Loading scores...
The Week Ahead

Merry Christmas!

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

Merry Christmas! The NHL is taking a three day respite so there will no games on the weekend or the following Monday so the league can enjoy the holidays.

 

Therefore, there are no teams playing four games this week so the scheduling shouldn't matter as you can put your best players in the lineup regardless of games played.

 

Good luck and enjoy the holidays!


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 junior report and much, much more. Buy it now!

 

 

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 DECEMBER 19-25

 

3 Games – Anaheim, Arizona, Boston, Buffalo, Calgary, Carolina, Colorado, Columbus, Detroit, Edmonton, Florida, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Montreal, Nashville, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Toronto, Vancouver

 

2 Games – Chicago, Dallas, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Ottawa, San Jose, Washington, Winnipeg

 

Arizona, Columbus and Florida play three games at home.

 

Anaheim, Detroit, Edmonton and Los Angeles play three games on the road.

 

INJURIES

 

Nikita Kucherov is day-to-day with a lower 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

 @ Toronto, @ Montreal, @ Ottawa

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: @ Montreal (Tuesday)

 

Notes

The Ducks are on the road for all three this week to end a six game road trip. The Ducks play all three in Eastern Canada and do so in four nights so look for Jonathan Bernier to play once with John Gibson getting the other two starts.  If you are looking for a faceoff expert, Antoine Vermette is at the top of the league with a 65.3 winning percentage including one game in which he lost only one draw in 21 chances. Don’t get too down anymore if Ryan Getzlaf isn’t goal scoring for you. He has only three this season after getting only 13 in 2015-16. He is an assists machine but he has turned into a one category player.

 

ARIZONA

 

Games this week

vs. Calgary, vs. Edmonton, vs. Toronto

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: vs. Toronto (Friday)

 

Notes

The Coyotes play all three games at home versus Canadian teams as they start a five game home stand. Peter Holland will see his ex-Toronto teammates for the second time in eight days and he started his Coyote career off in style with a couple of assists in a win over Detroit. Max Domi underwent successful hand surgery on Tuesday but is out indefinitely. Radim Vrbata leads the Coyotes in goals and points with eight and 20 respectively. Ryan White has 60 penalty minutes. Shane Doan has struggled this season with only three goals and nine points in 30 games. Tobias Rieder is second on the Yotes in goals with seven.

 

BOSTON

 

Games this week

vs. New York Islanders, @ Florida, @ Carolina

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Bruins play three games in four nights so expect to see Tuukka Rask play twice with Anton Khudobin getting one start.  David Krejci has been a disappointment with only five goals and 19 points in 32 games to go with a minus-seven rating. The Bruins got themselves a winner when they selected David Pastrnak with the 25th pick in the first round of the 2014 Draft. The 20-year-old has 19 goals which trails only Sidney Crosby in the Rocket Richard Trophy race and his 26 points and plus-15 rating are well placed in the NHL this season. He has been a fantasy dream thus far. Zdeno Chara reached the 1,300 mark in NHL games played on Wednesday. Congratulations to the big defenseman.

 

BUFFALO

 

Games this week

@ Florida, vs. Carolina, @ New York Islanders

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: @ New York Islanders (Friday)

 

Notes

The Sabres play three games in four nights so look for Anders Nilsson to get one start with Robin Lehner getting a pair. The Sabres are the rested team against the Islanders on December 16, but one week later the roles reverse. The game will also mark the return of Kyle Okposo for the first time since he left the Islanders in the off-season as a UFA and inked a deal with Buffalo. Evander Kane has 18 penalty minutes in 17 games and should boost that total this week as they play the Hurricanes and Islanders twice each in eight days. Jack Eichel continues to impress with five goals and eight points in seven games. Rasmus Ristolainen is on a four game points streak and the talented defenseman has a goal and 19 points in 28 games thus far. 

 

CALGARY

 

Games this week

@ Arizona, @ San Jose, vs. Vancouver

 

Rested Team: vs. Vancouver (Friday)

Tired Team: @ San Jose (Tuesday)

 

Notes

Johnny Gaudreau picked up an assist Wednesday to give him a six game points streak but it was the first game in five that he didn’t have a multiple point night. Sean Monahan raised his streak to eight games as well as he has four goals and 10 points during the streak. Monahan started the season off poorly with only eight points in his first 24 games so he is behind his usual pace that has seen him get 60-plus points in his last two seasons. Chad Johnson was pulled Wednesday after giving up four goals in the first two periods. It was the first poor effort in a while for the netminder who has taken over the top job as he has started 14 of the Flames last 16 games. He has been great with a 13-5-1 record to go with a 2.12 GAA and a .928 save percentage.

