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The Week Ahead

Perfect and not so perfect

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

It’s hard to believe but this is the first time in their illustrious history that the Montreal Canadiens have started the season with a 5-0 record.

 

They have won 24 Stanley Cups including five in a row from 1956-60 and four in a row in the late 1970’s but never before had started off 5-0.

 

Three other teams have been perfect through three games as the Detroit Red Wings, the San Jose Sharks and the Minnesota Wild have yet to give up a point.

 

At the other end of the scale, the Columbus Blue Jackets are 0-4 as are the Edmonton Oilers while Carolina, New Jersey and the Los Angeles Kings are 0-3. It’s surprising to see the Kings doing so poorly and the Blue Jackets were expected to make a run for a playoff spot after last season’s tremendous run at the end of the regular season when they went 14-1-1 to end the season. Hopefully they won’t need the same run at the end to make things interesting.

 

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 OCTOBER 19-25

 

4 Games – New York Rangers

 

3 Games –Arizona, Buffalo, Calgary, Carolina, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Edmonton, Florida, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Montreal, Nashville, New Jersey, New York Islanders, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Jose, Tampa Bay, Washington

 

2 Games - Anaheim, Boston, Chicago, Colorado, Ottawa, St. Louis, Toronto, Vancouver, Winnipeg

  

Arizona, Carolina, Detroit, Florida, Tampa and Washington play three games on the road.

 

Buffalo, Edmonton, Nashville and the New York Rangers play three games at home.

 

INJURIES

 

Logan Couture is out four-six weeks with a fractured right fibula. (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

@ Nashville, @ Minnesota

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Well it sure wasn’t a good start to the season for backup goaltender Anton Khudobin as he gave up three goals on only eight shots before he was pulled on Wednesday. The Ducks are off to a very slow start as they have lost their first three games, but don’t blame Frederik Andersen as he has stopped 86-of-90 shots thus far. The problem is that the Ducks have scored only once as only defenseman Sami Vatanen has found the back of the net. It’s tough sledding so far for Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Ryan Kesler as all three have yet to get a point. That’s not good news for their fantasy owners.

 

ARIZONA

 

Games this week

@ New Jersey, @ New York Rangers, @ Ottawa

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

While the Ducks are struggling, the Coyotes are red hot as they won their first three games before losing on Thursday. Mike Smith has been sensational between the pipes as he had given up only two goals in three games for a GAA of 0.67 with a .981 save percentage before giving up four on Thursday. Kudos if you have had him in your lineup from the start of the season as he was the third star of the week. Martin Hanzal has been an offensive force to start as he has seven assists, one point ahead of Anthony Duclair who had a hat trick Wednesday versus the Ducks. Rookie Max Domi has also impressed with three goals and six points as the Coyotes are the surprise team in the early going. Antoine Vermette was injured on Thursday and did not return to the game.

 

BOSTON

 

Games this week

vs. Philadelphia, @ New York Islanders

 

Rested Team: vs. Philadelphia (Wednesday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

 Jimmy Hayes had a big night on Wednesday with a goal and three helpers to give him four points in four games. Jonas Gustavsson got his first start of the season in the win after regular number one goaltender Tuukka Rask lost his first three starts of the year. I really liked Rask heading into the season but his GAA of 4.72 does not bode well at this time. The Bruins power play already has four goals with Loui Eriksson scoring twice with the man-advantage. Matt Irwin was an early casualty of the slow start as the Bruins sent him to the minors after two games in which he was a minus-five. Brad Marchand suffered a concussion on Saturday but managed to practice by Tuesday, albeit without contact.

 

BUFFALO

 

Games this week

vs. Toronto, vs. Montreal, vs. New Jersey

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: vs. New Jersey (Saturday)

 

Notes

The Sabres play three games in four nights so look for Chad Johnson to play twice with Nathan Lieuwen getting one start. Robin Lehner is out six-10 weeks with a high ankle sprain. Johnson has looked good thus far but would be a number two goalie in deeper leagues at best. Cody Franson is quarterbacking the Sabres power play and even though he has not picked up a point with the man-advantage, he would be a nice waiver wire pickup. Rasmus Ristolainen had a goal and an assist on Monday and the 20-year-old defenseman has a bright future.

