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Week 11 schedule analysis

by | Rotowire.com
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It's finally here -- no, not Christmas, but arguably the NHL's busiest schedule of the season so far. With every team playing three or more games this week, there's a ton of schedule data to analyze. As usual, Schedule Analysis will focus on the teams with the most opportunity for Fantasy points.

NHL schedule

B2B (Back-to-Back) occurrences in bold

Four Aces

Carolina (at VAN, at EDM, at CAL, at PHX) embarks on a five game road trip starting Monday. The 'Canes will take a tour of Canada starting in Vancouver before ending the week in Phoenix. After a strange strike-shortened campaign, the Zack Boychuck experience is off to a solid start in Carolina, again! We expect to see Cam Ward against a tougher Canucks squad and Justin Peters against the Oilers. As always, feel confident about your starting goalies by keeping up with RotoWire's Starting Goalies Grid.

Columbus (at PIT, NJD, at NYR, STL) has a hellacious schedule, despite being a team that has won three of their last four. Like the Hurricanes, Columbus begins the week with a b2b occurrence. Looks like Jared Boll (foot) suffered a setback. What kind of week would it be this season without a Matt Calvert (upper-body) and James Wisniekski (upper-body) injury report?

Calgary (BOS, CAR, at BUF, at NYR) plays their first two from home before heading East for their b2b occurrence. Reto Berra holds the upper-hand in his standoff with Karri Ramo after Saturday night's 2-1 win over rival Edmonton, but neither goalie inspires any kind of confidence. Nonetheless, the Flames are like many in the Western Conference, successful (5-2-2) against the Eastern Conference. Joe Colborne (illness) should be back the lineup. Though he'll wreck your plus/minus, Matt Stajan is warming up.

Detroit (at FLA, at TBL, PIT, TBL) plays their first two from the road before hosting the Penguins and Lightning, who they see twice this week. Good thing Jonas Gustavsson has been solid, as Jimmy Howard is going to need him this week.

Like the Flames, Edmonton (CAR, BOS, at VAN, at ANH) plays their first two in their home arena. No surprise Devan Dubnyk gave up six goals to Phoenix last week with Ilya Bryzgalov (concussion) firmly planted on the IR. Jason LaBarbera anyone? Well, now hold up a second, Richard Bachman (groin) could be nearing a return. Keep in mind the former prized prospect of the Stars is likely to head to Oklahoma City for conditioning first. Jeff Petry left Saturday's game with an apparent head injury.

Montreal (LOS, at PHI, at NYI, FLA) plays four this week, then their schedule dwindles to three next week, before getting an entire week off until the 28th. It's an important stretch for the NHL's hottest team, without a doubt. Tomas Plekanec is warming again. No question here about Carey Price and Peter Budaj's value with the Isles and Panthers ahead.

The Islanders (at ANA, at SJS, at PHX, MTL) finish their West coast trip and host the aforementioned Canadiens. Let's be honest, if you're strapping hopes on Isles' goaltenders for points this season, it may be time to abandon ship on the goalie category altogether or make a trade. Kevin Poulin and Anders Nilsson have been taking turns playing pass the cooties while Evgeni Nabokov (groin) continues to deal with his injury.

Despite this week's big schedule, Ottawa (PHI, at BUF, BUF, LOS) is the only team slated to play eight games over the next 14 days. Robin Lehner owners rejoice! As you'll notice, the Sens and Sabres head off in a home-and-home over a three-night stretch.

After a big 6-3 win over Detroit, it seemed Philadelphia (at OTT, at CHI, MTL, at WAS) was no longer an easy win against the big dogs. Despite their three road games this week, as far as we're concerned, there's only one big dog on the schedule. And that's what concerns us. Well there's more that concerns us, actually. Vincent Lecavalier (back spasms) is doubtful for Monday's games with the Sens and Steve Mason was torched by Tyler Seguin on Saturday night. Ray Emery could see two starts this week.

Tampa Bay (at WAS, DET, at NJD, at DET) also has three on the road, including a second tilt with the Red Wings to end the week in the Motor City. Anders Lindback was solid in Saturday's 2-1 loss to Winnipeg. It's unlikely for Ben Bishop to see the Red Wings twice in one week. Then again, Lindback could end up with Thursday's start and Bishop on Saturday. Watch carefully on this slippery slope. It's no help to your points now, but perhaps Steven Stamkos' February 6 date of return could help you reel in a trade.

