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The Week Ahead

Plekanec leads way for Habs

by Michael Finewax
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:09 pm ET

Well, it’s two nights into the NHL season and the Ducks, Flyers and Coyotes have given up six goals in one game while Colorado gave up five. It’s way too early to panic as most of these teams have good defense and goaltending so don’t start looking on the waiver wire to replace them just yet.


After two nights of the NHL season, Tomas Plekanec, Mason Raymond and Corey Perry are tied for the goal scoring lead with Perry playing only once. 

  

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

And while you're at it, play Yahoo fantasy hockey!

 

Lots to talk about so:

 

Now to The Week Ahead.

 

WEEK OF OCTOBER 13-19

 

4 Games - Anaheim, Boston, Buffalo, Calgary, Colorado, San Jose

 

3 Games- Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Edmonton, Florida, Los Angeles, Montreal, Nashville, New Jersey, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Ottawa, St. Louis,  Tampa Bay, Toronto, Washington

 

2 Games– Arizona, Carolina, Chicago, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Vancouver, Winnipeg

 

Calgary, Colorado and San Jose play all four games away from home.

 

Boston and St. Louis play three games on the road.

 

Buffalo, Los Angeles, the New York Rangers and Washington play three games at home.

 

Don't forget to join a Yahoo Hockey pool. The season starts on Wednesday so act quickly.

 

INJURIES

 

Brandon Dubinsky is out six weeks after undergoing abdominal surgery. (Click here to see the rest of the injury list.)

 

 

ANAHEIM

 

Games this week

@ Buffalo, @ Philadelphia, vs. Minnesota, vs. St. Louis

 

Rested team: vs. St. Louis (Sunday)

Tired Team: @ Philadelphia (Tuesday)

 

Notes

It seems that the career of Sheldon Souray could be over as he is unlikely to return from wrist surgery that he had in the summer of 2013. This will improve the fantasy value of Hampus Lindholm who should see some time on the second power play unit. Dany Heatley was supposed to start the season on the first line alongside Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry but is out of action with a groin injury. The spot was taken on Thursday by Patrick Maroon. Hopefully, if you took Frederik Andersen or John Gibson, you were able to handcuff the duo. I like Gibson long-term but this season coach Bruce Boudreau may split the job.

 

ARIZONA

 

Games this week

vs. Edmonton, vs. St. Louis

 

Rested team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

I took Mike Smith in one of my pools and made sure to handcuff him with Devan Dubnyk. I’ve never been a big fan of Dubnyk but being in Arizona with a more defensive system than in Edmonton (or at least better defensemen) will help his game. Antoine Vermette tends to get overlooked in a lot of pools but he is worth looking at in most pools as he will be on the top line. Don’t be afraid to take Shane Doan late in one-year pools. Today (Friday) is his 38th birthday but the wily veteran is still worth a late pick. Defenseman Brandon Gormley, the Coyotes first round pick in 2010 did not make the team but blueliner Connor Murphy, their first pick in 2011, did.

 

BOSTON

 

Games this week

vs. Colorado, @ Detroit, @ Montreal, @ Buffalo

 

Rested team: @ Buffalo (Saturday)

Tired Team: @ Montreal (Thursday)

 

Notes

The Bruins play three games in four nights for the second week in a row so expect to see Niklas Svedberg will play once instead of Tuukka Rask. The injury to David Krejci (undisclosed) will force him to miss the first three games at minimum. Milan Lucic started the season on a line with Ryan Spooner and Matt Fraser. If you are looking for an enforcer, look at Bobby Robins who surprisingly made the team and then had seven penalty minutes in his first game. He is not someone who is going to score but he also managed five hits in less than seven minutes of action. Simon Gagne was not signed by the Bruins but will stay with the team in hopes of inking a deal shortly.

 

BUFFALO

 

Games this week

vs. Anaheim, @ Carolina, vs. Florida, vs. Boston

 

Rested team: None

Tired Team: @ Carolina (Tuesday), vs. Boston (Saturday)

 

Notes

Drew Stafford will start the season alongside Matt Moulson and Tyler Ennis. Sam Reinhart made the Sabres opening night lineup but I really think the best thing for him is to get a taste of the NHL and then go back to junior and dominate. I like him next season, especially if Jack Eichel or Connor McDavid is selected by the Sabres. Mikhail Grigorenko has been sent to the minors but he should be recalled before the end of the month. Jhonas Enroth picked up the start in the opener but that should be no surprise since his counterpart Michal Neuvirth gave up 10 goals on only 58 shots in the preseason.

