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The Week Ahead

Capital Punishment and Pain

by Michael Finewax

The NHL is only two days into its season and already there a few surprises in the early going.

 

It looks like Carey Price has put last season behind him as he looked really good in an overtime loss on the road to Toronto.

 

Jake Allen had a tough start and it appears that he always has trouble holding onto the number one spot with the Blues. He has less competition this season with Chad Johnson as the backup. Allen has lost playing time in the past to Carter Hutton and Brian Elliott. Hopefully it is not a repeat.          

 

The Capitals were a Jekyll and Hyde team this week as were the Bruins. Washington knocked off Boston 7-0 Wednesday and then lost 7-6 in overtime to Pittsburgh the following night. Boston came back to shut out Buffalo 4-0 Thursday behind the strong performance of backup Jaroslav Halak. Tuukka Rask was weak in the opener, making only 14 saves on 19 shots before he was pulled.

 

Don’t be alarmed by the loss to Anaheim by the Sharks. San Jose out-shot them 37-15 and it is only a matter of time before Erik Karlsson starts clicking with his teammates. With Karlsson and Brent Burns back on the blueline, that is going to be some power play.

 

Editor's Note: Rotoworld’s Season Pass is now available for the low price of $19.99. You get plenty of extra articles including the minor league report, the power play report and much, much more. Buy it now!

 

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

 

There is a lot of information to get to so let’s get started.

 

WEEK OF OCTOBER 8-14

 

4 Games - Anaheim, San Jose, Vegas

 

3 Games –Boston, Buffalo, Calgary, Carolina, Colorado, Columbus, Detroit, Los Angeles, Nashville, Ottawa, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Toronto, Vancouver, Washington, Winnipeg

 

2 Games - Arizona, Chicago, Dallas, Edmonton, Florida, Minnesota, Montreal, New Jersey, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay

 

San Jose and Vegas play all four games away from home.

 

Boston and Nashville play three games at home.

 

Calgary, Los Angeles and Vancouver play three games on the road.

 

INJURIES

 

Dustin Brown is out indefinitely with a broken finger. (Click here to see the rest of the injury list.)

 

Note: A tired team is one that has played the day or night before and is going against a team that did not play the previous day or night. The reverse is true for a rested team.

 

ANAHEIM

 

Games this week

vs. Detroit, vs. Arizona, @ Dallas, @ St. Louis

 

Rested Team: vs. Detroit (Monday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Ducks play four times this week so Ryan Miller should see action in one game while John Gibson is expected to play three times. Maxime Comtois became the sixth fastest player in NHL history to score his first goal as he did so 49 seconds into his debut Wednesday. Rickard Rakell got his season off to a fine start with a goal and two assists while Ryan Getzlaf chipped in with a couple of assists plus four hits. Ondrej Kase who was expected to be a third line winger, is out with a concussion. The Ducks picked up Pontus Aberg off waivers from Edmonton.

 

ARIZONA

 

Games this week

@ Anaheim, vs. Buffalo

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Coyotes need to get off to a better start this season. They started last year at 0-10-1 so that should not be too hard to beat. Jakob Chychrun could return in a couple of weeks after undergoing off-season knee surgery. The Coyotes need him to be a top-four blueliner. Dylan Strome is having trouble establishing himself as a top center and will begin the season on the fourth line despite injuries to Alex Galchenyuk and Christian Dvorak. Fifth overall pick Barrett Hayton made the final roster but expect to see him back in junior hockey before the end of the month.  He was a healthy scratch Thursday. Clayton Keller will likely start the season at center due to injuries.

 

BOSTON

 

Games this week

vs. Ottawa, vs. Edmonton, vs. Detroit

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Bruins got their season off to a tough start as they were annihilated by the Capitals on opening night to the tune of 7-0. Tuukka Rask gave up five goals on only 19 shots. He got off to a real slow start last season as he was 3-8-2 to start the year. He hates playing Washington as well as he was 1-10-5 heading into the season opener. Danton Heinen started the season on the second line with David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk while David Backes started on the third unit. Jaroslov Halak got Boston back on track Thursday as he shut out the Sabres 4-0 making 32 saves. Brad Marchand had 19 penalty minutes Wednesday and assisted on all four goals Thursday.

