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The Week Ahead

The Half Way Mark

by Michael Finewax
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

It's New Year's Day and there is plenty to read so enjoy the holiday and let's get to it as the NHL will hit the mid-way point of its season this week.

 

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

 

 Now to The Week Ahead.

 

WEEK OF JANUARY 4-10

 

4 Games – Carolina, Chicago, Colorado, Minnesota, New Jersey, Ottawa, St. Louis, Washington,

 

3 Games – Anaheim, Arizona, Boston,  Buffalo, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Edmonton, Florida, Los Angeles, Montreal, Nashville, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Toronto, Vancouver, Winnipeg

 

2 Games - Calgary, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, San Jose

 

Carolina, Detroit, Florida, St. Louis, Tampa Bay Toronto and Washington play three games on the road.

 

Anaheim, Chicago, Colorado, Edmonton and Vancouver play three games at home.

 

 

INJURIES

 

David Krejci is week-to-week with an upper body injury. (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. Toronto, vs. St. Louis, vs. Detroit

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Chris Stewart was one of the Ducks prime pickups in the off-season but he has been a healthy scratch for two games in a row heading into action on Thursday. Coach Bruce Boudreau did not go into details as to why Stewart was singled out. Cam Fowler (knee) is on injured reserve, forcing the Ducks to recall Shea Theodore who made his NHL debut Tuesday. It certainly looks like John Gibson is the number one goaltender in Anaheim at this time as he has started three straight games and has started eight of his last 10. He is 6-4-2 this season with a scintillating 1.81 GAA and a .926 save percentage. Frederik Andersen has been relegated to the bench and don’t be surprised if he is dealt elsewhere.

 

ARIZONA

 

Games this week

@ Vancouver, @ Calgary, vs. Nashville

 

Rested Team: vs. Nashville (Saturday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The oft-injured Martin Hanzal was on the ice Wednesday as he is trying to return from a lower body injury. He could be back this week. Oliver Ekman-Larsson is starting to heat up as he had three assists Tuesday to give him 16 assists and 10 goals in 37 games this season. He led all defensemen last year with 23 goals but will need to pick up his pace if he hopes to hit his career high again. Look at Tobias Rieder in deeper pools as he has 21 points in 37 games and is owned in only four (4) percent of all leagues. Anders Lindback gave up three goals on five shots Tuesday so look for Louis Domingue to get a lot of starts while Mike Smith is on the shelf.

 

BOSTON

 

Games this week

vs. Washington, @ New Jersey, @Ottawa

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: @ Ottawa (Saturday)

 

Notes

Brad Marchand picked up a three game suspension for clipping Mark Borowiecki. David Krejci was put on injured reserve as he suffered an upper body injury. He is week-to-week so look elsewhere for a replacement. The Bruins have the second least amount of power play chances and yet have 26 goals to sit near the top of the standings and in first as far as power play percentage is concerned. Patrice Bergeron and Loui Eriksson lead the way with seven goals apiece and Bergeron has been a force setting up goals as well as he has 11 assists. Zdeno Chara has been very good this season with five goals and 19 points in 34 games as well as a plus-10 rating. He doesn’t get the penalty minutes he did earlier in his career but he wasn’t drafted as high as he was either.   

 

BUFFALO

 

Games this week

vs. Florida, @ Chicago, @ Winnipeg

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Ryan O'Reilly has been outstanding this season as it appears the Sabres stole him from Colorado in the off-season. The center has 15 goals and 33 points in 38 games and brings a solid defensive game to the Buffalo team.  It was a bit of a surprise but Matt Moulson was a healthy scratch Wednesday. He returned to the lineup on Thursday as Tyler Ennis was out with an upper body injury. Jack Eichel has 11 goals and 23 points this season but has been very hot of late with two goals and seven assists in his last six games. He will be in the mix for the Calder Trophy. Finally some news on the Robin Lehner front as he took part in practice Tuesday. He has been out since the opening night with an ankle injury and could be sent to the AHL for a conditioning stint this week.

 

CALGARY

 

Games this week

vs. Tampa Bay, vs. Arizona

 

Rested Team: None  

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Jiri Hudler is in a massive slump with only one goal in last 23 games. The talented winger had a career year in 2014-15 with 31 goals and 76 points but he has reverted back to form this season with five goals and 20 points in 34 games. Johnny Gaudreau was the NHL's first star of the week as he had five goals in two games. He has 17 goals and 39 points in 37 games this season and is on pace to surpass last season's point mark of 64. Sam Bennett continues to slump as he has only one assist in his last 15 games. He has five goals and 14 points and is an excellent buy-low candidate.

