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The Week Ahead

The Quarter Pole

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

American Thanksgiving is a traditional time in which teams already in the playoffs tend to stay there while obviously teams outside the top 16 have a difficult time climbing back into a playoff spot.

 

Heading into action on Friday there are a few surprising teams that are not in the playoffs including Tampa Bay and Anaheim. I expect both teams to be there come April.

 

The start of the Dallas Stars has also been surprising as they are 17-5 this season. Two of their losses have come to lowly Toronto as well so they have been most impressive against the rest of the league.

 

Arizona sits just outside a playoff spot with an 11-9-1 record and they have been a big surprise as well as they are a young squad. I don’t expect them to make the playoffs but the Coyotes certainly have a bright future.

 

Editor's Note: Haven't tried one-day fantasy hockey on FanDuel? Sign up today and you'll get up to a $200 bonus that's earned as you play plus a money back guarantee! Play 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 NOVEMBER 30-DECEMBER 6

 

4 Games – Anaheim, Arizona, Carolina, Colorado, Edmonton, Florida, New Jersey, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver

 

3 Games –Boston, Buffalo, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Nashville, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, San Jose, Tampa Bay, Winnipeg

 

2 Games - Calgary, Washington

 

Arizona, Colorado and Florida play all four games on the road.

 

Anaheim plays all four games at home.

 

Carolina, Detroit, Edmonton, Los Angeles, New Jersey, the New York Islanders, the New York Rangers and Ottawa play three games at home.

 

Boston, Dallas, Pittsburgh, Toronto and Tampa Bay play three games on the road.

 

 

INJURIES

 

Carey Price suffered a recurrence of his lower body injury and is expected to be out at least a week. (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. Vancouver, vs. Tampa Bay, vs. San Jose, vs. Pittsburgh

 

Rested Team: vs. Pittsburgh (Sunday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Ducks play four times this week, but not three in four nights. Even so, look for Anton Khudobin to get at least one start and possibly two with Frederik Andersen (if healthy) getting the remainder. The Ducks were forced to recall John Gibson due to an illness to Andersen but the assumption is that Andersen should be ready to go by the start of the week. Rickard Rakell (who should be picked up off waivers, if available) has solidified his spot on the first line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry as he has four goals and eight points in his last 10 games. Perry and Getzlaf have been red hot over the last two games as Perry has two goals and four points while Getzlaf had six assists.

 

ARIZONA

 

Games this week

@ Nashville, @ Detroit, @ Buffalo, @ Carolina

 

Rested Team: @ Carolina (Sunday)

Tired Team: @ Buffalo (Friday)

 

Notes

The Coyotes play three games in four nights so look for Anders Lindback to get a start in goal. Mike Smith should get the other three starts as the Coyotes are on the road for all four games. Max Domi is continuing his terrific rookie campaign as he had two assists on Wednesday to give him 18 points in 21 games. Fellow rookie Anthony Duclair scored his eighth Wednesday and is now on a five game points streak. The future looks bright in Phoenix with Dylan Strome, the Coyotes first round pick in 2015, likely to make the team in the next year or two and star shortly thereafter.

 

BOSTON

 

Games this week

@ Edmonton, @ Calgary, @ Vancouver

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: @ Vancouver (Saturday)

 

Notes

The Bruins play three games in four nights and all are in Western Canada. Jonas Gustavsson should get a start with Tuukka Rask getting a couple of chances between the pipes. Gustavsson has been the better netminder this season as he is 5-1 with a 2.15 GAA and a .920 save percentage while Rask is 7-7-1 with a 2.94 GAA and a .900 save percentage. David Krejci has only one goal this month but still has 23 points in 21 games this season. The Bruins picked up Landon Ferraro an early second round pick in 2009 off waivers from Detroit. He should play on the fourth line so his fantasy value is limited at best. Brad Marchand continues to lead the Bruins in goals with 10 and penalty minutes with 37.

