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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
Elias Lindholm
Lindholm Signs Two-Year Extension With Hurricanes
Elias Lindholm, C, CAR
8/27/2015
News: Elias Lindholm signed a two-year, $5.4 million contract extension with the Hurricanes on Thursday.
Analysis: Elias Lindholm was a solid contributor in his first full NHL season in 2014-15, registering 39 points (17 goals, 22 assists) in 81 games with the team. He will return to his role as a top-six forward with Carolina this season, and should have a great shot at improving upon his offensive numbers from a year ago as he continues his development as an NHL forward.

Patrik Berglund
Blues' Berglund To Require Shoulder Surgery
Patrik Berglund, C, STL
8/27/2015
News: Patrik Berglund aggravated a dislocated right shoulder while working out and is set to undergo surgery Friday, Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. He'll require at least four months of recovery time.
Analysis: Patrik Berglund first dislocated the shoulder in 2013-14, and required surgery last offseason to address the issue. The center was able to recover in time from that procedure to play on Opening Night last season, but given how late in the offseason calendar the setback occurred this time around, it looks like Berglund won't take the ice again until the calendar flips to 2016. His extended absence could allow prospect Robby Fabbri to claim third-line center duties out of training camp, with veteran Scott Gomez also in the mix if coach Ken Hitchcock prefers a more experienced option for that role.

Scott Gomez
Gomez Signs PTO With Blues
Scott Gomez, C, NJ
8/27/2015
News: Scott Gomez accepted a professional tryout offer with the Blues on Thursday, Andy Strickland of FOX Sports Midwest reports.
Analysis: After failing to garner a contract in free agency for the second straight offseason, Scott Gomez will again head to training camp on a PTO, as he did last season in New Jersey. Though he wasn't able to crack the Devils' Opening Night roster, he continued to work out with the team after the tryout period ended and was eventually signed to the team when injuries opened up an opportunity in late November. Gomez would end the season as one of the more productive contributors on the offensively challenged Devils, finishing third on the team with 34 points. The Blues boast a far deeper roster of forward talent, but with the news surfacing after Gomez's signing that Patrik Berglund would miss at least four months following shoulder surgery, an opening on the third line could exist for the 35-year-old.

Max Pacioretty
Habs' Pacioretty Still On Schedule With Rehab
Max Pacioretty, LW, MON
8/27/2015
News: Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said recently that Max Pacioretty (knee) remains on schedule in the rehabilitation process, Arpon Basu of LNH.com reports.
Analysis: Max Pacioretty sustained the knee injury while working out in Florida in early July, and was given a projected recovery timetable of 10-to-12 weeks. Given the length of the timetable, Pacioretty is expected to sit out all of training camp, and while his availability for the Oct. 7 regular-season opener in Toronto remains possible, he'd likely be subjected to limited minutes in the early going as he looks to build endurance. Once back to full health, Pacioretty should reemerge as the Habs' most dangerous offensive option after he potted 37 goals and a career-high 67 points in 2014-15.

Ladislav Smid
Flames Expecting Smid Back For Training Camp
Ladislav Smid, D, CGY
8/27/2015
News: The Flames' front office believes Ladislav Smid (neck) will be ready to skate during the team's first on-ice session at training camp in September, the Calgary Sun reports.
Analysis: Ladislav Smid's season came to an end last January when he required surgery on his neck, but his communication with the Flames to this point in the offseason suggests he has recovered well from the procedure. If healthy, Smid will compete in camp with Deryk Engelland for a spot as Calgary's sixth defenseman.

Sidney Crosby
Pens' Crosby Likely To Play Next To Kessel
Sidney Crosby, C, PIT
8/27/2015
News: Coach Mike Johnston said earlier this week that Sidney Crosby is expected to play next to Phil Kessel to begin training camp, CBS Sports reports.
Analysis: The Penguins have cycled in a number of right wingers next to Sidney Crosby throughout his career, and while Patric Hornqvist proved capable in that capacity last season, he's not nearly as prolific at finding twine as Kessel, a five-time 30-goal scorer. With his health concerns beginning to fade away after missing only seven games over the last two seasons, Crosby once again looks like a reasonable choice at No. 1 overall in fantasy drafts, even after scoring only 28 goals in 2014-15, his lowest total in any year he's suited up for at least 60 contests. Crosby probably won't come close to approaching the 51-goal peak he reached in 2009-10, but a slight uptick in his anomalous 11.8 shooting percentage coupled with the likely increase in assist opportunities with Kessel blitzing the net could make a return to 100 points conceivable.

Mike Richards
Charges Announced For Ex-King Richards
Mike Richards, C, LA
8/27/2015
News: Mike Richards was formally charged with possession of a controlled substance while entering Canada stemming from a June 17 border stop by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Manitoba, Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo! Sports reports.
Analysis: The Kings determined the incident gave them just cause to release Mike Richards for a "material breach" of his 12-year contract, a decision that prompted the NHL Players Association to file a grievance. The nature of the border stop likely won't affect the outcome of that legal battle, as both the NHLPA and the Kings were aware of the circumstances surrounding the incident. Currently a free agent, Richards is able to sign with any team while the grievance remains underway, but his steep decline in performance over the last few seasons coupled with this ongoing dispute probably has few organizations interested in his services.

Kyle Okposo
Isles Begin Contract Talks With Okposo
Kyle Okposo, RW, NYI
8/26/2015
News: Kyle Okposo and the Islanders have begun talks on a new contract, according to Islanders Point Blank.
Analysis: Both sides are hoping to get an agreement done before the start of the season but the parameters on a new deal could be difficult to negotiate. Kyle Okposo will make $4.5 million this season and could command a deal north of $6 million per year on the open market, a figure the Islanders may not be willing to approach at this time. If the two sides can't come to an agreement before the start of the season then Okposo's name will be one we will hear quite often in trade rumors.

Sami Aittokallio
Avs Re-Sign Aittokallio
Sami Aittokallio, G, COL
8/26/2015
News: Sami Aittokallio has re-signed with the Avalanche on a one-year, two-way contract, General Fanager reports.
Analysis: Sami Aittokallio appears to be the clear No. 4 goalie in the Colorado organization behind Semyon Varlamov, Calvin Pickard, and Reto Berra, so it's somewhat surprising he elected to commit for another year rather than bolt for Europe. Even so, Aittokallio's contract does at least include a clause for him to play overseas if he isn't guaranteed a roster spot with the Avalanche, potentially opening the door for him to leave the club if he's assigned to the AHL out of training camp, as expected.

Adam Cracknell
Canucks Ink Cracknell To Two-Way Deal
Adam Cracknell, RW, VAN
8/26/2015
News: Adam Cracknell signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Canucks on Tuesday.
Analysis: Mostly due to the Blue Jackets' array of injuries last season, Adam Cracknell saw 17 games at the NHL level, producing no goals and one assist. He'll function as an organizational depth piece for the Canucks, but will once again require several players to go down before skating in the NHL. Even if that materializes, he'd likely be limited to a bottom-six role with limited ice time.

 
 
 
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