 

CAROLINA

 

Games this week

@ Edmonton, @ Vancouver, vs. Columbus, @ Columbus

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Hurricanes play four times this week including three games in four nights. Look for Eddie Lack to get a start in goal and maybe two with Cam Ward getting the others. Lack has been great of late as he is 4-0-1 in his last five, allowing 12 goals on 160 shots. The Hurricanes will likely go with both in the short term. Carolina plays a home-and-home series with Columbus. Brad Malone leads the team in penalty minutes so he could add to his total if there are any fireworks. Justin Faulk now has two even strength goals as well as 12 on the power play. He leads the Canes with 30 points,

 

CHICAGO

 

Games this week

@ Pittsburgh, vs. Pittsburgh, vs. Buffalo, vs. Colorado

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Chicago has four matchups this week including three games in four nights. Corey Crawford should see action in three games with Scott Darling getting one start between the pipes. The Blackhawks play a home-and-home series with Pittsburgh and expect to see Ryan Garbutt pick up some penalty minutes if there are any fisticuffs. Patrick Kane leads the NHL in assists and points with 33 and 56 respectively and is one behind Jamie Benn in goals with 23. Scott Darling picked up a rare win Thursday in a 4-3 OT win over Colorado. Corey Crawford got a rare night off as he has been stellar of late and the Blackhawks have been riding him.   

 

COLORADO

 

Games this week

vs. Los Angeles, vs. St. Louis, vs. Nashville, @ Chicago  

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Avalanche play four times this week so Calvin Pickard, who is replacing the injured Reto Berra, should get into one game with Semyon Varlamov seeing the remainder of the action. Erik Johnson is hot of late with two goals and six points in his last five games. The veteran defenseman now has seven goals and 16 points this season. Jarome Iginla is only one goal away from the 600 career mark as he scored his 10th of the season on December 27. Alex Tanguay is worth looking at as he has five assists in his last five games to give him two goals and 13 points in 27 games. He suffered a knee injury earlier in the season that caused him to miss 11 games.

 

COLUMBUS

 

Games this week

vs. Minnesota, @ Carolina, vs. Carolina  

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Blue Jackets play a home-and-home series with Carolina so look for Jared Boll and/or Scott Hartnell to add to their penalty minute totals. Matt Calvert has six goals and seven points in 39 games but is now lost to the Blue Jackets for four weeks with sprained knee ligaments. Sergei Bobrovsky was taken off injured reserve this past week from a groin injury. He missed 10 games and the Blue Jackets floundered in his absence. Start him now with confidence. Nick Foligno returned to action after missing three games with a three assist outing. boosting his point total to 22 in 36 games.

    

DALLAS

 

Games this week

 @ New York Rangers, vs. Winnipeg, vs. Minnesota

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Stars have been moving Valeri Nichushkin all over the depth charts as he has been on every line this season. He is currently on the second unit as he took over from the injured Ales Hemsky on a line with Jason Spezza and Mattias Janmark. He may need a little more time but the first rounder from 2013 is a special talent who will be a stud in the NHL in the near future. Needless to say, grab him in keeper leagues if he is not already owned. Hemsky is week-to-week with a lower body injury and is on the IR. Colton Sceviour three goals in his last five games and now has four goals and nine points in 36 games with a plus-eight rating.

 

DETROIT

 

Games this week

@ New Jersey, @ San Jose, @ Anaheim

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Red Wings are on the road for all three games this week. Teemu Pulkkinen has been out a month with a dislocated shoulder and should return in a couple of weeks. He will likely see top-six minutes. Petr Mrazek gave up four goals Thursday in a 5-2 loss to the Penguins and is now 11-8-3 with a 2.31 GAA and a .925 save percentage. He has been much the better goaltender for Detroit this season as Jimmy Howard is 7-5-3 with a 2.66 GAA and a .910 save percentage. Gustav Nyquist had an assist Thursday to give him two points in his last eight games. Brad Richards is pointless in his last three games.