 

CAROLINA

 

Games this week

vs. Detroit, @ Buffalo, vs. Boston

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Hurricanes welcomed Jordan Staal (concussion) and Elias Lindholm (lower body) back on Tuesday and celebrated with an eight goal performance against Vancouver. Jeff Skinner has 25 points, one more than Victor Rask for the team lead. Justin Faulk is not having the season he did last year as he has only four goals and 12 points in 26 games with a minus-11 rating, the worst on the team. Derek Ryan is hot with three goals and six assists in his last seven games. Jaccob Slavin has become a second pairing defenseman and has 10 points this season. Viktor Stalberg leads the Hurricanes with 23 penalty minutes.

 

CHICAGO

 

Games this week

vs. Ottawa, vs. Colorado

 

Rested Team: vs. Colorado (Friday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Blackhawks only play twice this week. Corey Crawford (appendectomy) resumed skating on Wednesday and should be ready to return this week, if not sooner. Scott Darling has been outstanding in his absence, especially of late as he has allowed three goals in his last four games heading into action Thursday. Thus far since Crawford went down with the illness, Darling is 3-2-1 with a 1.33 GAA and a .955 save percentage before Thursday's 5-4 win. Artem Anisimov is tied for the NHL lead in winning goals with six with Jeff Carter. Jonathan Toews returned to action Tuesday after missing nine games and played between Marian Hossa and Ryan Hartman. He was held off the scoreboard and has four goals and 13 points in 23 games. 

 

COLORADO

 

Games this week

@ Minnesota, vs. Toronto, @ Chicago

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: @ Chicago (Friday)

 

Notes

The Avalanche play three games in four nights and with Semyon Varlamov day-to-day with a groin injury, Calvin Pickard may get two starts if Varlamov is unable to go. The Avs recalled Spencer Martin with Varlamov out of action. The Avs are 0-5-1 in the past six at home and are 4-9-1 overall in Denver. Nathan MacKinnon and Matt Duchene lead the Avalanche in points with 20. Nikita Zadorov leads the team along with Jarome Iginla with 35 penalty minutes. He has two assists in his last three games but has only five this season.

 

COLUMBUS

 

Games this week

vs. Los Angeles, vs. Pittsburgh, vs. Montreal  

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Blue Jackets play three games in four nights so Curtis McElhinney should get one start with Sergei Bobrovsky getting a pair. All three games are at home going into the Christmas break. Bobrovsky has been great this season with a 17-5-2 record to go with a 1.94 GAA and a .934 save percentage. McElhinney has only had three decisions and is 1-0-2 with a 2.03 GAA and a .930 save percentage. Sam Gagner continues to be the surprise of the NHL as he has 12 goals and 21 points and he was the third star of the week. Nick Foligno had a bad stomach flu that caused him to miss a couple of games but he was back in the lineup Tuesday.

 

DALLAS

 

Games this week

vs. St. Louis, vs. Los Angeles

 

Rested Team: vs. St. Louis (Tuesday), vs. Los Angeles (Friday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Stars are in the midst of playing seven home games in eight matches. Antti Niemi has played the last two games after going five in a row without seeing any action. Brett Ritchie has seven goals this season, fourth best on the Stars to Patrick Eaves, Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn. Antoine Roussel continues to be a fantasy gem with five goals and 16 points in 31 games and a league-leading 85 penalty minutes, 25 better than the second place Ryan White. Jamie Oleksiak was eligible to return to action on December 15 after a two game suspension but was a healthy scratch.

 

DETROIT

 

Games this week

@ Carolina, @ Tampa Bay, @ Florida

 

Rested Team: @ Florida (Friday)

Tired Team: @ Tampa Bay (Tuesday)

 

Notes

The Red Wings are on the road for all three as they end the first part of the season with a pair in the state of Florida. Thomas Vanek has 15 points in 19 games this season. Jimmy Howard has started the past three games. Riley Sheahan had scored 13 and 14 goals in each of the last two seasons but has yet to find the back of the net in 30 games thus far this season. Henrik Zetterberg is centering Tomas Tatar and Anthony Mantha. Mantha has four goals and seven points in 16 games this season. Jonathan Eriksson has 43 penalty minutes, one better than Steve Ott.