 

CALGARY

 

Games this week

vs. Washington, vs. Detroit, @ New York Rangers

 

Rested Team: @ New York Rangers (Sunday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Defenseman Ladislav Smid (neck) is close to returning to action and it could mean that Brett Kulak could be sent to the minors. Johnny Gaudreau leads the Flames in points after three games with five. Lance Bouma is out for the next three months with a broken fibula. Karri Ramo and Jonas Hiller are splitting the net but don’t forget about the third goalie Joni Ortio who could eventually take over the role as the starter. The Flames recalled Markus Granlund from the minors. Dennis Wideman had 56 points last season and it was thought he would regress but he has three points in his first three games.

 

CAROLINA

 

Games this week

@ Colorado, @ Los Angeles, @ San Jose

 

Rested Team: @ Los Angeles (Friday)

Tired Team: @ San Jose (Saturday)

 

Notes

The Hurricanes head out west for all three games this week, including three games in four nights. Cam Ward and Eddie Lack will split the net and it’s too early to say who will get the extra game. Elias Lindholm scored his first of the season on Tuesday. Victor Rask is seeing ice time on the top line with Lindholm and Eric Staal. Noah Hanifin picked up his first career point on Saturday. Riley Nash is out seven-ten days with a shoulder injury. Brock McGinn and Brett Pesce were recalled by the Hurricanes but neither player has any fantasy value.

 

CHICAGO

 

Games this week

vs. Florida, vs. Tampa Bay

 

Rested Team: vs. Tampa Bay (Saturday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Blackhawks are struggling in the early going as the defending Stanley Cup champions are 2-3. Artemi Panarin has five points in his first five games and is garnering early interest for the Calder Trophy. Chicago has gone to Scott Darling twice in their first five games, so you have to wonder if Corey Crawford will get 50 starts this season. Teuvo Teravainen is seeing first line time with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa and that will help his already surging fantasy value. Coach Joel Quenneville has already tried Andrew Shaw, Marko Dano and Ryan Garbutt on the Toews-Hossa line but cannot find the perfect linemate as of yet.

 

COLORADO

 

Games this week

vs. Carolina, vs. Columbus

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Matt Duchene is suffering from a stiff back after smacking into the boards during practice Thursday. Coach Patrick Roy thinks the Avalanche are not competing like they should. I always thought that the competing part of the game was the integral part of coaching. Bench the players who aren’t competing. Semyon Varlamov is off to a mediocre start as he is 1-2 with a 5.06 GAA and a .841 save percentage. Gabriel Landeskog is one of the few bright lights for the Avs as he has four goals and six points in three games. John Mitchell has three goals in as many games while Nathan MacKinnon is showing that last season was just an off-year as he has five points in his first three contests.

 

COLUMBUS

 

Games this week

vs. New York Islanders, @ Minnesota, @ Columbus

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Blue Jackets are off to another poor start as they have dropped their first four outings. GM Jarmo Kekalainen stated that the players have seemed to lost their confidence after being so confident heading into the season. Sergei Bobrovsky is in Semyon Varlamov territory thus far as he has a 5.07 GAA and a .830 save percentage. It looks like Russian netminders are having difficulty in the NHL so far. Ryan Johansen has five points in his first four games but that still has not helped Columbus get in the win column. Alex Wennberg is still recovering from a concussion but has started skating. Brandon Saad has three goals.  

 

DALLAS

 

Games this week

@Philadelphia, @ Pittsburgh, vs. Florida

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Valeri Nichushkin, the Stars first round pick and 10th overall in the 2013 Draft, has been a healthy scratch as he has gone from a top-six forward to a fourth line forward to the press box in a matter of a week. It’s time to trade for him in dynasty pools as he has a wealth of skill. Jamie Benn is off to a good start as the Art Ross Trophy winner has five points in his first four games. The Stars have been splitting the net in the early going as Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi each have played twice. Lehtonen has the better stats as he is 2-0 with a 2.52 GAA and a .918 save percentage compared to Niemi’s 1-1 record, 3.00 GAA and .908 save percentage. Jason Spezza had a hat trick Tuesday and has four goals and six points in four games.

 

DETROIT

 

Games this week

@ Edmonton, @ Calgary @ Vancouver

 

Rested Team: None  

Tired Team: @ Vancouver (Saturday)

 

Notes

The Red Wings are in Western Canada this week and play three games in four nights so expect to see Jimmy Howard play twice with Petr Mrazek getting the call between the pipes once. Johan Franzen’s NHL career could be in peril as the veteran forward was placed on the injured reserve list with concussion symptoms. He played only 33 games last season because of the ailment and this could be the beginning of the end for the 35-year-old.  Danny DeKeyser is healing faster than anticipated and could return to the lineup from a strained ligament in his foot as early as October 17, rather than the end of October as first thought. He could line up with Mike Green and that would add to his fantasy value. Henrik Zetterberg is off to a blazing start with seven points and a plus-five rating in just three games.

