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Brad Marchand
AP
The Week Ahead

Bruins running away with Atlantic Division

by Michael Finewax
Updated On: December 6, 2019, 2:54 pm ET

In the Atlantic Division, four teams are separated by one point as the Panthers and Buffalo are tied for second with 31 points while Montreal and Toronto are one point back. It’s two months into the season and it looks for now as if the Metropolitan will have five teams in the playoffs, leaving just Boston and two others from the Atlantic to get in. Don’t forget about the sixth place Lightning who are at 29 points and have games in hand over everyone.

Out West, St. Louis, Colorado, Winnipeg and Dallas are out front in the Central with Arizona, Edmonton and Vegas leading in the Pacific. They all have at least 35 points with Minnesota, San Jose, Vancouver and Calgary all tied for eighth with 32 points.

The only teams that are really out of it at this time are Detroit, Ottawa, Los Angeles and New Jersey. Of course, the same could have been said about Minnesota before their recent hot streak of 8-0-3.

Don’t forget, for everything NHL, check out Rotoworld's Player News, and follow @Rotoworld_ HK and @mfinewaxhockey on Twitter.

WEEK OF DECEMBER 9-15

4 Games – Boston, Chicago, Calgary, Detroit, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Tampa Bay, Vancouver, Vegas

3 Games - Anaheim, Arizona, Buffalo, Carolina, Colorado, Columbus, Dallas, Edmonton, Florida, Montreal, Nashville, New Jersey, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Ottawa, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, San Jose, Toronto, Washington, Winnipeg

Boston plays all four games on the road.

Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay play three games at home.

Carolina, Chicago, Columbus, Los Angeles, New Jersey, New York Rangers, Philadelphia and Toronto play three games on the road.

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INJURIES

 Zach Werenski is out another three weeks with a shoulder injury. (Click here to see the rest of the injury list.)

ANAHEIM

Games this week

@ Minnesota, vs. Los Angeles, vs. New York Rangers

Tired: None

Rested: None

Notes

John Gibson should be good to go this week as he has been suffering from an illness that kept him off the ice for a few days this past week. He was back on the ice Thursday for practice and while his status is unclear for the weekend, expect him to be at full strength this week. Josh Manson has been out of action with a knee injury since October 24 but he is practicing and should be back this week, if not sooner. The Ducks sent Max Jones to the minors and promoted Max Comtois. Hampus Lindholm broke a seven-game pointless streak Monday with three assists. He had three assists as well in his last game before the streak began on October 26. Jacob Larsson was also sent to the minors at the end of November.

ARIZONA

Games this week

vs. Calgary, vs. Chicago, vs. New Jersey

Tired: None

Rested: vs. Calgary (Tuesday), vs. New Jersey (Saturday)

Notes

The Coyotes took over the Pacific Division lead on Thursday with a 3-1 win over Philadelphia. Arizona is 17-9-4 this season and are definite contenders for the Pacific title. Phil Kessel looks as if he is starting to break loose as he had a pair of goals in the winning effort to give him six this season. Christian Dvorak has a five-game points streak going as he has two goals and four helpers to give him eight goals and 18 points in 30 games. The Coyotes have been sensational on the road as they are 10-3-3 while only 7-6-1 at Glendale. Carl Soderberg sustained a lower-body injury on November 29 but broke loose on December 3 with a goal and two assists,

BOSTON

Games this week

@ Ottawa, @ Washington, @ Tampa Bay, @ Florida

Tired: @ Tampa Bay (Thursday)

Rested: None

Notes

The Bruins are on the road for all four games this week and play three games in four nights. It would not be a surprise to see Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak share the net.  The Bruins are hoping the Patrice Bergeron will be ready to go this week. He has missed the last six games with a lower-body injury and coach Bruce Cassidy split up the other two members of the top line as Brad Marchand saw action with Danton Heinen and Charlie Coyle while the NHL’s leading goal scorer, David Pastrnak, played alongside Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci. David Backes returned to action Sunday and scored on the power play, his first goal of the season.

BUFFALO

Games this week

vs. St. Louis, vs. Nashville, @ New York Islanders

Tired: None

Rested: None

Notes

Jack Eichel has been a wonder this season as he has 18 goals and 39 points in 29 games. He has an 11-game scoring streak after scoring Thursday in a 4-3 loss in Calgary. Kyle Okposo traveled with the Sabres to Western Canada but sat out Thursday for the 10th time in a row as he has been suffering from a concussion. The winger had only a goal and five points in 19 games so once he returns, he will still need to make a big improvement in his offensive game to be fantasy worthy. Victor Olofsson has points in eight of his last nine games and has 11 goals and 24 points in 29 contests to date.  Rasmus Dahlin is still ‘a ways away’ from returning from a concussion.