 

EDMONTON

 

 Games this week

vs. Carolina, vs. Tampa Bay, vs. Florida

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

Notes    

The Oilers finish their five game home stand this week. Connor McDavid continues to skate but there is no timetable for his return from a broken clavicle as he has been out of action for over eight weeks. Don't expect the Oilers to rush him back to action as they will err on the side of caution.   Nail Yakupov has been out since November 25 with a sprained ankle and he participated in Thursday's morning skate so he is close to returning to action. Cam Talbot has started four of the last five games and has only one bad outing, giving up three goals on 14 shots. Anders Nilsson has been on the bench of late and it may be a bit of time before he will see the net on a consistent basis.    

 

FLORIDA

 

Games this week

 @ Buffalo @ Ottawa, @ Edmonton

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Panthers are on the road for all three and being in Canada and Buffalo this week, it will certainly be a lot colder than sunny Florida.  Nick Bjugstad is close to returning after missing 14 games with migraines. He has seven goals and 12 points this season and could return this week. Jonathan Huberdeau has only four goals but has 21 assists and has been a big asset for the Panthers. Florida has won 13 of 16 games and has vaulted to the top of the Atlantic Division.  Aaron Ekblad is not having a sophomore slump as he has nine goals and 18 points in 37 games. Roberto Luongo has won six straight and is now 16-11-3 with a 2.16 GAA and .926 save percentage. He is a top-five goalie in the NHL.

 

LOS ANGELES

 

Games this week

@ Colorado, vs. Toronto, vs. St. Louis

 

Rested Team: vs. Toronto (Thursday), vs. St. Louis (Saturday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Kings are a good team to load up on this week as they play both home games as the rested team as Toronto and St. Louis both play Anaheim the night before. Marian Gaborik had a goal and an assist Thursday and it brought his totals to eight goals and 15 points in 37 games. The veteran may have little fantasy value left even though he plays on the top line.  Dustin Brown had a rare big offensive display on Tuesday with a goal and two assists as he now has four goals and 14 points in 37 games. It's been a few seasons since he has broken the 30 point mark (2011-12 to be exact when he has 22 goals and 54 points) and it does not look like it will happen this season either.

 

MINNESOTA

 

Games this week

@ Columbus, vs. Philadelphia, @ Dallas, vs. New Jersey  

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: vs. New Jersey (Sunday)

 

Notes

The Wild are playing four contests this week including three games in four nights so expect to see Devan Dubnyk play three times with Darcy Kuemper getting one start if he is able to go as he has a mild concussion. If not, Niklas Backstrom could get a rare start. Nino Niederreiter has eight goals and 18 points this season after a 37 point effort last year so he should be a nice very late round pick in deep pools. Thomas Vanek has 12 goals and 26 points this season. Zach Parise sat out Thursday's match with a lower body injury and his spot on the power play was taken by Marco Scandella as the Wild went with three forwards and two defensemen rather than four forwards and a rearguard.       

 

MONTREAL

           

Games this week

@ Philadelphia, vs. New Jersey, vs. Pittsburgh

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: vs. New Jersey (Wednesday)

 

Notes

The Canadiens get a break on January 1 when Brendan Gallagher returns to the lineup after breaking two fingers on November 22. He was flying with Max Pacioretty and Tomas Plekanec and both players have been in slumps ever since so hopefully Gallagher can get the line going again. Montreal picked up Ben Scrivens this week from Edmonton and he should provide some back up duty to Mike Condon while Carey Price is still on the shelf. The Canadiens sent Dustin Tokarski to the minors when they acquired Scrivens for Zack Kassian. Sven Andrighetto has only one assist in his last nine games.

 

 NASHVILLE

 

Games this week

vs. Winnipeg, @ Colorado, @ Arizona

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: @ Arizona (Saturday)

 

Notes

Pekka Rinne  is 15-11-6 this season but has had particular problems on the road as he has lost his last eight games. He was the second-best goalie in fantasy NHL last year but with a 2.46 GAA and a .907 save percentage, he is far from that in 2015-16.  Colin Wilson was the seventh overall pick in the 2008 Draft but at age 27 he really has not been the force the Predators thought they were getting when they drafted him. He has had some spurts when it looked like he was ready to take off  but his best season ever was last season with 42 points in 77 games. He has regressed this season with only three goals and 14 points in 33 games.

