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Week 22 schedule analysis

by | Rotowire.com
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Yes, the Olympic break is finally behind us and for good or ill, it's time to welcome back the NHL and many of its wounded. With Monday off and nearly half (13) of the league easing their way back into action with a two-game schedule, you will have your work cut out for you. There are exactly 700 league games left for you to blaze your way to (or retain) the top of the standings.

NHL schedule

B2B = Back-to-Back

GNW = Games Next Week

GRS = Games Remaining this Season

Four Aces

The Hurricanes draw the only four-game docket of the week. And by the looks of it, they're not exactly counting the days. Or are they?

Carolina (at BUF, at DAL, at LOS, at ANA) has four games on the road that will get progressively harder, but the Hurricanes have a surprising (small sample) combined record of 2-0-1 against this week's opponents, including a 3-2 win over Anaheim. We see no reason for Cam Ward to displace Anton Khudobin. The real question is, with the trade deadline looming, can Carolina find a buyer on Justin Peters or Cam Ward?

Back-to-Back Jacks

With 13 of the NHL's 30 teams playing just two this week, you might think there's little room for focus on back-up goalies, but you may want to think again. Sixteen teams will have a b2b occurrence this week, including the Red Wings and Wild.

Detroit (at MTL, at OTT) gets back to work on Wednesday against the Canadiens before traveling to Ottawa for the second half of b2b games on consecutive nights. It's worth noting that the Red Wings are 1-2 and have been outscored by Ottawa 12-7. Stephen Weiss (sports hernia) and Pavel Datsyuk (knee) should resume regularly schedule NHL action this week, but the Wings will be without Henrik Zetterberg (back). Datsyuk registered five points in as many international games at Sochi.

Minnesota (at EDM, at VAN) follows suit, only beginning on Thursday in Edmonton and then Vancouver on Friday. What's hurting Zach Parise more, Team USA's lackluster medal round efforts or his thumb? Niklas Backstrom has had a disappointing season to say the least. Perhaps his recent doctor's visit can shake things up.

Two Pair

No one has a lighter schedule than Anaheim (four games over the next 14 days) over the next two weeks.

Pittsburgh (MTL, at CHI) and Chicago (at NYR, PIT) roster some of the best fantasy players available, you know this. However, their involvement in the conclusion of the Stadium Series on March 1 has left them with a rather listless schedule, so you may want to look elsewhere for scoring this week.

Three of a Kind

As usual, nearly half of the league will engage in a three-game schedule. With all teams returning from a lengthy break, let's toss out statistical likelihood and not only take a glance at some of the teams with a trendy week ahead but also teams that will endure three games in four nights.

Buffalo (CAR, BOS, SJS) is the busiest team (11 games in 20 nights) out of the gate, playing three in four nights, but from home. Cody McCormick (finger), Tyler Myers (knee) and Matt Moulson (upper body) are all expected to return to action on Tuesday against Carolina. It should be interesting to see how Ryan Miller's lack of playing time at Sochi affects his play and very much directly, his trade value.

Boston (at BUF, WAS, NYR) plays in Buffalo on Wednesday, hosting the Caps on Saturday then travels to Madison Square Garden for a showdown with the Rangers on Sunday. Adam McQuaid (leg) should be considered day-to-day after the much needed Olympic break. Tuukka Rask (illness) posted a shutout of USA, safe to say he's good to go. Across the globe, his teammate Reilly Smith (illness) returned on Saturday from a similar issue.

Colorado's (LOS, PHX, TBL) schedule is not frenzied in format, but their strength of schedule is another story altogether. Erik Johnson will begin his two-game suspension for his slash of Frans Nielsen.

Florida (WAS, at CBJ, at NYI) hosts the Caps before heading out on the road for two games. Dylan Olsen has been returned to his parent club while Tomas Kopecky (concussion) and Aleksander Barkov (knee) are both expected to miss an extended period of action.

Los Angeles (at COL, at CGY, CAR) plays two on the road before heading home to host the Hurricanes. It's hard to imagine what Jonathan Quick is thinking right now. He was on fire prior to the Olympics, then takes Ryan Miller's job, but gives up five goals in the Bronze medal game. The same goes double for Anze Kopitar who is hoping to get the Kings moving in the right direction offensively.

Montreal (DET, at PIT, TOR) plays two of three from home, but all three come in a four day span starting Wednesday. Michael Bournival (concussion) has not yet been cleared to return to practice. The Canadiens have been long rumored to be active on the trade market.

