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Week 7 schedule analysis

by | Rotowire.com
  •  

Although one glance at this week's grid may lead you to believe it's a slow week as 24 of the 30 NHL teams are playing just three games, but with 94 total games on the NHL docket, the league is anything but slow.

*bold indicates back-to-back occurrences.

NHL schedule

Four Aces

In Four Aces this week, just five teams play four games. While ordinarily four games provide you with more opportunity to rack up points, all five teams have a road-trip or strong opponent schedule. Outside of the utilization of backup goalies, we're not so sure you'll want to place all your eggs in this basket.

Ryan Johansen and Brandon Dubinsky took Columbus' (at WAS, at BOS, MON, at OTT) head coach Todd Richards' words to heart as the Jackets snapped their losing streak on Saturday night.

Los Angeles (at BUF, at NYI, at NJ, NYR) will take a road trip on the East Coast and continue to deal without Jeff Carter. Jarret Stoll may be a different story.

San Jose (at CAL, at VAN, at EDM, at CHI) has Brent Burns traveling with the team on Sunday, but no word yet on whether he would play. Busy road trip for the Sharks, they could definitely use him.

Good thing Kevin Shattenkirk is streaking because we're not sure how long St. Louis (PHX, COL, CAR, at WAS) will be without the services of Jordan Leopold. After a game with the visiting Avs, the Blues' four-game schedule this week should get progressively easier.

Tampa Bay (at BOS, at MON, ANH, at PHX) has seven of their next eight on the road, their only home game until the final week of the month will be this Thursday's match up with the Ducks. Look out, Ben Bishop is building confidence.

Three of a Kind

There's a chance the penalty boxes in Buffalo (LA, TOR, at TOR) and Toronto (at MIN, at BUF, BUF) could get lots of use with a traditional home-and-home starting Friday. The Sabres and Leafs are just two teams playing on a back-to-back occurrence for two of their three-game schedule this week.

Hold (favorable schedule)

Can Anaheim do wrong? Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry are blowing up and Frederik Anderson is settling in. Despite his strong efforts, we're just a little concerned about Andersen's immediate future once Viktor Fasth gets healthy. Rickard Rakell also registered his first NHL point Friday night. Although they're playing three on the road, we like Anaheim's (at FLA, at TB, at CAR) chances this week.

Boston (TB, CLS, at OTT) had a Patrice Bergeron siting on Saturday.

Chicago (PHO, at NAS, SJ) has two favorable matchups then face off with the Sharks on Sunday night.

Forgetting a convincing loss to Chicago, Dallas (at EDM, at CAL, at VAN) continues to get the job done against good teams. SA's favorite ginger Cody Eakins continues to shine in a jack-of-all-trades type of role. It's noteworthy that Dallas was a tired team when they hosted Chicago, having gone to overtime or a shootout in four consecutive games prior to Saturday night. Regardless, we like their schedule this week.

After starting out the month on a four-game winning streak, Detroit (WPG, WAS, at NYI) are losers of two straight. But they're in the midst of a homestand that will have them play seven of eight in the Motor City.

Edmonton's (DAL, SJ, at CAL) Ilya Bryzgalov could finish his conditioning stint in time for either San Jose or Calgary. Regardless of which Bryz the slickers get, head coach Dallas Eakins is hoping this puts a collective fire under his team's goalie situation. Also, David Perron made his return on Saturday night, much to the delight of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle owners.

Montreal (TB, at CLS, NYR) could have Daniel Briere back as early as this week. Will that turn Carey Price's record around?

New Jersey (at NYR, LA, PIT) needs all the production they can get. AHL call-up Eric Gelinas has done well posting four points in seven games as has Michael Ryder, all things considered.

Rangers' (NJ, MON, LA) Ryan Callahan is really heating up. Cam Talbot looks more comfortable, but there's no telling which game he'll draw, if any considering Alain Vigneault has shown he's willing to throw King Henrik out on back-to-back nights. In the meantime, barring any setbacks, Rick Nash could be eyeing a return to action later this month.

Philadelphia (at OTT, at PIT, at WPG) could get back Steve Downie as soon as Tuesday in Ottawa. Scott Hartnell is warming and Claude Giroux finally broke the goose eggs. Could this be the start of a beautiful awakening for Flyers and fantasy owners alike? Despite facing the Pens on the back end of two games on consecutive nights, this week's schedule allows for a bit of optimism.

Pittsburgh's (PHI, NAS, at NJ) James Neal (upper-body) and Beau Bennett, who both skated on the Penguins second line with Evgeni Malkin, returned on Saturday night. Consider the Pens will face Philly on the back end of back-to-back road games this Wednesday an opportunity for blood.

