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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
Joakim Nordstrom
Nordstrom, Blackhawks Agree On One-Year Deal
Joakim Nordstrom, C, CHI
9/2/2015
News: Joakim Nordstrom signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Blackhawks on Wednesday, Brian Hedger of NHL.com reports.
Analysis: Joakim Nordstrom waited several months before agreeing to his qualifying offer, but he's at least in the fold to compete for a spot in the Blackhawks' crowded bottom-six ranks. The forward recorded no goals and three assists in 38 games with the parent club last season, so a return trip to AHL Rockford could be in the works to open 2015-16.

Tom Sestito
Penguins Sign Sestito To PTO
Tom Sestito, LW, PIT
9/2/2015
News: Tom Sestito signed a professional tryout contract last week with the Penguins, Josh Yohe of DKonPittsburghSports.com reports.
Analysis: As a tough guy who gobbles up penalty minutes, Tom Sestito doesn't seem to mesh well with coach Mike Johnston's vision of rolling out four lines with scoring ability. Don't expect him to crack the Penguins' 23-man roster out of training camp, barring a litany of injuries.

Evgeni Malkin
Pens' Malkin Healthy Heading Into Camp
Evgeni Malkin, C, PIT
9/2/2015
News: Penguins coach Mike Johnston said Evgeni Malkin is healthy heading into training camp, NHL.com reports. "[Malkin] was injured before the playoffs last year; he's in skating already," Johnston said.
Analysis: The Penguins are expected to tinker with their top-six ranks in training camp after adding Phil Kessel to the mix in the offseason, but it's expected that Kessel will play on the top line with Sidney Crosby, while Evgeni Malkin centers a line of Patric Hornqvist and a yet-to-be-determined left winger. Regardless of which player among David Perron, Chris Kunitz, and rookie Sergei Plotnikov ultimately settles next to Malkin, staying healthy is more essential to the star center's fantasy production than anything else. Malkin has missed 103 regular-season contests over the last six years.

Peter Budaj
Kings Ink Budaj To Tryout Offer
Peter Budaj, G, LA
9/2/2015
News: Peter Budaj has signed with the Kings on a professional tryout contract, Jon Rosen of LA Kings Insider reports.
Analysis: Peter Budaj struggled while seeing limited ice time with AHL St. John's in the Winnipeg organization last season, going 0-9-6 with a 3.55 GAA and .888 save percentage. The 33-year-old clearly seems to be on the downswing of his career, but as a veteran with 296 NHL appearances on his ledger, he could provide insurance in goal for the Kings at the minor-league level.

Markus Soberg
Jackets' Soberg Out 4-6 Weeks
Markus Soberg, RW, CLB
9/2/2015
News: Markus Soberg (groin) will miss the next four-to-six weeks as he recovers from surgery to repair a sports hernia, Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch reports.
Analysis: A sixth-round pick by the Blue Jackets in 2013, Markus Soberg was hampered by an abdominal injury throughout much of last season, ending up with 13 goals and 17 assists in 61 games for OHL Windsor. It's unclear whether he would've been able to make the jump to Columbus this season even if healthy, but the surgery will certainly delay his progress to North American hockey.

Marcel Goc
Ex-Blues Center Goc Returns To Germany
Marcel Goc, C, STL
9/2/2015
News: Marcel Goc signed a one-year contract Tuesday with Adler Mannheim of the German Ice Hockey League.
Analysis: Marcel Goc will return to his native country after failing to attract NHL interest following a nine-point campaign while skating as a fourth-line player in 74 games for the Penguins and Blues. At 32 years old, Goc's career in North America could very well be over.

Maxim Lapierre
Ex-NHLer Lapierre Signs With Swedish Club
Maxim Lapierre, C, PIT
9/2/2015
News: Maxim Lapierre signed a one-year contract Tuesday with MODO of the Swedish Hockey League, Renaud Lavoie of TVA Sports reports.
Analysis: After skating in 80 games with the Blues and Penguins last season while scoring two goals and nine assists, Maxim Lapierre was unable to generate much interest from other teams as a fourth-line option in free agency. Rather than having to enter an NHL training camp on a professional tryout offer, Lapierre determined it was in his best interest to take the guaranteed money overseas in attempt to rebuild value. The 30-year-old's deal with MODO contains an option for a second season, allowing him to return to North America next summer if he so chooses.

Bryce Salvador
Ex-Devil Salvador Announces Retirement
Bryce Salvador, D, NJ
9/2/2015
News: Bryce Salvador (back) announced his retirement Wednesday in an article on The Players' Tribune.
Analysis: Bryce Salvador skated 14 seasons in the NHL, recording 24 goals and 86 assists over 786 games. The 39-year-old spent his final eight years in the league with New Jersey, captaining the team for the last three seasons. Injuries dogged him later in his career, but his leadership and sound positional play from the blue line were attributes that outweighed his lack of offensive contributions. He'll remain in the New Jersey organization as an ambassador for the sport.

Patrick Kane
Image Conscious Hawks Fielding Trade Calls On Kane
Patrick Kane, RW, CHI
9/1/2015
News: The Hawks have apparently fielded speculative trade calls about Patrick Kane from more than five different teams, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. There is no indication the Hawks would trade him, but the team is extremely image conscious and there are suggestions they feel "disrespected" by Kane's alleged actions this summer.
Analysis: No charges have been laid in the investigation into an alleged rape of a woman at Patrick Kane's home. The team has largely remained quiet on the issue, but it was already displeased that he used the Hawks' Stanley Cup rally to proclaim he intended to act like a fool again while celebrating the Cup win. Optics matter to the Hawks and the team may be forced to do something to maintain its image. Others have been quick to distance themselves from Kane. He has been quietly removed from the cover of EA Sports NHL '16 video game and his former OHL squad (London Knights) dropped the moniker "Team Kane" from its annual training camp agenda. Camp is only a few weeks away and things could change dramatically for Kane and the Hawks before then.

Valeri Nichushkin
Stars' Nichushkin Says Injury Is Behind Him
Valeri Nichushkin, RW, DAL
9/1/2015
News: Valeri Nichushkin missed most of last year after an early-season hip injury, but is expected to be healthy for the start of the season. In an update at the Stars' site he said, "Everything feels so good now. I don't feel pain anymore."
Analysis: The promising young winger played only four games before getting injured, then played just four of the team's final five games after coming back. If healthy, he is expected to get top six minutes this season playing wing for either Tyler Seguin or Jason Spezza, which should make the big winger a potential fantasy sleeper.

 
 
 
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