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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
Nick Bjugstad
Panthers' Bjugstad In A Rough Patch
Nick Bjugstad, C, FLA
2/28/2015
News: Nick Bjugstad posted a minus-2 with one shot on goal in Thursday night's 3-0 loss to the Blackhawks.
Analysis: Nick Bjugstad started February on fire with seven points in his first nine games of the month including a stretch with four goals in five games. However, the past five games have not been as kind to the 22-year-old. Bjugstad has only taken 11 shots on goal and has posted a minus-7 plus/minus, dragging his plus/minus for the season to minus-9. He still leads the team in points (36) and goals (21), but will need to regain his scoring form for the already light-scoring Panthers.

Jonas Gustavsson
Red Wings' Gustavsson To Start Saturday
Jonas Gustavsson, G, DET
2/28/2015
News: Jonas Gustavsson will start Saturday's game in Nashville, MLive.com's Ansar Khan reports.
Analysis: It's a bit surprising to see Jonas Gustavsson get the nod, as Detroit won't play again until Wednesday's game against the Rangers. The matchup is as tough as they come, with Nashville currently leading the race for the President's Trophy.

Bobby Ryan
Sens' Ryan Records Five SOG, Assist In Win
Bobby Ryan, RW, OTT
2/28/2015
News: Bobby Ryan assisted on the game's lone goal in Thursday's 1-0 win over the Kings.
Analysis: Bobby Ryan is working on a modest three-game point streak, which are starting to become ordinary for him in his second season in Ottawa. The Sens' leading scorer with 45 points, Ryan has been especially productive since the All-Star break. He's accumulated three goals and nine assists in his last 12 games.

Sergei Bobrovsky
Jackets' Bobrovsky (Groin) May Start Saturday
Sergei Bobrovsky, G, CLB
2/28/2015
News: Sergei Bobrovsky (groin) will skate on his own Saturday morning, and the Blue Jackets will then make a decision on their starter for Saturday's game against the Devils, Shawn Mitchell of the Columbus Dispatch reports.
Analysis: The team will not skate until 5 PM, but Sergei Bobrovsky is going to work out on his own in the morning. If he doesn't make it back for Saturday's game, Bobrovsky could still start Sunday's contest in Pittsburgh.

Craig Smith
Preds' Smith Pots 20th In Loss
Craig Smith, C, NSH
2/28/2015
News: Craig Smith netted his 20th goal of the season in Thursday's 3-2 loss to the Wild.
Analysis: Craig Smith is on track to fall short of last year's career-high total of 52 points, but he's at least in the midst of his hottest run of production of the season. He's accumulated six goals and two assists in his last seven games, making him a trendy waiver wire addition in recent days.

Brian Elliott
Blues' Elliott To Start Vs. Oilers On Saturday
Brian Elliott, G, STL
2/28/2015
News: Brian Elliott will start Saturday's game in Edmonton, Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
Analysis: With Brian Elliott starting Saturday night, there's a good chance Jake Allen will get the nod for Sunday's game in Vancouver. However, the Blues have yet to name a starter for that game. First, Elliott will try to make the most of a favorable matchup, facing an Edmonton team with just 46 points this season.

Nate Thompson
Ducks' Thompson (Lower Body) Out Friday
Nate Thompson, C, ANA
2/28/2015
News: Nate Thompson (lower body) remains day-to-day, but he will not play in Friday's game against the Kings, Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register reports.
Analysis: Chris Wagner will center the Ducks' fourth line, working in between Tim Jackman and Patrick Maroon.

Brian Gibbons
Jackets' Recall Gibbons
Brian Gibbons, C, CLB
3:17 PM
News: Brian Gibbons was recalled from AHL Springfield, Shawn Mitchell of The Columbus Dispatch reports.
Analysis: Brian Gibbons was sent to AHL Springfield in mid-February, but will return to the club following the placement of Matt Calvert (concussion) on injured reserve. Through 21 games with Columbus this season, the forward has five assists and a plus-two rating in 14:09 of ice time.

Victor Hedman
Bolts' Hedman Expected To Play Friday
Victor Hedman, D, TB
3:15 PM
News: Though coach Jon Cooper labeled Victor Hedman (undisclosed) as a game-time decision for Friday's tilt with the Blackhawks, it's expected that the blueliner will play, Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times reports.
Analysis: Victor Hedman was a full participant in the Bolts' morning skate, so his fantasy owners can probably feel comfortable inserting him into their lineup. His availability will officially be confirmed when pregame warmups commence a half hour prior to the 6:30 ET puck drop.

Ales Hemsky
Stars' Hemsky Back In Friday
Ales Hemsky, RW, DAL
3:05 PM
News: Ales Hemsky (undisclosed) will play Friday against the Avalanche, Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News reports.
Analysis: Considered probable heading into Friday, Ales Hemsky's availability for the game was confirmed after he completed the morning skate without any setbacks on the injury front. He'll skate on the top line with Erik Cole and Jason Spezza during the game.

 
 
 
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