 

BUFFALO

 

Games this week

vs. Vegas, vs. Colorado, @ Arizona

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Jack Eichel is now the youngest captain in the NHL as he was named the Sabres 27th captain at the tender age of 21. Ramsus Dahlin, the first overall pick in the 2018 Draft, is paired with Jake McCabe to start the season. The Sabres picked up Remi Elie off waivers from Dallas. Scott Wilson is out of action after undergoing surgery for a broken ankle. Alexander Nylander was once again sent to the minors. The eighth pick in the 2016 Draft, has played in seven NHL games over the last two seasons and should find himself in the NHL at some point this season.

 

CALGARY

 

Games this week

@ Nashville, @ St. Louis, @ Colorado

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Flames did not get off to a good start as they dropped a 5-2 decision to the lowly Vancouver Canucks Wednesday. Mike Smith gave up four goals on only 22 shots. Elias Lindholm started the season on the top line with Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau but his minus-four rating against Vancouver will change things in a hurry. The Flames dealt Brett Kulak to Montreal and received defensemen Matt Taormina and Rinat Valiev in return.   Juuso Valimaki, the 16th overall pick in 2017, made the Flames final roster. He has good offensive skills and should have fantasy value eventually. Travis Hamonic missed practice on Thursday with an undisclosed injury after getting into a fight the previous night.

 

CAROLINA

 

Games this week

vs. Vancouver, @ Minnesota, @ Winnipeg

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: @ Winnipeg (Sunday)

 

Notes

Victor Rask is likely out for months as he underwent hand surgery just before the start of training camp. He was placed on the non-roster injured reserve list. Scott Darling will start the season on the injured list, giving Petr Mrzaek the opening night start. The Hurricanes picked up Curtis McElhinney on waivers from Toronto and he will share the net at this time. The goalie of the future is Alex Nedeljkovic. Martin Necas, the 12th overall pick in 2017, has made the Hurricanes to start the season as has Andrei Svechnikov, the second overall pick in 2018. If both perform adequately this season, the future will be bright in Carolina. 

 

CHICAGO

 

Games this week

@ Minnesota, vs. St. Louis

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The goaltending woes of the Chicago Blackhawks continue as Corey Crawford is still hurt (but close to returning) as he has been out since December 23 with a concussion. Anton Forsberg was slated to start the season as the backup to Cam Ward but he suffered an undisclosed injury at practice Thursday forcing Chicago to recall Collin Delia from the minors. Dominik Kahun will start the season with Jonathan Toews, but he is not the Toews of old, especially fantasy-wise. Artem Anisimov is centering the third line with Chris Kunitz and David Kampf on his wings. Patrick Kane got off to a nice start with an overtime goal and an assist in the opener.

 

COLORADO

 

Games this week

@ Columbus, @ Buffalo, vs. Calgary

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Avalanche are expected to play backup goaltender Philip Grubauer once in the team’s first three games. He likely will take over from Semyon Varlamov at the beginning of next season if not sooner as Semyon Varlamov is slated to be a UFA as of July 1. Varlamov was good in the opener, stopping 20-of-21 shots for the win over the Wild. Nathan MacKinnon was back at practice and will be ready for the start of the season. Young blueliner Samuel Girard put on 15 pounds in the off-season and that bodes well for the smallish defenseman. He is someone to watch out for this season. Vladislav Kamenev, Anton Lindholm and Sven Andrighetto will start the season on the injured reserve list.

