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Week 19 schedule analysis

by | Rotowire.com
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It's time to prepare for an NHL schedule that features 90 games in six days before it comes to a two-week freeze for the Olympic break.

B2B*=back-to-back

*all b2b occurrences in bold

NHL schedule

Four Aces

Of the 12 games being played by our Four Aces this week, 11 will be road games.

Colorado (at NJD, at NYR, at PHI, at NYI) embarks on a four game East Coast swing before heading to break. Their combined record versus this week's opponents is 2-0-1. Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon are picking up the pace again. Ryan O'Reilly has 11 points (six goals) in his last 10 games. Meanwhile, Jamie McGinn has seven goals and four assists since the beginning of the new year. With injuries to Alex Tanguay (knee) and Paul Stastny (ankle), P.A. Parenteau increased his trade value with a return to action on Saturday. Despite giving up four goals to the Wild, Semyon Varlamov has been dependable in the new year as well, posting a 11-2-1 record since the calendar flipped. Still, Jean-Sebastien Giguere should get a nod this week.

Ottawa (at PIT, at STL, BUF, at BOS) has three very difficult opponents and Buffalo at home. Nonetheless, the Sens are a combined 6-0-1 against this week's opponents. No word on Cody Ceci's status after taking a hit from Nazem Kadri on Saturday. Chris Neil had a little offensive showing in Saturday's loss. Craig Anderson had a very inconsistent January and things just got worse in Saturday's loss. Nonetheless, Anderson is a big part of Ottawa's successful record against this week's opponents. Still, after Saturday's performance, one would have to expect Robin Lehner in Pittsburgh or St. Louis.

Vancouver (at DET, at BOS, at MTL, at TOR) continues to play without head coach John Tortorella at the helm. With road games against the top four teams in the Atlantic Division, it's not out of the question that the Canucks could head into the break on a seven-game slide. The Canucks are a combined 2-2 this season against this week's opponents. Mike Santorelli had season-ending surgery. Henrik Sedin (ribs) is considered questionable for Monday's game with the Red Wings. Should be a busy week for Roberto Luongo, giving Eddie Lack a start probably in Boston.

One Pair

Like the polar opposite of our "Four Aces," the three teams strapped with just a two-game schedule will play five of the total six games in home attire.

Jonathan Quick will have his work cut out for him as Los Angeles (CHI, CBJ) has just seven goals in the last nine contests. Alec Martinez (elbow) has yet to resume practice.

Minnesota (TBL, NSH) is still without Mikko Koivu (ankle), Jared Spurgeon (foot) and Josh Harding (illness). Spurgeon is possibly the closest to returning. Darcy Kuemper left something to be desired in Saturday's loss to Calgary.

Nashville (at MIN, ANA) is likely to keep rolling out Carter Hutton, who is 6-1-1 since mid-January. While new acquisition Michael Del Zotto is a plus-2 with just one assist since joining the Preds, Roman Josi has 11 points in his last 10 games. Just when you thought it was safe to trust a trending Preds forward, Nick Spaling (lower body) left Friday's game. The Preds have been "mum" about Viktor Stalberg's (upper body) status. Simon Moser, who had 11 points (three goals) in 13 games with Milwaukee of the AHL has been recalled.

Three of a Kind

While no excuses are acceptable, all apologies for advising Boston (VAN, at STL, OTT) would have a four-game docket this week. Take your vitamins ladies and gents, there's a nasty bug floating around. In "Three of a Kind" this week, we have some teams already dealing with goaltending turmoil and games on b2b nights will only liven up the issues.

Buffalo (EDM, PIT, at OTT) went 0-2 on the back-end of b2b occurrences in January. Ryan Miller was spared from Saturday's mess against the Avalanche, but not before giving up five goals. Jhonas Enroth really fared no better, registering 10 saves on 12 shots. Matt D'Agostini has warmed up with three goals and two assists in his last seven games. Christian Ehrhoff (illness) returned on Saturday and continued his productive ways from January as well. We're not sure whether Saturday's embarrassing loss leaves Brian Flynn with top line placement still.

