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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
Cody Eakin
Eakin Agrees To Four-Year Extension With Stars
Cody Eakin, C, DAL
8/28/2015
News: Cody Eakin agreed to a four-year, $15.4 million contract extension with the Stars on Friday, Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News reports.
Analysis: The 24-year-old was a solid producer for the Stars in 2014-15, registering 40 points (19 goals, 21 assists) in 78 games with the team. He will likely return to his role centering the Stars' third line this season, and should produce similarly barring significant injury.

Elias Lindholm
Lindholm Signs Two-Year Extension With Hurricanes
Elias Lindholm, C, CAR
8/27/2015
News: Elias Lindholm signed a two-year, $5.4 million contract extension with the Hurricanes on Thursday.
Analysis: Elias Lindholm was a solid contributor in his first full NHL season in 2014-15, registering 39 points (17 goals, 22 assists) in 81 games with the team. He will return to his role as a top-six forward with Carolina this season, and should have a great shot at improving upon his offensive numbers from a year ago as he continues his development as an NHL forward.

Patrik Berglund
Blues' Berglund To Require Shoulder Surgery
Patrik Berglund, C, STL
8/27/2015
News: Patrik Berglund aggravated a dislocated right shoulder while working out and is set to undergo surgery Friday, Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. He'll require at least four months of recovery time.
Analysis: Patrik Berglund first dislocated the shoulder in 2013-14, and required surgery last offseason to address the issue. The center was able to recover in time from that procedure to play on Opening Night last season, but given how late in the offseason calendar the setback occurred this time around, it looks like Berglund won't take the ice again until the calendar flips to 2016. His extended absence could allow prospect Robby Fabbri to claim third-line center duties out of training camp, with veteran Scott Gomez also in the mix if coach Ken Hitchcock prefers a more experienced option for that role.

Scott Gomez
Gomez Signs PTO With Blues
Scott Gomez, C, NJ
8/27/2015
News: Scott Gomez accepted a professional tryout offer with the Blues on Thursday, Andy Strickland of FOX Sports Midwest reports.
Analysis: After failing to garner a contract in free agency for the second straight offseason, Scott Gomez will again head to training camp on a PTO, as he did last season in New Jersey. Though he wasn't able to crack the Devils' Opening Night roster, he continued to work out with the team after the tryout period ended and was eventually signed to the team when injuries opened up an opportunity in late November. Gomez would end the season as one of the more productive contributors on the offensively challenged Devils, finishing third on the team with 34 points. The Blues boast a far deeper roster of forward talent, but with the news surfacing after Gomez's signing that Patrik Berglund would miss at least four months following shoulder surgery, an opening on the third line could exist for the 35-year-old.

Max Pacioretty
Habs' Pacioretty Still On Schedule With Rehab
Max Pacioretty, LW, MON
8/27/2015
News: Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said recently that Max Pacioretty (knee) remains on schedule in the rehabilitation process, Arpon Basu of LNH.com reports.
Analysis: Max Pacioretty sustained the knee injury while working out in Florida in early July, and was given a projected recovery timetable of 10-to-12 weeks. Given the length of the timetable, Pacioretty is expected to sit out all of training camp, and while his availability for the Oct. 7 regular-season opener in Toronto remains possible, he'd likely be subjected to limited minutes in the early going as he looks to build endurance. Once back to full health, Pacioretty should reemerge as the Habs' most dangerous offensive option after he potted 37 goals and a career-high 67 points in 2014-15.

Ladislav Smid
Flames Expecting Smid Back For Training Camp
Ladislav Smid, D, CGY
8/27/2015
News: The Flames' front office believes Ladislav Smid (neck) will be ready to skate during the team's first on-ice session at training camp in September, the Calgary Sun reports.
Analysis: Ladislav Smid's season came to an end last January when he required surgery on his neck, but his communication with the Flames to this point in the offseason suggests he has recovered well from the procedure. If healthy, Smid will compete in camp with Deryk Engelland for a spot as Calgary's sixth defenseman.

Sidney Crosby
Pens' Crosby Likely To Play Next To Kessel
Sidney Crosby, C, PIT
8/27/2015
News: Coach Mike Johnston said earlier this week that Sidney Crosby is expected to play next to Phil Kessel to begin training camp, CBS Sports reports.
Analysis: The Penguins have cycled in a number of right wingers next to Sidney Crosby throughout his career, and while Patric Hornqvist proved capable in that capacity last season, he's not nearly as prolific at finding twine as Kessel, a five-time 30-goal scorer. With his health concerns beginning to fade away after missing only seven games over the last two seasons, Crosby once again looks like a reasonable choice at No. 1 overall in fantasy drafts, even after scoring only 28 goals in 2014-15, his lowest total in any year he's suited up for at least 60 contests. Crosby probably won't come close to approaching the 51-goal peak he reached in 2009-10, but a slight uptick in his anomalous 11.8 shooting percentage coupled with the likely increase in assist opportunities with Kessel blitzing the net could make a return to 100 points conceivable.

Mike Richards
Charges Announced For Ex-King Richards
Mike Richards, C, LA
8/27/2015
News: Mike Richards was formally charged with possession of a controlled substance while entering Canada stemming from a June 17 border stop by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Manitoba, Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo! Sports reports.
Analysis: The Kings determined the incident gave them just cause to release Mike Richards for a "material breach" of his 12-year contract, a decision that prompted the NHL Players Association to file a grievance. The nature of the border stop likely won't affect the outcome of that legal battle, as both the NHLPA and the Kings were aware of the circumstances surrounding the incident. Currently a free agent, Richards is able to sign with any team while the grievance remains underway, but his steep decline in performance over the last few seasons coupled with this ongoing dispute probably has few organizations interested in his services.

Kyle Okposo
Isles Begin Contract Talks With Okposo
Kyle Okposo, RW, NYI
8/26/2015
News: Kyle Okposo and the Islanders have begun talks on a new contract, according to Islanders Point Blank.
Analysis: Both sides are hoping to get an agreement done before the start of the season but the parameters on a new deal could be difficult to negotiate. Kyle Okposo will make $4.5 million this season and could command a deal north of $6 million per year on the open market, a figure the Islanders may not be willing to approach at this time. If the two sides can't come to an agreement before the start of the season then Okposo's name will be one we will hear quite often in trade rumors.

Sami Aittokallio
Avs Re-Sign Aittokallio
Sami Aittokallio, G, COL
8/26/2015
News: Sami Aittokallio has re-signed with the Avalanche on a one-year, two-way contract, General Fanager reports.
Analysis: Sami Aittokallio appears to be the clear No. 4 goalie in the Colorado organization behind Semyon Varlamov, Calvin Pickard, and Reto Berra, so it's somewhat surprising he elected to commit for another year rather than bolt for Europe. Even so, Aittokallio's contract does at least include a clause for him to play overseas if he isn't guaranteed a roster spot with the Avalanche, potentially opening the door for him to leave the club if he's assigned to the AHL out of training camp, as expected.

 
 
 
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