 

COLUMBUS

 

Games this week

vs. Colorado, @ Florida, @ Tampa Bay

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Pierre-Luc Dubois starts the season on the top line with Artemi Panarin and Cam Atkinson on his wings. Ryan Murray (groin) played in the opener and that was great news for the Blue Jackets who will miss Seth Jones for the next three-five weeks. Coach John Tortorella was pleased with the effort of the Brandon Dubinsky, Boone Jenner and Josh Anderson line on Thursday. Dubinsky is a nice source of penalty minutes at center and could be the tops in the NHL at the position. Joonas Korpisalo received the opening night start and rewarded Tortorella with a  3-2 overtime win.

 

DALLAS

 

Games this week

vs. Toronto, vs. Anaheim

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Stars will start the season with Miro Heiskanen in their lineup. The third overall pick in the 2017 draft has tons of upside and should be taken in all keeper leagues. He may not be up to the task this season but he will be a top blueliner in the seasons to come. The Stars added to their depth on the blueline when they acquired Connor Carrick from Toronto for a conditional seventh round pick in 2019. Valeri Nichushkin was taken 10th overall in 2013 and played three seasons with the Stars before bolting back to the KHL. He has returned after a two-year absence and while he is day-to-day with a lower-body injury, he should be fine for this week’s games. Ben Bishop opened the season with a 30-save shutout.

 

DETROIT

 

Games this week

 @ Anaheim, vs. Toronto, @ Boston

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: @ Anaheim (Monday)

 

Notes

The Red Wings are lacking in NHL talent at this time so good players like Anthony Mantha and Dylan Larkin will get plenty of ice time. Luke Witkowski should be looked at, if you are in need of penalty minutes as he was recalled by the Red Wings. Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson are hurt at this time, so Detroit recalled Joe Hicketts. Tyler Bertuzzi is playing alongside Frans Nielsen and Michael Rasmussen on the second line but Bertuzzi and Rasmussen have also been playing on the top power play unit. Jimmy Howard should get around 45-50 starts this season with Jonathan Bernier getting the remainder this season.

 

EDMONTON

 

Games this week

@ Boston, @ New York Rangers

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes   

The Oilers will return from Sweden where they opened their season on Saturday against the Devils and stay on the East Coast as they ease into their season. In a paper move, Ethan Bear was sent to the minors and then quickly recalled. Edmonton signed Jason Garrison to a one-year deal as Andrej Sekera is out long-term after surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon. Ty Rattie continues to impress and will start the season as Connor McDavid’s winger.  Milan Lucic will look to Improve on a 10 goal, 34 point performance from last season. Kris Russell is on the injured reserve list but did practice Thursday with the Oilers.

 

FLORIDA

 

Games this week

vs. Columbus, vs. Vancouver

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Henrik Borgstrom, who was on some lists for the Calder, was sent to the minors. Micheal Haley should be ready to go this week after a tough training camp where he had a lower-body injury as well as missing time this past week an illness. The Panthers continue to stay in Florida this week with a couple of home games after starting the season in Tampa Bay. MacKenzie Weegar is expected to play in the opener on October 6 after missing action in training camp with a shoulder injury. He should be a third pairing on the blueline. 

 

LOS ANGELES

 

Games this week

@ Winnipeg, @ Montreal, @ Ottawa 

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Kings head to Canada where they begin a four-game road trip that will end in Toronto on October 15. A big surprise out of training camp is that Jaret Anderson-Dolan has made the final roster. The 19-year-old had 40 goals and 91 points last season in the WHL and was considered a longshot to make the squad but lo and behold there he will be on opening night. Ilya Kovalchuk will start the season on a line with Anze Kopitar and Alex Iafallo. Iafallo is taking the place of Dustin Brown who is out indefinitely with a broken finger. Derek Forbort returned to action on Saturday and is in line to start the season on opening night. Adrian Kempe is expected to start the season on the first power play in front of the net, taking over from the injured Brown.