 

EDMONTON

 

Games this week

vs. Detroit, vs. Washington, vs. Los Angeles

 

Rested Team: vs. Washington (Friday)  

Tired Team: None

Notes    

The Oilers are off to a tough start as they are pointless in their first four games. Wunderkid Connor McDavid has had a tough time of things with a solitary assist and a minus-five rating in four games. Hopefully you can find some disgruntled owner (and trust me there are many of them in fantasy hockey as it’s ‘what have you done for me lately’) who is more than willing to deal the 18-year-old. If so, jump on the deal as fast as you can. The Oilers have scored only five times and no one on the team has more than one point. The goaltending stats aren’t too bad considering as Cam Talbot is 0-3 with a 2.73 GAA and a .906 save percentage while backup Anders Nilsson is winless in his only start with a 3.05 GAA and a .941 save percentage.

 

FLORIDA

 

Games this week

@ Pittsburgh, @ Chicago, @ Dallas

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Roberto Luongo has picked up where he left off last season as he is 2-1 with a sparkling 1.54 GAA and a just as impressive .959 save percentage after three games. Ageless wonder Jaromir Jagr leads the way in points for the Panthers with four goals and six points in four games. The 43-year-old would love to play in the NHL until he is 50, and has provided great experience to linemates Aleksander Barkov (five points in four outings) and Jonathan Huberdeau, both young and former first round picks. It bodes well for the future of the Panthers. Reilly Smith has two goals and three points in four games. He is playing alongside Nick Bjugstad and that gives the Panthers two solid lines now and  in the future.

 

LOS ANGELES

 

Games this week

@ San Jose, vs. Carolina @ Edmonton   

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: vs. Carolina (Friday)

 

Notes

The Kings play three games in four nights so look for Jhonas Enroth to get one start with Jonathan Quick getting the other two. Quick is off to a slow start, losing all three games with a 3.71 GAA and a .861 save percentage. Brayden McNabb is seeing most of his even strength time with Drew Doughty on the blueline. That has to help him in the future. Anze Kopitar is off to another slow start as he is pointless in three games. The Kings and Mike Richards agreed on a buyout of his contract and Richards hopes that he is still able to play in the NHL. He has some legal difficulties to take off first.

 

 

MINNESOTA

 

Games this week

vs.  Columbus, vs. Anaheim, @ Winnipeg

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: @ Winnipeg (Sunday)

 

Notes

The Wild play three games in four nights this week, so look for Devan Dubnyk to play twice while Darcy Kuemper is likely to play between the pipes once. Dubnyk is a perfect 3-0 but his peripherals are not strong as he has a 3.00 GAA and a .892 save percentage. Thomas Vanek is scoring despite not getting a lot of ice time as he barely has averaged over 12 minutes in his first three starts and only 8:04 on Thursday. He still has scored twice with a helper in three games. Zach Parise is off to a red-hot start with five goals and six points in three games while Jason Pominville and Ryan Suter each have four assists.

 

MONTREAL

           

Games this week

vs. St. Louis, @ Buffalo, vs. Toronto

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: vs. Toronto (Saturday)

 

Notes

The Canadiens are off to a great start as they are perfect in five games, the best start in their history. Carey Price has been sensational with a 4-0 record to go with a 1.51 GAA and a .957 save percentage. Tomas Fleischmann has scored in his last two games while Tomas Plekanec has four goals in five games. Andrei Markov is a plus-eight with Plekanec, Max Pacioretty and P.K. Subban just one behind. They are the top-four in the NHL. If you have a lot of Canadiens on your team, chances are you are off to a hot start in your fantasy pool. Mike Condon got his first NHL start Sunday and was a 3-1 winner over Ottawa as he kicked out 20 shots.

 

 NASHVILLE

 

Games this week

vs. Tampa Bay, vs. Anaheim, vs. Pittsburgh

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Pekke Rinne had a tough time of things Thursday as he gave up four goals to the Islanders after giving up only two goals in his first three games. Roman Josi has a couple of goals and three points in his first four games as he continues to show that he is one of the best defensemen in fantasy hockey (as well as the real game). Filip Forsberg is off to a good start as well with two goals and four points in as many games. Cody Hodgson has yet to get a point for the Predators but at least he’s a plus-one. Mike Ribeiro is off to a slow start with one helper. Shea Weber also has only one assist in four games.