 

NEW JERSEY

 

Games this week

vs. Detroit, @ Montreal, vs. Boston, @ Minnesota

 

Rested Team: vs. Montreal (Wednesday), @ Minnesota (Sunday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Devils play four games this week so it’s likely that Keith Kinkaid will get one start in place of Cory Schneider. Lee Stempniak has been a very pleasant surprise for his fantasy owners as he has nine goals and 28 points in 38 games.  Mike Cammalleri continues to have a great season with 14 goals and 35 points in 38 games and his plus1- rating certainly does not hurt. I was expecting a lot more from Adam Larsson as he seemed to take a big leap forward last season but with only one goal and seven points this year, he has taken a step back as far as fantasy is concerned.  

 

NEW YORK ISLANDERS

 

Games this week

vs. Washington, @ Philadelphia

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Islanders play only twice this week so be careful when setting your lineup in weekly transaction pools. Jaroslav Halak has been out of action for the last 10 days but he was well enough to skate with the extras on Thursday. He could return this week but look for Thomas Greiss to see the action this week as he has been a most pleasant surprise with an 11-5-2 record to go with a 2.00 GAA and a .936 save percentage. The Islanders put Johnny Boychuk on the injured reserve list and recalled Adam Pelech. John Tavares is back on top in Islanders scoring by one as he had a couple of points against the Maple Leafs. He has 14 goals and 28 points.

 

NEW YORK RANGERS

 

Games this week

vs. Dallas, vs. Washington

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None    

 

Notes

The Rangers only play twice this week so the same goes for New York as it did for the Islanders above. Henrik Lundqvist is hopefully turning things around as he gave up only two goals Thursday in a 5-2 win over Tampa Bay. Lundqvist had been struggling of late as he was pulled in three of his six previous games and that was not good news for his fantasy owners and the Rangers. Dan Boyle continues to be hot as he has five goals and nine points in his last 10 games after starting the season with five assists in his first 22 matchups.  Rick Nash has only 12 goals and 26 points this season in 36 games.

 

OTTAWA     

 

Games this week

@ St. Louis, vs. Florida, vs. Boston, @ Washington

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: @ Washington (Sunday)

 

Notes

The Senators play four games this week including three in four so look for Andrew Hammond to get at least one start with Craig Anderson getting the net for the remainder of the action.  Jared Cowan has been a disappointment with only three assists in 32 games as well as being a healthy scratch in three of his last six games. Chris Neil had a huge fantasy night on Tuesday with a goal, an assist and 14 penalty minutes. He now has two goals and five points to go with 99 penalty minutes. Mike Hoffman has had an impressive start to the season with 18 goals (tops on the Sens) and 34 points with a plus-11 rating in 34 games.

 

PHILADELPHIA

 

Games this week

vs. Montreal, @ Minnesota, vs. New York Islanders

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Michal Neuvirth was slated to start on Thursday but came down with a late illness and Steve Mason had to play. Vincent Lecavalier has played in only seven games this season, mostly as a healthy scratch but he has missed the last eight games with a back ailment. It should be interesting to see what the Flyers do with Mark Streit.  He was activated from injured reserve Wednesday and played on the second power play. Streit had played on the first unit but was replaced by Shayne Gostisbehere when he was injured and Gostisbehere has been outstanding. The rookie defenseman has six goals and 14 points in 20 games with four goals and seven points coming on the power play.

 

PITTSBURGH

 

Games this week

vs. Chicago, @ Chicago, @ Montreal

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Penguins play a home-and-home series with the Blackhawks and the leading penalty minute player is star Evgeni Malkin. Sidney Crosby is starting to get hot and has three goals and six points in his last five games. Patric Hornqvist has only seven goals and 15 points in 37 games but he does have five points in his last five games including three on Thursday. Matt Murray has played very well with Marc-Andre Fleury on the shelf with a concussion. The rookie is 2-1-1 with a 1.72 GAA and a .938 save percentage. Kris Letang has been injured as he has played in only 28 games but his three goals and 16 assists are somewhat suppressed in fantasy by his minus-13 rating.  

 

ST. LOUIS

 

Games this week

vs. Ottawa, @ Colorado, @Anaheim, @ Los Angeles

 

Rested Team: @ Los Angeles (Saturday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Blues play four games this week including three contests in four nights so expect to see Jake Allen play three times with Brian Elliott getting the call in net just once. Scott Gomez went unclaimed through waivers so look for the Blues to release him. Coach Ken Hitchcock likes his third line of Dmitrij Jaskin, Jori Lehtera and Robby Fabbri. Vladimir Tarasenko missed Thursday's game with an illness but should be fine to play this week. Colton Parayko got off to a terrific start but has only a goal and an assist in his last 10 games. David Backes leads the Blues in penalty minutes with 39.