 

MINNESOTA

 

Games this week

vs. Chicago, vs. Carolina

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Devan Dubnyk played well in a 4-1 loss to the Avs Thursday as he gave up only two goals on 38 shots. Alex Stalock will be the backup this season. Veteran Zach Parise was the lone goal scorer for Minnesota and it would sure be nice if he was able to score 60 points this season, something he has not done since the 2014-15 season, and that was the only time since 2011-12. The Wild added William Bitten from the Canadiens (giving up defenseman Gustav Olofsson) and he will start the season in the minors. The Wild are at home for both games this week.

 

MONTREAL

               

Games this week

vs. Los Angeles, vs. Pittsburgh

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Canadiens looked like a different team in their opener as they played Toronto tough and picked up a point on the road. Despite giving up three goals on 26 shots, Carey Price looked great in net, something that did not happen often in 2017-18. Third overall pick Jesperi Kotkaniemi set up Andrew Shaw’s power play goal for his first NHL point. Montreal needed help on the blueline with Shea Weber out of action and dealt for Gustav Olofsson from the Wild, giving up minor leaguer William Bitten.  Montreal sat veterans Karl Alzner and Tomas Plekanec for the opener.   

 

 NASHVILLE

 

Games this week

vs. Calgary, vs. Winnipeg, vs. New York Islanders

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Predators got their 2017-18 season off on the right foot with a 3-2 win over the Rangers. Colton Sissons led the way offensively with a goal and an assist but we cannot recommend him at this time. Pekka Rinne was strong as he attempts to forget a relatively poor playoff performance from last season. Ryan Hartman was expected to start the season on the injured reserve list with a shoulder injury but he was in the lineup Thursday. He should be a good source of 35-40 points and plenty of penalty minutes. The Predators picked up Nicholas Baptiste from Buffalo, giving up Jack Dougherty in exchange.

 

NEW JERSEY

 

Games this week

vs. Washington, vs. San Jose

 

Rested Team: v. Washington (Thursday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Devils return home from their adventures in Europe to play a couple of games at home. Jesper Bratt suffered a broken jaw in practice on Thursday and that has to be the worst luck for the forward as he was going to play Saturday in front of family and friends in his native Sweden. The Devils signed Drew Stafford to a one-year deal. Cory Schneider will start the season on the injured reserve list as he is trying to return from off-season hip surgery. His return should be sooner rather than later. Keith Kinkaid will begin the season as the starter with Mackenzie Blackwood as his backup.

 

NEW YORK ISLANDERS

 

Games this week

vs. San Jose, @ Nashville 

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Thomas Greiss was great in stopping 45-of-46 shots in a 2-1 opening night win for the Islanders over Carolina. The Islanders look to have the same problem as last season in giving up too many shots and that will come back to haunt them. Mathew Barzal picked up where he left off last season with an assist Thursday on Josh Bailey’s overtime winner. Barzal is centering the top line with Bailey and Anthony Beauvillier while Jordan Eberle, Anders Lee and Brock Nelson will make up the second line. Lee was named captain of the Islanders.

 

NEW YORK RANGERS

 

Games this week

vs. San Jose, vs. Edmonton

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

 Notes

Henrik Lundqvist looked good in the opener as he turned aside 30 shots in a 3-2 loss to Nashville. Alexandar Georgiev will back up Lundqvist this season and likely see more action than previous backups under Lundqvist. Filip Chytil drew an assist in the opener while Lias Andersson who was drafted seventh overall in 2017 to Chytil’s 21st, was sent to the minors.  Brett Howden, who was drafted 27th overall in 2016 by Tampa Bay and part of the Ryan McDonagh deal, made the Rangers out of camp. He has some offensive upside but is not worth taking this season.

 

OTTAWA            

 

Games this week

@ Boston, vs. Philadelphia, vs. Los Angeles

 

Rested Team: vs. Philadelphia (Wednesday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Senators looked good on Thursday as they dropped a 4-3 overtime decision to Chicago to pick up a point but to be fair, the Blackhawks are not exactly among the elite in the NHL this season. Craig Anderson played quite well as he stopped 39 shots. Maxime Lajoie had a goal and an assist in his NHL debut. Brady Tkachuk missed the opener with a groin injury. The Senators had Bobby Ryan with Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel on the top line with Colin White on a line with Mark Stone and Zack Smith. Keep an eye on Alex Formention. He is fast (nearly Connor McDavid fast).

