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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
Noah Hanifin
Hanifin To Get Chance At Cracking Canes' Roster
Noah Hanifin, D, CAR
7/27/2015
News: Carolina GM Ron Francis said that Noah Hanifin will receive consideration for opening the season with the parent club, the Raleigh News & Observer reports. "We don't want to force him [up to the NHL] if he's not ready," Francis said. "We'll give him time to develop. I'm certainly not ruling [making Carolina's opening roster] out, but we want to be careful and make sure we do what's right for Noah."
Analysis: Noah Hanifin, the fifth overall pick in June's NHL Entry Draft, made the surprise decision to sign an entry-level contract with the Hurricanes two weeks after being selected, thereby foregoing the remaining three years of his eligibility at Boston College. While an assignment of an 18-year-old defenseman to the NHL isn't unprecedented, Hanifin isn't quite on the same level as Florida's Aaron Ekblad, who achieved the rare "exceptional player" status during his time in the OHL before capturing the Calder Trophy last season. The 6-foot-3, 207-pound Hanifin profiles as a top-tier, two-way defenseman in the long run, but he still needs some further refinement, particularly on the offensive end. He should be the Canes' top defenseman before long, though it's more likely he'll spend most of 2015-16 developing at AHL Charlotte.

Carl Soderberg
Avs' Soderberg Could Center Second Line
Carl Soderberg, C, COL
7/27/2015
News: Carl Soderberg is expected to center Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon on the Avs' second line during the upcoming season, NHL.com reports.
Analysis: Carl Soderberg was the Avs' most high-profile acquisition of the offseason, with the team acquiring the soon-to-be unrestricted free agent on June 25 and signing him to a lucrative five-year extension before he could reach the open market. The amount of money committed to Soderberg along with the departure of Ryan O'Reilly should open up a fruitful role for the Swedish pivot, as he's have the luxury of skating next to two of the league's last four Calder Trophy winners. If that line arrangement indeed materializes, Soderberg -- who averaged 46 points during his two seasons with the Bruins -- could make a run at 60 points.

Joey Hishon
Hishon Inks One-Year Deal With Avalanche
Joey Hishon, C, COL
7/27/2015
News: Joey Hishon signed a one-year contract with the Avalanche on Monday.
Analysis: Joey Hishon suited up for 13 games with the Avalanche last season, managing to tally two points (one goal, one assist) in those contests. He fared better with AHL Lake Erie, registering 36 points (16 goals, 20 assists) in 53 games with the team. The 23-year-old will get a chance to compete for a roster spot with the big club in training camp.

Colin Wilson
Wilson Signs Four-Year Contract With Predators
Colin Wilson, C, NSH
7/27/2015
News: Colin Wilson signed a four-year, $15.75 million contract with the Predators on Monday, Adam Vingan of the Tennessean reports.
Analysis: Colin Wilson was a solid offensive contributor for the Predators in 2014-15, registering 42 points (20 goals, 22 assists) in 77 games with the team. He will return to a top-six role with Nashville this season, and should be similarly productive barring injury.

Derek Stepan
Rangers And Stepan Agree To Six-Year Extension
Derek Stepan, C, NYR
7/27/2015
News: Derek Stepan agreed to a six-year extension with the Rangers on Monday that will net him $6.5 million annually, Katie Strang of ESPN reports.
Analysis: Derek Stepan has avoided arbitration with the deal, and will now remain in a Rangers uniform for a long time to come. The 25-year-old center posted 55 points (16 goals, 39 assists) in 2014-15, and will look to build off the effort once again in 2015 as he'll likely center the Rangers' top line once again.

Paul Byron
Flames, Byron Reach Agreement
Paul Byron, C, CGY
7/27/2015
News: Paul Byron re-signed Sunday with the Flames on a one-year, $900,000 contract, Elliotte Friedman of Hockey Night in Canada reports.
Analysis: Paul Byron didn't skate for the Flames during the playoffs due to a wrist injury and later required sports hernia surgery, but he was a quality depth contributor during the regular season, providing six goals and 19 points in 57 games. He's expected to be recovered from all his ailments before training camp commences in September.

Alex Chiasson
Sens, Chiasson Come To Terms
Alex Chiasson, RW, OTT
7/26/2015
News: Alex Chiasson was awarded a one-year, $1.2 million contract Sunday through the arbitration process, Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun reports.
Analysis: Alex Chiasson was seeking a $2.475 million contract, but after the winger tallied just 11 goals and 26 points in 76 games last season, the arbiter determined that valuation was too high. The Senators' primary get in the trade last summer that sent Jason Spezza to the Stars, Chiasson will be need to step up his productivity in 2015-16 in order to meet the high expectations the Senators have set for him. However, with Mark Stone and Mike Hoffman emerging last season as viable top-six forwards, Chiasson's opportunities to earn increased ice time may be limited.

Adam Larsson
Larsson Re-Signs With Devils
Adam Larsson, D, NJ
7/26/2015
News: Adam Larsson signed a six-year, $25 million contract with the Devils on Saturday.
Analysis: Adam Larsson was great for the Devils last season, tallying 24 points (three goals, 21 assists) in 64 games with the team. He's only 22 years old, and could develop into one of the league's best defensemen over the next few years. He will return to his role as a top-pair defender with New Jersey in 2015-16.

Braden Holtby
Holtby Signs Five-Year Contract With Capitals
Braden Holtby, G, WAS
7/25/2015
News: Braden Holtby signed a five-year, $30.5 million contract with the Capitals on Friday, Stephen Whyno of The Canadian Press reports.
Analysis: Braden Holtby was in for a big pay day after his fantastic performance in 2014-15, going 41-20-10 with a 2.22 GAA and a .923 save percentage. He's only 25 years old, and should continue to be one of the league's top netminders for the foreseeable future.

Tomas Jurco
Jurco Re-Signs With Red Wings
Tomas Jurco, RW, DET
7/24/2015
News: Tomas Jurco signed a two-year, $1.8 million contract with the Red Wings on Friday.
Analysis: Tomas Jurco was a solid contributor for the Red Wings in 2014-15, tallying 18 points (three goals, 15 assists) and 97 hits in 63 games with the team. He will likely return to a bottom-six role with Detroit this season.

 
 
 
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