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Week 4 schedule analysis

by | Rotowire.com
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With just 11 days remaining in the month, we decided to seek out some trends to focus on. Minnesota (NAS, CAR at CHI) will end the week on Saturday night with the first half of a home-and-home with Stanley Cup champs. But teams with very different schedules will make a bigger impact to your lineups over the next two weeks.

NHL schedule

Three of a Kind

Chicago (at FLA, at TB, MIN), Montreal (EDM, ANH, SJ) and Pittsburgh (COL, NYI, at TOR) will all play seven games over the next two weeks.

Meanwhile, Florida (CHI, BUF, TB), Nashville (at MIN, WPG, STL), Colorado (at PIT, CAR, WPG) and Columbus (NJ, TOR, ANH) all play just five games over the next 14 days.

Flush

In Flush, five teams have busy (four games) and seemingly brutal schedules. Some members of the Pacific Division (plus Winnipeg) play host to Alexander Ovechkin and the traveling Caps.

Anaheim (at TOR, at MON, at OTT, at CLS) is off to a good start and even Teemu Selanne is warming up.

Calgary (at LA, at PHX, at DAL, WAS): The Sean Monahan countdown continues. He had a power play goal and an assist in San Jose on Saturday night. Will the Flames send him back down to Juniors or keep him up? Joey MacDonald is 0-2-1 (4.25 GAA) versus the Caps.

San Jose (at DET, at BOS, at MON, at OTT: Matt Nieto continues his "progressive" additions to the stat sheet. More importantly Logan Couture (nine points in seven games) is returning to form after a down lock-out shortened season. Antti Niemi is 3-0-1 (1.98 GAA, 1 SO) in his career against the touring Caps.

Edmonton (at MON, WAS, at PHX, at LA): The Oilers are apparently on Ryan Miller’s no-trade clause, so what now? Jason LaBarbera is not a likely candidate for putting a team on his back all the way to what is now a deep run in the NHL playoffs. In the meantime, Mark Arcobello is just piling up the points in Alberta. If he is to continue his pace, it would not be a stretch for the undrafted 25-year-old who had 46 assists in 74 games with the Oklahoma City Barons. He also set a career-high with 22 goals with the Barons as well.

Winnipeg (WAS, at NAS, at DAL, at COL): However, the good news for Alberta natives is not both incumbent NHL starters fell flat on their face like the unmentioned Edmonton man. Ondrej Pavelec rebounded from a four-game losing streak with a 4-3 win over St. Louis on Friday. It's noteworthy that Pavelec's offense only scored four goals during that losing streak. However, Pavelec did not have a good campaign (1-4, 3.62 GAA) against the former division rival Capitals in last year's lock-out shortened season.

One Pair

Philadelphia (NYR, at NYI), St. Louis (VAN, at NAS) and Carolina (at MIN, at COL) are three of the five teams who play just twice this week.

Dallas (CAL, WPG): Despite having the very talented Alex Chiasson and underrated Cody Eakin, the Stars won't be a great source of points until next week when they play four games. Dan Ellis was solid against the Sharks earlier this week, but could the day-to-day Kari Lehtonen (lower-body) be back soon? By this time next week, we may need to consider whether Jack Campbell’s services will be needed.

Rangers (at PHI, at DET): A movement of excitement began when Henrik Lundqvist blanked the Caps and the Rangers power-play rose from the dead. However, Ryan Callahan's broken digit only compounds Rick Nash's (concussion) continuous absence. The hope is Carl Hagelin's return will help wash out these injuries. If the Rangers offense remains stagnant (Taylor Pyatt on the first line?), you could see highly touted winger J.T. Miller register top-six minutes this week. If so, pounce, and Jesper Fast could sneak up there as well. But either way, the Rangers won't make any splashes on your week with just two tilts.

Back-To-Back

For those in leagues with weekly lineups, you have some tough decisions to make. In addition to the Ducks, Flames, Oilers, Sharks, Blues and Jets, the following teams playing three games this week will all play games on consecutive nights at some point this week.