 

BUFFALO

 

Games this week

@ Detroit, vs. Arizona, @ Edmonton

 

Rested Team: vs. Arizona (Friday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Robin Lehner situation is getting complicated. Lehner was hurt during the opener and the prognosis on his ankle was six-ten weeks. It has been seven weeks thus far and on Wednesday he was back in a walking boot. Coach Dan Bylsma said he didn’t suffer a setback which is hard to believe because I really don’t think that part of the healing process is to put the walking boot back on in week seven. The Sabres got a bad performance out of Linus Ullmark on Wednesday as he gave up three goals on only eight shots. Chad Johnson could get another shot in goal. Evander Kane is worth looking at despite the fact he has only two goals and four points in 12 games.  

 

CALGARY

 

Games this week

vs. Dallas, vs. Boston

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Flames only play twice this week. The Flames made Jiri Hudler a healthy scratch on Tuesday and that had many poolies shaking their heads. He has 13 points in 20 games this season after a 76 point performance in 2014-15 but that did not seem to matter to coach Bob Hartley. Karri Ramo has been in net for 11 straight starts and is expected to start game number 12 on Friday. They put Joni Ortio on waivers and he went unclaimed so he was sent to the minors. Jonas Hiller will back up Ramo as he has recovered from a hip injury suffered on October 30. 

 

CAROLINA

 

Games this week

@ New York Rangers, vs. New Jersey, vs. Montreal, vs. Arizona

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: vs. Arizona (Sunday)

 

Notes

The Hurricanes play four games this week including three games in four nights. Eddie Lack should get the net in one game and possibly twice but I would say that Cam Ward should play three times. Ryan Murphy has recovered from his concussion and was sent to the minors for a conditioning stint. He should be back soon and is worth taking only in very deep leagues. Kris Versteeg has 14 points in 22 games and has been a pleasant surprise. Jordan Staal on the other hand has been a big disappointment again as he has only four goals and eight points this season. The 10-year/$60 million contract he signed in July, 2012 is proving to be an albatross for the Hurricanes.

 

CHICAGO

 

Games this week

vs. Minnesota, @ Ottawa, vs. Winnipeg

 

Rested Team: vs. Winnipeg (Sunday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Patrick Kane has a 17-game point streak heading into action on Friday and if he can score in each of the next two games, he will set the record for most consecutive games with a point by an American-born player. The record is now held jointly by Eddie Olczyk and Phil Kessel. Kane is leading the NHL in points with 34, two ahead of Jamie Benn. Corey Crawford continues to keep Scott Darling glued to the bench as he is 10-6-1 with a 2.57 GAA and a .912 save percentage. His peripherals could be better and you should expect them to be for the rest of the season. Jonathan Toews has three points in his last two games to bump his stats to eight goals and 15 points in 22 games.

 

COLORADO

 

Games this week

 @ New York Islanders, @ New Jersey, @ New York Rangers, @ Minnesota

 

Rested Team: @ New York Rangers (Thursday)

Tired Team: @ New Jersey (Tuesday)

 

Notes

The Avalanche play four games this week including three in four nights. Semyon Varlamov is back and should play two or three times with Reto Berra picking up the other starts. Varlamov got a vote of confidence from coach Patrick Roy who stated that Varlamov is still the number one goalie in Denver. After a horrible sophomore campaign, Nathan MacKinnon has 23 points in 22 games this season and is showing why he was the first overall pick in the 2013 Draft. The Avs have a lot of talent up front with MacKinnon, Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog but just can't seem to get it going again this season as they are tied for 28th overall in the NHL standings. They should be a lot better than that.

 

COLUMBUS

 

Games this week

@ Montreal, vs. Florida, @ Philadelphia  

 

Rested Team: vs. Florida (Friday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

It was good news this past week as Alexander Wennberg (foot) and Brandon Dubinsky (elbow) returned to action. The Wennberg return to the lineup should be important as Nick Foligno will move back to the wing where he had a big season last year with 31 goals and 73 points. It has been a far different story this season as he has only a goal and 10 points in 23 matches. Sergei Bobrovsky finally saw his GAA drop below the 3.00 mark on Wednesday and there should be a steady movement downward under new coach John Tortorella so if you can trade for him in your pool, go for it.  Boone Jenner is tied for the team scoring lead with Scott Hartnell and Ryan Johansen at 16 points.

