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Week 5 schedule analysis

by | Rotowire.com
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Of the total 88 games on the docket this week, 19 -- denoted in orange on the grid -- of the 30 NHL franchises will play on back-to-back nights this week. With a good portion of the NHL playing sporadically over the next two weeks, your best bet for phantom points will be backup goaltenders. Let's find out why.

NHL schedule

Four Aces

All five teams playing four tilts this week will play them clumped together.

Chicago (at MIN, OTT, at WPG, CAL) has one of the tougher but opportunistic schedules for fantasy owners with two games at home and away, both on back-to-back occurrences at beginning and end of the week. Pittsburgh (at CAR, BOS, CLS, at CLS) will visit the 'Canes on Monday then host Boston on Wednesday before a traditional home-and-home with the Blue Jackets.

Carefully place your bets as the remaining three intertwine.

The very inconsistent Dallas Stars (at BUF, at MON, COL, at OTT) play on back-to-back nights in Buffalo and Montreal to start the week, before heading home to host the Avs and traveling north again to Ontario. Kari Lehtonen is back, no pun intended, but the cautious Lindy Ruff will likely turn to Dan Ellis for two starts this week. The good news fantasy-wise is this team of players seems determined to be a diversely robust bunch, regardless of their team's record. Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Alex Chiasson have a combined 12 goals, 18 assists in 27 games. However, a combined plus-1 translates into their 4-5 team record headed into Saturday night. Also, Valeri Nichushkin quietly returned after being a healthy scratch. He could get top-six minutes if he can just find the confidence, as we just don't see it happening with Erik Cole and Shawn Horcoff. Either way, we're buying if impatient annual re-drafters are selling.

Montreal (at NYR, DAL, at MIN, at COL) will play all four games on back-to-back occurrences, starting with Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Monday night and hosting the Stars on Tuesday. From there, it's off to Minnesota and Colorado on Friday and Saturday night. Lars Eller has cooled off, but Brian Gionta and Tomas Plekanec are warming up and have combined for 11 points over their last four games. As for Carey Price, his career numbers suggest nods against the Rangers and Wild, so look for Peter Budaj in the other two games.

Head coach Alain Vigneault seems to be following some sort of manual for coaching 101, alternating unproductive wingers as healthy scratches. Only the Rangers (MON, at NYI, BUF, CAR) have continued in their offensive struggles. More disappointing news as Henrik Lundqvist (day-to-day) has been out with an undisclosed nagging injury. Although most tabbed Cam Talbot's NHL debut versus the Flyers a solid success, the goalie didn't seem ready for the speed of the NHL game, often times being out of position, but was graced by the goalie gods. If Talbot doesn't improve on Saturday in Detroit and King Henrik is not back by Monday's tilt, you could see another Rangers goalie make his NHL debut, Jason Missiaen. Some good news as Chris Kreider registered a point in his first game this season and J.T. Miller netted what was to be the game-tying goal, until it was disallowed. It makes no sense, but it seems these kids could truly spark the sleeping monster of the NHL, the Rangers offense.

Three of a Kind

Eleven remaining teams play on a b2b occurrences this week and we've placed their   gamble value on strength of opponent, road/home ratio, as well as probable goalie personnel. The back-to-back occurrence appears in bold, along with a quick trend.

Hold

Los Angeles (at PHX, SJ, NAS): Jonathan Quick (2.55 GAA) has a career record of 9-5-4 against the Sharks.

Islanders (NYR, at OTT, BOS): Pierre-Marc Bouchard is beginning to string together good games for his owners.

St. Louis (WPG, at FLA, at TB): T.J. Oshie has been consistent, holding a point in three straight.

Tampa Bay (at NJ, at CAR, STL): Steven Stamkos has 52 points in 52 career games against this week's opponents, so more consistency is headed your way.

Fold

Boston (at PIT, ANH, at NYI): Although he'll likely only play one of the two back-to-back games, Tuukka Rask is 1-5 (3.34 GAA) in his career against the Pens and Ducks.