Vancouver (at NYI, at NJ, STL) flies home from visiting dear old friend Cory Schneider before hosting the Blues.

Toronto (ANH, at CLS, PIT) has a tough week ahead. After hosting the Ducks, they'll travel to Columbus on Friday and host the Pens on Saturday.

After opening the week with a few days off, Tampa Bay (CHI, BUF, at FLA) will tangle with the Blackhawks on Thursday, then host Buffalo on Saturday and travel to play the Panthers in a De facto road game on Sunday.

Pittsburgh will host Colorado on Monday, before back-to-back games against the Isles at home on Friday and then the aforementioned tilt with Toronto on Saturday.

The Islanders (VAN, at PIT, PHI) travel to take on the Pens before heading back to the Island to host the lackluster Flyers on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Buffalo (BOS, at FLA, at TB) and Boston (at BUF, SJ, NJ) will take different journeys after meeting each other Wednesday. Tuukka Rask's backup, Chad Johnson, will likely get the nod hosting Buffalo as the Bruins head home on Thursday to take on the Sharks. Buffalo will likely look to their backup Jhonas Enroth when they begin their Florida swing on Friday.

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Player News
Ryan Ellis
Preds, Ellis Still At Odds Over New Contract
Ryan Ellis, D, NSH
9/21/2014
News: Preds GM David Poile addressed Ryan Ellis' contract situation Saturday, saying the main stumbling block continues to be money, according to the Tennessean. "Unfortunately at this time we have not agreed what they think and what we think is fair compensation," Poile said. "We want [Ellis]. We are not trading him, we really like him. We really like the way he played last year. It's just a disagreement on dollars."
Analysis: Ryan Ellis, who has missed the first two days of training camp so far, played in 80 games last season for and finished with 27 points - his highest full season total to date. And while there is still plenty of time left to get a deal done before the start of the season, the clock is ticking. Not only is he missing out on conditioning drills and scrimmages, the more Ellis misses of training camp, the greater the chances of some other defenseman impressing the coaching staff and grabbing a roster spot that might otherwise go to Ellis. Bottom line, we think Ellis will get signed by the start of the regular season, but what his role on the team will be is anybody's guess. He's a risky fantasy pick right now, until all of the above gets sorted out.

Jon Merrill
Devils' Merrill Misses Practice With Head Injury
Jon Merrill, D, NJ
9/21/2014
News: Jon Merrill missed the second day of Devils' training camp on Saturday due to a head injury he suffered after colliding with teammate Ruslan Fedotenko during Friday's practice, Rich Chere of NJ.com reports.
Analysis: Luckily for Jon Merrill, the Devils' first regular season game isn't until October 9th. While head injuries are never a good thing, the promising young defender should have ample time to get healthy before the regular season kicks off.

Mark Stuart
Jets' Stuart Dealing With Muscle Issue
Mark Stuart, D, WPG
2:59 PM
News: Mark Stuart is dealing with a minor muscle issue, Ken Wiebe of the Winnipeg Sun reports.
Analysis: Mark Stuart is apparently improving and is considered day-to-day at this point. The injury doesn't appear as though it will cost him any regular season time.

Jordan Staal
New Linemates For Canes' Staal Early In Camp
Jordan Staal, C, CAR
1:44 PM
News: Jordan Staal has been skating with Alexander Semin and Jiri Tlusty so far in training camp, reports the Raleigh News & Observer.
Analysis: Although it's early and new coach Bill Peters will likely experiment with various line combinations before the start of the regular season, Jordan Staal could really benefit from inheriting his brother Eric's linemates from the last two seasons. Semin and Tlusty are two reliable, scoring wingers who are used to playing on the same line together, something Staal has often lacked since joining the Canes two seasons ago. One thing is for certain - Staal will once again open the season as the Canes' second-line center, so it's really just a matter of who will be his wingers at this point - likely some combination of Semin, Tlusty, Jeff Skinner and Elias Lindholm.

