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Week 25 schedule analysis

by | Rotowire.com
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With less than a month remaining in the regular season, the hard work and efforts that started way back in October are coming into focus. Whether you've got your league standings on bookmark to glance your stranglehold daily or you're destined for the consolation bracket of your league playoffs, hockey owners fill out their lineups until the last day of the season. So put away your baseball draft cheat sheets for a few minutes. There's just four weeks of hockey left for Fantasy owners and if the NHL schedule is any indication it's going to get tricky.

NHL schedule

*B2b (back-to-back occurrences) are in bold

Fives Are Wild

For the second time this season, an NHL team will engage in five games over a seven-day period.

There are several ways you can break down Minnesota's (at BOS, at NYI, at NJD, DET, at DET) five-game schedule. After hosting five of its first six games of March from the Excel Center, the Wild will now play eight of their next 10 tilts on the road where they are a dismal 12-15-5. Additionally, they'll end their tiresome week of travels with a traditional home-and-away series with the Detroit Red Wings. Minnesota has yet to play Boston or Detroit, while they hold contrasting GF/GA in one game against each the Islanders (4-5) and New Jersey (4-0).

Goaltending: Considering the Wild have not registered more than three goals in any contest since late January, we wouldn't suggest putting a lot of stock in their 26th overall ranked offense. While Darcy Kuemper's record in March (2-2-2) may not reflect his efforts, he has been very good since taking over the number one duties. That's good, because Ilya Bryzgalov's 9-8-5 (2.77 GAA) record in 22 career starts versus Detroit doesn't exactly instill confidence.

Offense: Mikael Granlund (three assists in last three games) seems to be gelling well on Minnesota's first line. Jason Pominville (40 points in 49 games) and Cody McCormick have a familiarity with the Bruins. Zach Parise (assist in one game) and Nino Niederreiter (goal and an assist in one game) look to build on burning their former organizations this week. Newcomer Matt Moulson has been quiet the last three games, but he and Niederreiter will likely have a spirited game on the Island. Moulson has also enjoyed (four goals, one assist in six games) his small career sampling against Detroit. Matt Cooke has eight points in 15 career games at TD Garden. Mikko Koivu (14 of 37 points) and Ryan Suter (16 of 36 points) just don't seem to produce as well on the road.

Back-to-Back Jacks

Minnesota is not the only team with two b2b occurrences this week.

Boston (MIN, at NJD, at COL, at PHX) is one of two other teams that will play four games all on b2b nights. After serving as a healthy scratch, Dougie Hamilton had an assist in Saturday's rout of Carolina. Matt Linbland (recalled from AHL Providence) played 8-plus minutes in place of Daniel Paille (concussion). However, Paille has not experienced any setbacks, so that ice time with the parent club should be short-lived for Lindbland.

What we were saying last week about James Reimer, will change this week as Toronto (at DET, TBL, MTL, at NJD) will certainly need two goalies with two b2b occurrences. While Jonathan Bernier's lower-body is reportedly not believed to be serious, it could be that Reimer gets the lion's share of duties this week.

Four Aces

Columbus (CAR, at MTL, NYR, at NYI) is trying to hang in there, and every one of their opponents this week has the same attitude. Fedor Tyutin (ankle) played 21-minutes in his return to the lineup on Saturday. The Jackets hold a season series edge with all of their opponents but Montreal (0-1-1).

Chicago (at PHI, STL, CAR, NSH) has a seemingly weak four-game schedule. Look again and you'll see they've outscored the Canes and Flyers by a combined total of 10-4 in two wins. But the Hawks have had their problems (combined 1-3-2, 16-23 GF/GA) against Nashville and St. Louis. Marian Hossa (upper body) was questionable for Sunday's tilt with Detroit, plan appropriately.

Detroit (TOR, PIT, at MIN, MIN) has a full plate ending with the aforementioned weekend against the Wild. Jimmy Howard (9-3-2, 2.10 GAA) is familiar with Minnesota, Jonas Gustavsson (1-1, 2.54 GAA) not so much. Jordin Tootoo has been recalled from Grand Rapids of the AHL. Tomas Tatar broke his silence in Friday's win over Edmonton. The Red Wings are 1-1 against Toronto and lost 4-1 in their only contest with Pittsburgh.

As if things are not bad enough for Florida (at SJS, at PHX, at LOS, at ANA), they take their show on a West Coast swing and end it with the Kings and Ducks on b2b nights. Although the Panthers enjoyed a 3-2 win over Anaheim earlier this season, something tells us things might turn out differently this time around. Florida is a combined 2-4-3 against the Pacific division this season.

New Jersey (BOS, MIN, NYR, TOR) plays all four from home. Eric Gelinas has served as a healthy scratch for two consecutive games. With a 3-1-2 record against the Rangers this season and a 4-0 win over Minnesota, the Devils are a combined 4-1-2 against this week's opponents.