CALGARY

Games this week

@ Colorado, @ Arizona, vs. Toronto, vs. Carolina

Tired: @ Arizona (Tuesday)

Rested: None

Notes

The Flames play four games this week including three in four nights. Look for David Rittich to play three times with Cam Talbot getting the call once. Rittich was the second star of the week as he was 2-0-1 with a 1.94 GAA and a .941 save percentage in the three games. Congratulations go out to Milan Lucic who scored his first of the season Thursday. It took him only 28 games to do so but it ended up being the game winner. Noah Hanifin is having a tough season with three goals and seven points in 30 games. He is also a team-worst minus-15.  

CAROLINA

Games this week

@ Edmonton, @ Vancouver, @ Calgary

Tired: None

Rested: None

Notes

The Hurricanes are in Western Canada all week. Andrei Svechnikov continues to shine and he had a goal and an assist in the Canes 3-2 win, Thursday over the San Jose Sharks. Svechnikov has 12 goals and 31 points and is just six points behind his rookie total of 37 last season. Martin Necas has missed the last three games with a lower-body injury. The rookie has played a significant role this season with Carolina and has six goals and 16 points in 26 contests. Dougie Hamilton is having a great offensive season with 10 goals and 28 points in 29 games, as well as a plus-15 rating.

CHICAGO

Games this week

@ Vegas, @ Arizona, @ St. Louis, vs. Minnesota

Tired: None

Rested: None

Notes

The Blackhawks play four times this week including three games in four nights. Corey Crawford and Robin Lehner should share the crease this week with each getting a pair of starts. Dylan Strome had a goal and an assist in his return from a concussion. The injury cost him four games on the sidelines. Rookie Kirby Dach, who was selected third overall in the 2019 Draft, needs to shoot the puck more. He said that he went through the same thing as a 16-year-old in the WHL. He has gone seven straight games without a point. The Blackhawks were forced on Monday to play with one less skater as there are salary cap issues and it did not allow the team to be able to recall anyone. Hopefully that does not happen again to any team this season.

COLORADO

Games this week

vs. Calgary, vs. Philadelphia, vs. New Jersey

Tired: None

Rested: None

Notes

Nathan MacKinnon was the first star of the week with three goals and six assists in three games. Nazem Kadri is day-to-day with a lower-body injury. He missed Thursday’s tilt in Montreal but the Avs got both Andre Burakovsky and Gabriel Landeskog back for the game. Landeskog missed 16 games with a lower-body injury while Burakovsky missed three games. Joonas Donskoi has been a pleasant surprise with 12 goals and 23 points in 28 games. I have been impressed with the play of backup netminder Pavel Francouz who is 6-2-0 with a 2.43 GAA and a .927 save percentage. He gives the Avs a more than adequate backup to Philipp Grubauer in net.

COLUMBUS

Games this week

@ Washington, @ Pittsburgh, @ Ottawa

Tired: None

Rested: None

Notes

The Blue Jackets are on the road for all three games this week.  Zach Werenski will miss a month with a shoulder injury and Dean Kukan is getting the first shot at playing alongside Seth Jones on the Blue Jackets first defense pairing. Kukan picked up the first power play goal of his young career on Tuesday and has a point in each of his last two games after getting only two in his first 18 games this season. He is worth a look in deeper fantasy leagues. Josh Anderson has only three points in his last 22 games. This is after a career-best 47 points in 2018-19.

DALLAS

Games this week

vs. New Jersey, vs. Vegas, @ Nashville

Tired: @ Nashville (Saturday)

Rested: vs. Vegas (Friday)

Notes

The Stars made Alexander Radulov a healthy scratch Thursday. He has only eight goals and 15 points in 29 games after back-to-back 72-point seasons with the Stars. The Stars couldn’t trade Julius Honka before the December 1 deadline and the defenseman will not be eligible to play in the NHL this season. He will remain in Finland, playing for JYP and wait for the Stars to move him. Stephen Johns has been cleared to practice. He has been out of action since last season due to post-traumatic headaches. Miro Heiskanen is second in Dallas scoring with 20 points, three in arrears of Tyler Seguin. The 20-year-old defenseman is a keeper in any league.

Michael Finewax

Michael Finewax is entering his 16th season as the Senior Hockey Writer and Editor for Rotoworld. You can follow him on Twitter @mfinewaxhockey.