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Week 12 schedule analysis

by | Rotowire.com
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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
Matt Beleskey
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Matt Beleskey, LW, ANA
4/18/2014
News: Matt Beleskey is day-to-day with a lower-body injury, Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register reports.
Analysis: We'll revisit Matt Beleskey's status Friday, but at the moment his status for Game 2 against the Stars is cloudy.

Trevor Daley
Stars' Daley Continues Hot Streak In Game One
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News: Trevor Daley had an assist, a plus-1 rating, two shots, and two blocked shots in the series opener against Anaheim on Wednesday.
Analysis: Trevor Daley has three goals and seven assists over the last ten games. He's poised to have the best postseason of his career as he entered game one with two goals and no assists over 29 career postseason games.

Travis Moen
Habs' Moen Still Sidelined
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4/18/2014
News: Travis Moen (concussion) will not play Friday against the Lightning, the Canadiens' official site reports.
Analysis: According to coach Michel Therrien, Travis Moen -- who was on the ice with his teammates Thursday -- is progressing well, but we won't see the forward before Sunday's Game 3 against the Lightning, in any case.

Tyler Seguin
Stars' Seguin Scores In Game 1
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4/18/2014
News: Tyler Seguin scored on one of five shots and played 20:41 in the Stars game one loss on Wednesday.
Analysis: Tyler Seguin's hot streak continues and with him on a line with Jamie Benn it's hard to imagine him slowing down at all. He's a great play in almost any format.

Nicklas Backstrom
Caps' Backstrom Unavailable For World Championship
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4/18/2014
News: Nicklas Backstrom will not play for Team Sweden at the 2014 IIHF World Championships in Belarus, according to a report in Svenska Dagbladet.
Analysis: Team Sweden benchboss Par Marts said Nicklas Backstrom declined the invitation due to family reasons. Backstrom has had an impressive but emotional season of hockey this year. He led the NHL with 44 power-play points, and tied with Alexander Ovechkin for the team lead with 79 points in all 82 games for the Capitals this year. Those accomplishments bookended an Olympic campaign that ended when Backstrom was held out of the Gold Medal game against Canada for failing a drug test due to allergy medication, and would have to wait weeks to ultimately be awarded the Silver Medal. After such an emotional roller coaster ride ended with the Capitals missing the playoffs, one could hardly blame the Gavle native for wanting to spend a little time away from the game. Although the Capitals likely face a turbulent offseason, Backstrom remains one of the safest options at his position in all of fantasy hockey. His minus-20 performance should be viewed as an anomaly, and as long as he is getting consistent playing time with the likes of Alex Ovechkin, there's no reason to believe he won't produce solid totals next season. Look for Backstrom to be one of the first centers taken in all formats during next season's fantasy drafts.

Dmitry Orlov
Caps' Orlov To Play At World Championship
Dmitry Orlov, D, WAS
4/18/2014
News: Dmitry Orlov will play for Team Russia in the 2014 IIHF World Championship in Belarus, Dmitry Chesnokov of Yahoo Sports reports.
Analysis: Dmitry Orlov will suit up for Team Russia after taking a significant step with the Capitals during the 2013-2014 season. After requesting a trade early in the season due to displeasure with lack of playing time and constant movement to and from the NHL and AHL ranks, the Capitals started playing Orlov more consistently, and the promising young Russian took great strides. Though he finished with only three goals and eight assists in 54 games, the 22-year-old Novokuznetsk native has emerged as a top-4 defenseman for the Capitals, logging a career-high 19:36 per game this season. Orlov will get a chance to hone is offensive skills in Belarus after posting point-per-game totals with Russia's Under-20 World Junior Championship teams. With Mike Green's future in Washington uncertain, there may be an opportunity for Orlov to claim an even larger role heading into next season as the team looks for another blue liner to share the load with workhorse John Carlson. Orlov will be worth keeping an eye on in the later rounds of next season's fantasy drafts.

Ben Bishop
Lightning's Bishop Not Ready
Ben Bishop, G, TB
4/18/2014
News: Coach Jon Cooper indicated Thursday that he does not to expect to see Ben Bishop (elbow) play "any time soon," Damian Cristodero of the Tampa Bay Times reports.
Analysis: Cooper suggested that Ben Bishop could return to action if the Lightning's current playoff series is extended, but it looks like Anders Lindback will remain in net Friday against the Canadiens, at a minimum.

Ondrej Palat
Lightning's Palat A Game-Time Decision For Friday
Ondrej Palat, LW, TB
4/18/2014
News: Ondrej Palat (upper body) is considered a game-time decision for Friday's game against the Canadiens, Damian Cristodero of the Tampa Bay Times reports.
Analysis: Cristodero adds that Ondrej Palat missed practice Thursday, with the report classifying the injury that the forward is dealing with as an upper body issue.

Brenden Dillon
Stars' Dillon Day-To-Day
Brenden Dillon, D, DAL
2:49 PM
News: Brenden Dillon (lower body) remains day-to-day, Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News reports.
Analysis: Brenden Dillon missed Wednesday's playoff opener against the Ducks and thus remains iffy for Friday's Game 2, given his continued day-to-day status.

Jonathan Quick
Kings Roll With Quick
Jonathan Quick, G, LA
1:24 PM
News: Jonathan Quick is slated to start Thursday's playoff opener against the Sharks, LA Kings Insider Jon Rosen reports.
Analysis: Jonathan Quick dropped his last three starts at the end of the regular season, giving up eight goals in the process, but it's still no surprise that the Kings will turn to the 2011-12 Conn Smythe Trophy winner in the playoffs. He'll square off against San Jose's Antti Niemi on Thursday.

 
 
 
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