    

SAN JOSE

 

Games this week

vs. Detroit, vs. Toronto

 

Rested Team: None  

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Dylan DeMelo has settled in nicely as part of the Sharks second defense pairing with Brenden Dillon and although he has no points in 11 games this season, he has some offensive upside. I don't recommend him at this time however. Patrick Marleau is having a surprisingly good season, with 14 goals and 28 points in 36 games. Logan Couture returned to action on Wednesday and had a couple of assists. He has played in only six games so he has his fantasy fans excited as he should put up big numbers the rest of the season. If he is somehow available in your pool, grab him immediately.

 

TAMPA BAY

 

Games this week

@ Calgary, @ Edmonton, @ Vancouver

 

Rested team: None

Tired Team: @ Vancouver (Saturday)

 

Notes

The Lightning are in Western Canada this week. The Lightning are red-hot with the man-advantage of late as they have scored nine goals in their last five games.  Tyler Johnson is back after missing 13 of 17 games with an undisclosed injury. The Lightning will get Ondrej Palat back on Saturday and he, Johnson and Kucherov will likely be reunited. Kucherov has been hot of late as he has five goals and 14 points in his last 10 games. He has 13 goals and 29 points in 38 games with a minus-one rating but his plus/minus should improve with his linemates returning.

 

TORONTO

 

Games this week

@ Anaheim, @ Los Angeles, @ San Jose   

 

Rested team: None

Tired Team: @ Los Angeles (Thursday)

 

Notes

The Maple Leafs are in sunny California this week where they play three games in four nights. James Reimer is hurt once again and if he is unable to go, Antoine Bibeau could get a start (possibly making his NHL debut) with Jonathan Bernier getting the other two starts. Leo Komarov continues to lead the Maple Leafs in goals with 15, two ahead of James van Riemsdyk. The Maple Leafs have a lot of prospects at the World Juniors and that bodes well for their future. Tyler Bozak was named the third star of the week as he scored four goals and added an assist in three games. Morgan Rielly leads all Leaf blueliners with four goals.  

 

VANCOUVER

 

Games this week

vs. Arizona, vs. Carolina, vs. Tampa Bay

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: vs. Tampa Bay (Saturday)

 

Notes

The Canucks will get a blueliner back on New Year's Day when Chris Tanev is expected to return. Sven Baertschi is out for at least one game with a sore neck. Bad necks seem to be in vogue in Vancouver as Alex Burrows returned on Sunday from a stiff neck.  Ryan Miller is still about a week away from playing with an undisclosed injury so he could return for the Tampa Bay game. Look for Jacob Markstrom to see all the action barring injury, until then. Radim Vrbata has only 10 goals and 18 points in 36 games after a 31 goal, 63 point performance last season.

 

WASHINGTON

 

Games this week

@ Boston, @ New York Islanders, @ New York Rangers, vs. Ottawa

 

Rested team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Capitals play three games in four nights as part of a four game week so look for Philipp Grubauer to play once with the great Braden Holtby picking up the remaining three starts. Holtby is 24-4-1 with a 1.86 GAA and a .934 save percentage and has to be considered the favorite for the Vezina at this time. Alex Ovechkin has goals in each of his last three games and now has 21 this season. John Carlson has missed the last three games with a lower body injury. Nicklas Backstrom is 10th in the NHL in assists with 22 and has 33 points this season.

 

WINNIPEG

 

Games this week

@ Nashville, @ Dallas, vs. Buffalo

 

Rested team: None

Tired Team: None  

 

Notes

Connor Hellebuyck continues to make his case to stay in the NHL once Ondrej Pavelec returns to action (which may be this week as he is accompanying the team on the road trip) as he is 7-4 with a 2.11 GAA and a .926 save percentage. Jacob Trouba had a couple of goals on Tuesday but has only nine points including four goals in 37 games. Mark Scheifele is out of action with a concussion and has missed the last three games. Dustin Byfuglien could be dealt by the deadline as he is slated to become a UFA. Every team in the NHL should be interested as the defenseman has nine goals and 22 points with a plus-seven rating and 56 penalty minutes. It will get interesting in February.

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.