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Week 12 schedule analysis

by | Rotowire.com
  •  

With a slow holiday week (84) on the horizon, it will be important to grab as many points available to you this week. Let's get to it…

NHL schedule

Regional Rivals

In Regional Rivals, we focus on six teams playing a geographical rival in consecutive games. The fair assumption is the usage of both goaltenders under these circumstances, but always keep an eye on the goalie grid for definitive starting information.

Dallas Stars vs. Colorado Avalanche (Avalanche lead season series 1-0-1)

Penalties have not been a huge factor (averaging eight per game) thus far, leaving special teams with little impact as the Stars have the only power play goal on six attempts by each team. The first game will be on Monday night in Denver with the fourth out of five (January 27th) total matchups on the year coming the next night. Peter Stastny and Matt Duchene have two goals apiece while Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverly each have a goal and two assists in each of the first two games. Jan Hejda returned on Saturday to the tune of 25-minutes of TOI.

Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Philadelphia Flyers (Flyers lead all-time series 6-2-5)

This will be the first meetings of the season for the two teams who haven't met since the 2011-12 season, when things looked a lot different for both squads. With Philly back in an offensive funk they need Sean Couturier (personal) back. Courturier, who was questionable heading into Sunday's action, should be back for this series. It looks like Marian Gaborik could return this week, perhaps that's why Jack Skille was reassigned to AHL Springfield. Mike McKenna hasn't been all that bad while Curtis McElhinney is day-to-day.

Boston Bruins vs. Buffalo Sabres (Bruins lead season series 1-0)

There doesn't need to be a ton of previous action for this one to get heated, but since you asked, the Bruins took a convincing 5-2 win over Buffalo in late-October. Milan Lucic and Torey Krug each had a pair of goals on Ryan Miller in the win. Once again, these two teams are a bit different this time around, with the B's racking up the hospital bills and the Sabres under a new staff. As you've likely heard, Shawn Thornton won't participate. After Jarome Iginla appeared to have dislocated his finger in a fight with Ryan Kesler on Saturday, he returned the next period. We question if that adrenaline makes it through to the next game. Tuukka Rask was pulled in Saturday's loss to Vancouver. Reilly Smith netted two more goals (Boston's only) on Saturday. Cody Hodgson's (lower body) reports are just as encouraging.

Three of a Kind

Aside from Philadelphia, we examine four teams playing not only three games this week, but just two games next week.

After Tuesday's tilt with Anaheim, Detroit (ANA, CGY, at TOR) has a fairly favorable schedule. Nobody tell that to the Red Wings who have lost four straight (including two to Florida) and five of 7 to start the month of December. Already missing Henrik Zetterberg (herniated disc), things are just getting worse in Detroit. Stephen Weiss (groin) is out. Justin Abdelkader is going through concussion protocol as of Sunday morning. Jimmy Howard (knee) is out reportedly 2-to-4 weeks. Petr Mrazek and Jonas Gustavsson will hold down the fort.

Los Angeles (EDM, SJS, COL) is 6-0 this month heading into Sunday afternoon's action. If in fact they survive victorious against the Blackhawks, they'll likely remain perfect against an Oilers squad and two more very tough Conference foes. When Jeff Carter posts five points over a two-game period, you know things are rolling for the Kings. Dwight King is also streaking at the moment. Collin Fraser (concussion) was placed on IR while Trevor Lewis (lower body) returned from it on Saturday. At the moment, Martin Jones is outplaying Ben Scrivens and could get two starts this week.

Winners of their first four games this month, Montreal (PHX, at STL, at NSH) mocked our confidence in them last week, yielding a six-goal loss to the Kings. After the Canadiens host Florida on Sunday and the Yotes on Tuesday, their schedule gets sketchy schedule wise. Two road games and then an entire week off for an eventual five-game road trip that won't bring the Habs back until well after the New Year. To be fair, Carey Price bounced back from the demoralizing loss against the Islanders on Saturday night.

Four Aces

Aside from the Stars and Avalanche, this week Four Aces will highlight the schedules of six teams playing 4 games this week, including one team, who drops down to just one game Christmas week.

The Ottawa Senators (STL, at NJD, FLA, PHX) have been the very definition of inconsistent in the month of December. Having yet to win-or-lose more than one game in a row, their schedule suggests they may continue their inconsistencies. We wouldn't worry too much about Craig Anderson being pulled against the Kings on Saturday, as Los Angeles has been pelting masked men lately. Either way Robin Lehner will certainly be needed this week. Marc Methot (illness) did not play against the Kings, nor did Chris Phillips (foot).

The rich get richer as Pittsburgh (TOR, at NYR, MIN, CGY), who has won three in a row and eight out of their last 9 games, face three mediocre teams and Minnesota. By the way, when they do face the Wild, feel free to re-insert the talents of James Neal into your lineup. We know you've been counting the days. Looks like Deryk Engelland may join Thornton. Evgeni Malkin's (lower body) and Kris Letang's (upper body) injuries have allowed Jussi Jokinen to log more power play time. Malkin is due for tests Sunday and Letang is unknown.