 

EDMONTON

 

Games this week

@ St. Louis, @ Arizona, @ San Jose

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

Notes    

Darnell Nurse is out up to 12 weeks after undergoing ankle surgery. It’s too bad that the Oilers don’t play the Jets any more this season as Mark Letestu had five of his goals against the Winnipeggers. Leon Draisaitl had 10 goals in 14 games but could not score in his last two. Nevertheless, he has 13 goals and 26 points in 32 games. Jesse Puljujarvi returned to action this past week after missing a couple of games with an undisclosed injury. Drake Caggiula has a goal and five points in 14 games and has seen some time on the top line with Connor McDavid and Milan Lucic.

 

FLORIDA

 

Games this week

vs. Buffalo, vs. Boston, vs. Detroit

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: vs. Detroit (Friday)

 

Notes

The Panthers play three games in four nights this week. Expect to see James Reimer play once with Roberto Luongo getting the remaining two starts. Jonathan Marchessault returned to action on Tuesday after missing four games but was back on the sidelines Thursday. He has 20 points in 26 games but is now trailing Aleksander Barkov by one point for the team lead. Aaron Ekblad has seven goals and 10 points this season and leads the Panthers in penalty minutes with 26. Jonathan Huberdeau (Achilles) is expected to start skating soon as he has lost his boot. He is still at least a month away from seeing NHL action.

 

LOS ANGELES

 

Games this week

@ Columbus, @ Nashville, @ Dallas   

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: @ Dallas (Friday)

 

Notes

The Kings play three times in four nights and expect to see Petr Budaj in goal for two games with Jeff Zatkoff playing once. Former number one netminder Jonathan Quick (groin) is expected to return in mid-March and that is big news for his fans, some of which expected him to be out for the season. Devin Setoguchi has been a healthy scratch for five of the last six games. Jeff Carter leads the Kings in points with 24, eight ahead of Tyler Toffoli. Kyle Clifford leads the team in penalty minutes with 35, one ahead of Derek Forbort and Jordan Nolan.  

 

MINNESOTA

 

Games this week

vs. Colorado, @ Montreal, @ New York Rangers

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: @ New York Rangers (Friday)

 

Notes

The Wild play three games in four nights and Darcy Kuemper is expected to find the net once with Devan Dubnyk playing the other two contests. Dubnyk continues to be sensational as he has not allowed more than two goals in 19 of his 24 starts this season including his last seven games. Eric Staal picked up a pair of goals Thursday and now has nine goals and 22 points in 29 games after scoring 13 with 39 points in 83 games last season between Carolina and the Rangers. Nino Niederreiter had a couple of helpers Thursday and now has three goals and 10 points in his last 10 games.  

 

MONTREAL

           

Games this week

vs. Anaheim, vs. Minnesota, @ Columbus

 

Rested Team: vs. Anaheim (Tuesday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Canadiens play three games in four nights so look for Carey Price to play twice with Al Montoya getting one start. Andrew Shaw has been a nice combination of points and penalty minutes with 15 and 58 respectively. Throw in a plus-12 rating and you have one nice fantasy player. Max Pacioretty had a huge game on Saturday with four goals and an assist and that has helped him get to 12 goals and 24 points this season with a plus-10 rating in 29 games. Andrei Markov leads the blueline with 21 points, three better than Shea Weber who has eight goals as part of his 18 points.

 

 NASHVILLE

 

Games this week

@ Philadelphia, @ New Jersey, vs. Los Angeles

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: @ New Jersey (Tuesday)

 

Notes

Captain Mike Fisher is having a nice season for the Predators with eight goals and 17 points in 25 games. He has scored three times in the last two contests and his four goals and nine points on the power play has exceeded that of power play specialist Mike Ribeiro who has only five points with the man-advantage. The Predators have been switching up their backup goalies with Juuse Saros and Marek Mazanec taking turns as the backup to Pekka Rinne and playing in the minors. Saros has far outperformed Mazanec thus far. Filip Forsberg has been a major disappointment this season with only three goals and 17 points in 29 games. He has been horrible of late with only one goal and nary an assist in his last nine contests. You have a right to be upset with his production if you own him.

 

NEW JERSEY

 

Games this week

vs. Nashville, vs. Philadelphia, @ Pittsburgh

 

Rested Team: vs. Nashville (Tuesday), vs. Philadelphia (Thursday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Devils play three games in four nights so Cory Schneider should get at least a couple of starts with Keith Kinkaid possibly getting one. I really thought that Beau Bennett was going to be an offensively good player when he was drafted but injuries and a severe lack of production has obviously changed my mind. He teased us his first season with 14 points in 26 games but has never done any better since and has a career high of 49 games played which happened two seasons ago. He has a goal and seven points thus far in 24 games and was a healthy scratch Thursday. The Devils sent Yohann Auvitu to the minors Wednesday. Pavel Zacha is back practicing after he missed almost two weeks with a face/mouth problem that involved dental work and a liquid diet. Cory Schneider has given up at least four goals in five of his last seven starts.

