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Week 8 schedule analysis

by | Rotowire.com
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Every team in the NHL will play at least three games next week and 12 teams are playing four. Perhaps it's the two-week perspective that will truly give you the man advantage as the month comes to an end, so be sure to check out games next week. In the meantime, like last week, back-to-back games can come into focus as a natural advantage. But the biggest change from last week to this week is the amount of teams (one-third of the league) playing an extreme (2 or 4 games) schedule.

NHL schedule

*Bold indicates b2b (back-to-back) occurrence

Four Aces

Anaheim (at PIT, NJ, TB, at PHX) has a funky schedule considering it's chock-full of tough teams with a history of inconsistency thus far. However the Ducks' ability to stay consistent this season is in question all of a sudden now too as their East Coast swing comes to an end on Monday in Pittsburgh. Nonetheless, Ryan Getzlaf is back and all bets on Anaheim continuing on north, not south in the standings.

Loui Eriksson has six points in five games since coming back. Outside of their tilt with St. Louis at home, Boston (at CAR, at NYR, STL, CAR) has a few cupcake games if you ask us.

Alleged cupcakes, Carolina (BOS, at DET, at BOS, OTT) has got the Eastern Conference champions twice in this week. Drayson Bowman is warming and could be moving up the depth charts.

Detroit (NAS, CAR, OTT, at BUF) could still be without the services of Daniel Alfredsson (groin) when the Sens come marching in, you just never can tell with injuries like this to 40-year-olds. One night later, currently losers of five straight (all overtime/shootout losses), Detroit will play in Buffalo. Johan Franzen has two goals and five assists since returning to the lineup three games ago.

Ottawa (at PHI, MIN, at DET, at CAR) has the most intriguing schedule with two b2b occurrences, allowing for a pair of games for both Craig Anderson and Robin Lehner. It's important to note, Anderson was due to start this Sunday, meaning back-to-back games this past weekend. So it's likely to be Lehner in Philly, then Anderson against Minny.

Pittsburgh's (ANH, at WAS, NYI, at MTL) schedule should get progressively easier, but watch out for the scorcher (Anaheim) to start out the week on Monday night. Even with James Neal back, the Pens are struggling (one goal scored in four of each of their last 5 games) to find the back of net, but how long could it possibly continue?

One Pair

Teams with two games on the docket have never been your best odds. But in case you're in a jam, here's your analysis on teams playing just two tilts.

Dallas (NYR, at STL) will host the warming Rangers and will likely go to St. Louis and sing the blues. Some good news about a slow week is that Ray Whitney looks to be nearing a return.

Edmonton (CLS, FLA) is a solid bet from a schedule standpoint, especially because Marian Gaborik is missing from the mix. Ilya Bryzgalov is on his way to Alberta by way of Oklahoma (AHL). He should join practice Monday. Cue Devyn Dubnyk's resurrection? He got a win on Saturday. Also, Oscar Klefbom is headed back to AHL.

The Phoenix Coyotes (COL, ANH) are the ugly duckling of the week, with two difficult draws. At least Martin Hanzal is continuing his production. Lauri Korpikoski logged a goal and two assists in Saturday's win over Tampa Bay, and Connor Murphy is on the way up?

San Jose (TB, NJ) has the Lightning in the middle of a West Coast swing and then the hapless but developing Devils.

Three of a Kind

Both Columbus (at EDM, at CAL, at VAN) and Florida (at VAN, at EDM, at CAL) will take the "Canadian swing." Let's see what other trends are available for some of the teams playing three tilts this week.

Hold

Calgary (at WPG, CLS, FLA) has a low-strength of schedule, can they cash in?

Los Angeles (TB, NJ, COL) has two East Coast teams living out of their suitcases, then the Avs. Jonathan Quick is bothered by his groin, so could be an interesting week as Ben Scrivens continues to man the crease.

Montreal (MIN, at WAS, PIT) should have a low-scoring affair with the Wild, but anything goes when they take on the Caps and Pens. David Desharnais returned to the lineup on Friday after being a healthy scratch last week and won Friday's tilt. The Lars Eller show is underway again, as Eller has two goals and two assists in his last four games. Max Pacioretty seems to be gearing up for one of his classic streaks - you heard it here first.

Philadelphia (OTT, BUF, NYI) will play all three from home against three Eastern Conference cellar dwellers. Your choice to determine whether their own dweller status, or their solid play in three of their last four games is more prevalent.

