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Week 18 schedule analysis

by | Rotowire.com
  •  
NHL schedule

*B2B (Back-to-Back) occurrences in bold

Flush

The following seven teams will provide you with the most pack for your punch, as they have four games on the docket.

On the surface, it appears as though Boston (at NYI, FLA, MTL, EDM) has one of the easiest schedules on paper this week. Forgetting their combined 0-3 record against the Isles and Canadiens, the Bruins also have eight games over the final two weeks prior to the Olympic break. Jordan Caron (back), Dougie Hamilton (concussion), Jarome Iginla and Zdeno Chara all returned in their own ways on Saturday.

You don’t need a quick glance at Buffalo’s (at PIT, WAS, at PHX, at COL) schedule to know it’s too late for the team to turn things around in time for a playoff push. However, that’s not going to stop the Sabres from breaking a lot of hearts, fantasy or otherwise. Christian Ehrhoff and Tyler Ennis are picking up the pace, while Cody Hodgson is the only constant. Ville Leino (upper body) and Drew Stafford (upper body) left Saturday’s game ... shocker.

Columbus (at CAR, OTT, WAS, FLA) is fully aware of Buffalo’s heart-breaking abilities. On paper, we like the Jackets’ chances of starting a new winning streak. Sergei Bobrovsky was one of six starting goalies pulled Saturday night; perhaps it’s an isolated incident. Mark Letestu and Derek MacKenzie continued their production despite the loss.

Los Angeles (at SJS, at PHX, PIT, PHI) starts the week with b2b games on the road before heading home for contests against two teams on a west coast swing. The Kings’ offense is really letting Jonathan Quick (3-4-2,2.11 GAA) down since he returned from the IR on January 4.

Montreal (CAR, at BOS, TBL, WIN) has two winnable tilts at the beginning and end of the week and three of four from home to boot. Despite their four-game losing streak, the Canadiens are unbeaten (combined 3-0-2) in regulation against this week’s opponents. Carey Price was one of the shamed on Saturday night, and it’s becoming a bit of a habit, having been pulled in two of his last three outings. Price has given up 48 goals (3.42 GAA) in his last 14 starts.

San Jose (LOS, at EDM, at CGY, CHI) has the inside-out version of Montreal’s schedule, with its easiest (5-0 against the Oilers and Flames) two games in the middle of the week on a b2b Alberta swing. While Tommy Wingels has a goal and three assists in his last four games, it’s Joe Pavelski (seven goals, three assists in his last five games) who is truly driving the Sharks’ latest winning streak.

Washington (at BUF, at CBJ, at DET, DET) has been some sort of strange fantasy experiment. Additionally, the Caps will battle the even stranger Red Wings in a non-traditional home-and-home slate to end the week. Mikhail Grabovski (leg) did not play on Saturday, while Alexander Ovechkin (groin) did. Nicklas Backstrom is cold, but could Martin Erat’s inevitable exit (we expect this week) finally shake this team up? Apparently Braden Holtby took the reins last week, not Michal Neuvirth. Casey Wellman (23 points in 37 games with AHL Hershey) was recalled in light of the injuries to Ovi and Grabovski.

One Pair

While the Rangers (at NYI, NYI) organization is surrounded by excitement in light of the Stadium Series, the team is not only strapped with the dreaded two-game slate this week, but a mere three games next week. For what it’s worth, the Rangers are a combined 5-15 on the power play in three games (1-2) against the Islanders this season.

Three of a Kind

No, none of this week’s Three of a Kind candidates were yanked on Saturday night. Despite having just three tilts scheduled this week, these teams will have b2b occurrences and no trend is in sight.

Carolina (CBJ, at MTL, STL) has two games in the first two nights this week, then takes off until Friday. Anton Khudobin has yet to yield more than three goals in a game this season. However, he’s played on b2b occurrences twice this month and won’t likely do again this week. Justin Peters should get a start.

Chicago (at CGY, at VAN, SJS) plays on b2b nights starting Tuesday. Corey Crawford hasn’t played since January 22, and his career GAA (2.83) against the Flames suggests Antti Raanta will play in Calgary, with Crawford drawing the Canucks.

New Jersey (at STL, at DAL, at NSHdoes the southern swing on b2b nights beginning Thursday. Cory Schneider has certainly been coming on strong (eight goals allowed in seven games) since the turn of the calendar. One of those performances includes a 1-0 shutout over the Stars. Considering Schneider has allowed three goals in just 20 career minutes of ice time against the Preds, we like Martin Brodeur in Nashville.

Nashville (at WIN, NJD, at STL) will play just once until Friday, then host the Devils and travel to St. Louis on b2b nights. Carter Hutton is quietly on a four-game winning streak, while Devan Dubnyk has given up nine goals in two games with Nashville. Expect to see Dubnyk against the Devils and Hutton in St. Louis.

St. Louis (NJD, at CAR, NSH) won’t have much of an upper-hand against the Preds, as they’ll be on the back-half of a b2b occurrence as well. Despite a 7-1 loss to New Jersey this past Tuesday, Jaroslav Halak has been solid (5-1) in January, while Brian Elliott is winless in his last three games after winning 12 of his 14 previous starts. Look for Elliott against Carolina and Halak (1.71 career GAA against the Predators) against Nashville.

