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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
Mark Visentin
Coyotes' Visentin (Lower Body) Helped Off Ice
Mark Visentin, G, ARI
12:51 AM
News: Mark Visentin suffered a lower body injury during Sunday's training camp scrimmage.
Analysis: Mark Visentin was helped off of the ice, so it's possible the injury is something fairly serious, but it's too early to tell, as the report did not provide definitive details. Another update should be forthcoming once Visentin is evaluated by the team's medical staff.

Nathan Lieuwen
Sabres Start Lieuwen In Preseason Opener
Nathan Lieuwen, G, BUF
12:25 AM
News: Nathan Lieuwen will start and possibly play the whole game in their preseason opener Sunday against Washington.
Analysis: The Sabres are dressing their two AHL goalies with Nathan Lieuwen and Andrey Makarov. Lieuwen, a sixth-round pick, usurped the starting job from Matt Hackett in Rochester last year until a concussion shut Lieuwen down for the season, paving the way for Makarov to finish as Rochester's starter in the playoffs. Lieuwen finished his AHL season with a .922 save percentage and 17 wins in 32 appearances. Interesting to hear that head coach Ted Nolan will likely play Lieuwen the whole game, sending the message loud and clear that each goalie will get a fair shot and a fair look. It's open season in the organization right now as Lieuwen and Makarov vie for the starting job in Rochester while Michal Neuvirth and Jhonas Enroth battle for the big league gig.

Jon Merrill
Merrill To Sit Monday For Devils
Jon Merrill, D, NJ
9/21/2014
News: Jon Merrill (head) will not play Monday against the Rangers in the Devils' preseason opener after suffering a slight head injury Saturday.
Analysis: Jon Merrill collided with Ruslan Fedotenko on Saturday and appeared woozy. He will not play Monday simply as a precaution and will likely be limited in the coming week.

Cory Schneider
Devils To Rest Schneider Monday
Cory Schneider, G, NJ
9/21/2014
News: Cory Schneider will not play in Monday's preseason opener against the Rangers.
Analysis: Schenider's job as New Jersey's No. 1 netminder is massively secure, but the team needs to figure out who will be their backup netminder this season. That contest is between Scott Wedgewood, Keith Kinkaid and Maxime Clermont, two of whom will begin the season in the AHL. Schenider had some of the best peripheral statistics among NHL starting goaltenders last season despite just 16 wins in 45 games. He's a safe option after the netminders who will pile up wins are snagged.

Mike Cammalleri
Cammalleri Seeing Time On Devils' Top Line
Mike Cammalleri, LW, NJ
9/21/2014
News: Mike Cammalleri has been playing left wing on the team's top line alongside Travis Zajac and Jaromir Jagr, the Bergen Record's Tom Gulitti reports.
Analysis: Mike Cammalleri will be expected to challenge the 30-goal plateau and could have a decent shot if he is able to develop chemistry with Zajac and Jagr. The veteran sniper can also play center, but the Devils are starting him off on the wing where he will be expected to shoot often. Cammalleri had 26 goals in 63 games last year for Calgary, a season that saw him battle various nagging injuries.

Adam Larsson
Larsson Under Pressure At Devils' Camp
Adam Larsson, D, NJ
9/21/2014
News: Adam Larsson will need to earn the trust of the New Jersey coaching staff in order to secure a spot in the team's lineup.
Analysis: Adam Larsson has to have a strong camp in order to secure one of the open spots on the team's roster. With him on a one-way, one-year contract now, he'll have to pass through waivers if he is sent down, so he has a roster spot in theory. The fourth-overall pick of the 2011 draft has seen sparse ice time the last few seasons and will need to have a strong training camp along with fellow youngster Eric Gelinas in order to earn the trust of the team's coaching staff.

Eric Gelinas
Gelinas Needs To Impress Devils' Coaches
Eric Gelinas, D, NJ
9/21/2014
News: Eric Gelinas will need to earn the trust of the New Jersey coaching staff in order to secure a spot in the team's lineup.
Analysis: Eric Gelinas had a rather up-and-down rookie season, with the bulk of his 29 points coming early in his 60 games. He spent several stints in the minors and will need to play well in preseason games to earn a regular spot on the roster. He offers a ton of offensive upside, especially on the power play where he snagged 17 points, but him receiving regular ice time will come down to how he plays in his own zone. The Devils' coaching staff love their veterans and Gelinas had a rather short leash last season. He's worth a risk, just don't make it a sizable one in most leagues.

Erik Haula
Wild's Haula (Jaw) Back To Full Speed
Erik Haula, LW, MIN
9/21/2014
News: Erik Haula, who suffered a broken jaw at the World Championships in Belarus in May, is back to full strength at the start of training camp, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports.
Analysis: Erik Haula looks set to center the Wild's third line. Huala had a strong showing in the playoffs with four goals and seven points in 11 games and looks set to build on that performance with a set job in the NHL this season.

Andre Burakovsky
Caps' Burakovsky Scores First (Unofficial) Goal
Andre Burakovsky, LW, WAS
9/21/2014
News: Andre Burakovsky scored the only goal in the Capitals' 1-0 over Buffalo on Sunday night.
Analysis: Andre Burakovsky scored a nice wrist shot from the face-off circle, and continued to build on his impressive offseason. While Burakovsky is likely destined for AHL Hershey for the balance of the season, the 19-year-old Swede has impressed his coaches throughout the summer. With the leg injury to Tom Wilson and Burakovsky's emerging skills as a potential scoring line center, Burakovsky might be able to secure a roster spot if he keeps this level of play throughout preseason. Keep an eye on him, as Burakovsky has some burgeoning sleeper potential in single-season leagues, and is a must own in keeper leagues.

Joel Ward
Caps' Ward Tallies Assist In Sunday's Win
Joel Ward, RW, WAS
9/21/2014
News: Joel Ward had an assist and two PIM's in 17:25 of ice time during the Capitals' 1-0 win over Buffalo on Sunday.
Analysis: Joel Ward played with Jason Chimera and rookie Andre Burakovsky at even-strength. Like Chimera, Ward had a banner year last season. Although the two have great chemistry, it wouldn't be surprising to see his production regress some this season. Keep an eye on him, but he's probably only worth drafting in deeper leagues.

 
 
 
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