 

CALGARY

 

Games this week

@ Nashville, @ Chicago, @ Columbus, @ Winnipeg

 

Rested team: None

Tired Team: @ Chicago (Wednesday)

 

Notes

The Flames play three games in four nights so look for Karri Ramo to get into one game with Jonas Hiller playing three times as Calgary is on the road for four games. Matt Stajan has dropped down to the fourth line after playing plenty last season as a top-six forward. He is not worth picking up at this time (or possibly any time).  Sam Bennett could require shoulder surgery which will definitely put a damper on his rookie season. If he needs it, he will likely miss the World Junior tournament as he would be out for months. Rookie sensation Johnny Gaudreau was expected to start the season with Paul Byron and Joe Colborne.

 

CAROLINA

 

Games this week

 vs. Buffalo, @ New York Rangers

 

Rested team: None

Tired Team: vs. Buffalo (Tuesday)

 

Notes

The Hurricanes play only twice this week, so you should bench your Carolina players in weekly transaction pools. You have to feel sorry for Jeff Skinner, who should have had a wonderful career ahead of him but with three concussions since turning pro in the 2010-11 seasons, he certainly is at risk. He is only 22 and already has scored 97 goals in 259 NHL games, but his long-term health is more important than the risk of another concussion. No idea how long he will be out for, but I would steer clear of him in pools for now. I like Elias Lindholm who was drafted fifth overall last season and he’ll start the season on the second line with Victor Rask and Nathan Gerbe.

 

CHICAGO

 

Games this week

vs. Calgary, vs. Nashville

 

Rested team: vs. Calgary (Wednesday), vs. Nashville (Saturday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Blackhawks have a huge advantage this week as they only play twice and are facing a team that played the night before on both occasions. Brad Richards fantasy value took a hit early as he will start the season on the third line with Jeremy Morin and Bryan Bickell and not the second unit which will feature Patrick Kane. He still should see time on the point with the second power play but for those of you expecting a return to his scoring days with Tampa Bay and Dallas, you likely will be disappointed. Andrew Shaw will start at center on the second line, between Kane and Brandon Saad and that will help his fantasy value.

 

COLORADO

 

Games this week

@ Boston, @ Toronto, @ Ottawa, @ Montreal

 

Rested team: None

Tired Team: @ Toronto (Tuesday)

 

Notes

The Avalanche play four on the road including three games in four nights so look for Reto Berra to play once for Semyon Varlamov. Coach Patrick Roy was impressed by the pre-season play of Berra. I think a good play this season will be on Alex Tanguay who missed most of last season with hip and knee problems and subsequent hip surgery. He will start on the top line with Jarome Iginla and Matt Duchene and that’s not a bad gig to have. Look for 50-55 points for a player who is an afterthought in most deep pools. The Avalanche are blessed with another outstanding line as Ryan O'Reilly will center Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon.

 

COLUMBUS

 

Games this week

vs. Dallas, vs. Calgary, @ Ottawa

 

Rested team: None

Tired Team: @ Ottawa (Saturday)

 

Notes

The Blue Jackets received some great news when Ryan Johansen agreed to terms on a three-year bridge deal which will take him to being one year away from free agency, but were hurt on another front as injuries continue to pile up. Brandon Dubinsky will be out about six weeks after undergoing abdominal surgery and Ryan Murray, Nathan Horton and Boone Jenner were also placed on the injured reserve list. In addition, Sonny Milano is hurt but he will be sent to junior hockey once he returns from facial fractures. Jack Skille played last season for Columbus before signing in the off-season with the Islanders. The Blue Jackets claimed him off waivers this week but he is a bottom-six forward and not worthy of fantasy consideration.

 

DALLAS

 

Games this week

@ Columbus, @ Pittsburgh, vs. Philadelphia

 

Rested team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Stars are going with four forwards on their first power play and Ales Hemsky will benefit greatly from playing with Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Jason Spezza. Trevor Daley and Alex Goligoski have alternated on the point and I think that Goligoski will get most of the playing time there. Defenseman Brenden Dillon could get off to a slow start after missing most of training camp as a holdout. See if you can reserve him early on if you drafted him. Erik Cole was a healthy scratch on Thursday after he was late for practice on Monday.

 

DETROIT

 

Games this week

vs. Boston, @ Toronto, vs. Toronto

 

Rested team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Jonas Gustavsson could see his first action of the season as the Red Wings play three games in four nights, including a home-and-home series against Toronto. There could be fisticuffs in the Toronto games and if so, look for Kyle Quincey or Brendan Smith to partake. Pavel Datsyuk only played in 45 games last season and he missed the opener on Thursday. Last season could have been the start of an injury-plagued rest of his career. Henrik Zetterberg is in a similar boat but the 34-year-old is hoping that he will not have back trouble this season.