Carolina (WIN, FLA, MTL) went 2-2 on the back-end of b2b occurrences in January. It's not out of the question that Anton Khudobin plays all three tilts this week, but don't be surprised if Justin Peters snags a game. That's of course if he's not traded as Cam Ward has returned from his conditioning stint. Patrick Dwyer (illness) returned on Saturday.

Columbus (at ANA, at LOS, at SJS) went 2-1 on the back-end of b2b occurrences in January. Sergei Bobrovsky is 9-2 since returning from injury. Booner Jenner has three points (one goal) since lining up with Nathan Horton and Ryan Johansen two games ago. Jared Boll (ankle) resumed skating. Marian Gaborik (collarbone) is not expected back before the Olympic break.

Dallas (at PHX, at SJS, PHX) went 1-1 on the back-end of b2b occurrences in January. After watching Dan Ellis picking up a shutout against his former employer the Ducks, we like his chance against either the Coyotes or the Sharks.

Edmonton (at BUF, at NYR, at NJD) went 1-1 on the back-end of b2b occurrences in January. Ok, perhaps Ben Scrivens' 59-save performance cools off our requests to get Richard Bachman (5-3, 2.73 GAA in January for Oklahoma) called up. Ales Hemsky (ankle) and Matt Hendricks (head) returned on Saturday. Mark Fraser played just 12-minutes in his debut with the Oilers.

Florida (TOR, DET, at CAR) went 1-0 on the back-end of b2b occurrences last month. Tim Thomas has been flat out ugly lately, so you can bank on Scott Clemmensen making at least one start. Sean Bergenheim is enjoying Jonathan Huberdeau's company. Aleksander Barkov (lower body) returned on Saturday, forcing Drew Shore's return to AHL San Antonio. Brad Boyes is finding the net and not just in shootouts.

New Jersey (COL, EDM, at WAS) went 0-3 on the back-end of b2b occurrences last month. Cory Schneider has been the go-to-guy since New Jersey's embarrassing loss to the Rangers last Sunday. Well, sort-of, since he's 1-2 (seven goals allowed) in the three games he's started. Travis Zajac is showing signs of life with two goals and six assists in his last six games.

Phoenix (DAL, CHI, at DAL) went 0-1 on the back-end of b2b occurrences last month. Not many are happier to see February than Mike Smith who had some clunkers in January. Then Thomas Greiss posted a shutout versus the struggling Kings, almost prompting a hot-seat situation. But Smith returned to form, making 23 saves in Saturday's win over the powerful Pens.

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Player News
Ryan McDonagh
Rangers' McDonagh Likely To Play Friday
Ryan McDonagh, D, NYR
11/28/2014
News: Ryan McDonagh (shoulder) appears likely to return from IR to play Friday against the Flyers, Andrew Gross of The Record reports.
Analysis: Out since Nov. 1 with a separated shoulder, Ryan McDonagh has been practicing since Tuesday and was paired up with regular partner Dan Girardi at Thursday's session, suggesting he'll be ready to go Friday. The Rangers won't hold a morning skate Friday due to the 1:00 p.m. ET puck drop, so McDonagh's return to lineup likely wouldn't be announced until pregame warmups.

Francois Beauchemin
Ducks' Beauchemin Questionable For Friday
Francois Beauchemin, D, ANA
11/28/2014
News: Francois Beauchemin (upper body) is questionable to play Friday versus the Blackhawks, Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register reports.
Analysis: Francois Beauchemin hasn't been practicing since exiting Tuesday's game against the Flames with the injury. The odds would seem against him suiting up Friday, but his outlook could change if he's able to take part in the team's morning skate.

Brandon Pirri
Panthers' Pirri With Assist In Debut On The Wing
Brandon Pirri, C, FLA
3:40 PM
News: Brandon Pirri notched an assist while playing his first game on the wing, in Wednesday's 1-0 win against the Hurricanes.
Analysis: The natural center was shifted to play on the right wing with Nick Bjugstad and Jonathan Huberdeau for Wednesday's game against Carolina. The good news for Brandon Pirri is he is playing on a line that features the two hottest players on the team right now in Bjugstad and Huberdeau, the bad news is we don't know how long it will last. When asked about the new line after the game, coach Gerard Gallant responded with "I loved [the newly formed line] in the first period; I didn't like it much the second and third because there were too many chances against them and they weren't skating the same". If that trend continues, Pirri could easily see himself playing on a bottom six line. For the time being, he should produce some points while playing with his new linemates.