Detroit (at VAN, at CAL, at EDM): Sluggish offense meets road trip, usually not a successful remedy.

Philadelphia (ANH, WAS, at NJ): Has scored just 13 goals this season.

Washington (at VAN, at PHI, FLA): The week could go either way for the definition of mediocre (5-5, 30 GF/GA) NHL hockey.

Meanwhile, Minnesota (CHI, MON, NJ), Carolina (PIT, TB, at NYR) and New Jersey (TB, PHI, at MIN) have enough problems, even without playing on back-to-back nights this week. Josh Harding was your number one man, as was Cam Ward and Cory Schneider, respectively. All three now seem headed to the IR or at least nagged by injury. It's very likely Martin Brodeur, Anton Khudobin and Niklas Backstrom will all take back their crease for the time being. Also, Minnie has called up the talents of Johan Gustafsson, who was 2-0 with a 1.99 GAA with the Iowa Wild of the AHL. This could be more than a depth move when it's all said and done and that's all we're saying about that.

One Pair- The following seven teams have the dreaded two-game schedule. Let's find out who's worth holding (more favorable schedule) and who you'll be folding (less favorable schedule).

Hold

Edmonton (TOR, DET)

San Jose (at LA, PHX)

Fold

Nashville (at PHX, at LA)

Winnipeg (at STL, CHI)

Leaving the remaining three playing on back-to-back nights:

Columbus (at PIT, PIT) gets the best bang for their buck with two games, but can you trust them against the Penguins, much less on back-to-back nights? Colorado (at DAL, MON) also is playing both games on Friday and Saturday night. Their opponents have a pedestrian 10-9 record combined record. Florida (STL, at WAS) faces two very explosive offenses, but the only question is will they show up?

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Player News
Noah Hanifin
Hanifin To Get Chance At Cracking Canes' Roster
Noah Hanifin, D, CAR
7/27/2015
News: Carolina GM Ron Francis said that Noah Hanifin will receive consideration for opening the season with the parent club, the Raleigh News & Observer reports. "We don't want to force him [up to the NHL] if he's not ready," Francis said. "We'll give him time to develop. I'm certainly not ruling [making Carolina's opening roster] out, but we want to be careful and make sure we do what's right for Noah."
Analysis: Noah Hanifin, the fifth overall pick in June's NHL Entry Draft, made the surprise decision to sign an entry-level contract with the Hurricanes two weeks after being selected, thereby foregoing the remaining three years of his eligibility at Boston College. While an assignment of an 18-year-old defenseman to the NHL isn't unprecedented, Hanifin isn't quite on the same level as Florida's Aaron Ekblad, who achieved the rare "exceptional player" status during his time in the OHL before capturing the Calder Trophy last season. The 6-foot-3, 207-pound Hanifin profiles as a top-tier, two-way defenseman in the long run, but he still needs some further refinement, particularly on the offensive end. He should be the Canes' top defenseman before long, though it's more likely he'll spend most of 2015-16 developing at AHL Charlotte.

Carl Soderberg
Avs' Soderberg Could Center Second Line
Carl Soderberg, C, COL
7/27/2015
News: Carl Soderberg is expected to center Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon on the Avs' second line during the upcoming season, NHL.com reports.
Analysis: Carl Soderberg was the Avs' most high-profile acquisition of the offseason, with the team acquiring the soon-to-be unrestricted free agent on June 25 and signing him to a lucrative five-year extension before he could reach the open market. The amount of money committed to Soderberg along with the departure of Ryan O'Reilly should open up a fruitful role for the Swedish pivot, as he's have the luxury of skating next to two of the league's last four Calder Trophy winners. If that line arrangement indeed materializes, Soderberg -- who averaged 46 points during his two seasons with the Bruins -- could make a run at 60 points.