Back-to-Back Jacks

In Back-to-Back Jacks this week, we have two teams not only playing four tilts this week, but both on B2B occurrences, and Toronto is your constant variable between them.

Chicago (at DAL, PHI -at TOR, LOS) has a fairly favorable schedule on their hands. Nikolai Khabibulin is still a "way" from returning to the ice, so Corey Crawford and Antti Raanta will certainly get their fair share this week. Kris Versteeg didn't bust out like we thought last week, but he's remained solid since his return to the Windy City.

Los Angeles (at MTL, at TOR- at OTT, at CHI) begins and ends a four-game road trip this week. They certainly received good play from Martin Jones (2-0, 0.97) since his call up. Ben Scrivens should be nice and rested when he draws the matchup against his former Leafs squad, so expect Jones in net against the Canadiens. As for the remaining two games, while Scrivens has shown terrific durability since Jonathan Quick's groin injury, head coach Darryl Sutter will likely want him fresh for Chicago, so expect Jones in net against the Sens the night before.

Three of a Kind

In Three of a Kind this week, we have four different teams who will likely have four very different outcomes.

Minnesota (at ANA, at SJS, at COL) has one of the strongest opponent schedules and all three are on the road. Don't get us wrong, we love Josh Harding, but nine of his 15 wins have come against the weaker Eastern Conference. The more experienced Niklas Backstrom is likely to draw the Sharks on Thursday as Harding was due to face the Sharks on Sunday. Backstrom has an unsightly 6-12-3 (3.07 GAA) career record against San Jose.

New Jersey (at CBJ, at PIT, TBL) travels for two of their three, but we like the Devils' steam as they are coming off a 4-3 overtime win against the Rangers. Checking line forward Tim Sestito logged his first two points of the season in Saturday's win over the Rangers. Jaromir Jagr and Travis Zajac woke up from their slumber in the same game and Eric Gelinas (nine special team's points this season) is proving his worth on the power play.

Pittsburgh (CBJ, NJD, at DET) has won seven of their last 10 contests. Not only were we wrong about Pascal Dupuis breaking out against the Isles last week, he joins Brooks Orpik (concussion) and Evgeni Malkin (lower-body) on the mending list for the streaking Pens. Making things worse, the red hot James Neal is likely to face a suspension from Saturday's tussle after kneeing Brad Marchand in the head. Jayson Megna anyone?

As we mentioned in Back-to-Back Jacks, Toronto (LOS, at STL, CHI) gets the Blackhawks and Kings on the front and back end of games on b2b nights. What we didn't mention is the Leafs will see them on a back-to-back occurrence of their own. Yes, we cringed as well. Phil Kessell keeps chugging along, despite reports of an undisclosed injury. Unlike Joffrey Lupul (groin), who may return this week. As long as Jonathan Bernier and James Reimer don't start painting the town with Rob Ford, we think the Leafs will endure a very tough schedule this week.

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Player News
Oscar Klefbom
Oilers' Klefbom Will Return Thursday
Oscar Klefbom, D, EDM
12:59 AM
News: Oscar Klefbom (foot) will return to the lineup Thursday against the Sharks, Jack Michaels of the Oilers Radio Network reports.
Analysis: Despite practicing Wednesday, Oscar Klefbom was expected to sit out Thursday's contest in an effort to provide him with more time to heal. However, after the injury didn't seem to compromise him during the morning skate, Klefbom was given the go-ahead to suit up following a two-game absence. He'll join Mark Fayne on Edmonton's second pairing.

Lee Stempniak
Rangers' Stempniak Undergoing Mumps Tests
Lee Stempniak, RW, NYR
12:55 AM
News: Lee Stempniak will undergo testing for the mumps virus and will be isolated from the Rangers for the next five days, Andrew Gross of The Record reports.
Analysis: Though Lee Stempniak hasn't been diagnosed with the virus, the Rangers aren't taking any chances after Tanner Glass and Derick Brassard both previously dealt with the mumps. Even if the tests don't reveal Stempniak's illness to be anything serious, the five-day timeline will force him to miss at least the Rangers' two games over the weekend. The Rangers could recall a forward from AHL Hartford to cover for Stempniak's absence.

Torrey Mitchell
Sabres Labeling Mitchell As Week-To- Week
Torrey Mitchell, C, BUF
12:50 AM
News: Torrey Mitchell's foot injury is considered to be a week-to-week concern, Bill Hoppe of the Olean Times Herald reports.
Analysis: With Torrey Mitchell yet to resume skating since leaving Monday's game with the foot injury, the Sabres aren't expecting him to return in the near future. He could be placed on injured reserve in the coming days as the Sabres look to add further depth at forward.