 

PHILADELPHIA

 

Games this week

vs. San Jose, @ Ottawa, vs. Vegas

 

Rested Team: vs. San Jose (Tuesday)

Tired Team: @ Ottawa (Wednesday)

 

Notes

The Flyers did something not too many teams did last season, waltzed into Las Vegas and knocked off the Golden Knights 5-2. Mikhail Vorobyev made his NHL debut in the game and picked up an assist with a plus-two rating. While he is not fantasy-worthy at this time, he could surprise if he sees any top-six minutes. Wayne Simmonds had a pair of goals in the opener. Samuel Morin starts the season on injured reserve and will likely be out until February as he underwent knee surgery for a torn ACL suffered during the AHL playoffs. Carter Hart, the Flyers goalie of the future, will begin his professional career in the AHL.

 

PITTSBURGH

 

Games this week

vs. Vegas, @ Montreal

 

Rested Team: vs. Vegas (Thursday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Well, it was quite an offensive explosion in the Penguins opening game as they defeated the Stanley Cup champions 7-6 in overtime. It was stated before the start of the season that Kris Letang was not hurting and back to the blueliner he once was and that was apparent Thursday as he had two goals and an assist in the win. If he remains healthy, 70-plus points is within his range. Matt Murray continued his woes from last season in giving up six goals on 36 shots but did get the win. Keep an eye on Juuso Riikola, an undrafted 24-year-old defenseman who surprised many by making the final roster. Zach Aston-Reese will start the season in the minors.

  

ST. LOUIS

 

Games this week

vs. Calgary, @ Chicago, vs. Anaheim

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Blues play three games in four nights so expect to see Chad Johnson play once with Jake Allen getting the call twice. It was a rough start to the season for Allen who gave up five goals on 25 shots in a loss to the Jets. Alexander Steen was well enough to play in the opener. Robby Fabbri is skating and could return in a couple of weeks from a Grade 1 groin strain. He missed all of last season with a torn ACL and subsequent surgery. Oskar Sundqvist is out indefinitely following a cheap shot from Washington’s Tom Wilson which resulted in a concussion. Wilson got a 20-game suspension. Carl Gunnarsson is on long-term injured reserve with hip/knee problems.

 

SAN JOSE

 

Games this week

@ New York Islanders, @ Philadelphia, @ New York Rangers, @ New Jersey

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: @ Philadelphia (Tuesday)

 

Notes

The Sharks are on the road for all four games this week and play three games in four nights. Look for Martin Jones to play three games with Aaron Dell likely getting his first start of the season. Jones had his difficulties in the opener as he stopped just 10-of-14 shots to the Ducks. He will rebound. Keep an eye on Antti Suomela who led the Finnish League in scoring last season. It looks like the Sharks are going with a top-nine instead of a top-six and he will start on the third line which could bode well for his fantasy value. Joe Thornton was not injured in the opener. That’s good news for the veteran who has had major injuries in each of the last two seasons.

 

TAMPA BAY

 

Games this week

vs. Vancouver, vs. Columbus

 

Rested team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Lightning start their season on October 6 and expect Nikita Kucherov back in the lineup after he suffered a lower-body injury in training camp. Ryan Callahan is working his way back from surgery last season to repair a torn labrum. He has been given the go ahead to start participating in contact drills. Look for a return in a month. Tyler Johnson has an upper body injury that forced him to miss the final two pre-season games.  He practiced on Thursday without a no-contact jersey but is still questionable for the opener. For now, Yanni Gourde with replace Johnson on the second line with Brayden Point and Ondrej Palat.

