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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
Taylor Hall
Oilers' Hall In Midst Of Cold Spell
Taylor Hall, LW, EDM
12:43 AM
News: Taylor Hall has tallied just one point in the Oilers' last seven games.
Analysis: Taylor Hall hasn't seen his shot attempts take a dramatic dip during the scoring drought, but if he's not finding the back of the net with regularity, the Oilers are in a serious trouble. It shouldn't come as much of a surprise that with Hall slumping, the Oilers haven't mustered more than two goals in any match during that seven-game stretch. The burden of carrying the Oilers for the past five seasons clearly seems to be weighing down Hall, whose name has been starting to show up in trade rumors more frequently of late.

Reilly Smith
Bruins' Smith Producing Steadily
Reilly Smith, RW, BOS
12:34 AM
News: Reilly Smith netted a goal in Tuesday's shootout loss to the Predators.
Analysis: After a meager start to the season, Reilly Smith has really clicked since joining Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron on the top trio, tallying four goals and two assists over the last five games. Smith's recent surge in production could make it tough on coach Claude Julien to break up the trio once David Krejci (groin) returns, which could happen as soon as Wednesday's game against the Wild.

Chris Thorburn
Jets' Thorburn Scores Goal In Win
Chris Thorburn, RW, WPG
12:30 AM
News: Chris Thorburn scored his second goal of the season in Tuesday's victory over the Sabres.
Analysis: As his two points in 31 games would suggest, Chris Thorburn isn't someone the Jets are looking to for offense most nights. Instead, he'll carry most of his value as a grinder on the checking line and a leader in the locker room.

Carl Hagelin
Rangers' Hagelin Bags Goal Tuesday
Carl Hagelin, LW, NYR
12:25 AM
News: Carl Hagelin tallied his seventh goal of the season in Tuesday's 5-2 victory over the Oilers.
Analysis: Carl Hagelin has notched goals in back-to-back contests, giving him 13 points in 29 contests this season. However, he's currently skating on the third line with Kevin Hayes and Lee Stempniak, a role that won't afford him much more than 15 minutes per night. He's a solid depth scorer for the Rangers, but fantasy owners can likely do better.

Josh Harding
No Timetable For Harding's Return From MS Setback
Josh Harding, G, MIN
12:21 AM
News: Josh Harding has yet to return to practice with Iowa teammates since being hospitalized for dehydration after playing two periods for AHL Iowa on Dec. 6, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. The dehydration episode was related to his multiple sclerosis.
Analysis: There's no timetable for his return and it sounds like this could be a significant setback to his multiple sclerosis issues.

Kari Lehtonen
Stars' Lehtonen In Line To Start Wednesday
Kari Lehtonen, G, DAL
12:20 AM
News: Kari Lehtonen was the first goalie off the ice at the Stars' gameday skate and is slated to start Wednesday against the Canucks, Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News reports.
Analysis: Kari Lehtonen has alternated wins in losses in his previous four December starts, continuing a trend of rather inconsistent play this season. He'll catch a bit of a break in matching up against Canucks backup goalie Eddie Lack on Tuesday, but it's still difficult to trust him at this point. The last time Lehtonen played Vancouver, he came away with a 6-3 victory during which he faced 46 shots. It wouldn't be shocking if another barnburner broke out again Wednesday.

Bryce Salvador
Devils' Salvador Still Not Skating
Bryce Salvador, D, NJ
12:11 AM
News: Bryce Salvador (lower body) has yet to resume skating since landing on injured reserve Nov. 17, Tom Gulitti of The Record reports.
Analysis: Bryce Salvador suggested that he's making progress, but he has yet to show anything tangible that would indicate as much. The 38-year-old is in the final year of his contract with the Devils and could be headed for retirement once the season concludes.

Niklas Backstrom
Wild's Backstrom Stops 22 In Loss
Niklas Backstrom, G, MIN
12/17/2014
News: Niklas Backstrom allowed three goals on 25 shots in Wednesday's 3-2 overtime loss to the Bruins.
Analysis: The veteran netminder has been seeing lots of ice time lately with Darcy Kuemper (illness) out, but he hasn't been very impressive. Niklas Backstrom has allowed 14 goals over his last four starts, and figures to be the backup once again when Kuemper returns.

Jason Pominville
Wild's Pominville Scores In Loss
Jason Pominville, RW, MIN
12/17/2014
News: Jason Pominville netted a goal in Wednesday's 3-2 overtime loss to the Bruins.
Analysis: Jason Pominville's wrister tied things up in the third period, but it wasn't quite enough to send the Wild on to victory. He did earn his team a point though, and currently has seven goals and 14 assists in 30 games on the season.

Loui Eriksson
Bruins' Eriksson Scores Game-Winner Wednesday
Loui Eriksson, LW, BOS
12/17/2014
News: Loui Eriksson collected a goal and an assist in Wednesday's 3-2 overtime win over the Wild.
Analysis: The winger teamed up with linemate Carl Soderberg twice on the night, and ended up picking up the game-winner in overtime. He now has six goals and 11 assists in 32 games this season, and has started to heat up lately.

 
 
 
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