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The Week Ahead

Preds and Bolts Lead the Way

by Michael Finewax

Thanksgiving Day has become a traditional one for the NHL in the sense that if you are in a playoff spot on that day, chances are around 80 percent that you are going to make the playoffs. With that in mind, here are the top eight teams in the East and West.

 

In the East, Tampa Bay leads with 31 points, followed by Toronto and Buffalo with 30, Columbus, Boston, Montreal and the Rangers with 26 and Washington with 25.

 

In the West Nashville leads with 33, with Minnesota at 28, Calgary at 27, Winnipeg, Colorado and San Jose with 26, Dallas with 24, Anaheim with 23 and Vancouver with 22.

Take it for what it is worth.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

WEEK OF NOVEMBER 26-DECEMBER 2

 

4 Games – Anaheim, Chicago, Colorado, Detroit, Florida, Los Angeles, New York Rangers, Ottawa, San Jose, Winnipeg

 

3 Games –Arizona, Boston, Buffalo, Calgary, Carolina, Columbus, Dallas, Edmonton, Minnesota, Montreal, Nashville, New Jersey, New York Islanders, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Toronto, Vancouver, Vegas, Washington

 

2 Games – Philadelphia

 

Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Jose play all four games on the road this week.

 

Florida plays all four games at home.

 

Dallas, St. Louis and Vegas play three games on the road.

 

Detroit, Edmonton, Montreal, Nashville and Vancouver play three games at home.

 

INJURIES

 

Patrice Bergeron is out at least four weeks with a rib and sternoclavicular 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

@ Tampa Bay, @ Florida, @ Carolina, @ Washington

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: @ Florida (Wednesday)

 

Notes

The Ducks are on the road for all four games this week and play three games in four nights as well. John Gibson should start three games with Ryan Miller playing once. Ondrej Kase has been playing on the top line with Ryan Getzlaf and Rickard Rakell and should be picked up in most leagues as he has goals in back-to-back games. Rakell continues to struggle with his goal-scoring as he has only three goals in 23 games after back-to-back 30-plus goal seasons. Getzlaf has 16 points in 17 games but injuries continue to plague the Ducks as their blueline has been decimated by injuries to Cam Fowler and Hampus Lindholm. Brandon Montour has taken over the quarterback spot on the power play and had a three-point night Sunday.

 

ARIZONA

 

Games this week

@ Minnesota, @ Nashville, vs. St. Louis

 

Rested Team: vs. St. Louis (Saturday)

 

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Antti Raanta has missed the last eight games with a lower body injury but has been practicing with the team and could return to the lineup as early as November 23. The Coyotes are also getting healthy on the blueline as Alex Goligoski and Jakob Chychrun returned to action on Wednesday, but Jason Demers should be out the rest of the season with a knee injury. The Coyotes power play has caught up to their penalty killing unit as both sides have scored 10 times. Clayton Keller has a team-leading 13 points in 20 games but they need a lot more production out of their forwards. Alex Galchenyuk has nine points in only 13 games so perhaps he can be the forward that Arizona relies on.

 

BOSTON

 

Games this week

@ Toronto, vs. New York Islanders, vs. Detroit

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Bruins have lost their top center Patrice Bergeron with a rib and sternoclavicular injury. He will be sorely missed as he has 26 points in 19 games and is the Bruins best face-off man. David Krejci is centering David Pastrnak and Anders Bjork while Joakim Nordstrom is centering Jake DeBrusk and Brad Marchand. The Bruins are also hurting on the blueline with Charlie McAvoy, Zdeno Chara, John Moore, Brandon Carlo and Uhro Vaakanainen hurt. The good news was that Kevan Miller returned for the first time since October 18 when he suffered a hand injury. DeBrusk has eight goals this season with five coming in his last seven games. Jaroslav Halak continues to impress with a 7-2-2 record to go with a 2.07 GAA and a .935 save percentage.

 

BUFFALO

 

Games this week

vs. San Jose, @ Tampa Bay, @ Florida

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: @ Florida (Friday)

 

Notes

The Sabres play three games in four nights so look for Carter Hutton to play twice with Linus Ullmark getting the net once. Hutton has been everything the Sabres expected after they signed him as a UFA from St. Louis as he has won six in a row and is 10-6-1 with a 2.57 GAA and a .917 save percentage. Sam Reinhart is no longer on the top line with Jack Eichel and Jeff Skinner (Jason Pominville is back in that spot) but has 16 points in 22 games this season. Scott Wilson is expected to resume skating soon as he attempts to return from ankle surgery. Skinner has 15 goals in 22 games this season. Eichel is headed for the best season in his young career with 25 points in 22 contests.