 

EDMONTON

 

Games this week

@ Los Angeles, @ Arizona, vs. Vancouver

 

Rested team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Oilers play three games in four nights and do not play on the weekend. Expect to see Ben Scrivens between the pipes once with Viktor Fasth playing once and the third being up in the air. Rookie Leon Draisaitl started the season with the Oilers on the second line with Benoit Pouliot and David Perron as his linemates. Darnell Nurse, the nephew of former Eagles quarterback Donavon McNabb, has secured a spot on the blueline but he could be sent back to junior hockey before he plays his 10th NHL game and burns a year off his contract. The return of defenseman Nikita Nikitin in a week or two, could be enough to send Nurse to Sault Ste. Marie. 

 

FLORIDA

 

Games this week

vs. Ottawa, @ Buffalo, @ Washington  

 

Rested team: None

Tired Team: @ Washington (Saturday)

 

Notes

First overall pick in the 2014 Draft, Aaron Ekblad, has made the final roster of the Panthers and picked up an assist in his first game. Coach Gerard Gallant is teaming him up with veteran Brian Campbell and the duo should be the Panthers top defense pairing this season. Of course the Panthers still have the option of sending the youngster back to junior hockey. Jonathan Huberdeau will be looking to make amends after a horrible 2013-14 campaign as he scored only nine goals and added 19 assists after winning the Calder Trophy the year before. I look for a big comeback season from Huberdeau as he should get close to 50 points, if not more.

 

LOS ANGELES

 

Games this week

vs. Edmonton, vs. St. Louis, vs. Minnesota

 

Rested team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Jonathan Quick struggled in his opening game as he was pulled after giving up four goals in the first two periods. He underwent off-season wrist surgery and he could still be trying to get healthy. Martin Jones is likely to see more action this season than most poolies think as the Kings want to keep Quick rested before the start of what may be another long playoff run. The Kings became the first Stanley Cup winning team to be shutout in their opening game the next season since the 1941 season. They are home for all three games this week.

 

MINNESOTA

 

Games this week

@ Anaheim, @ Los Angeles

 

Rested team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Wild only play in the greater Los Angeles area this week as they play twice so we recommend resting all in weekly transaction pools with the exception of Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu and Thomas Vanek. Darcy Kuemper seems to have won the starting goaltending job with the Wild, beating out Niklas Backstrom. Josh Harding, who won the job last season is injured with a fractured ankle, so his status this season - as he is also battling multiple sclerosis - is up in the air. Charlie Coyle is expected to play center all season. I really like Mikael Granlund as he had eight goals and 33 assists in 63 games in 2013-14 and is expected to do much better this season.

 

MONTREAL

           

Games this week

@ Tampa Bay, vs. Boston, vs. Colorado

 

Rested team: vs. Boston (Thursday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Habs finish a four game road trip in Tampa Bay before playing their first home game against the Bruins on Thursday. Tomas Plekanec is off to a hot start with three goals in his first two games. I think the Canadiens will be stronger in net this season with Dustin Tokarski as the backup. His play will allow Montreal to rest Carey Price a little bit more and that will help them down the stretch and into the playoffs. Handcuff the duo if you can. Keep an eye on rookie defenseman Nathan Beaulieu as he cracked the Montreal lineup. He is only 21 and had seven goals and 27 points for Hamilton of the AHL last season in 57 games with two helpers in 17 NHL games.

 

NASHVILLE

 

Games this week

vs. Calgary, @ Winnipeg, @ Chicago

 

Rested team: None

Tired Team: @ Chicago (Saturday)

 

Notes

It looks like Pekka Rinne is ready to resume his career as a top flight fantasy goaltender after only playing in 24 games last season. He backstopped the Predators to a 3-2 win over the Senators Thursday. The top line in Nashville will be newcomers James Neal and Mike Ribeiro with Nashville veteran Gabriel Bourque. I recommend drafting Neal (Kevin Brown loves him as you can read in his In The Crease column) and spending a mid-late round pick on Ribeiro. The wild card is Bourque. He has only 27 goals and 61 points in 152 NHL games but he is worth a shot in deep leagues as he has a chance to stay on the line. 