Joey Hishon
Hishon Inks One-Year Deal With Avalanche
Joey Hishon, C, COL
7/27/2015
News: Joey Hishon signed a one-year contract with the Avalanche on Monday.
Analysis: Joey Hishon suited up for 13 games with the Avalanche last season, managing to tally two points (one goal, one assist) in those contests. He fared better with AHL Lake Erie, registering 36 points (16 goals, 20 assists) in 53 games with the team. The 23-year-old will get a chance to compete for a roster spot with the big club in training camp.

Colin Wilson
Wilson Signs Four-Year Contract With Predators
Colin Wilson, C, NSH
7/27/2015
News: Colin Wilson signed a four-year, $15.75 million contract with the Predators on Monday, Adam Vingan of the Tennessean reports.
Analysis: Colin Wilson was a solid offensive contributor for the Predators in 2014-15, registering 42 points (20 goals, 22 assists) in 77 games with the team. He will return to a top-six role with Nashville this season, and should be similarly productive barring injury.

Derek Stepan
Rangers And Stepan Agree To Six-Year Extension
Derek Stepan, C, NYR
7/27/2015
News: Derek Stepan agreed to a six-year extension with the Rangers on Monday that will net him $6.5 million annually, Katie Strang of ESPN reports.
Analysis: Derek Stepan has avoided arbitration with the deal, and will now remain in a Rangers uniform for a long time to come. The 25-year-old center posted 55 points (16 goals, 39 assists) in 2014-15, and will look to build off the effort once again in 2015 as he'll likely center the Rangers' top line once again.

Paul Byron
Flames, Byron Reach Agreement
Paul Byron, C, CGY
7/27/2015
News: Paul Byron re-signed Sunday with the Flames on a one-year, $900,000 contract, Elliotte Friedman of Hockey Night in Canada reports.
Analysis: Paul Byron didn't skate for the Flames during the playoffs due to a wrist injury and later required sports hernia surgery, but he was a quality depth contributor during the regular season, providing six goals and 19 points in 57 games. He's expected to be recovered from all his ailments before training camp commences in September.

Alex Chiasson
Sens, Chiasson Come To Terms
Alex Chiasson, RW, OTT
7/26/2015
News: Alex Chiasson was awarded a one-year, $1.2 million contract Sunday through the arbitration process, Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun reports.
Analysis: Alex Chiasson was seeking a $2.475 million contract, but after the winger tallied just 11 goals and 26 points in 76 games last season, the arbiter determined that valuation was too high. The Senators' primary get in the trade last summer that sent Jason Spezza to the Stars, Chiasson will be need to step up his productivity in 2015-16 in order to meet the high expectations the Senators have set for him. However, with Mark Stone and Mike Hoffman emerging last season as viable top-six forwards, Chiasson's opportunities to earn increased ice time may be limited.

Adam Larsson
Larsson Re-Signs With Devils
Adam Larsson, D, NJ
7/26/2015
News: Adam Larsson signed a six-year, $25 million contract with the Devils on Saturday.
Analysis: Adam Larsson was great for the Devils last season, tallying 24 points (three goals, 21 assists) in 64 games with the team. He's only 22 years old, and could develop into one of the league's best defensemen over the next few years. He will return to his role as a top-pair defender with New Jersey in 2015-16.

Braden Holtby
Holtby Signs Five-Year Contract With Capitals
Braden Holtby, G, WAS
7/25/2015
News: Braden Holtby signed a five-year, $30.5 million contract with the Capitals on Friday, Stephen Whyno of The Canadian Press reports.
Analysis: Braden Holtby was in for a big pay day after his fantastic performance in 2014-15, going 41-20-10 with a 2.22 GAA and a .923 save percentage. He's only 25 years old, and should continue to be one of the league's top netminders for the foreseeable future.

Tomas Jurco
Jurco Re-Signs With Red Wings
Tomas Jurco, RW, DET
7/24/2015
News: Tomas Jurco signed a two-year, $1.8 million contract with the Red Wings on Friday.
Analysis: Tomas Jurco was a solid contributor for the Red Wings in 2014-15, tallying 18 points (three goals, 15 assists) and 97 hits in 63 games with the team. He will likely return to a bottom-six role with Detroit this season.

 
 
 
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