Eric Staal
Canes' Staal Has New Linemates In Camp
Eric Staal, C, CAR
1:25 PM
News: Eric Staal has been skating with Jeff Skinner and Elias Lindholm so far in training camp, reports the Raleigh News & Observer.
Analysis: Eric Staal, who is attempting to rebound from a disappointing 2013-14 season (61 points in 79 games) in which he skated primarily with Alexander Semin and Jiri Tlusty, could be looking at a fresh start this season with a new coach (Bill Peters) and new linemates. And although Peters cautioned reporters on the first day of camp not to read too much into his initial line combination choices, the thought of Staal playing with Skinner and Lindholm - two of the Canes' most skilled forwards - is an intriguing one. While it's still just the first week of training camp, and nothing is written in stone at this point, it's a situation worth keeping an eye on.

Taylor Beck
Preds' Rookie Beck Remains Unsigned
Taylor Beck, LW, NSH
1:00 PM
News: Taylor Beck has been a participant at training camp this week, despite being an unrestricted free agent, according to the Tennessean.
Analysis: Taylor Beck, who is coming off a three-year, $2.7 million entry-level deal, has spent most of his time playing for AHL Milwaukee, posting 44 goals and 86 assists over the last three years. He has appeared in 16 career games for the Preds, including seven last season. Unless he makes a major impression in training camp, expect him to start the season back in the minors, when and if he gets re-signed.

Jhonas Enroth
Sabres Coach Confident In Enroth
Jhonas Enroth, G, BUF
11:09 AM
News: Sabres head coach Ted Nolan believes Jhonas Enroth can be a starting goalie in the NHL, reports the Olean Times Herald.
Analysis: Jhonas Enroth will battle Michal Neuvirth for the starting job, but if one of them has the edge, it's Enroth. Despite his lack of wins the previous season, Enroth still had a respectable .911 save percentage on the league's worst team and made the Swedish national team for Sochi. He has been Ryan Miller's understudy for the past few seasons, but Neuvirth is also reunited with Arturs Irbe, his goaltending coach in Washington. Nolan will split starts between Enroth and Neuvirth for the time being. The Sabres have six exhibition games this season.

Tyler Bozak
Leafs' Bozak Dealing With Lower-Body Issue
Tyler Bozak, C, TOR
11:05 AM
News: Tyler Bozak is dealing with a lower-body injury, Terry Koshan of the Toronto Sun reports.
Analysis: Tyler Bozak reportedly skated in full equipment before the Leafs' practice Saturday, but didn't participate with the team. He and David Clarkson both suffered the injuries in pre-camp workouts, but both are believed to be minor injuries.

Matt Hackett
Sabres' Hackett Could Skate Soon
Matt Hackett, G, BUF
11:00 AM
News: Matt Hackett suffered an ACL injury on April 12 and could start skating soon, reports The Buffalo News.
Analysis: There is still no return date for Matt Hackett though he is expected to return midway through the season, perhaps in late December or early January. Hackett is coming off a tough season, losing the starting job in the AHL to Nathan Lieuwen. He is in a contract year and faces an uphill climb on a team deep with goaltending prospects. The 24-year-old goalie may not figure into the team's long-term plans. Jhonas Enroth and Michal Neuvirth are battling for the NHL job while Andrey Makarov and Lieuwen will handle the duties in the AHL.

David Clarkson
Leafs' Clarkson Dealing With Lower-Body Injury
David Clarkson, RW, TOR
10:52 AM
News: David Clarkson is dealing with a lower body injury, Terry Koshan of the Toronto Sun reports.
Analysis: David Clarkson joined Tyler Bozak as the two out for the practice, with both reportedly dealing with lower-body injuries. They both ocurred during pre-camp workouts, and coach Randy Carlyle believes the injury is minor.

 
 
 
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