New Jersey (CBJ, at NYI, SJS) has a plausible schedule with two at home against formidable opponents and the Isles on the road. All the talk is about Martin Brodeur, but where will he go? Ryane Clowe (soreness) practiced on Friday. Anton Volchenkov (lower body) stated he's fully recovered.

The Islanders (TOR, NJD, FLA) play three in four days, but won't leave Long Island. All season the Islanders were teetering on the brink of buy/sell. With John Tavares (MCL) out for the remainder of the season and Frans Nielsen (thumb) out for at least another one-to-three weeks, how does that impact GM Garth Snow's asking price on players like Andy MacDonald and Thomas Vanek? In case of emergency, break glass. Ryan Strome (48 points in 35 games with Bridgeport) Anders Lee (21 goals and 19 assists in 53 games) and Matt Donovan (20 points in 23 games) could all become FA pickups.

The Rangers (CHI, at PHI, BOS) have probably the toughest three-tilt schedule with the Blackhawks and Bruins and an always spirited contest with the rival Flyers. Derek Dorsett (leg) has been practicing in a non-contact jersey, but could be ready to return this week. This could spell bad news for Daniel Carcillo. Mats Zuccarello (hand) will be out three-to-four weeks.

Philadelphia (SJS, NYR, at WAS) plays three in four nights as well, with the first two coming in the City of Brotherly Love. Marc-Andre Bourdon (concussion) suffered a setback.

Phoenix (at WIN, at COL, STL) is the ying to the Flyers yang playing three in four nights and the first two coming in road jerseys. Derek Morris (upper body) skated on Saturday and David Runbland was sent to AHL Portland for a conditioning assignment.

San Jose (at PHI, at BUF, at NJD) not only plays all three on the road, but three in four days. After five months of rehab, can you wait one more week for Raffi Torres (knee)?

St. Louis (at VAN, at ANA, at PHX) plays every other day, but all three will be on the road. The saddest part of the Blues' goaltending is the ability Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott can't seem to sustain. Could it be time to bring in a Martin Brodeur or Ryan Miller?

Tampa Bay (at NSH, at DAL, at COL) doesn't return to action until Wednesday, when they hit the road for three games in four days. Martin St. Louis may be a little rusty coming out of the break or simply explode due to lack of ice time. Valtteri Filppula (ankle) has yet to resume skating but is reportedly expected back in Nashville. Anders Lindback (ankle) should be back in time to ride the bench in Nashville as well. Tyler Johnson (foot) is reportedly still "moving around a little gingerly" but doesn't expect to miss any time. And last but certainly not least, Steven Stamkos will find out on Monday how soon he can return.

Vancouver (STL, MIN, OTT) has their week spread out and at exclusively at home. Alexandre Burrows is still dealing with a sprained hand. Kevin Bieska (foot) is practicing, but still wearing a boot? Henrik Sedin (ribs) "believes he is close to 100 percent."

Like most in this group, Washington (at FLA, at BOS, PHI) is off until Wednesday, when they play in South Florida then face the Bruins and Flyers on b2b nights. While the Caps are not holding their breath about Evgeny Kuznetsov, Mikhail Grabovski (ankle) is nearing a return.

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Player News
Thomas Greiss
Pens' Greiss Passes Mumps Test
Thomas Greiss, G, PIT
8:36 AM
News: Thomas Greiss tested negative for the mumps and has been cleared to rejoin the team.
Analysis: After Thomas Greiss was feeling under the weather Thursday morning, the Penguins wasted no time in isolating him from the rest of the team due to concerns that he might be their third player to have acquired the mumps. Fortunately, it appears his symptoms of illness were unrelated to the virus, and it now looks like he'll resume his usual backup duties behind Marc-Andre Fleury on Saturday against the Panthers. Jeff Zatkoff, who served as the team's No. 2 netminder on Thursday while Greiss was unavailable, was reassigned to AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Friday after Greiss' encouraging test results were revealed.

Jeff Zatkoff
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Jeff Zatkoff, G, PIT
8:32 AM
News: Jeff Zatkoff was reassigned to AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Friday.
Analysis: Jeff Zatkoff served as the backup to Marc-Andre Fleury on Thursday while Thomas Greiss (illness) remained under evaluation for a possible case of the mumps. Greiss' tests ended up coming back negative Friday morning, so he'll be cleared to rejoin the team for Saturday's game, thus making it unnecessary for the Penguins to keep Zatkoff around any longer.

