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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
Jakub Kindl
Red Wings' Kindl Activated From IR
Jakub Kindl, D, DET
1/29/2015
News: Jakub Kindl (elbow) was activated from injured reserve Wednesday.
Analysis: The activation confirms Jakub Kindl is fully healthy at this point, but coach Mike Babcock said the blueliner would remain a healthy scratch for Thursday's game against the Lightning. Xavier Ouellet will continue to hold down a spot on the Wings' third pairing until he begins to struggle.

Trevor van Riemsdyk
Hawks' Van Riemsdyk Expected To Skate Next Week
Trevor van Riemsdyk, D, CHI
1/29/2015
News: Van Riemsdyk (knee) is expected to resume skating next week, Eric Lear of Blackhawks TV reports.
Analysis: Van Riemsdyk has been out sidelined since November, when he required surgery to repair a fractured kneecap. It seems that Trevor van Riemsdyk is almost completely healed from the procedure, but because of his lengthy absence, he'll probably need several more weeks to get back to full speed. Expect the Blackhawks to send him out to AHL Rockford on a rehab assignment at some point in February, if he continues to progress as anticipated.

Kris Versteeg
Blackhawks' Versteeg Not Expected For Road Trip
Kris Versteeg, RW, CHI
1/29/2015
News: Kris Versteeg (hand) isn't expected to play during the Blackhawks' six-game road trip that kicks off Wednesday in Los Angeles, Eric Lear of Blackhawks TV reports.
Analysis: Kris Versteeg instead remained in Chicago, taking to the ice Wednesday morning for conditioning work. Because he's dealing with a fractured hand rather than a lower-body ailment, Versteeg's presence on the ice won't mean much until he's cleared to absorb contact.

Brett Ritchie
Stars' Ritchie Game-Time Decision Thursday
Brett Ritchie, RW, DAL
1/29/2015
News: Brett Ritchie (undisclosed) returned to practice with the Stars on Wednesday and will be a game-time decision for Thursday's game against the Senators, according to Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News.
Analysis: Brett Ritchie practiced fully on Monday, but wasn't quite there on Tuesday. He was rotating in and out of the third line at Wednesday's practice and may be an option for Thursday, however. Check back on his status following the Stars' morning skate Thursday before activating him.

Erik Cole
Stars' Cole Practices Wednesday
Erik Cole, RW, DAL
1/29/2015
News: Erik Cole (upper body) returned to practice on Wednesday and will be a game-time decision on Thursday, according to Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News.
Analysis: Erik Cole left a Jan. 20 game against the Bruins with an injury and hasn't yet returned. He was fortunate that his absence extended over the All-Star break, as it doesn't sound like he'll have to miss much actual game action.

Tyler Kennedy
Sharks' Kennedy Dealing With Lower-Body Injury
Tyler Kennedy, C, SJ
1/29/2015
News: Tyler Kennedy is dealing with a lower-body injury, according to David Pollak of the Mercury News.
Analysis: As a result, Tyler Kennedy won't play Thursday against the Ducks, with his status beyond that contest not yet clarified.

Casey Cizikas
Isles' Cizikas Helps Out In Win
Casey Cizikas, C, NYI
1/29/2015
News: Casey Cizikas contributed an assist in Tuesday's 4-1 win over the Rangers. He also won 13 of his 18 faceoff attempts.
Analysis: Casey Cizikas has done well to win over half of his draws in the faceoff circle this season (51.6%), but his absence of scoring has sapped him of fantasy value. He's only produced four goals and seven assists in 43 games this season, which still puts him on pace for a career-best scoring total.

Boyd Gordon
Gordon Scores Oilers' Lone Goal In Defeat
Boyd Gordon, C, EDM
1/29/2015
News: Boyd Gordon netted the Oilers' only goal in Tuesday's 2-1 defeat to the Wild.
Analysis: He got the Oilers on the board late in the second period when his wraparound shot bounced off the skate of Wild forward Kyle Brodziak and into the net. With only 10 points in 43 games this season, Boyd Gordon offers limited ability as a scorer, but he makes up for it through his dominance in the faceoff circle. He ranks 12th in the league with 464 faceoff victories and holds a higher winning percentage (56.0%) than all but three of those players above him.

Tuomo Ruutu
New Jersey Activates Ruutu
Tuomo Ruutu, LW, NJ
1/29/2015
News: Tuomo Ruutu (illness) was activated from IR by New Jersey on Wednesday, Tom Gulitti of The Record reports.
Analysis: Tuomo Ruutu is evidently healthy enough to play Wednesday against the Leafs, but with just eight points and 20 PIM in 43 games to date, he's only an option in deeper formats.

Sean Monahan
Flames' Monahan Tallies Assist In Win
Sean Monahan, C, CGY
1/29/2015
News: Sean Monahan tallied an assist in Tuesday's 4-1 win over the Sabres.
Analysis: Though the 20-year-old saw his goal streak hit the skids at four games, he was at least able to keep his run of consecutive games with a point alive. His quick learning curve as the team's No. 1 center has been a key reason the Flames have been surprisingly competitive in the Western Conference this season. With 15 goals and 16 assists in 48 games, he's just three points shy of matching the point total he posted as a rookie.

 
 
 
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