 

CALGARY

Games this week

vs. Dallas, vs. Los Angeles, @ Chicago

 

Rested Team: vs. Dallas (Wednesday), vs. Los Angeles (Friday), @ Chicago (Sunday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Flames play three games this week and are the rested team for all three games. The Flames top line of Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau and Elias Lindholm have combined for 74 points in 22 games. The better news is that Matthew Tkachuk is the team leader in points with 27 and Mark Giordano is having a great comeback season with 20 points and a plus-10 rating in 22 contests. Sam Bennett is seeing fourth line time and has a three-game points streak going. David Rittich has been strong in goal as he has taken over from Mike Smith as the number one goaltender for now. He is 8-1-0 with a 2.04 GAA and a .930 save percentage. He should hold onto the job for a while.

 

CAROLINA

 

Games this week

@ Montreal, vs. Anaheim, @ Los Angeles

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Hurricanes are in the midst of playing five-of-six on the road. They also start their California swing this week. Carolina had the weirdest of anomalies against the Maple Leafs Wednesday as they had 29 shots on goal in the first period and only two in the second. Victor Rask finally made his season’s debut Wednesday as he had been out all season with a hand injury as he underwent surgery after cutting his hand while slicing food just before the start of training camp. He played alongside Warren Foefele and Phil Di Guiseppe. Petr Mrazek has started to practice after he has been out since November 2 with a lower-body injury. Scott Darling has not played well and could be in danger of being the odd-man out as Curtis McElhinney has played the best of the bunch with a 5-2-0 record to go with a 2.43 GAA and a .909 save percentage.

 

CHICAGO

 

Games this week

vs. Vegas, @ Winnipeg, @ Nashville, vs. Calgary

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: vs. Calgary (Sunday)

 

Notes

The Blackhawks play three games in four nights as part of a four-game week so look for Corey Crawford to play thrice with Cam Ward playing once. Crawford was the second star of the week as he was 2-0-1 with a .65 GAA and a .980 save percentage. Brandon Saad has seven goals and 11 points in 20 games but has five goals in his last 10 with a goal in each of his last three games. The Blackhawks have only seven goals this season from their blueliner with three coming off the stick of Brent Seabrook. Jonathan Toews has been streaky this season as he has a five-game points streak going with six points in that span. He started the season with five goals and nine points in his first six games but had only three goals with nary an assist in the 11 games between the streaks.

 

COLORADO

 

Games this week

@ Nashville, vs. Pittsburgh, vs. St. Louis, @ Detroit  

 

Rested Team: @ Detroit (Sunday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Avalanche play four games this week including three in four nights so look for Semyon Varlamov to play three times with Philipp Grubauer seeing action once. Alexander Kerfoot had three assists Wednesday in his 100th career NHL game and now has four goals and 17 points in 21 games. The Avs didn’t make for a Happy Thanksgiving for Marko Dano as the winger was placed on waivers Thursday. Mikko Rantanen leads the NHL in scoring with 31 points but he was fined $2,000 for diving/embellishing as he has done it twice this season, on October 16 and November 14. After going minus-65 over the last three seasons, Tyson Barrie is a plus-11 this season.

 

COLUMBUS       

 

Games this week

@ Detroit, vs. Minnesota, @ New York Islanders

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Blue Jackets have jumped into first place in the Metropolitan Division despite losing on Monday to Toronto as the Maple Leafs ended a seven-game unbeaten streak. Cam Atkinson has been white-hot of late with seven goals and 11 points in his last five games. He had 11 points in his first 15 contests. He is tied with Artemi Panarin for the Columbus lead in points this season and was the NHL’s first star of the week. Joonas Korpisalo is 5-0-2 this season but has a 3.67 GAA and a .885 save percentage while Sergei Bobrovsky is only 7-7-0 but has a 2.63 GAA and a .915 save percentage. Alexander Wennberg has only one goal in 21 games this season.

 

DALLAS

 

Games this week

@ Edmonton, @ Calgary, @ Vancouver

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: @ Calgary (Wednesday)

 

Notes

The Stars are in Western Canada all week. Ben Bishop is out about a week with a muscle strain. Anton Khudobin got the start Wednesday but gave up five goals on 16 shots before he was pulled. Landon Bow will back up Khudobin in the interim. The Stars sent Ben Gleason to the minors and recalled Taylor Fedun, the ex-Sabre. Rookie Roope Hintz has two goals in his last three games. John Klingberg will miss at least four more weeks after surgery on his hand. The injury will give the rookie Miro Heiskanen extra time on the power play. Esa Lindell took advantage of the injury to Klingberg and scored a couple of goals Sunday. Blake Comeau is a team-worst minus-10.  

 

 

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.