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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
Patrick Marleau
Sharks Take Marleau's Alternate Captain Status
Patrick Marleau, C, SJ
8/20/2014
News: The Sharks announced Wednesday that they would enter camp without a captain, which includes taking the "A" off Patrick Marleau's sweater, the Mercury News reports.
Analysis: It had been rumored and hinted at all summer that Patrick Marleau and captain Joe Thornton would have their leadership roles passed to younger players. It has also been rumored that both were asked to waive their no trade clause. Neither did. The team wants the younger generation to take the torch, but as far as fantasy is concerned, you can't reduce the playing time of a player like Marleau, who scored 33 goals and 37 assists last season.

Joe Thornton
Sharks Strip Thornton Of Captaincy
Joe Thornton, C, SJ
8/20/2014
News: The Sharks officially announce Wednesday that Joe Thornton would not be the team captain entering training camp, the Mercury News reports.
Analysis: Coach Todd McLellan said that he doesn't consider it to be stripping Joe Thornton of anything, since he'll be given the opportunity to earn the "C" back. The team has talked frequently this offseason of passing the torch to the next generation and that's what this appears to be. Thornton was not only rumored to be losing his "C," but was involved in trade rumors as well. However, he has a no trade clause and doesn't seem interested in leaving San Jose.

Raffi Torres
Sharks' Torres To Miss Months With Knee Infection
Raffi Torres, LW, SJ
8/20/2014
News: Raffi Torres suffered an infection in his surgically-repaired right knee and is expected to miss the first few months of the season while he undergoes another operation on the knee, David Pollak of the San Jose Mercury News reports.
Analysis: Raffi Torres was limited to just five regular-season contests in 2013-14 after undergoing knee surgery and suffering a subsequent setback shortly after returning after the Olympics. He would ultimately rejoin the Sharks during the postseason and looked to be healthy heading into the upcoming campaign, but it seems the infection surfaced at some point over the summer. For the second straight season, he'll open on injured reserve as a result, with no concrete date for his return. Torres has been a useful player for the Sharks when he's been on the ice, but with two years still remaining on his contract, his durability concerns might dampen the remainder of his tenure with his team.

Dennis Seidenberg
Bruins' Seidenberg Eyes Training Camp
Dennis Seidenberg, D, BOS
8/20/2014
News: Dennis Seidenberg (knee) expects to be ready for training camp, NHL.com reports.
Analysis: Dennis Seidenberg, who last suited up on Dec. 27, had surgery in early January to repair an ACL/MCL injury in his right knee in. At the time, the estimated timetable for a return was in the 6-8 month range. With no reported setbacks since then, and given that the sturdy blueliner indicated that he probably could have returned to action had the Bruins advanced to the Eastern Conference Final, things appear to be on track for him to be at, or near, 100 percent in advance of the upcoming regular season.

Henrik Zetterberg
Wings' Zetterberg: Healthy Heading Into Camp
Henrik Zetterberg, LW, DET
8/20/2014
News: Coach Mike Babcock relayed that Henrik Zetterberg (foot) said he was "feeling the best he has in years" this offseason, suggesting he'll be a full participant in training camp, NHL.com's Dan Rosen reports.
Analysis: With both Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk missing 37 games apiece last season, the Red Wings were forced to get by with a patchwork forward ranks to so-so results. Now that both players are feeling healthy, the depth chart should enjoy more stability in 2014-15, but don't be surprised if Zetterberg notices a drop in ice time for maintenance purposes as he enters his age-34 season. Still, Zetterberg hasn't had many health issues prior to last season, and managed to supply 48 points over the 45 contests in which he suited up. There's plenty of value to be had in Zetterberg, even as he takes on a more deferential role to emerging wings Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar in the years to come.

Pavel Datsyuk
Red Wings' Datsyuk Feeling Good Heaing Into Camp
Pavel Datsyuk, C, DET
8/20/2014
News: Coach Mike Babcock relayed that Pavel Datsyuk (knee) said he was feeling "the best he has in years" this offseason, suggesting he'll be ready to go for training camp, NHL.com's Dan Rosen reports.
Analysis: Considering Pavel Datsyuk hasn't played since late April, it's no surprise he's feeling spry, but there's serious questions he'll hold up for 82 games as he enters his age-34 campaign. He's missed a total of 76 games over his last four seasons, muting the impact of the nearly point-per-game production he provides when healthy. Considering his injury history, Datsyuk might not be worth the markup price his name will cost fantasy players on draft day.

Stephen Weiss
Red Wings' Weiss (Hernia) Feeling Healthy
Stephen Weiss, C, DET
8/20/2014
News: Stephen Weiss indicated he's feeling healthy following his April 21 surgery to repair his sports hernia, NHL.com's Dan Rosen reports.
Analysis: Stephen Weiss was a disaster in his first season with the Red Wings after inking a five-year, $24.5 million deal last summer, appearing in only 26 games and totaling four points. He ultimately required a pair of sports hernia surgeries that prevented a second-half return, but after spending the last four months recovering, he appears ready to go for 2014-15. Weiss will be given the opportunity to win back his job as the Wings' No. 2 center, but it seems dubious that he'll be able to return to the 50-point form he showed during his prime years with the Panthers.

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.

 
 
 
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