 

NEW JERSEY

 

Games this week

@ Tampa Bay, @ Washington, vs. San Jose

 

Rested team: @ Tampa Bay (Tuesday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The top line in New Jersey got off to a hot start on Thursday as Michael Cammalleri scored twice while linemates Adam Henrique and Jaromir Jagr each had two points to lead the Devils to a 6-2 win. The second line of Martin Havlat and Patrik Elias seems to be a good one as well and if he can remain healthy, look for Havlat to have a bounce back season. Jagr moved into the sixth spot in all time scoring Thursday with 1,758 points and now trails Marcel Dionne by only 13 points. Jordin Tootoo is worth looking at if you are in need of penalty minutes.

 

NEW YORK ISLANDERS

 

Games this week

@ New York Rangers, vs. San Jose, @ Pittsburgh

 

Rested team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Islanders shored up their blueline with a couple of trades, getting Johnny Boychuk from Boston and Nick Leddy from the Blackhawks. Griffin Reinhart, the Islanders first pick and fourth overall in the 2012 Draft, made the team but with Lubomir Visnovsky and Matt Carkner out of action with injuries, Reinhart will likely be sent to the minors once Visnovsky returns. Reinhart has only played in junior hockey and the blueline is the toughest spot to jump into in the NHL so don’t be surprised if he is not with the big club for a while once he is dropped. Anders Lee had a good camp but could not crack the Islanders out of camp. He will return when injuries start playing a role with the Islanders up front.

 

NEW YORK RANGERS

 

Games this week

vs. New York Islanders, vs. Carolina, vs. San Jose

 

Rested team: vs. San Jose (Sunday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

A great start for Rick Nash as he potted a pair of goals on Thursday and assisted on the third in a 3-2 win over the Blues. Bad news for Dan Boyle owners as he broke his hand on Thursday blocking a Jori Lehtera shot and he will be out of action for the next four-six weeks.  Anthony Duclair was held off the scoresheet in his debut but he was on the ice for 2:08 minutes on the power play and that was fifth best on the Rangers. Matt Hunwick and Ryan Malone were healthy scratches for the Rangers on Thursday.

 

OTTAWA     

 

Games this week

@ Florida, vs. Colorado, vs. Columbus

 

Rested team: vs. Columbus (Thursday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

It appears that Craig Anderson will be the number one netminder, at least for now and that lessens the fantasy value of Robin Lehner. Anderson did not have a good season in 2013-14 and he could be on a short leash, allowing Lehner an eventual chance to take over so handcuff the two if you can. If you are looking for penalty minutes, then Mark Borowiecki could be your man. Finding defensemen who are penalty minute leaders is rare and Borowiecki has had 157 and 158 penalty minutes in his last two years in the AHL. He chipped in with a minor on Thursday and also picked up a rare assist on Kyle Turris’ goal. He is worth a shot.

 

PHILADELPHIA

 

Games this week

vs. Anaheim, @ Dallas

 

Rested team: vs. Anaheim (Tuesday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Flyers play only twice in eight days after opening the season playing in three of the first four nights so bench your Flyers with the exception of Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek in weekly transaction leagues. It was a tough night for Giroux on Thursday even though he scored once and added an assist as he was minus-four against the Devils. He wasn’t as bad as defenseman Luke Schenn who was a minus-five in only 16:01 minutes of action. Voracek, Michael Del Zotto and Michael Raffl were also a minus-four as Raffl saw action on the top line Thursday. That could change as Brayden Schenn could take over the left side. 

 

 

PITTSBURGH

 

Games this week

vs. Dallas, vs. New York Islanders

 

Rested team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Pascal Dupuis had a great opening night with a goal and three helpers as he returned after missing the last 43 games of the 2013-14 season. He is worth taking in all pools as playing on the power play with Sidney Crosby can’t hurt. I was pleasantly surprised by the start of Olli Maatta who had three assists. I really think that a regression is in store for the sophomore but he certainly proved me wrong, at least in game one. Beau Bennett is out at least until mid-November with a lower body injury. Kasperi Kapanen, the Penguins first pick in this year’s Draft, was returned to Finland but made an impressive showing during training camp. Do not forget about him next season.

 

ST. LOUIS

 

Games this week

@ Los Angeles, @ Arizona, @ Anaheim

 

Rested team: None

Tired Team: @ Anaheim (Sunday)

 

Notes

The Blues are out west all week and play three games in four nights. Look for Brian Elliott and Jake Allen to play once each with the third game in the hands of coach Ken Hitchcock. Jaden Schwartz finally inked a deal and he will start the season on a line with Joakim Lindstrom and Jori Lehtera. Lehtera is too old to be considered for the Calder Trophy but the first year player is worth looking at in fantasy pools. Paul Stastny is playing alongside Vladimir Tarasenko and Alexander Steen on the top line for the Blues.