 

NEW YORK ISLANDERS

 

Games this week

@ Boston, vs. Buffalo

 

Rested Team: vs. Buffalo (Friday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Team Canada had hoped that the Islanders would release Anthony Beauvillier for the World Junior tournament but that will not be the case. Jean-Francois Berube has been languishing in the press box but the Islanders will not send the netminder to the minors as they would lose him on waivers. Travis Hamonic is a plus-three in his last two games and that makes his plus/minus a minus-14. He does have 49 penalty minutes. The Islanders have only four players who have scored more than four goals; Anders Lee (9), John Tavares (9), Brock Nelson (7) and Josh Bailey (5). That does not bode well for a playoff run.

 

NEW YORK RANGERS

 

Games this week

@ Pittsburgh, vs. Minnesota

 

Rested Team: vs. Minnesota (Friday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Coach Alain Vigneault had played Antti Raanta four straight games and some poolies were wondering if Henrik Lundqvist was losing his grip as the Rangers number one goalie. Well, King Henrik put that to rest on Thursday in his first start in five games with a shutout over the Dallas Stars as he made 27 saves. The Rangers are 21-10-1 and are getting very good netminding, especially from Raanta. Rick Nash returned to the lineup as well on Thursday after missing four games with a groin injury and he scored shorthanded for the winner. Congratulations to Brady Skjei who scored his first NHL goal on Sunday.

 

OTTAWA     

 

Games this week

@ Chicago, vs. Anaheim

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Craig Anderson is expected be away from the Senators for “awhile” as he is with his wife Nicholle who has nasopharyngeal carcinoma, a rare throat cancer. She announced some good news on Tuesday as the tumor is responding positively to treatment and has started to shrink. Our prayers are with Nicholle and the Anderson family. Clarke MacArthur (concussion) is hoping to return to the Senators lineup in January. He has yet to play this season and only played in four games last season. Kyle Turris took 17 minutes in penalties on Wednesday as he came to the aid of Erik Karlsson and all of a sudden he has value in the category with 25 this season. Mark Stone leads the team with 22 points.

 

PHILADELPHIA

 

Games this week

vs. Nashville, vs. Washington, @ New Jersey

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: @ New Jersey (Friday)

 

Notes

The Flyers play three games in four nights so look for Steve Mason to play twice with a returning Michal Neuvirth playing once. If Neuvirth is still unable to go, then Anthony Stolarz will remain with the big club and get a start. Mason has won eight starts in a row as the Flyers are the NHL’s hottest team with 10 straight wins. Mark Streit is out of action for a couple of weeks with a sprained shoulder. Jakub Voracek was the NHL’s first star of the week with three goals and six assists. He has 33 points in 32 games as well as 39 penalty minutes. Brayden Schenn has three straight game winners and has five goals in the three contests.

 

PITTSBURGH

 

Games this week

vs. New York Rangers, @ Columbus, vs. New Jersey

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Penguins play three games in four nights so look for Marc-Andre Fleury to play once with Matt Murray getting the other two games in the crease. What just happened to Justin Schultz? He has been a big flop throughout his NHL career after coming into the leagues with such hype in the 2012-13 season. But now he has five goals and 12 points in his last eight games to give him 17 points in 30 games. As well, he was a minus-71 in 266 games heading into this season but is a plus-18 thus far. Maybe everything has just clicked. It couldn’t come at a better time for the Penguins who just lost Kris Letang for a couple of weeks with a lower body injury. With the injury, Derrick Pouliot has been recalled.

 

ST. LOUIS

 

Games this week

vs. Edmonton, @ Dallas, @ Tampa Bay

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: @ Dallas (Tuesday)

 

Notes

Vladimir Tarasenko has 37 points in 31 games and the next best forward on the Blues is at 19. That’s Jaden Schwartz. Kevin Shattenkirk has 22 points but Tarasenko far and away is the Blues top player. Don’t be afraid to pick up Brad Hunt if you need help on the blueline. The defenseman saw his first game action on December 9 and is on a four game points streak with a goal and three helpers including a goal and an assist on the power play. The 28-year-old defenseman had played 21 games with the Oilers over the last three seasons but already has one more point than he did with Edmonton. Ryan Reaves is turning into a scoring machine with two goals in his last four games, although his penalty minutes have taken a downturn this season with only 16.