Winners of three straight, St. Louis (at OTT, SJS, MTL, at EDM) seems to be back on track after stumbling a bit at the beginning of December. While we're not sure of their chances against San Jose (0-2, 5/12 GF/GA), the rest of St. Louis' opponents don't have a fighter's chance. Chris Porter (11 points in 19 games with Chicago of the AHL) is back with the Blues, after being waived last month. Vladimir Sobotka left Saturday's game with an upper body injury while Vladimir Tarasenko is showing more consistency.

Heading into Saturday's dismantling of the Blackhawks, Toronto (at PIT, FLA, PHX, DET) had lost four of their first 6 games this month. With the Leafs facing three of four teams for the first time this season, there's even more uncertainty. Mason Raymond, Joffrey Lupul and Peter Holland combined for 11 points against Chicago. Jerry D'Amigo also had a goal and an assist in the win over Chicago. D'Amigo had compiled five goals and three assists in 19 games with the Marlies. David Clarkson has been suspended and will miss the b2b occurrence. Carter Ashton was reassigned to the Marlies in favor of Troy Bodie. Bodie has three goals and an assist in 9 AHL games and two assists through 10 intermittent games with the Leafs.

A first glance at the Vancouver Canucks (at MIN, at DAL, at CHI, WIN) schedule suggests they may get tagged this week. However, the Canucks are heating things up (7-0) in December, and while they'll face some tough Central division teams under even tougher circumstances, neither previous loss (2-1 losses to Stars, Blackhawks) to these teams is a cause for concern. With that being said, Canucks players are a liability next week as John Tortorella's squad plays only one game in the coming holiday week. Mike Santorelli continues to pay dividends for those owners who bought low.

While the Winnipeg Jets (at CBJ, at BUF, FLA, at VAN) have enjoyed (8-3-1) their contests with Eastern Conference folks like any other Western Conference team, they lost to Florida and have yet to play the Jackets or the Sabres. Missing Evander Kane and Zach Bogosian, the status on Matt Halischuk (upper-body) is reportedly "more than day-to-day". The Winnipeg Sun reports this may open the door for Eric O'Dell (28 points in 27 games with St. John's). At least Blake Wheeler has picked up the pace.

Three's Are Wild

In Three's Are Wild, we'll analyze the schedule of the six remaining teams with b2b occurrences, despite playing three games (or-less) this week.

At the center of it all is Anaheim (at DET, at NJD, at NYI), who play five of their remaining 7 games this month on the road. Teemu Selanne's (illness) has been anything but predictable this season. Daniel Winnik perhaps gave him the cold. At least Winnik has been producing as of late.

Yes, it's true, teams with a two game schedule are never a good bet but Carolina's (WAS, at TBL) goalies will be an interesting play this week with both games landing on a b2b occurrence. In particular, the Canes have a 2-0 series (7-3, GF/GA) lead against the Washington Capitals. Should be very interesting to see who draws what team with Justin Peters outplaying Cam Ward and Anton Khudobin inching ever-so-close to the three man circus.

While Florida (at TOR, at OTT, at WIN) enjoyed a 5-2 win over the Jets earlier this month, there's no reason to expect a good week out of the Panthers. They're 0-2 against the Sens and Tim Thomas (lower body) is on the shelf for the third time this season. Dylan Olsen is starting to really string them together.

New Jersey (OTT, ANA, at WAS), who lost on their first four chances of this campaign, is as solid a wager (5-0) as any team on b2b nights over the last four weeks. Cory Schneider currently finds himself on the wrong end of a time share again, this time with the ageless Martin Brodeur. Brodeur, who seems favored recently, has a 1.88 career GAA against the Ducks, and a 2.29 career mark against the Caps. If Brodeur's career trend against Anaheim doesn't hold up, the momentum of this time share could change if the slumping (0-2-1 over last three games) Schneider can post a stand up performance against Washington.

Losers in 13 of their last 15 games, the Islanders (TBL, at NYR, ANA) are 0-2 against this week's opponents. The Isles are 1-6 on b2b occurrences this season compounding their problems when they face a superior Ducks squad. Casey Cizikas (jaw) did not play on Saturday.

Despite some recent goaltender struggles and Friday's 3-2 shootout loss to Florida, Washington (at PHI, at CAR, NJD) has won five of their last seven contests. It could be a long week for the Caps who are once again in the thick of a goalie mess. Michal Neuvirth performed admirably with the Hershey Bears (AHL) Saturday night. In the meantime, Phillipp Grubauer outplayed Braden Holtby last week.

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Player News
Tobias Enstrom
Jets' Enstrom Likely To Sit Friday
Tobias Enstrom, D, WPG
7:54 AM
News: Tobias Enstrom (lower body) looks doubtful to play Friday against the Bruins, Ken Wiebe of the Winnipeg Sun reports.
Analysis: Tobias Enstrom wasn't on the ice for the Jets' morning skate, indicating the lower-body injury is still proving troublesome. He'll be forced to miss his third straight game and it will be difficult to predict when he may return until he resumes skating.