Fold (not-so-favorable schedule)

Look out Justin Peters, Carolina (COL, ANH, at STL) could be getting both Anton Khudobin and Cam Ward back sometime this week.

New head coach, same old story for Florida (ANH, at MIN, at COL) who got Tim Thomas back but came up short against the Sens. The Panthers are 1-8 in games that result in a one-goal differential. No matter, looking at the schedule, we don't think one-goal games will be an issue this week.

Nashville's (at NYI, at PIT, CHI) head coach Barry Trotz is shaking things up. Mattias Ekholm took over for Seth Jones (played third pairing on Saturday) on the Preds' number one pairing alongside Shea Weber. Up until Saturday night, Ekholm had been very productive recently.

One-Eyed Jacks

Vancouver (SJ, DAL), who starts a six game home-stand this week, is the only team that will play just two tilts this week. In fact, things will be so busy that just nine teams will play without a back-to-back occurrence. So in the interest of saving time, unless an injury occurs, backup goalies on the following teams will likely not be needed. For what it's worth, be sure to notice most of these teams will play almost exclusively from their home stadiums this week.

Calgary (SJ, DAL, EDM) Reto Berra had seemingly taken over after a sharp debut against the Blackhawks, but disappointing performances in consecutive starts leaves it at "your guess (Kari Ramo or Berra) is as good as ours." The Flames likely stay with the hottest goalie. Mark Giordano returned, sending Chad Billins (two assists in his first two games) back to the AHL, Stash this nugget away for safe keeping.

Colorado (at CAR, at STL, FLA) has two favorable matchups and a clash in St. Louis. Semyon Varlamov has been playing like he's distracted the past few games; I'd say he could get that night off considering Jean-Sebastien Giguere has been so solid this season.

Ask Minnesota (TOR, FLA, WPG) if they're missing Niklas Backstrom. Not likely as Josh Harding is panning out after all their patience with him. He's likely to get all three starts against three lackluster offenses no less.

While the Islanders (NAS, LA, DET) don't really have a lot of choices in between the pipes with Evgeni Nabakov entrenched as the number one guy, Kevin Poulin has stopped 49 of 51 shots in his last two starts. Add in three inconsistent offensive squads who visit Uniondale this week and you have a recipe for a good week.

Ottawa's (PHI, BOS, CLS) Craig Anderson (neck) is back. However, Robin Lehner has been no slouch this season and will be needed for one or more this week.

Phoenix (at STL, at CHI, TB) has been solid, and while Mike Smith has been suspect from time to time, he's a workhorse. Thomas Greiss hasn't been all that good in his minimal time in between the pipes.

Braden Holtby was solid in his first start since the fight heard round the world and with Washington (CLS, at DET, STL) playing just about every other day this week he should get all three starts this week.

Both Ondrej Pavelec and Al Montoya were hung out to dry by the Winnipeg Jets (at DET, PHI, at MIN) last week. This week's schedule is fairly favorable, so perhaps they'll have an axe to grind.

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Player News
Dan Hamhuis
Two Helpers For Vancouver's Hamhuis
Dan Hamhuis, D, VAN
12:03 PM
News: Dan Hamhuis collected two assists and went plus-3 in Tuesday's shootout win against Nashville.
Analysis: Dan Hamhuis has now played 55 games this season, and he still has no goals, with his 21 assists not going a heck of a long way toward making up for that. At least the fine evening pushed his season rating back to the positive end of things (plus-2).

Alex Burrows
Canucks' Burrows Stuffs Stat Sheet In Win
Alex Burrows, LW, VAN
12:01 PM
News: Alex Burrows racked up a shorthanded goal, a power-play assist and 15 PIM in Tuesday's shootout win over Nashville.
Analysis: The veteran's five-minute major for interference (and game misconduct) at the end of the third period set the Predators up with a great chance to win it, but fortunately for Alex Burrows, Nashville whiffed on the extended man-advantage opportunity. The gritty winger certainly isn't the offensive force he once was, but he's got a decent skill-and-grit combo, with 31 points and 64 PIM in 65 games. He's also scored goals in consecutive games.

Tom Gilbert
Habs' Gilbert May Play Thursday
Tom Gilbert, D, MON
3:55 AM
News: Tom Gilbert (fractured jaw) practiced on the third defensive pairing Tuesday and could be back in the lineup for Thursday's game against Washington, the Montreal Gazette reports.
Analysis: Changes on the blue line were expected after Monday night's loss to Tampa Bay, a game in which head coach Michel Therrien was not pleased with the defense. Tom Gilbert has been out the last four games due to the injury.