 

TORONTO

 

Games this week

@ Dallas, @ Detroit, @ Washington 

 

Rested team:  None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Courtesy of Rotoworld’s Gus Katsaros, the Maple Leafs goaltending tandem of Garret Sparks and Frederik Andersen should be dubbed ‘Sparky Andersen’! The Maple Leafs looked tentative in their opener against Montreal but the John Tavares era got off to a good start with an overtime win. The strength down the middle showed as Auston Matthews had a pair of goals, Tavares had the other and Nazem Kadri had two assists. The Maple Leafs lost their depth in net as Calvin Pickard and Curtis McElhinney were both claimed off waivers by Philadelphia and Carolina respectively.  Still no report on the status of RFA William Nylander who is home in Sweden awaiting a new contract.

 

VANCOUVER

 

Games this week

@ Carolina, @ Tampa Bay, @ Florida

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Canucks are considered one of the bottom-dwellers this season but sure looked good on Wednesday in a 5-2 win over Calgary. Elias Pettersson had a goal and an assist in his NHL debut, scoring on a rocket of a shot past Mike Smith. He is exciting to watch and the Canucks are starting to accumulate plenty of young talent. Imagine if they get the first pick next year and get Jack Hughes to play with brother Quinn Hughes. Antoine Roussel started the season on the injured reserve list with a concussion.  Brock Boeser did not score in five pre-season games but did the same last season and still potted 29 goals in 62 games. He played alongside Bo Horvat and Sven Baertschi in the opening and the trio were each a minus-two with no points.

 

VEGAS

 

Games this week

@ Buffalo, @ Washington, @ Pittsburgh, @ Philadelphia

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: @ Pittsburgh (Thursday)

 

Notes

The Golden Knights complete their five game road trip this week with four games in the East including three games in four nights. Look for Marc-Andre Fleury to play three times with Malcolm Subban seeing the crease once.  It was not a good opening night for Fleury on Thursday as he gave up five goals on only 16 shots before he was pulled in the second stanza. The Golden Knights, who were so dominant at home last season, looked anything but on Thursday. They could be vulnerable this season and I would not be surprised if they were life-and-death to make the post-season. Nate Schmidt is having his 20-game suspension appealed by the NHLPA. In the meantime, he will head to Europe to practice.

 

WASHINGTON

 

Games this week

vs. Vegas, @ New Jersey, vs. Toronto

 

Rested team: None

Tired Team: @ New Jersey (Thursday)

 

Notes

The Capitals play three games in four nights this week so Pheonix Copley should get one start with Braden Holtby getting the call twice. The Capitals came flying out of the gate as the destroyed the Bruins 7-0 in Wednesday’s opener. Braden Holtby put last year’s poor regular season behind him with an opening night shutout while all the studs of the team Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, John Carlson etc. had big nights. A downer for the day was the 20-game suspension for Tom Wilson. The repeat offender was given the suspension for an illegal check to the head on Oskar Sundqvist of the Blues. It’s weird that his suspensions never take place for regular season misdeeds, rather pre-season and playoff hits. He will appeal. The story was different on Thursday as Hltby allowed seven goals in an overtime loss to Pittsburgh. The offense looks great but Holtby is still spotty.

 

WINNIPEG

 

Games this week

vs. Los Angeles, @ Nashville, vs. Carolina

 

Rested team: vs. Carolina (Sunday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Connor Hellebuyck picked up right where he left off last season and stopped 41-of-42 shots in an opening night win for Winnipeg over the Blues Thursday. Patrik Laine had a goal and a helper in the win. Bryan Little had an off-season last year but is starting the season on the second line with Patrik Laine. Although he was pointless on Thursday, look for a better season from the veteran pivot. Nic Petan is still away from the team, a couple of weeks following the death of his father. It is unknown as to when he will return. Kristian Vesalainen made his NHL debut Thursday as he picked up an assist and was a plus-one. He was drafted 24th overall in 2017. He is worth keeping an eye on.

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.