Toronto (NYI, NAS, WAS) plays three from home as well, how ‘bout that? More important is Toronto's struggles lately. No fear, John-Michael Liles is headed back to AHL after looking pretty in the press box for a few weeks and Tyler Bozak is on the way back? Hmm…Well, at least Nikolai Kulemin is on the board finally.

Vancouver (FLA, CLS, CHI) has two "gimmes" and the Blackhawks, plan accordingly. Even if you're not a Jannik Hansen owner, his return could mean Alexander Burrows owners get a big boost this week as Burrows lined up with the Sedin twins during practice this past weekend.

Fold

Despite spending two days on the road and three games against teams with a combined record of 40-13-8, Colorado's (CHI, at PHX, at LA) biggest problem is not their schedule, but Matt Duchene's questionable status rolling into the week.

New Jersey (at ANH, at LA, at SJ) probably has the toughest schedule of all 30 NHL teams. Despite resurgence of Martin Brodeur and Jaromir Jagr's two goals during the Devils 4-1 win over the slumping Pens, SELL, SELL, SELL, at least for the week pending.

You and the Rangers (BOS, at DAL, at NAS) could get Rick Nash back as early as Tuesday night against the Bruins. At this point, it appears Cam Talbot has settled in nicely and become a viable handcuff option for those interested Henrik Lundqvist owners. However, the Rangers take their show back out on the road for barbecue sauce and steers.

At 6-1 for the month of November, we really do like Minnesota (at MTL, at OTT, at WPG). And while their schedule is not tough and their goalie situation makes amends for their low-scoring touch, something about b2b games in Montreal and Ottawa leaves us hesitant. Charlie Coyle scored his second goal of the season on Friday against Florida.

Tampa Bay (at LA, at SJ, at ANH) will play LA and San Jose before heading back to SoCal for a game that Anaheim is likely looking forward to after last week's 5-1 shellacking. Stay diligent as Ben Bishop (collarbone) is considered day-to-day. Anders Lindback anyone? Also, Steven Stamkos's replacement J.T. Brown is getting third line minutes and scored his first NHL goal in a 6-3 loss on Saturday.

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Player News
Oscar Dansk
Jackets Sending Dansk Back To Sweden
Oscar Dansk, G, CLB
6:38 AM
News: Oscar Dansk will play for newly promoted Rogle in the SHL next season rather than returning to the AHL, the Columbus Dispatch reports. "We wanted to make sure he gets to a place where he can play and get his career back on track," Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen said.
Analysis: The young goaltender struggled in his first season in North America, posting a 3.57 GAA and .880 save percentage in 21 games for AHL Springfield and a 3.73 GAA and .889 save percentage in 11 games for ECHL Kalamazoo. Oscar Dansk still has a potentially bright future, but he'll need to rebuild his confidence back at home before the Jackets give him another shot on their side of the pond.

Steven Stamkos
Bolts' Stamkos Stays Hot In Game 4 Loss
Steven Stamkos, C, TB
1:11 AM
News: Steven Stamkos stayed hot Friday, scoring for the third straight game in a Game 4 loss to the Rangers.
Analysis: While it was another strong performance from Steven Stamkos, the Bolts fell 5-1 to the Rangers in the game, bringing their best-of-seven series to a 2-2 tie. The 25-year-old has now scored in five of his last six games and is up to 15 points in the playoffs -- fifth most in the NHL. He's fired four shots on goal in back-to-back outings and is the first Lightning player to score in 3 straight playoff games since Sean Bergenheim did so in 2011. While Stammer had a slow start to the postseason, he's in full throttle now and will play a key part in determining whether Tampa Bay can advance onto the Stanley Cup Final.

Michael Keranen
Wild, Keranen Agree To One-Year Deal
Michael Keranen, LW, MIN
12:21 AM
News: Karanen agreed to a one-year, two-way deal with the Wild on Friday, Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.
Analysis: Michael Keranen appeared in 70 games for AHL Iowa this season, registering 10 goals and 27 assists to go with a minus-12 rating. He'll look to crack the Wild's roster at some point in 2015-16.

Kevin Klein
Rangers' Klein Assists Twice In Game 4 Win
Kevin Klein, D, NYR
5/22/2015
News: Kevin Klein dished out two helpers, went plus-2, collected two PIM, blocked two shots and laid four hits in Friday's Game 4 victory over the Lightning.
Analysis: That's a lot of work for just 17:43 on the ice. It's Kevin Klein's first multi-point game of these playoffs, which started on a delay for him due to a broken arm. We've yet to see Klein find twine in the postseason after he did so nine times in 65 regular-season games, but he's been getting involved with the offense regularly, so it wouldn't be a surprise if the veteran were to find his way onto the scoresheet again soon.