Cody McCormick
Sabres' McCormick Week-To-Week
Cody McCormick, C, BUF
12:47 AM
News: Cody McCormick (lower body) is considered week-to-week, Bill Hoppe of the Olean Times Herald reports.
Analysis: Cody McCormick has already missed the last three games with the injury and doesn't seem to be particularly close to a return. The Sabres could place him on injured reserve in the next few days to open up a roster spot for a healthy body at AHL Springfield.

Ben Scrivens
Desperate Oilers Stick With Scrivens Thursday
Ben Scrivens, G, EDM
12:17 AM
News: Ben Scrivens will man the net again Thursday against the Sharks.
Analysis: Ben Scrivens has turned in back-to-back credible outings for the Oilers against the Rangers and Coyotes, but he's been cruelly handed the loss on both occasions. If it's not Edmonton's horrid defense that lets him down, Scrivens has too often seen the Oilers' offense fail to provide him with much support. Simply put, the team is a disaster right now and could struggle mightily over the remainder of the season, making its goalie situation one to avoid whenever possible.

Derick Brassard
Rangers' Brassard To Skate Friday
Derick Brassard, C, NYR
12:12 AM
News: Derick Brassard (mumps) will resume practicing with the Rangers on Friday, Andrew Gross of The Record reports.
Analysis: The Rangers put Derick Brassard under a five-day isolation period after he was diagnosed with the mumps last Sunday, and it appears the virus is no longer wreaking havoc on his body. Though ostensibly healthy, Brassard is no sure bet to return to the lineup Saturday against the Hurricanes, as it will likely hinge on how he looks during Friday's skate. J.T. Miller has been absorbing most of Brassard's ice time over the last two games.

Stefan Noesen
Ducks' Noesen Resumes Skating
Stefan Noesen, RW, ANA
12:06 AM
News: Stefan Noesen (Achilles) posted on his personal Twitter account that he was able to resume skating Thursday.
Analysis: Stefan Noesen isn't projected to return until mid-to-late February due to the Achilles injury, so he still has significant hurdles to clear in the recovery process. He'll likely work out on his own for the next several weeks before the Ducks allow him to practice with AHL Norfolk.

Karri Ramo
Flames' Ramo Misses Practice With Illness
Karri Ramo, G, CGY
12:04 AM
News: Karri Ramo missed Thursday's practice with an illness.
Analysis: Coach Bob Hartley said that Karri Ramo called in sick prior to practice, but is expected to return to the ice for Friday's morning skate. He's slated to serve as the backup for Jonas Hiller later that evening against the Stars, but the Flames will bring a goalie up from the AHL ranks if Ramo fails to notice improvement with his condition by that time. Hartley said there's no indication at this time that Ramo is dealing with the mumps, but the Flames are taking precautions nonetheless, according to NHL.com's Aaron Vickers.

Jonas Hiller
Flames Rolling With Hiller On Friday
Jonas Hiller, G, CGY
12:00 AM
News: Jonas Hiller will receive the start in goal Friday against the Stars.
Analysis: With Karri Ramo absent from Thursday's practice due to an illness and uncertain to be availalbe Friday, it was an easy decision for coach Bob Hartley to tap Jonas Hiller for his third start in four games. While Hiller has been unable to snap a losing streak for the Flames that now sits at six games, he's at least outperformed the struggling Ramo recently, stopping a respectable 91.8 percent of the shots he's faced over his last four appearances. The Flames will play their second game of a back-to-back set Saturday, but if Ramo's not healthy by then, look for Hiller to get the call again.

Marian Gaborik
Gaborik Powers Kings' Comeback Thursday
Marian Gaborik, RW, LA
12/18/2014
News: With the Kings facing a 3-0 deficit Thursday, Marian Gaborik went to work, sandwiching an assist between two power-play goals to tie the game at 3-3, leading to an eventual 6-4 win.
Analysis: Uh oh, Gabby's heating up. He's tallied goals in three straight games, with five markers on 12 shots in that span, making him look like the high-flying Marian Gaborik we saw in last year's playoffs again. The key for him is, as always, avoiding the injury bug. If he can do that, well, it certainly looks like his offensive game has come around.

 
 
 
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