 

SAN JOSE

 

Games this week

vs. Calgary, vs. Edmonton

 

Rested Team: vs. Calgary (Tuesday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The slump of Joonas Donskoi has continued and the Sharks made him a healthy scratch on Wednesday. He has only two goals and eight points this season and has not tickled the twining since October 29.  Brent Burns is on a six game scoring streak with four goals and six points. He has a defense-leading 13 goals and his 28 points are in line with his great last two seasons as he broke through at the age of 29 into an elite offensive defenseman. The Sharks recalled Timo Meier who was their first pick, ninth overall in 2015 and sent down Mirco Mueller who was their first round pick in 2013. Joe Thornton has only two goals and 19 points but has seven assists on the power play.

 

TAMPA BAY

 

Games this week

vs. Detroit, vs. St. Louis, @ Washington

 

Rested team: vs. Detroit (Tuesday)

Tired Team: @ Washington (Friday)

 

Notes

The Lightning play three games in four nights so expect to see Ben Bishop play twice with Andrei Vasilevskiy getting one start in goal. The Lightning are getting hurt in the injury department with Steven Stamkos out for another three-five months and a couple more this week as Nikita Kucherov is day-to-day with a lower body injury and Ondrej Palat is out with an undisclosed injury. Valtteri Filppula has a goal and four assists in his last three games. Victor Hedman has been a stud on the blueline with five goals and 22 points in 30 games.

 

TORONTO

 

Games this week

vs. Anaheim, @ Colorado, @ Arizona,

 

Rested team:  None

Tired Team: @ Arizona (Friday)

 

Notes

Auston Matthews returns to his hometown of Scottsdale for the first time in his young NHL career as the first overall pick in the 2016 Draft will face off against the team he grew up loving.  Matthews scored his 14th of the season Thursday at home against Arizona and he looked amazing. He leads the Leafs in goals and points, not too bad for a rookie. Mitch Marner also scored and it was his first goal in 12 games. Zach Hyman is on a bit of a streak with seven points in his last 10 games. Nikita Zaitsev has yet to score but has 10 assists in 29 games. He has played well but does have a minus-10 rating. The Maple Leafs are the only team in the NHL who have yet to get a win out of their backup goalies.

 

VANCOUVER

 

Games this week

vs. Winnipeg, vs. Winnipeg, @ Calgary

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: @ Calgary

 

Notes

The Canucks play three games in four nights so look for Ryan Miller to play twice with Jacob Markstrom getting one start. The Canucks play home twice this week to the Winnipeg Jets so look for Alex Burrows to add to his penalty minute totals if there is any rough stuff. There are a lot of big minus players on the Canucks as five are a minus-10 or worse with Brandon Sutter the tops at minus-16. Sven Baertschi was a surprise scratch on Sunday and responded with a one goal and three point night in Carolina Tuesday. Jannik Hansen returned to action and is back on a line with the Sedin twins.

 

WASHINGTON

 

Games this week

@ Philadelphia, vs. Tampa Bay

 

Rested team: vs. Tampa Bay (Friday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Matt Niskanen returned from an upper body injury (suspected concussion) and scored his first two of the season on Tuesday. Evgeny Kuznetsov has a five game scoring streak in which he has six assists. He now has 16 points in 28 games. Andre Burakovsky had 17 goals and 38 points last season but this season has been a big disappointment with only two goals and 10 points in 27 games. He has not picked up a point in his last seven and was a healthy scratch Tuesday. He hasn’t scored in 26 games. Justin Williams had two goals in his first 24 games but has four in his last three. John Carlson finally scored his first of the season a week ago.

 

WINNIPEG

 

Games this week

@ Vancouver, @ Vancouver

 

Rested team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Jets only play twice this week for the second week in a row and face the Canucks twice in Vancouver. Chris Thorburn will add to his penalty minute count if there are any fisticuffs in either contest between the Canadian foes. Mark Scheifele was leading the NHL in points with 23 in the middle of November but has only four goals and six points in his last 11 games. Tyler Myers suffered a setback in his recovery from a lower body injury and is not yet ready to return to action. He has missed the last 17 games. Patrik Laine is tied for third in goals with 17 and seven have come on the power play. Alexander Burmistrov has turned into a bust with only two assists in 23 games.

Michael Finewax

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