Curtis McKenzie
Stars Reassign McKenzie
Curtis McKenzie, LW, DAL
12:57 AM
News: Curtis McKenzie was reassigned to AHL Texas on Tuesday, Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News reports.
Analysis: With the Stars preparing to welcome Valeri Nichushkin (hip) back into the lineup Thursday following the completion of his conditioning assignment, Curtis McKenzie was likely to be squeezed out of a regular role. He'll help AHL Texas prepare for a playoff run after posting five points in 36 games with the parent club this season.

Nate Guenin
Avs' Guenin Records Assist In Loss
Nate Guenin, D, COL
12:50 AM
News: Nate Guenin tallied an assist in 4-1 loss to Edmonton on Monday.
Analysis: Nate Guenin dished out a helper, recorded a shot and skated to minus-1 rating Monday in a 4-1 loss to Edmonton. The assist gives the defenseman his first point in the last seven games, and he's accumulated a total of 15 points in 70 games this season.

Semyon Varlamov
Avs' Varlamov To Sit Until Saturday
Semyon Varlamov, G, COL
12:46 AM
News: Semyon Varlamov will make his next start in goal Saturday in Los Angeles, Mike Chambers of the Denver Post reports.
Analysis: Coach Patrick Roy will give the first two starts of the Avs' three-game road trip that begins Wednesday to backup goalie Reto Berra, who has seen scarce work this season behind Semyon Varlamov, and in a couple instances, Calvin Pickard. When he hasn't been slowed by groin injuries, Varlamov has just about been an iron man for the Avalanche, and he's beginning to show some chinks in the armor. He's given up exactly three goals in four of his last five starts, while taking a loss to the lowly Oilers in the only start in that stretch where he yielded two tallies. His save percentage stills sits at a robust .921 for the season, but with the Avalanche all but eliminated from the playoff race at this point, it makes sense for the team to rest Varlamov a little more often.

Reto Berra
Berra To Start Next Two Games For Avs
Reto Berra, G, COL
12:40 AM
News: Reto Berra will be in the crease for the Avs' next two games Wednesday in San Jose and Friday in Anaheim, Mike Chambers of the Denver Post reports.
Analysis: The back-to-back starts on tap for Reto Berra are an admission by the Avalanche that the team doesn't view itself as playoff contenders, which seems to be a fairly reasonable assessment given their eight-point deficit from the final wild-card spot out West. Berra delivered an excellent outing in his spot start last week against the Canucks, and with Semyon Varlamov and Calvin Pickard having previously shouldered the bulk of the duties in goal for the Avalanche this season, it makes sense for the team to take a longer look at Berra. While Berra won't make for a strong daily option in either of his starts, those in weekly leagues mining for wins and saves may want to take a look at the 28-year-old, who has a 3-3-1 record, 2.97 GAA, and .906 save percentage over his 16 appearances.

Alex Tanguay
Avs' Tanguay Notches Assist In Loss
Alex Tanguay, LW, COL
12:39 AM
News: Alex Tanguay dished out a helper in a 4-1 loss to Edmonton on Monday.
Analysis: Alex Tanguay recorded an assist, which came off of his only shot on goal in the 4-1 loss to Edmonton on Monday. Tanguay has accumulated 30 assists this season, the 11th time in 15 seasons the forward has recorded at least 30 assists in a season.

Daniel Briere
Avs' Briere Out Next Three Games
Daniel Briere, C, COL
12:33 AM
News: Daniel Briere (foot) will not join the Avalanche for their three-game California trip that begins Wednesday in San Jose.
Analysis: Daniel Briere has already missed the Avs' last four contests after taking a shot off his foot in a March 23 tilt against the Flames. His activity has been limited since then, and the team apparently wasn't optimistic of his chances at being back to full health by the time the road trip concludes. The Avalanche will only have three games remaining on its regular-season schedule after the road trip, and with Briere not necessarily a lineup regular before the injury, it wouldn't be surprised if he was shut down for good.

Clayton Stoner
Ducks' Stoner Still Dealing With Lower-Body Injury
Clayton Stoner, D, ANA
12:30 AM
News: Clayton Stoner continues to deal with a lower-body injury, Elliott Teaford of the Los Angeles Daily News reports.
Analysis: Clayton Stoner -- who has recorded eight points and 66 PIM in 67 games to date -- thus remains in the day-to-day category as Wednesday's game against the Oilers approaches.

 
 
 
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