 

DALLAS

 

Games this week

@ Calgary, @ Vancouver, @ Edmonton

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: @ Edmonton (Friday)

 

Notes

The Stars play three games in four nights, all in Western Canada. Kari Lehtonen was placed on the injured reserve list with an upper body injury and while he could return as early as Tuesday, look for Antti Niemi to get a couple of starts. The Stars recalled Jack Campbell in the interim, but he has been a disappointment since the Stars took him with the 11th overall pick in 2010. He has a 3.80 GAA and a .873 save percentage in only six AHL games this season. Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin have led the Stars in scoring this season and sit second and third in NHL scoring at Thanksgiving. Patrick Sharp has five goals and nine points in his last nine games.

 

DETROIT

 

Games this week

vs. Buffalo, vs. Arizona, vs. Nashville

 

Rested Team: None 

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Pavel Datsyuk is starting to get his groove back after missing the first 15 games of the season. He had a goal and an assist Wednesday and the goal was the 300th of his career. Coach Jeff Blashill has put Datsyuk and Brad Richards together along with Teemu Pulkkinen and the trio could be a very good line together. Dylan Larkin saw his four game goal scoring streak come to an end on Wednesday but the rookie still has eight goals and 15 points with a very impressive plus-11 rating in 22 games. He is not doing much on the power play but that will happen soon.

 

EDMONTON

 

 Games this week

@ Toronto, vs. Boston, vs. Dallas, vs. Buffalo

 

Rested Team: vs. Dallas (Friday)

Tired Team: None

Notes    

The Oilers play four this week but not three games in four nights. It would not surprise me if Anders Nilsson and Cam Talbot share the net this week.  Teddy Purcell is a nice pick up as he is playing alongside Taylor Hall and Leon Draisaitl although coach Todd McLellan changed things up at practice Thursday and moved Jordan Eberle to the top line with Purcell playing alongside Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.  Good news on the Connor McDavid front as he is healing a lot faster than anyone anticipated and could return in late January. Of course, Tony Romo of the Cowboys came back after eight weeks from a broken collarbone, took another hit and is now out for the season. Let’s hope the Oilers err on the side of caution.

 

FLORIDA

 

Games this week

 @ St. Louis, @ Nashville, @ Columbus, @ New Jersey

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: @ Columbus (Friday)

 

Notes

The Panthers finish off a five game road trip with four games away from home this week including three in four nights. Look for Roberto Luongo to play three times with Al Montoya playing once (if healthy as he has a sore neck). Dmitry Kulikov is back skating after injuring his knee on November 14 and could return this week/ Rocco Grimaldi was returned to the minors on Wednesday. Aleksander Barkov has been hot of late with a goal in each of his last three games, albeit going minus-four in those games. Two of the goals were on the power play so that has to help your stats. He has played in only 11 games this season but still has managed six goals and 10 points. Do not forget that the Panthers took him second overall in 2013.   

 

LOS ANGELES

 

Games this week

vs. Vancouver, vs. Pittsburgh, vs. Tampa Bay

 

Rested Team: vs. Vancouver (Tuesday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Kings are at home for all three this week. The line of Tyler Toffoli, Jeff Carter and Milan Lucic has been their best with the combo of Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik struggling mightily. Kopitar does have seven goals in 22 games but only four helpers. He was likely taken in the fifth-seventh rounds of most drafts but has produced like a 15-20th rounder thus far. Drew Doughty is having a typical Drew Doughty season with two goals and 12 points in 22 games but he is a plus-seven with 20 penalty minutes. He tends to get overdrafted in pools as he is a better hockey player than fantasy one.  

