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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
Dan Boyle
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Dan Boyle, D, NYR
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Analysis: Dan Boyle has yet to get going after a broken hand cost him entire month of action, but Thursday's goal could spark his production. Though he's long past his peak at 38 years old, Boyle's presence on a top power-play unit ripe with talent should allow him to finish the season as an above-average source of offense from the blue line.

T.J. Brodie
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T.J. Brodie, D, CGY
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News: T.J. Brodie assisted on both of the Flames' goals in Wednesday's 2-0 victory over the Sharks.
Analysis: There hasn't been a more dynamic defensive pairing so far this season than Mark Giordano and T.J. Brodie, who have combined for an incredible 44 points over the Flames' 24 games. That level of production probably won't be sustained over the course of the full season, but it's clear that both blueliners are premier talents at their positions. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 45 to 50 points could be a realistic benchmark for Brodie.

Adam Lowry
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Adam Lowry, LW, WPG
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Corban Knight
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News: Corban Knight was recalled from AHL Adirondack on Thursday, NHL.com's Aaron Vickers reports.
Analysis: Corban Knight was assigned to Adirondack just a day earlier, but it sounds like he never left the team. The Flames were simply waiting for Devin Setoguchi to clear waivers, and since that situation is now resolved, Knight will take his spot back on the 23-man roster.

Ryan Garbutt
Two-Game Suspension For Stars' Garbutt
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11:31 AM
News: Ryan Garbutt was suspended two games for kneeing the Oilers' Taylor Hall in Tuesday's match, NHL.com's Mark Stepneski reports.
Analysis: As he is often wont to do, Ryan Garbutt was pestering the Edmonton star throughout the game but went a little overboard with eight minutes remaining in the third period, clipping Hall with his knee and earning a two-minute minor for tripping. The banishment will keep him out of action until the Stars' Dec. 2 game against the Maple Leafs.

Craig Anderson
Sens' Anderson To Get Nod Friday
Craig Anderson, G, OTT
11:27 AM
News: Craig Anderson will be in the crease Friday against the Panthers.
Analysis: Craig Anderson has watched Robin Lehner assume the bulk of the starting duties for the Senators over the last couple of weeks, and didn't do much to help his cause by allowing four goals to the Red Wings in his last time out Monday. Perhaps receiving the starting nod against his former squad -- and an offensively-challenged one, at that -- will be exactly what he needs to win back the Ottawa net.

Henrik Lundqvist
Next Turn To Come Saturday For Rangers' Lundqvist
Henrik Lundqvist, G, NYR
11:24 AM
News: Henrik Lundqvist will be in the crease Saturday against the Flyers.
Analysis: Coach Alain Vigneault will save Henrik Lundqvist for the home half of the Rangers' back-to-back set with the Flyers, as backup Cam Talbot gets the call for Friday's match in Philadelphia. Lundqvist has yet to find much consistency over the first two months, as he's tied for the league lead with four shutouts yet finds himself with a rather middling 2.60 GAA and .911 save percentage for the season.

Cam Talbot
Rangers' Talbot To Start Friday
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11:20 AM
News: Cam Talbot will get the start in goal Friday against the Flyers.
Analysis: It's the first game of a back-to-back set between the Rangers and Flyers, with coach Alain Vigneault already declaring that Henrik Lundqvist would start the second match Saturday. Cam Talbot hasn't seen much action behind Lundqvist this season, but was stellar his last time out Nov. 19, which was also against Philadelphia. He stopped all 31 shots he faced to claim his fourth career shutout.

Zack Kassian
Canucks' Kassian (Finger) Out 2-3 Weeks
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11:16 AM
News: Zack Kassian has been ruled out for two-to-three weeks due to a finger injury, Jason Botchford of the Vancouver Province reports.
Analysis: Zack Kassian will be forced to miss at least the next seven games with the Canucks, since he didn't join the team in Columbus for the start of their road trip. The finger injury appears to have stemmed from a slash he took during Tuesday's win over the Devils, and will more than likely result in his second trip to injured reserve of the season. The Canucks could choose to call up a forward from the minors in order to give them some more depth during the road swing.

Dan Hamhuis
Canucks' Hamhuis Not Joining Canucks On Trip
Dan Hamhuis, D, VAN
11:12 AM
News: Dan Hamhuis (lower body) will not join the Canucks on their seven-game road trip beginning Friday.
Analysis: The fact that Dan Hamhuis isn't traveling with the team illustrates that he's dealing with something more significant than a day-to-day concern. The Canucks might not provide a clearer timeline for his return until he's able to resume skating again.

 
 
 
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