 

NEW JERSEY

 

Games this week

vs. Arizona, @ Ottawa, @ Buffalo

 

Rested Team: @ Buffalo (Saturday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Travis Zajac has missed practice the last two days so his availability could be in question. Reid Boucher was sent to the minors but recalled quickly. No Devil has more than one goal. Michael Cammalleri has a goal and three points in three games. Brian O'Neill is the only Devil who is a plus after three games. It’s amazing but the Devils have allowed three empty net goals in Keith Kincaid’s two games. Adam Larsson is pointless in three games, as is Zajac.

 

NEW YORK ISLANDERS

 

Games this week

@ Columbus, vs. Boston, @ St. Louis

 

Rested Team: None  

Tired Team: @ St. Louis (Saturday)

 

Notes

Thomas Greiss has been very good in the Islanders net with a 2-0-1 record as Jaroslav Halak has been out of action thus far this season with an upper body injury. He has been practicing and when he returns. Jean-Francois Berube (0-1/4.00/.882) will return to the minors. John Tavares has three goals and six points in four games while Mikhail Grabovski finally picked up his first points of the season on Thursday with a couple of assists. He had only 19 points last season and is likely capable of 40 points if he can remain healthy. Thomas Hickey fractured his thumb near the end of training camp and is starting to practice. He should return in a couple of weeks.

 

 

NEW YORK RANGERS

 

Games this week

vs. San Jose, vs. Arizona, @ Philadelphia, vs. Calgary

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: vs. San Jose (Monday), vs. Calgary (Sunday)

 

Notes

 

The Rangers play three games in four nights so look for Antti Raanta to get one start. The Rangers are the only team in the NHL to play four games this week so I obviously recommend playing your New York players this week. Rick Nash does not have a goal in the Rangers first five games and only one assist. Henrik Lundqvist is only 3-2 to start the season but his peripherals are good as he has a 2.21 GAA and a .933 save percentage.  Emerson Etem finally got into the Rangers lineup Thursday after being a healthy scratch the first four games. The Rangers gave up Carl Hagelin to get him and expect a lot out of Etem. Oscar Lindberg has been held scoreless in his last two games after scoring four in his first three contests.

 

OTTAWA     

 

Games this week

vs. New Jersey, vs. Arizona  

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Craig Anderson has taken hold of the starting gig in net as he is 3-1 this season with a 2.47 GAA and a .931 save percentage. Andrew “The Hamburglar” Hammond was sensational last season as he stole a playoff berth for the Senators with a 20-1-2 record down the stretch but he really has not been anything better than a backup goalie previously and don’t expect anything different this season from the 27-year-old. Clarke MacArthur may have another head injury and that’s not good since he suffered a concussion last season. Kyle Turris has been outstanding in the early going with four goals and six points in five games. Linemate Mark Stone has six points as well with one goal.  

 

PHILADELPHIA

 

Games this week

vs. Dallas, @ Boston, vs. New York Rangers

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: @ Boston (Wednesday)

 

Notes

The Flyers had Steve Mason leave the team for a few days for personal reasons and Michal Neuvirth was outstanding in his absence, picking up a pair of shutouts in two games. He got into the Flyers second game as he took over from Mason after Mason gave up four goals on eight shots. Neuvirth is 2-0 with a 1.04 GAA and a .964 save percentage. Sam Gagner started the season in the press box but now has two points including a goal in two games. Claude Giroux played in his 500th NHL game on Wednesday and celebrated with his first goal of the season. Vincent Lecavalier has been a healthy scratch in every game this season.

 

PITTSBURGH

 

Games this week

vs. Florida, vs. Dallas, @ Nashville

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Daniel Sprong scored his first career goal on Thursday as he saw third line duty. Beau Bennett missed the game with an undisclosed injury and Sprong took full advantage. I still expect Sprong to be sent back to junior hockey before he plays ten NHL games this season. Sergei Plotnikov, a sleeper pick in so many pools (I guess it really isn’t a sleeper pick if so many poolies know about him) was a healthy scratch on Thursday. He has not impressed in the early going and had no points and no shots on net in three games. I wouldn't drop him just yet.

 

ST. LOUIS

 

Games this week

@ Montreal, vs. New York Islanders

 

Rested Team: vs. New York Islanders (Saturday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Blues finish a five game road trip in Canada and return home to play a tired Islanders squad. Kevin Shattenkirk missed Thursday's game with a lower body injury. Consider him day-to-day. The Blues have been splitting the net between Jake Allen and Brian Elliott. Jori Lehtera has four points in four games and is one point behind the team lead held by Troy Brouwer, Alexander Steen and Vladimir Tarasenko. Robby Fabbri suffered a concussion and has been placed on the injured reserve list. Coach Ken Hitchcock was impressed by the energy of Scottie Upshall who made his seasonal debut Tuesday. He also scored which has to impress the coach.