Completely opposite of New Jersey and much like the Panthers, Nashville (at EDM, at VAN, at CGY, at CHI) begins to wind down another disappointing campaign with four on the road. Deduct their positive record (2-1, 11-7 GF/GA) against Chicago thus far this season and the Preds, who are a combined 4-4-1 against this week's opponents, seem scheduled for a very long week.

Pittsburgh (DAL, at DET, TBL, STL) has three-of-four at home, but all of these are quality opponents. While we won't guarantee he misses the entire week, James Neal (concussion) is out indefinitely. There was talk prior to Saturday's 4-0 loss to Philly that Brian Gibbons could center the Evgeni Malkin and Jussi Jokinen line, but he logged just 12 minutes in the game. Jayson Megna (recalled from Wilkes-Barre/Scanton) also played for nearly 12-minutes. Chris Kunitz (leg) did not play against Philly on Saturday, but should be back this week. While they're owning (3-0, 12-5 GF/GA) their opponents this week from their own conference, the Pens have had their struggles (0-2, 1-5 GF/GA) against this week's Western Conference opponents.

St. Louis (WIN, at CHI, at PHI, at PIT) has three on the road, but two are very winnable games on paper. Patrik Berglund (lower body) seemed just fine to us in Saturday's win over Nashville. Brenden Morrow played in place of Magnus Paajarvi (upper body) on Saturday. It should come as no surprise that the Blues are a combined 7-0-1 against the Jets, Hawks and Pens.

Tampa Bay (VAN, at TOR, at OTT, at PIT) also has three on the road, but with Vancouver to feast on, we think the Lightning will get their confidence and not look back. Nonetheless, the Lightning are a combined 3-5 against this week's opponents.

Three of a Kind

The following eight teams play their three games from a distinct advantage or disadvantage. Here are their records under the applicable circumstances.

Buffalo (at CGY, at EDM, at VAN) is 7-21-3 on the road this season. Alexander Sulzer is expected to miss at least a week with a head injury.

Carolina (at CBJ, at CHI, at WIN) is 12-16-4 on the road this season. Justin Faulk (upper body) returned to the tune of 20-plus minutes in Saturday's loss. Cam Ward was burned for five goals in the same game.

Edmonton (NSH, BUF, CGY) is 11-20-6 at home this season. Mark Fraser (groin) and Sam Gagner (ankle) did not play on Friday.

Los Angeles (PHX, WAS, FLA) is 19-12-3 at home this season. Marian Gaborik is off the schneid in Hollywood. Jonathan Quick (illness) missed practice on Friday allowing Martin Jones to absorb Saturday's 2-1 loss to Anaheim.

Rangers (at OTT, at CBJ, at NJD) are 20-13 on the road this season. Henrik Lundqvist is 2-3-1 with a 3.02 GAA and .901 save percentage since returning from the Olympics. Head coach Alain Vigneault has been juggling lines to get Martin St. Louis going. St. Louis (two assists in six games with the team) has most recently been playing alongside Derick Brassard and Mats Zuccarello.

Philadelphia (CHI, DAL, STL) is 15-13-6 at home this season. Steve Mason shut out the Pens on Saturday.

San Jose (FLA, ANA, WAS) is 19-13-3 at home this season. Despite his inconsistent presence in the lineup, Martin Havlat has three goals and an assist through five games played in March. Matthew Nieto has three goals in his last four games. Raffi Torres (soreness) is expected to return to the lineup in Sunday's game at the Rangers. Bracken Kearns was reassigned to AHL Worcester on Friday.

Washington (at ANA, at LOS, at SJS) is 12-16-5 on the road this season. Jaroslav Halak evened his record (2-2) with the Caps. After two quiet games, Evgeny Kuznetsov broke out in a big way on Friday averaging an assist for every three-and-a-half minutes of ice time.

One Pair

The rebuilding and John Tavares-less Islanders (MIN, CBJ) haven't been playing all that terrible since the first of the year. Nonetheless, there's no way they sneak into the conference playoffs, especially not since they'll play just two games this week and three next week, regardless of how many young guns (Anders Lee, Ryan Strome) are maturing at the NHL level.

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Player News
Mike Hoffman
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Analysis: It's a bargain deal for the Senators, especially when considering Mike Hoffman was reportedly seeking a $3.4 million contract, while Ottawa countered with $1.75 million. Hoffman was certainly justified in requesting the larger amount. The 25-year-old racked up 48 points (27 goals, 21 assists) over 79 games in what was his first full-time NHL campaign in 2014-15. He will return as a top-six forward for the Senators this season, and could take his production up a notch if he can stay healthy.

James Reimer
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News: James Reimer will enter training camp with the opportunity to seize the number one role or at least a platoon, according to Toronto Star. "I think that right now I have a total open mind [to both goalies], and certainly I know Mike has the same," said new general manager Lou Lamoriello.
Analysis: James Reimer started 27 games in 2014-15 and delivered a meagre 9-16-1 record with a 3.16 GAA and .907 save percentage. He sure didn't do enough to earn starter's minutes, but will enter camp in an open competition with Jonathan Bernier. It's the third straight season with Reimer and Bernier splitting goaltending duties.