Olli Maatta
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News: Mattaa tested positive mumps virus and will remain in isolation for at least five days.
Analysis: Mattaa was already slated to miss the next few weeks while recovering from an undisclosed upper-body injury, but having to table his rehab activities for the next few days due to the illness will delay his return even further. He's the third Penguins player to deal with the mumps and 16th confirmed case in the NHL this season. Fortunately, the other two Penguins players who had been tested for the virus, goalie Thomas Greiss and defenseman Robert Bortuzzo, didn't display any symptoms of the mumps and have been cleared to resume playing.

Andre Burakovsky
Caps Reassign Burakovsky To AHL
Andre Burakovsky, LW, WAS
8:26 AM
News: Andre Burakovsky was reassigned to AHL Hershey on Friday, Alex Prewitt of the Washington Post reports.
Analysis: The fact that Andre Burakovsky was dropped from the 23-man roster after he was a healthy scratch in five of the team's previous six games wasn't surprising; what was more odd was that the Capitals chose not to loan him to Team Sweden for the World Junior Championship. It does appear that coach Barry Trotz has his reasons, however, as he wants to keep Burakovsky in Hershey in the event that the Capitals require a call-up for injury purposes during the upcoming road-heavy stretch of games. While in Hershey, Burakovsky will also benefit from reclaiming top-six ice time, a luxury he hasn't been afforded since the middle of November.

Jacob Josefson
Devils' Josefson Out Friday
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8:20 AM
News: Jacob Josefson (groin) will not play Friday against the Lightning, Tom Gulitti of The Record reports.
Analysis: Jacob Josefson missed the Devils' morning skate Friday, indicating the groin tweak he suffered Wednesday night wasn't as minor as the team had initially led on. Tim Sestito was recalled from AHL Albany on Thursday and will fill his Josefson's spot as the Devils' fourth-line center.

Mike Cammalleri
Devils' Cammalleri To Remain Out Friday
Mike Cammalleri, LW, NJ
8:13 AM
News: Mike Cammalleri (lower body) will remain out of the lineup Friday against the Lightning, Rich Chere of the Newark Star-Ledger reports.
Analysis: Mike Cammalleri created some optimism that he might be ready to play in games after he skated Thursday, but his absence from Friday's morning skate indicates that he will miss his third straight game. It could be the case where the Devils simply didn't want to use him for both ends of their back-to-back set, so he may not be ruled out for Saturday's tilt with the Capitals.

Keith Kinkaid
Devils' Kinkaid To Get Friday Start
Keith Kinkaid, G, NJ
8:08 AM
News: Keith Kinkaid will be in the crease Friday against the Lightning, Rich Chere of Newark Star-Ledger reports.
Analysis: Coach Pete DeBoer has shown an increased willingness of late to give top goalie Cory Schneider more rest, as Keith Kinkaid will make his second start in three games Friday. It probably helped Kinkaid's cause that he submitted a strong outing in that previous start, holding the Islanders to two goals on 33 shots before falling in the shootout. Even so, he's a far from dependable streaming option against a Lightning squad that ranks second in the NHL in goals per game and ninth in power-play percentage.

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News: Eric Tangradi was on the active roster for Thursday night's loss to the Ducks. He skated on the fourth line, getting seven shifts and 5:34 of ice time.
Analysis: Eric Tangradi was called up from the AHL Hamilton this week to replace Sven Andrighetto, who was sent back to Hamilton.

Oscar Klefbom
Oilers' Klefbom Will Return Thursday
Oscar Klefbom, D, EDM
12:59 AM
News: Oscar Klefbom (foot) will return to the lineup Thursday against the Sharks, Jack Michaels of the Oilers Radio Network reports.
Analysis: Despite practicing Wednesday, Oscar Klefbom was expected to sit out Thursday's contest in an effort to provide him with more time to heal. However, after the injury didn't seem to compromise him during the morning skate, Klefbom was given the go-ahead to suit up following a two-game absence. He'll join Mark Fayne on Edmonton's second pairing.

Lee Stempniak
Rangers' Stempniak Undergoing Mumps Tests
Lee Stempniak, RW, NYR
12:55 AM
News: Lee Stempniak will undergo testing for the mumps virus and will be isolated from the Rangers for the next five days, Andrew Gross of The Record reports.
Analysis: Though Lee Stempniak hasn't been diagnosed with the virus, the Rangers aren't taking any chances after Tanner Glass and Derick Brassard both previously dealt with the mumps. Even if the tests don't reveal Stempniak's illness to be anything serious, the five-day timeline will force him to miss at least the Rangers' two games over the weekend. The Rangers could recall a forward from AHL Hartford to cover for Stempniak's absence.

 
 
 
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