 

MINNESOTA

 

Games this week

@ Chicago, vs. Toronto, vs. Colorado

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Zach Parise practiced on Thursday for the first time since suffering a knee injury on November 5. He will likely return to the lineup this week and the Wild sure could you him as he had seven goals in his first 12 games. Jason Pominville still has yet to score this season and that has to be disconcerting to his fantasy owners as well as the Wild. Devan Dubnyk has started 18 of the Wild's 20 games and although it is improbable to be as good as he was last season, he is still keeping the Wild in games as reflected in his 11-6-2 record. Who would have thought that Mikko Koivu and Ryan Suter would be leading the Wild in points with 20 as Minnesota hits the quarter pole in the season.

 

MONTREAL

           

Games this week

vs. Columbus, vs. Washington, @ Carolina

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The story of the week is still Carey Price. The goaltender suffered a recurrence of the body injury on Wednesday that cost him nine games earlier in the season. He will be out at least a week but the same thing was said last time and it took him three weeks to recover. I would think that he will be out slightly longer as the Habs do not want to risk any further injury to their best player. Montreal recalled Dustin Tokarski and look for him to play a bit this time as Mike Condon was overused when Price was first hurt.  Alex Galchenyuk quietly has 15 points in 23 games as the Max Pacioretty, Tomas Plekanec and Brendan Gallagher line was getting most of the accolades. Gallagher is out of action for six weeks after breaking his hand blocking a shot Sunday. Devante Smith-Pelly took over his spot on the top line.

 

 NASHVILLE

 

Games this week

vs. Arizona, vs. Florida, @ Detroit

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Craig Smith is off to a slow start with only seven points in 21 games this season after 52 and 44 points in each of the last two seasons. Carter Hutton is starting to see a bit more action as the Predators are giving Pekka Rinne more rest. Hutton is 2-1 this season with a 2.97 GAA and a .911 save percentage and if he could pick those numbers up, Nashville would be a lot happier to give him more starts.  I thought that Cody Hodgson would rebound this season but he scored only his second goal of the season Wednesday. Mike Fisher's goal on Wednesday halted a three game goalless drought for the Predators.  

 

NEW JERSEY

 

Games this week

vs. Colorado, @ Carolina, vs. Philadelphia, vs. Florida

 

Rested Team: vs. Colorado (Tuesday)

Tired Team: vs. Philadelphia (Friday)

 

Notes

The Devils play four times including three games in four nights and Keith Kinkaid should see action between the pipes once with Cory Schneider getting the other three starts. Patrik Elias finally returned to the lineup on Wednesday for the first time this season as he has recovered from a knee injury. Mike Cammalleri has seven goals and 22 points in 21 games. Nineteen players who have at least 20 points are averaging a point-a-game this season compared to only eight who picked up at least 60 points last year. Adam Henrique leads the Devils in goals with 10.

 

NEW YORK ISLANDERS

 

Games this week

vs. Colorado, vs. New York Rangers, vs. St. Louis, @ Ottawa

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: @ Ottawa (Saturday)

 

Notes

The Islanders play three games in four nights as part of a four game week, so look for Thomas Greiss to play once with Jaroslav Halak seeing action in the remaining three contests. The Islanders recalled Ryan Strome Thursday and he should see top-six duty. Strome was sent down after the November 5th game and had two goals and four points in eight games in the AHL.  He has lots of offensive upside so he may be worth taking a chance on. Marek Zidlicky has not been the power play quarterback the Islanders were hoping for when they signed the 38-year-old to an off-season contract. He has only a goal and five points in 19 games with two helpers on the power play.

 

NEW YORK RANGERS

 

Games this week

vs. Carolina, @ New York Islanders, vs. Colorado, vs. Ottawa

 

Rested Team: vs. Ottawa (Sunday)  

Tired Team: vs. Colorado (Thursday)  

 

Notes

The Rangers play four times this week including three in four nights. Henrik Lundqvist should start three games with Antti Raanta picking up one start. Rick Nash is hot as he has scored five of his seven goals in his last three games including a hat trick on Saturday in Florida. Keith Yandle has disappointed his fantasy owners as he has only 11 points in 22 games. He had only 11 points in 21 games as a Ranger last season but did put up 41 points in 63 games for the Coyotes. Poolies were hoping for a return to his Coyotes offense but that has not been the case this season. Derick Brassard picked up the 300th point of his career on Wednesday.