Dan Boyle
Rangers' Boyle Claims First Point
Dan Boyle, D, NYR
11:52 AM
News: Dan Boyle collected his first point of the season with a first-period power-play goal in Wednesday's loss to the Lightning.
Analysis: Dan Boyle has yet to get going after a broken hand cost him entire month of action, but Thursday's goal could spark his production. Though he's long past his peak at 38 years old, Boyle's presence on a top power-play unit ripe with talent should allow him to finish the season as an above-average source of offense from the blue line.

T.J. Brodie
Flames' Brodie Dishes Out Two In Win
T.J. Brodie, D, CGY
11:47 AM
News: T.J. Brodie assisted on both of the Flames' goals in Wednesday's 2-0 victory over the Sharks.
Analysis: There hasn't been a more dynamic defensive pairing so far this season than Mark Giordano and T.J. Brodie, who have combined for an incredible 44 points over the Flames' 24 games. That level of production probably won't be sustained over the course of the full season, but it's clear that both blueliners are premier talents at their positions. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 45 to 50 points could be a realistic benchmark for Brodie.

Adam Lowry
Jets' Lowry Docked One Game For Boarding
Adam Lowry, LW, WPG
11:39 AM
News: Adam Lowry has been suspended one game for boarding the Sabres' Patrick Kaleta in Wednesday's match.
Analysis: As a rookie, Adam Lowry doesn't have any track record for malicious hits, so the league office went relatively light on him for the first-time violation. Lowry collected 15 penalty minutes for his transgressions Wednesday night, doubling his PIM total from the previous 23 games combined. He'll be eligible to return to action Dec. 3 against the Oilers.

Corban Knight
Flames Bring Back Knight
Corban Knight, C, CGY
11:34 AM
News: Corban Knight was recalled from AHL Adirondack on Thursday, NHL.com's Aaron Vickers reports.
Analysis: Corban Knight was assigned to Adirondack just a day earlier, but it sounds like he never left the team. The Flames were simply waiting for Devin Setoguchi to clear waivers, and since that situation is now resolved, Knight will take his spot back on the 23-man roster.

Ryan Garbutt
Two-Game Suspension For Stars' Garbutt
Ryan Garbutt, LW, DAL
11:31 AM
News: Ryan Garbutt was suspended two games for kneeing the Oilers' Taylor Hall in Tuesday's match, NHL.com's Mark Stepneski reports.
Analysis: As he is often wont to do, Ryan Garbutt was pestering the Edmonton star throughout the game but went a little overboard with eight minutes remaining in the third period, clipping Hall with his knee and earning a two-minute minor for tripping. The banishment will keep him out of action until the Stars' Dec. 2 game against the Maple Leafs.

Craig Anderson
Sens' Anderson To Get Nod Friday
Craig Anderson, G, OTT
11:27 AM
News: Craig Anderson will be in the crease Friday against the Panthers.
Analysis: Craig Anderson has watched Robin Lehner assume the bulk of the starting duties for the Senators over the last couple of weeks, and didn't do much to help his cause by allowing four goals to the Red Wings in his last time out Monday. Perhaps receiving the starting nod against his former squad -- and an offensively-challenged one, at that -- will be exactly what he needs to win back the Ottawa net.

Henrik Lundqvist
Next Turn To Come Saturday For Rangers' Lundqvist
Henrik Lundqvist, G, NYR
11:24 AM
News: Henrik Lundqvist will be in the crease Saturday against the Flyers.
Analysis: Coach Alain Vigneault will save Henrik Lundqvist for the home half of the Rangers' back-to-back set with the Flyers, as backup Cam Talbot gets the call for Friday's match in Philadelphia. Lundqvist has yet to find much consistency over the first two months, as he's tied for the league lead with four shutouts yet finds himself with a rather middling 2.60 GAA and .911 save percentage for the season.

 
 
 
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