Brian Elliott is slated to get most of the work but if he falters, Jake Allen is in line to start and he would make a great fantasy goalie in that case.

 

SAN JOSE

 

Games this week

@ Washington, @ New York Islanders, @ New Jersey, @ New York Rangers

 

Rested team: None

Tired Team: @ New York Rangers (Sunday)

 

Notes

The Sharks are on the East Coast for all four games this week, including three games in four nights. Look for Alex Stalock and Antti Niemi to split the net this week. It was a big win for the Sharks on Thursday as they beat the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings 4-0 with Tommy Wingels scoring twice and Niemi stopping all 34 shots. The Sharks were eliminated by the Kings in the first round of the playoffs last season after taking a commanding 3-0 lead in games only to see the Kings become the fourth team in NHL playoff history to win four straight after losing the first three. Matt Nieto is worth looking at as he is on a line with Patrick Marleau and Logan Couture.

 

TAMPA BAY

 

Games this week

vs. Montreal, vs. New Jersey, @ Vancouver

 

Rested team: @ Vancouver (Saturday)

Tired Team: vs. New Jersey (Tuesday)

 

Notes

Victor Hedman had a great start to the season with a goal and an assist on Thursday. He will be a top-ten fantasy defenseman this season. I’m looking for a big season from Ryan Callahan and he also got off on the right foot Thursday with a power play goal to open the scoring. Eric Brewer has no fantasy value but the veteran defenseman was not at all happy at being a healthy scratch for the opener. I was impressed with the play of Nikita Kucherov during the pre-season and he could be a nice sleeper this season.

 

TORONTO

 

Games this week

vs. Colorado, vs. Detroit, @ Detroit

 

Rested team: vs. Colorado (Tuesday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Maple Leafs play a home-and-home series against Detroit. If there is any rough stuff, expect to see Dion Phaneuf or David Clarkson (if healthy) to battle.  The Maple Leafs picked up Richard Panik on waivers from the Lightning. As I have stated before, the Leafs are life and death to make the playoffs and the only way they will is if Jonathan Bernier stands on his head. That did not happen on Wednesday as Toronto dropped a 4-3 decision to Montreal. The Phil Kessel, James van Riemsdyk and Tyler Bozak line was not strong in the opener but that will change as they will carry the Maple Leafs offensively.

 

VANCOUVER

 

Games this week

@ Edmonton, vs. Tampa Bay

 

Rested team: None

Tired Team: vs. Tampa Bay (Saturday)

 

Notes

It took Alex Burrows 30 games to score his first goal last season but he scored in the opener this season. Burrows had a terrible training camp so it was a bit of a surprise. Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin and Radim Vrbata looked very good together and this looks to be a great first line for the Canucks. Expect to see the Sedin twins get 70-80 points apiece with Vrbata scoring over 30 and getting close to 70 points. Alexander Edler had a terrible season in 2013-14, especially as far as plus/minus was concerned as he was a minus-39, the worst in the NHL. The Canucks were 4-2 winners on Wednesday and while Edler looked good, he was still a minus-two on the night.

 

WASHINGTON

 

Games this week

vs. San Jose, vs. New Jersey, vs. Florida

 

Rested team: vs. Florida (Saturday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

It was a nice debut for Andrew Burakovsky as he scored on his first NHL shot. The youngster is highly regarded and while I don’t expect him to stay the full season in the NHL, he is worth picking up in dynasty pools. Mike Green was a scratch for the opener as he is dealing with an upper body injury. John Carlsson took over his spot on the first power play as he played with Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Troy Brouwer and Marcus Johansson. Matt Niskanen saw second unit power play action and will lose some fantasy value from last season as he replaced the injured Kris Letang on the vaunted Pittsburgh pp on numerous occasions.

 

WINNIPEG

 

Games this week

vs. Nashville, vs. Calgary

 

Rested team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Jets return home on Friday after a three game road trip to start the season. The Jets received possible bad news on Thursday when Evander Kane was forced to leave the game after only three shifts when he collided with teammate Mark Scheifele and suffered a lower body injury. It’s too early to tell how serious the injury is so consider him day-to-day. Blake Wheeler got off to a hot start with a couple of goals and an assist in the Jets 6-2 opening night win over Arizona. Zach Bogosian has been overlooked in so many pools, especially considering he was drafted third overall in the 2008 Draft. He has had some suspect seasons but opened up this year’s campaign with a couple of assists. He is worth looking at in deep pools as the Jets are lacking somewhat on the blueline.

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.