 

OTTAWA     

 

Games this week

vs. Philadelphia, vs. Chicago, vs. New York Islanders, @ New York Rangers   

 

Rested Team: vs. New York Islanders (Saturday)

Tired Team: @ New York Rangers (Sunday)

 

Notes

The Senators play three games in four nights as part of a four game week. Look for Craig Anderson to play at least three times with Chris Driedger possibly getting a start as Andrew Hammond is sidelined with a concussion. Shane Prince scored the first two goals of his NHL career on Wednesday after going 13 games without one. He is seeing time on the second line and that can’t hurt his productivity. Erik Karlsson continues to lead the Senators in points as he has 24 in 22 games. Bobby Ryan is in second, trailing the defenseman by four points. Chris Neil leads the NHL in penalty minutes with 75.

 

PHILADELPHIA

 

Games this week

 @ Ottawa, @ New Jersey, vs. Columbus

 

Rested Team: @ New Jersey (Friday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Jakub Voracek has only 12 points in 22 games this season after an 81 point effort last season but has been coming on of late with seven points in his last six games. Michal Neuvirth’s stats are a lot better than Steve Mason’s this season as Neuvirth is 4-3-1 with a 2.07 GAA and a .939 save percentage while the usual starter Mason is only 3-7-4 with a 3.00 GAA and a .906 save percentage. The Flyers would be wise to starting Neuvirth more often but will likely stay with Mason. Claude Giroux has four goals and seven assists in his last 10 games after starting the season slowly with four goals and six points in his first 12 outings. He also has been chippy with 31 penalty minutes.

 

PITTSBURGH

 

Games this week

@ San Jose, @ Los Angeles, @ Anaheim

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: @ Anaheim (Sunday)

 

Notes

The Penguins are in California all week.  Sidney Crosby is starting to heat up with three goals and an assist in his last three games. He has only five goals and 13 points in 21 games this season so he really has to get hot if he wants to be in the top-ten in scoring by the end of the season. Kris Letang is also picking up his pace as he has nine helpers in his last 10 games including five in his last four. Letang has a goal and 13 points in 21 games. His downfall is his plus/minus which is at minus-13, including minus-nine in his last 10. Adam Clendening finally is playing on the blueline as Olli Maatta is out of action. Clendening has only one assist in five games but is a plus-four.

 

ST. LOUIS

 

Games this week

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

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: vs. Toronto (Saturday)

 

Notes

It’s nice to see Paul Stastny back in the lineup after breaking his right foot on October 16. He had a goal and an assist in his second game back and now has two goals and seven points in seven games. He is playing alongside Alexander Steen and Vladimir Tarasenko and just that makes him fantasy worthy in pools. Kevin Shattenkirk was the NHL's third star of the week as he had two goals and six points in four games. Brian Elliott has been relegated to the bench and has started only two of the last 15 games. Jake Allen has firmly entrenched himself as the number one goalie in St. Louis.

    

SAN JOSE

 

Games this week

vs. Pittsburgh, @ Anaheim, vs. Tampa Bay

 

Rested Team: None  

Tired Team: vs. Tampa Bay (Saturday)

 

Notes

The Sharks inked Dainius Zubrus to a one-year deal but the veteran will likely see fourth line minutes. Logan Couture is still ‘a ways away’ from returning to the San Jose lineup. Couture fractured his fibula on October 15th during practice and while he has resumed skating, the injury is taking longer than anticipated to return from. He was originally diagnosed as being out for four-six weeks but Thursday was the six week mark and according to coach Peter DeBoer, he is not close to returning. Martin Jones struggled against Chicago Wednesday but is still 11-6 this season with a 2.14 GAA and a .925 save percentage.