 

SAN JOSE

 

Games this week

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

 

Rested Team: @ New York Rangers (Monay), vs. Carolina (Saturday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Logan Couture is out four-six weeks with a fractured right fibula which occurred during practice Thursday. That is a big blow to the Sharks and poolies. Martin Jones has been outstanding thus far as he has given up only one goal in three games. He is 3-0 with a 0.33 GAA and a .987 save percentage. Jones is making it awfully hard for Alex Stalock to stake a claim to the crease. Every Shark who has played in the first three games is a plus player, led by Justin Braun at plus-five. The Sharks have gone with the same lineup through the first three games but that will change with the injury to Couture.  

 

TAMPA BAY

 

Games this week

@ Nashville, @ Winnipeg, @ Chicago

 

Rested team: None

Tired Team: @ Chicago (Saturday)

 

Notes

Jonathan Drouin is showing why he was selected third overall in 2013 as he has a goal and six points in five games after a four goal, 32 point season in 2014-15. Victor Hedman left Thursday's game with a possible head injury and underwent concussion protocol. Stay tuned. Steven Stamkos has four goals in his first five games and added his first assist of the season Thursday. Alex Killorn is day-to-day with an upper body injury. The Lightning have been horrid on the penalty kill as they have given up seven goals in only 15 chances. Ben Bishop is 3-2 with a 2.63 GAA and a .896 save percentage. His so-so play could give Andrei Vasilevskiy a chance once he returns from off-season vascular surgery.   

 

TORONTO

 

Games this week

@ Buffalo, @ Montreal

 

Rested team:  @ Montreal (Saturday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Maple Leafs finish off a four game road trip this week. They have to be thankful that the Blue Jays are making their World Series run as the Maple Leafs have been knocked off the front of the sports page. It looks like Jonathan Bernier and James Reimer will be splitting the net for the foreseeable future. Tyler Bozak is back on the first line with James van Riemsdyk as Leo Komarov is on the wing as well. The Leafs need van Riemsdyk to start scoring as he is one of the few players who have the potential to score 30 goals.

 

VANCOUVER

 

Games this week

vs. Washington, vs. Detroit

 

Rested Team: vs. Detroit (Saturday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Radim Vrbata has 18 shots on goal but has yet to score this season. He likely misses the Sedin twins as he has been moved off the first unit. Ryan Miller is off to a great start with a 3-0-1 record to go with a 1.21 GAA and a .955 save percentage. Adam Cracknell is the only Canuck with more than one goal. Brandon Prust leads the NHL in penalty minutes with 25 while teammate Derek Dorsett is tied for second with the Flames Brandon Bollig at 17. Jannik Hansen is off to a nice start with a goal and four points and a plus-six rating to lead the Canucks in the latter two categories.

 

WASHINGTON

 

Games this week

@ Calgary, @ Vancouver, @ Edmonton

 

Rested team: None  

Tired Team: @ Edmonton (Saturday)

 

 

Notes

The news of the week as far as the Capitals are concerned is the scratching of Alex Ovechkin from the lineup this week as he overslept and missed practice. He said that he set his alarm clock to pm instead of am. Nicklas Backstrom is likely to be back for the Calgary game if not sooner as October 17 could be the date of his return from hip surgery. Look for him to be reunited with Ovechkin with newcomer T.J. Oshie joining them. It will move Evgeny Kuznetsov off the line to the second unit but he made his last game with Ovie and Oshie a success with a pair of assists. The Capitals are in Western Canada this week.  

 

WINNIPEG

 

Games this week

vs. Tampa Bay, vs. Minnesota

 

Rested team: vs. Minnesota (Sunday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Jets got a bit of a scare (as did fantasy owners) when Dustin Byfuglien suffered a leg injury on Monday but he managed to play on Tuesday to the delight of his fans and teammates. Nikolaj Ehlers scored his first NHL goal of his career on Tuesday and it will be the first of many. The Jets have been getting great goaltending, especially from Michael Hutchinson who is 2-0 with a 1.00 GAA and a .968 save percentage. Ondrej Pavelec has split the net with Hutchinson in the early going and is 1-1 with a 2.52 GAA and a .932 save percentage. Jacob Trouba has only one assist in four games but the defenseman is a plus-six. 

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.