Ben Bishop
Bishop Tagged For Five As Bolts Drop Game 4
Ben Bishop, G, TB
5/22/2015
News: Ben Bishop gave up five goals on just 24 shots Friday, leaving him with a series-tying Game-4 loss to the Rangers.
Analysis: A rough one for Ben Bishop, who saw his teammates fire 39 shots on opposing netminder Henrik Lundqvist, but this time they only got through the Rangers' goalie once. For all that Lundqvist had been criticized for giving up six goals in consecutive games, Bishop has been no stud himself in this series, as he's now allowed five goals twice in a row. He'll try to right the ship in Game 5 at Madison Square Garden on Sunday night.

Kevin Hayes
Rangers' Hayes Providing Steady Offense
Kevin Hayes, RW, NYR
5/22/2015
News: Kevin Hayes assisted on both of Rick Nash's goals -- one on the power play -- Friday as the Rangers took Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final from the Lightning by a 5-1 tally.
Analysis: Kevin Hayes has been providing consistent offense since Game 7 against Washington -- he scored a goal in that one, keying a run of five points in five games. The young forward has looked lost at times in these playoffs, but he generates takeaways and offense brilliantly, and the fact that he was able to help Nash wake up Friday is quite promising.

Rick Nash
Rangers' Nash Snaps Slump With Two Goals, Assist
Rick Nash, LW, NYR
5/22/2015
News: Rick Nash ended his four-game scoring drought with two goals -- one on the power play -- and an assist in Friday's Game 4 victory over Tampa Bay.
Analysis: Rick Nash's late-first-period goal, scored on a breakaway backhander past Ben Bishop, energized the Rangers and led to a big day for several guys who have been struggling of late -- in addition to Nash's bust-out, Martin St. Louis and Keith Yandle both scored their first goals of the playoffs, and Kevin Klein had his first multi-point game of the postseason. We've been waiting for Nash to get it going, and if he remains an offensive factor moving forward, he'll give the Rangers a great chance to win this series and move on to play for the Stanley Cup.

Martin St. Louis
Rangers' St. Louis Scores First Of Playoffs
Martin St. Louis, RW, NYR
5/22/2015
News: Martin St. Louis finally scored his first goal of the playoffs Friday in Game 4 against the Lightning, tallying on a third-period power play.
Analysis: The game was still very much in the balance with the Rangers leading 3-1 at the time, but Martin St. Louis gave New York a little extra cushion and really deflated the Lightning, who appeared to be in disarray for the rest of the game after his goal. These playoffs have certainly been a struggle for St. Louis, who's looking like he's coming to the end of his illustrious career, but he's at least starting to show a little more over the last few games. The Rangers will need him to provide more offense as they try to win two of the next three to advance to the Stanley Cup Final.

Keith Yandle
Yandle Finally Breaks Through For Rangers
Keith Yandle, D, NYR
5/22/2015
News: Keith Yandle scored his first goal of the playoffs and handed out two assists -- one on the power play -- in Friday's Game 4 victory over Tampa Bay.
Analysis: The goal was a lucky one -- he fired a shot that was headed well wide of Tampa goalie Ben Bishop, but ended up deflecting in off a Lightning defenseman and into the net. Nonetheless, it's a fitting reward for Keith Yandle's tremendously improved play over the last few games. He's got nine points in these playoffs now, with five of them (and a plus-4 rating) having come in the last two games.

Henrik Lundqvist
Lundqvist's Heroics Help Rangers Tie Series
Henrik Lundqvist, G, NYR
5/22/2015
News: Henrik Lundqvist was named Game 4's first star Friday after turning aside 38 of 39 shots in a 5-1 win over Tampa Bay.
Analysis: This one was much closer than it looked on the scoreboard most of the way, but Henrik Lundqvist was able to bounce back from consecutive six-goal disasters to shut down the Tampa Bay offense -- most critically in the second period, when the Bolts fired 19 shots on goal to the Rangers' six. Lundqvist's huge saves in that period kept the Lightning from turning the tide of the game after their first (and only) goal, and then the Rangers' offense went to work. Henrik and the Rangers will be back in action Sunday for Game 5 at Madison Square Garden.

 
 
 
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