Portland on Tuesday.
Analysis: Eric Selleck, 26, is a longtime AHL vet who offers much physicality on the checking line. He's totaled at least 160 penalty minutes in each of his last four seasons in the minors, but won't have great odds of earning a promotion to Arizona at any point.

Clarke MacArthur
Sens Extend MacArthur Five Years
Clarke MacArthur, LW, OTT
8/19/2014
News: Clarke MacArthur inked a five-year, $23.25 million extension with the Senators on Tuesday, Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun reports.
Analysis: Clarke MacArthur was already under contract for $3.25 million for this season, so the new five-year deal won't kick in until 2015-16, keeping him under team control through the end of the 2019-20 campaign. The 29-year-old totaled a career-best 24 goals, 78 PIM and plus-12 rating in his first season in Ottawa, and will be counted on to fill a top-line role long-term on the left wing.

Steve Mason
Flyers' Mason Returns To Ice
Steve Mason, G, PHI
8/18/2014
News: Steve Mason (finger) returned to the ice Monday for the first time since breaking his finger three weeks ago, Frank Seravalli of the Philadelphia Daily News reports.
Analysis: With training camp still a month away, the expectation is that Steve Mason will be healthy enough by that time to participate in full activities. After having to fight for his job as the No. 1 goalie a season ago, Mason will be the team's unquestioned top option between the pipes after going 33-18-7 with a 2.50 GAA and .917 save percentage in 2013-14.

Mark Borowiecki
Sens' Borowiecki Receives Three-Year Extension
Mark Borowiecki, D, OTT
8/18/2014
News: Mark Borowiecki and the Senators agreed to terms on a three-year, $3.3 million contract Monday, Ken Warren of the Ottawa Citizen reports.
Analysis: Mark Borowiecki was already set to enter the upcoming season with a guaranteed NHL contract for the first time in his career, so the extension just give him some more long-term security with the Senators. The 25-year-old hasn't shown much of a knack for scoring with the Senators or at AHL Binghamton over the last several seasons, but with regular playing time, he could rank among the league's PIM leaders on the blue line.

 
 
 
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