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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 Maroon
Ducks' Maroon Opens Scoring In Boston
Patrick Maroon, LW, ANA
12:26 PM
News: Patrick Maroon scored his ninth of the season Thursday night against the Bruins.
Analysis: A nifty little move allowed Patrick Maroon to get open and fire a shot past Bruins' goalie Tuukka Rask. He's only managed 33 points on the season, but he remains part of a whole host of Ducks who are hanging around the outer region of fantasy relevance.

Corey Perry
Ducks' Perry Scores Late Equalizer
Corey Perry, RW, ANA
12:12 PM
News: Corey Perry scored in the last minute of the third to send Thursday's game against the Bruins to overtime.
Analysis: He struggled throughout the early part of March with just four points in the first nine games, but has bounced back nicely with four goals and an assist in his last five. Corey Perry is heating up at just the right time for the Ducks.

Andrei Markov
Habs' Markov Lights It
Andrei Markov, D, MON
1:47 AM
News: Andrei Markov scored a goal in Thursday night's 5-2 loss to Winnipeg.
Analysis: Coming off a 12-point February, Andrei Markov has slowed to a crawl in March with just one goal and three assists in 13 games. The 36-year-old defenseman logs heavy minutes, nearly 25 per game, so a drop off is understandable. With the Habs cruising, having already clinched a playoff berth, they might want to consider easing off on Markov as they enter April.

Brendan Gallagher
Habs' Gallagher Stays Hot
Brendan Gallagher, RW, MON
1:41 AM
News: Brendan Gallagher scored a goal and had five shots on net in Thursday night's 5-2 loss to the Jets. The goal was Gallagher's fourth in as many games.
Analysis: The effort's there every night from Brendan Gallagher, who scored unassisted in the loss. He has 23 goals this season, second on the team behind Max Pacioretty. Have him ready for Saturday night when the Habs host the Panthers.

Ryan Miller
Canucks' Miller Faces Shots Thursday
Ryan Miller, G, VAN
12:53 AM
News: Ryan Miller (knee) faced shots at Thursday's optional practice, Irfaan Gaffar of Sportsnet reports.
Analysis: It's a positive sign for the goalie, but there still appears to be significant doubt that he'll be back before the regular season draws to a close. For the moment, the Canucks seem to be eyeing a postseason return for Ryan Miller, but given that he hasn't played since Feb. 22, it may be difficult for him to immediately win back the No. 1 goalie role.

Brad Richardson
Canucks' Richardson Remains Questionable
Brad Richardson, C, VAN
12:48 AM
News: Brad Richardson (ankle) participated in Thursday's morning skate, but remains questionable to play later in the evening against the Avalanche.
Analysis: Brad Richardson was able to practice with the team Wednesday as well, but with the center suggesting he'd likely be day-to-day for the remainder of the season, his availability may remain in question for any given night. That sort of unreliability makes it tough to justify rostering him, even in deeper formats.

Zach Bogosian
Sabres' Bogosian Set To Return
Zach Bogosian, D, BUF
12:44 AM
News: Zach Bogosian (lower body) is slated to play Thursday against the Coyotes.
Analysis: Zach Bogosian, who has missed the last six games with a lower-body injury, checks back into the Sabres' lineup with four helpers and 30 PIM in 12 games since joining the team in a trade with the Jets.

Pekka Rinne
Preds' Rinne Confirmed To Start Thursday
Pekka Rinne, G, NSH
12:43 AM
News: Pekka Rinne will be in the net Thursday against the Lightning, Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times reports.
Analysis: He'll square off against the Bolts' Ben Bishop, whose 36 wins on the season trail only Pekka Rinne (39) and the Habs' Carey Price (40). Rinne will have his work cut out for him in slowing the Bolts' powerful attack, but the goalie's impressive ratios this season (2.08 GAA, .927 save percentage) and over his last several outings probably makes him a safe activation Thursday, though a less attractive play in daily formats.

Eddie Lack
Canucks To Start Lack On Thursday
Eddie Lack, G, VAN
12:38 AM
News: Eddie Lack is slated to start Thursday's game against the Avs.
Analysis: Eddie Lack, who has won four of his last five starts, will look Thursday to help the Canucks earn four straight wins for the first time since they last accomplished the feat, between Oct. 26 and Nov. 1.

Ryan Murray
Blue Jackets' Murray Remains Out
Ryan Murray, D, CLB
12:27 AM
News: Ryan Murray (lower body) will not join the Blue Jackets' on their two-game road trip over the weekend, Shawn Mitchell of the Columbus Dispatch reports.
Analysis: Ryan Murray won't return to the Columbus lineup any sooner than next Tuesday against the Devils, but since he has yet to resume skating since suffering the injury, fantasy owners shouldn't count on him being available by then. The blueliner has been limited to just 10 games this season.

 
 
 
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