Jonathan Bernier
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8/3/2015
News: New general manager Lou Lamoriello envisions the Leafs' goaltending job as an open competition and indicates that head coach Mike Babcock feels the same way, according to the Toronto Star. "I think that right now I have a total open mind, and certainly I know Mike has the same," Lamoriello said. This will be the third straight season with Jonathan Bernier and James Reimer splitting goaltending duties.
Analysis: Lamoriello did indicate that Jonathan Bernier "has the ability, no question" to be a number one goalie in the NHL, but the twinetender hasn't shown the consistency in his game to take that job. And it's that inconsistency that has prevented him from getting a long-term deal with the Leafs. He just inked a two-year contract with the hope he can show the team he deserves a long-term, big-money deal. "Hopefully he has a year that pushes us, that is the organization, to speak to him next summer and looking for long term," continued Lamoriello.

Louis Domingue
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News: Louis Domingue will head to Europe for the 2015-16 season after opting not to sign his two-way qualifying offer with the Coyotes, Sarah McLellan of the Arizona Republic reports.
Analysis: With the Coyotes adding Anders Lindback to presumably serve as the backup to starter Mike Smith next season, Louis Domingue determined that playing overseas would be preferable to spending another year in the minors. The Coyotes will still retain his rights for the next four years, and with Lindback set to become a free agent next summer, it's quite possible that Domingue will be brought back in as one of Arizona's two goalies in 2016-17. The 23-year-old fared reasonably well in limited duty with the parent club last season, going 1-2-1 with a 2.73 GAA and .911 save percentage over seven appearances.

Aaron Dell
Dell Inks One-Year Deal With Sharks
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News: Aaron Dell signed a one-year contract with the Sharks on Monday.
Analysis: The 26-year-old goaltender was solid in 26 games with AHL Worcester in 2014-15, posting a 2.06 GAA and a .927 save percentage in those contests. He will likely serve as the Sharks' primary AHL goaltender this season.

Brooks Orpik
Caps' Orpik Likely Ready For Opener
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8/3/2015
News: General manager Brian MacLellan indicated Monday that he expects Brooks Orpik (wrist) to be ready for the beginning of the season, Dan Rosen of NHL.com reports.
Analysis: Brooks Orpik is expected to begin full workout activities within a week or two, barring a setback, so it should provide him plenty of time to recover before the season begins. Assuming that's indeed the case, he should open the season among the top two pairings, and could pick up a fair number of assists while working with the likes of Alex Ovechkin and offseason addition T.J. Oshie.

Nicklas Backstrom
Caps' Backstrom Starts Skating
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8/3/2015
News: General manager Brian MacLellan indicated Monday that Nicklas Backstrom (hip) recently began skating again, Stephen Whyno of The Canadian Press reports.
Analysis: Nicklas Backstrom's status for the beginning of the season remains in doubt after offseason hip surgery, but he's at least progressing. The Capitals haven't released an official timeline for the top-line center, but it should clear up as the season draws near. If Backstrom is unavailable to begin the campaign, Evgeny Kuznetsov seems the likely candidate to center the top line, which would give him a significant increase in fantasy value.

Erik Haula
Wild, Haula Reach Agreement On New Deal
Erik Haula, LW, MIN
8/2/2015
News: Erik Haula signed a two-year, $2 million contract with the Wild on Sunday, Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.
Analysis: Rather than take their contract dispute to court, Erik Haula and the team were able to come to terms on a new agreement before the arbitration case was slated to be heard. Haula, who was the last of the Wild's unrestricted free agents, is now expected to be penciled in as the team's fourth-line center to open the upcoming campaign.

Brandon Sutter
Canucks, Sutter Closing In On Big Deal
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8/1/2015
News: Brandon Sutter and the Canucks are closing in on a contract extension that could be worth more than $20 million over five years, reports Elliotte Friedman of Hockey Night in Canada.
Analysis: Orca's general manager Jim Benning wasn't kidding when he described Brandon Sutter as a 'foundational' piece for his club. At that cash, the Orcas must believe Sutter is the solution for their second-line woes. He's been a No. 3 guy through his career, but could step up playing alongside scoring wingers. Monitor this heading to camp.

Marcus Johansson
Johansson Inks One-Year Deal With Capitals
Marcus Johansson, C, WAS
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News: Marcus Johansson signed a one-year, $3.75 million contract with the Capitals on Friday, James Mirtle of TSN 1050 Radio reports.
Analysis: Marcus Johansson was a solid offensive contributor for the Capitals in 2014-15, racking up 47 points (20 goals, 27 assists) in 82 games, good for fourth best on the team. He will return to his role as a top-six forward with Washington this season, and will likely continue to be a part of the Capitals' top power-play unit. The 24-year-old is a versatile winger who, barring injury, should be similarly productive this season.

 
 
 
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