Mathieu Perreault
Jets' Perreault Draws Back In
Mathieu Perreault, C, WPG
7:52 AM
News: Mathieu Perreault (upper body) appears set to play Friday against the Bruins, Ken Wiebe of the Winnipeg Sun reports.
Analysis: Mathieu Perreault was a full participant in Thursday's practice and took part in line rushes at Friday's morning skate, so it appears safe to say that he'll draw back in for the Jets. The forward is seeing about two minutes more of ice time than he enjoyed with the Ducks last season, but a decline in quality of linemates has resulted in a significant drop in his per-game point production.

Michael Hutchinson
Jets Turn To Hutchinson On Friday
Michael Hutchinson, G, WPG
7:41 AM
News: Michael Hutchinson will be in the crease Friday against the Bruins, Gary Lawless of the Winnipeg Sun reports.
Analysis: Michael Hutchinson made it difficult for coach Paul Maurice to turn away from using him based on how brilliantly he's performed of late. The 24-year-old has won each of his four starts in November and owns an incredible 1.07 GAA and .961 save percentage for the month. If he turns in another stellar outing against the Bruins -- the organization that drafted him back in 2008 -- it might not be long before he permanently unseats Ondrej Pavelec for the No. 1 job.

Brandon Kozun
Leafs Send Kozun Out For Conditioning Work
Brandon Kozun, RW, TOR
7:30 AM
News: Brandon Kozun (ankle) was sent to AHL Toronto on Friday for a conditioning assignment, Mark Masters of TSN.ca reports.
Analysis: The assignment will more than likely just last through the weekend as Brandon Kozun aims to demonstrate that he's fully recovered from the high-ankle sprain he sustained in October. The 24-year-old figures to fill a bottom-six role for the Leafs upon his activation.

Chris Phillips
Sens' Phillips Back In Friday
Chris Phillips, D, OTT
7:25 AM
News: Chris Phillips (undisclosed) will return to the lineup Friday against the Panthers, Gord Wilson of TSN 1200 Ottawa reports.
Analysis: Chris Phillips missed the Sens' previous three games with an unspecified ailment, but the two-day break in the schedule apparently provided enough time for him to return to full health. He'll slot back into a top-four role for the Senators, but with only two points in 16 games, he's not going to offer much upside from a fantasy perspective.

Viktor Fasth
Oilers' Fasth Loses Shutout Bid In Overtime
Viktor Fasth, G, EDM
6:33 AM
News: Viktor Fasth stopped all 24 shots he faced in the first three periods before Nashville's Filip Forsberg beat him for the winning goal in overtime Thursday night.
Analysis: Viktor Fasth did an incredible job of holding serve with Pekka Rinne and the overwhelmingly-favored Predators for most of the night, but the game ended with the Oilers taking their eighth straight loss. If there's any silver lining for Fasth, it's that the sterling outing probably gives him the upper hand on the starting job for the Oilers at the moment. He hasn't been great in his last handful of starts, but the team's porous defense and tendencies to disappear offensively have been the more pressing problems during Edmonton's losing streak.

Filip Forsberg
Preds' Forsberg Bags Overtime Winner
Filip Forsberg, C, NSH
6:27 AM
News: Filip Forsberg scored the game-winning goal in overtime to down the Oilers on Thursday.
Analysis: It's the third winner of the season for Filip Forsberg, who has matured into a veritable star after mostly struggling his 13-game taste of the NHL last season. The young winger has an incredible 23 points and plus-19 rating over 22 games, providing a needed lift to a Nashville offense that was woefully short on talent last season.

Matt Cullen
Preds' Cullen Scratched With Injury
Matt Cullen, C, NSH
6:23 AM
News: Matt Cullen was held out of Thursday's 1-0 win over the Oilers due to an upper-body injury, the Associated Press reports.
Analysis: It appeared Matt Cullen was headed for the press box after he failed to take part in the team's morning skate, but the assumption was that he was healthy. Instead, it sounds like he may have suffered the injury in Tuesday's game against the Kings, and he's now considered day-to-day as a result.

Pekka Rinne
Preds' Rinne Shuts Out Oilers
Pekka Rinne, G, NSH
6:20 AM
News: Pekka Rinne denied all 37 shots he faced Thursday against the Oilers en route to his second shutout of the season.
Analysis: Pekka Rinne worked overtime to secure his league-leading 15th victory in what represented one of his best efforts of what has been a sensational season. The most critical of the 37 saves he made was a denial on a Jordan Eberle penalty shot in the extra period, preventing the Oilers from claiming a walk-off victory. Now healthy after battling a hip infection for most of last season, Rinne has turned the Predators from Western Conference also-ran into one of the top teams in the NHL.

Lars Eller
Habs' Eller Practices On Power Play
Lars Eller, C, MON
6:00 AM
News: Lars Eller and Jiri Sekac rotated in on a new power-play attack during Thursday's practice session, Hockey Inside Out reports. The Canadiens rank 25th in power-play effectiveness, so head coach Michel Therrien was looking at a different option.
Analysis: Therrien had the team in a 1-3-1 lineup that featured one defenseman (P.K. Subban) and four forwards, but he's not committing to rolling out this look in games just yet.

 
 
 
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