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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
Derick Brassard
Rangers' Brassard Will Play Saturday
Derick Brassard, C, NYR
12:52 AM
News: Derick Brassard (illness) will play Saturday against the Hurricanes, Andrew Gross of The Record reports.
Analysis: Coach Alain Vigneault signed off on Derick Brassard's return after he was able to take part in the team's morning skate. The center missed the Rangers' last two contests with the mumps virus.

Ryan Carter
Wild Activate Carter (Upper Body)
Ryan Carter, C, MIN
12:50 AM
News: Ryan Carter (upper body) was activated from injured reserve Saturday, Rachel Blount of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.
Analysis: After missing the Wild's previous three games, Ryan Carter was cleared to return after practicing Friday. He'll be reinserted on the fourth line for Saturday's game against the Predators.

Jonathan Quick
Kings Tap Quick For Saturday Start
Jonathan Quick, G, LA
12:48 AM
News: Jonathan Quick led the Kings on to the ice for pregame warmups and will thus get the start Saturday against the Coyotes, Elliott Teaford of the Los Angeles Daily News reports.
Analysis: Jonathan Quick will likely be a heavy favorite to come away with the victory against a Coyotes squad that has lost eight of its last 10 games, with its lone two wins during that stretch coming against the sad-sack Oilers. The netminder hasn't been particularly sharp lately, so this should represent a good bounce-back opportunity for him.

Matt Cooke
Wild's Cooke (Hip) Activated For Saturday's Game
Matt Cooke, LW, MIN
12:44 AM
News: Matt Cooke (hip) was activated from injured reserve Saturday and will suit up against the Predators, Rachel Blount of the Minneapolis Stat Tribune reports.
Analysis: He'll replace Justin Fontaine in the lineup, joining Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter on the Wild's third line. Matt Cooke last played on Oct. 28 before missing the last 22 games with a hip flexor.

Jonas Hiller
Flames To Start Hiller Saturday
Jonas Hiller, G, CGY
12:31 AM
News: Jonas Hiller will get the start in net Saturday, Scott Cruickshank of the Calgary Herald reports.
Analysis: Jonas Hiller and the Flames have hit the skids in December, as Calgary has lost seven straight and Hiller has lost six in a row. Until they right the ship, Hiller should be avoided, especially with his mates giving him a grand total of four goals combined in his last four outings.

Jake Allen
Allen, Blues Looking For Road Victory
Jake Allen, G, STL
12:16 AM
News: Jake Allen will be between the pipes Saturday against the Sharks, Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
Analysis: Things have started to turn ugly for Jake Allen here in December, despite the fact that he's won each of his last three starts. He's posted a horrid .884 save percentage in five outings this month, which has resulted in him yielding more work to Martin Brodeur than anticipated. Still, with a powerful offense and strong defense supporting him, the wins should keep coming rather steadily for the struggling netminder.

Antti Niemi
Sharks' Niemi To Take Aim At Seventh Straight Win
Antti Niemi, G, SJ
12:13 AM
News: Antti Niemi will be between the pipes Saturday night against the Blues, Kevin Kurz of CSN Bay Area reports.
Analysis: Antti Niemi will take aim at his seventh straight victory Saturday, though he hasn't been as consistently sharp as the winning streak would suggest. During that stretch, he's surrendered three goals or more on three occasions, but did manage to capture his second shutout of the season. He'll have his work cut out for him against the Blues, who rank sixth in the NHL in goals and fifth in shot attempts per game.

Jannik Hansen
Canucks' Hansen Collapses On Bench
Jannik Hansen, RW, VAN
12/20/2014
News: Jannik Hansen left Saturday's game against the Flames after collapsing briefly on the bench shortly after taking a hit early in the second period, NHL.com reports.
Analysis: Jannik Hansen was conscious and on his feet just a few moments later, but it was obviously a scary incident. He was helped to the locker room by the team's medical staff and remained in the dressing room for observation. We'll have more details as they become available.

Alex Tanguay
Tanguay Gets Two Goals, Assist In Avs' Win
Alex Tanguay, LW, COL
12/20/2014
News: Alex Tanguay scored two goals and added one assist in Saturday's 5-1 win over the Sabres.
Analysis: He has five points (two goals, three assists) in his last four games and 10 in his last 10. He's delivering reasonable output for his fantasy owners in deep leagues.

Derrick Pouliot
Pens' Pouliot Scores Memorable Goal Saturday
Derrick Pouliot, D, PIT
12/20/2014
News: Derrick Pouliot flicked a wrister past Roberto Luongo for his first NHL goal on his first shot Saturday against Florida.
Analysis: The goal -- which also proved to be the game-winner -- came with a congratulatory post-game handshake from owner Mario Lemieux, who not only scored in his first game but also on his first shift. Derrick Pouliot, who skated 15:07 TOI, paired with Rob Scuderi and saw action on both of Pittsburgh's two power-play units. His spot in the starting lineup isn't guaranteed Monday and/or Tuesday with Robert Bortuzzo potentially returning from injury, but either way he's made a lasting first impression.

 
 
 
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