 

TAMPA BAY

 

Games this week

@ Anaheim, @ San Jose, @ Los Angeles

 

Rested team: @ San Jose (Saturday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Lightning are in California this week. Jonathan Drouin has missed the last four games with an undisclosed ailment but could be ready to return this week as he is feeling better. There is still no word on a possible Steven Stamkos long-term deal with the Lightning and with Stamkos eligible for free agency come July 1, you have to wonder if he will just play this season out and test the market. That has to be bad news for Tampa Bay fans and if true, do not be surprised if the Lightning deal him by the trade deadline. Tyler Johnson returned to action on Wednesday after missing three games with an upper body injury and scored his fourth of the season. He has only 11 points in 20 games after a 29 goal, 72 point season, a year ago.

 

TORONTO

 

Games this week

vs. Edmonton, @ Winnipeg, @ Minnesota, @ St. Louis  

 

Rested team:  @ St. Louis (Saturday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Morgan Rielly has yet to take a penalty this season which impresses coach Mike Babcock but not his fantasy owners. James Reimer was injured in practice Tuesday but hopes to play this week. If not, Jonathan Bernier will get another chance in net. Bernier is having a poor season with a 0-7-1 record to go with poor peripherals of a 3.17 GAA and a .895 save percentage. He has also given up some terrible goals and that is not good for the psyche of a young Toronto team. Michael Grabner has yet to score 20 games into his career with Toronto and has only two assists. Tyler Bozak leads the Leafs in points with 14 in 18 games and is only a minus-one after going minus-34 last season. Of course he was only minus-two heading into January last season before the roof caved in.

 

VANCOUVER

 

Games this week

@ Anaheim, @ Los Angeles, vs. Dallas, vs. Boston

 

Rested Team: vs. Boston (Saturday)

Tired Team: @ Los Angeles (Tuesday)

 

Notes

The Canucks play four games this week including three in four nights so look for Jacob Markstrom to play at least once with Ryan Miller picking up the rest of the action. Daniel Sedin was the NHL's second star of the week as he had five goals and seven points in four games. Brother Henrik had a five point night on Saturday against the Blackhawks, scoring once. Radim Vrbata is now playing alongside Chris Higgins and Jared McCann. He has six goals in 21 games with three coming in his last two matches, including two on the power play.     

 

 

 

WASHINGTON

 

Games this week

@ Montreal, @ Winnipeg

 

Rested team: None

Tired Team: None  

 

Notes

The Capitals play only twice this week. Philipp Grubauer has played the second game of each back-to-back set this season so look for more of that in the future. Evgeny Kuznetsov has surprised me with his continued good play as he has two goals and six points in his last three games. The talented Russian has eight goals and 24 points with a plus-13 rating in 21 games to lead the Capitals in points and plus/minus as well as assists. Alex Ovechkin has 11 goals and 20 points in 20 games with a plus-11 rating. He is just two seasons removed from the awful minus-35 he put up in 2013-14. Dmitry Orlov has a goal in each of his last three games as well as an assist. The defenseman missed all of last season after undergoing wrist surgery but has three goals and six assists in 12 games with a plus-six rating.

 

WINNIPEG

 

Games this week

vs. Toronto, vs. Washington, @ Chicago

 

Rested team: None

Tired Team: @ Chicago (Sunday)

 

Notes

The Jets lost Ondrej Pavelec to a bad knee sprain this past week and he is not expected to play at all in December. Michael Hutchinson got the first start on Wednesday but do not be surprised if Connor Hellebuyck takes over soon He was recalled with the injury to Pavelec and despite his poor 2-7-1 record in the AHL, he peripherals were quite good at 2.41 GAA and a .927 save percentage. Joel Armia was one of the gems the Jets got back from Buffalo in the Evander Kane deal but he has struggled in the minors with only three goals and seven points in 15 games before his recall on Monday. 

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.