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Player News
Pekka Rinne
Preds Expected To Start Rinne On Saturday
Pekka Rinne, G, NSH
12:50 AM
News: Pekka Rinne is expected to be the starter in net for Saturday's game against the Panthers.
Analysis: After backup Carter Hutton got the starting nod Thursday against Ottawa, it would be a monumental surprise if Pekka Rinne wasn't in the net Saturday night. A winner of six of his last seven games, Rinne is expected to match up against the Panthers' Roberto Luongo.

Brad Marchand
Bruins Move Marchand To IR
Brad Marchand, LW, BOS
12:45 AM
News: Brad Marchand (undisclosed) was placed on injured reserve Saturday.
Analysis: The retroactive placement on IR doesn't change Brad Marchand's situation much, as he'll be eligible to return to action at any point after Saturday's game since he last played Nov. 15. The Bruins continue to view him as day-to-day, but moving him to IR will at least allow Boston to bring a healthy forward into the lineup.

Devan Dubnyk
Coyotes' Dubnyk Will Start Saturday
Devan Dubnyk, G, ARI
12:38 AM
News: Dubnuk will start in net for Saturday's game against the Sharks, Sarah McLellan of the Arizona Republic reports.
Analysis: Devan Dubnyk will get the start Saturday in the first of two games on consecutive nights for the Coyotes. Dubnyk has played well in his last two starts, winning both and allowing just one total goal.

Martin Hanzal
Coyotes' Hanzal Doubtful For Saturday
Martin Hanzal, C, ARI
12:27 AM
News: Martin Hanzal (lower body) is doubtful for Saturday's game against the Sharks, Sarah McLellan of the Arizona Republic reports.
Analysis: Martin Hanzal took part in the team's morning skate Saturday, so it originally looked like he was going to be able to suit up against the Sharks, but now it looks like he'll have to wait for Sunday's matchup with the Ducks instead.

Andrew Shaw
Blackhawks' Shaw Likely To Sit Saturday, Sunday
Andrew Shaw, C, CHI
12:23 AM
News: Andrew Shaw, who has been ruled out for Saturday's game against the Oilers, is doubtful to play Sunday against the Canucks as well.
Analysis: Andrew Shaw wasn't on the ice for Saturday's morning skate, likely dashing his chances of playing Sunday since he won't have skated in consecutive days. His absence could enable the newly recalled Phillip Danault to receive some regular run in the Blackhawks' bottom six.

Antti Niemi
Sharks Niemi On Tap For Saturday Start
Antti Niemi, G, SJ
12:14 AM
News: Antti Niemi was the first goalie off the ice at morning skate and looks to be the starter for Saturday's game against the Coyotes, David Pollak of the San Jose Mercury News reports.
Analysis: Antti Niemi's been burned for five losses his last six times out, but he's been a victim of poor support from his offense in his last two defeats. He's been roughly middle-of-the-pack as far as fantasy goalies go through 15 appearances this season, as he carries a 7-6-2 record, 2.56 GAA and .917 save percentage into Saturday's contest. Niemi will have a great chance at turning the tide against the 8-10-2 Coyotes, who sit behind the Sharks in sixth place in the Pacific Division.

William Nylander
Leafs Prospect Nylander Dealing With Head Injury
William Nylander, RW, TOR
12:05 AM
News: William Nylander was hit in the head by a skate Saturday while playing with MODO of the Swedish Hockey League, Chris Johnston of Sportsnet reports.
Analysis: The eighth overall pick in this past June's NHL Entry Draft, William Nylander cemented himself as the Leafs' top prospect after narrowly missing out on making the squad out of training camp. The team ultimately decided to send him back to his club team in Sweden, where he's excelled to the tune of five goals and 14 points over 12 games. The 18-year-old will likely be held under evaluation for a concussion following Saturday's incident, but it's too early to speculate how much time he might miss.

Curtis Lazar
Sens' Lazar Won't Play Saturday
Curtis Lazar, RW, OTT
12:03 AM
News: Curtis Lazar (undisclosed) will not play Saturday against the Blues, Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun reports.
Analysis: Head coach Paul MacLean said Curtis Lazar could play Saturday if he needed to, but the team would rather be cautious with him. The nature of Lazar's injury is still unknown, but it sounds like a good bet that he'll be back in the lineup Monday against the Red Wings.

Alex Burrows
Canucks' Burrows Not Practicing
Alex Burrows, LW, VAN
12:00 AM
News: Alex Burrows (upper body) wasn't present for Saturday's practice.
Analysis: Linden Vey was taking his spot on the second line at practice, seemingly indicating Alex Burrows is far from a safe bet to play Sunday versus the Blackhawks. The forward was previously a surprising scratch from Thursday's game with the injury.

Tyler Bozak
Leafs' Bozak On Career Pace
Tyler Bozak, C, TOR
11/22/2014
News: Tyler Bozak scored two goals -- one shorthanded and the other into an empty net -- in Saturday's 4-1 win over the Red Wings. The short-handed goal stood up as the game winner.
Analysis: That's two, two-point games in a row after a three-game point drought. But the fact remains that he's clipping along at close to a point-per-game pace (19 in 21) and is a worthy roll in just about every format. #careeryear

 
 
 
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