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The Week Ahead

Twas the Week before Christmas

by Michael Finewax

It’s a very busy week in the NHL as 18 teams play four games. The NHL is heading into the Christmas holiday season and all teams will get December 24-26th off to celebrate.

 

The NHL will have a roster freeze from December 19-27 in which no one can be traded or sent to the minors.

 

Let’s get to The Week Ahead!

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 DECEMBER 17-23

 

 

4 Games – Anaheim, Arizona, Boston, Chicago, Colorado, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Montreal, Nashville, New Jersey, New York Islanders, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Jose, Toronto, Vegas

 

3 Games – Buffalo, Calgary, Carolina, Florida, Los Angeles, Minnesota, New York Rangers, Ottawa, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Vancouver, Washington, Winnipeg

 

2 Games – Edmonton

 

Anaheim, Florida, Nashville and the New York Islanders play all four games on the road.

 

Montreal, St. Louis and Tampa Bay play three games on the road.

 

Arizona, Carolina, Colorado, Dallas, New Jersey, Ottawa, Philadelphia, San Jose, Toronto, Vancouver and Vegas play three games at home.

 

INJURIES

 

(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

@ Pittsburgh, @ New York Rangers, @ Boston, @ Buffalo

 

Rested Team: @ Buffalo (Saturday)

Tired Team: @ New York Rangers (Tuesday)

 

Notes

The Ducks play all four games on the road this week and play three games in four nights as well. John Gibson will get the net three times with the newly acquired off waivers Chad Johnson getting one start. Ryan Miller will be out of action for the next six weeks with a sprained MCL. Rickard Rakell will miss this upcoming road trip as he is out with an ankle injury. Brandon Montour tied an Anaheim record with four points in the third period Wednesday. He leads all Duck defensemen with 19 points. Cam Fowler has begun off-ice workouts and is hoping to start skating this week as he recovers from facial fractures. He could be back by the middle of January. Ryan Getzlaf passed the 900 point mark for his career Wednesday and leads the Ducks with 26 points.

 

ARIZONA

 

Games this week

vs. New York Islanders, vs. Montreal, vs. Colorado, @ San Jose

 

Rested Team: vs. New York Islanders (Tuesday), vs. Montreal (Thursday), vs. Colorado (Saturday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Coyotes play four games this week including three games in four nights. All three home games occur with the Coyotes being the rested team. It looks like Antti Raanta could miss the rest of the season with a lower-body injury as he had a procedure done earlier in the week. Adin Hill should get three starts with Darcy Kuemper getting the call once. Alex Galchenyuk has missed the last two games with a lower-body injury. Nick Schmaltz has four goals and seven points in eight games with the Coyotes. Lawson Crouse has six goals and seven points this season with 42 penalty minutes. He is also a plus-one on a team that has mostly minus players.

 

BOSTON

 

Games this week

@ Montreal, vs. Anaheim, vs. Nashville, @ Carolina

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Bruins play four games this week with three games coming in four nights. Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak should share the net this week as the Bruins have been getting solid goaltending from both. Jake DeBrusk is in concussion protocol and has missed the last three games. David Krejci is having a nice comeback season with 26 points in 31 games after picking up only 44 in 64 games last season. Zdeno Chara has resumed skating as he has been out for the last month with a knee injury. Patrice Bergeron has been skating on his own and has been out four weeks with a rib and sternoclavicular injury. There is no timetable for his return. David Pastrnak has 38 points in 31 games thus far.

 

BUFFALO

 

Games this week

vs. Florida, @ Washington, vs. Anaheim

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: vs. Anaheim (Sunday)

 

Notes

Jack Eichel and Jeff Skinner have been a top duo this season and are a major reason that the Sabres are near the top of the NHL standings. Eichel has 10 goals and 39 points while Skinner has 22 goals and 32 points with a plus-19 rating. Another emerging star is Sam Reinhart who was taken second overall in 2014. He has eight goals and 27 points in 32 games and is on an eight-game points streak. Patrik Berglund has missed the last two games with an illness. Rasmus Dahlin was moved up to the top power play earlier in the week, alongside Rasmus Ristolainen, a duo that should be together on the Sabres blueline for many years.

 

CALGARY

Games this week

@ Dallas, vs. Tampa Bay, vs. St. Louis

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Flames continue to get huge performances from their top-five as Johnny Gaudreau (42), Sean Monahan (38), Matthew Tkachuk (37), Elias Lindholm (34) and Mark Giordano (32) lead the way. The quintet also make up the first power play and have combined for 21 goals with the man-advantage. The second unit have scored only four times. Mikael Backlund is unlikely to play this week as he recovers from a concussion. The good news is that he has been riding the stationary bike. Alan Quine has taken his spot in the lineup. Giordano finished his two-game suspension and returned to action Wednesday. Sam Bennett has only five goals and 10 points this season.

 

CAROLINA

 

Games this week

vs. Detroit, vs. Pittsburgh, vs. Boston

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Curtis McElhinney has been the Hurricanes best goalkeeper but he is out with a lower-body injury and his first practice back on Wednesday did not go well as he did not feel great after practice. Scott Darling was recalled from the minors when McElhinney went down and backed up Petr Mrazek. The Hurricanes play three games in four nights so look for Darling to play once with Mrazek getting two starts. Micheal Ferland returned to action from a concussion Tuesday but it was short-lived as he left the game after playing just 5:11. The good news is that he practiced Wednesday although he did miss the game Thursday against Montreal. Adam Fox was acquired in the Dougie Hamilton deal with Calgary and he has been a revelation at Harvard as the defenseman has five goals and 20 points in 11 games.

 

CHICAGO

 

Games this week

vs. Nashville, @ Dallas, @ Colorado, vs. Florida

 

Rested Team: vs. Nashville (Tuesday), vs. Florida (Sunday)

Tired Team: @ Colorado (Friday)

 

Notes

The Blackhawks play four games this week including three games in four nights. Corey Crawford should get three starts in net with Cam Ward getting one start. The Blackhawks lost eight in a row before finally winning a game as they knocked off Pittsburgh. Jan Rutta looked like a very good defenseman to start the 2017-18 season but he has struggled and now has been placed on waivers after potting only two goals and six points in 23 games.  Artem Anisimov was placed on the injured reserve list with a concussion. Jonathan Toews has three goals and six points in his last six games. Patrick Kane has two goals and seven points during his five-game points streak. He has 15 goals and 37 points in 32 games and is in line to return to his point-per-game seasons which he has attained in seven of his last nine years.

 

 

COLORADO

 

Games this week

vs. New York Islanders, vs. Montreal, vs. Chicago, @ Arizona

 

Rested Team: vs. Chicago (Friday)

Tired Team: @ Arizona (Saturday)

 

Notes

The Avalanche play three games in four nights as part of their four-game week so look for Semyon Varlamov to play three games with Philipp Grubauer getting one start. Mikko Rantanen leads the NHL in points with 52 and has a 12-game points streak. He has been spectacular of late with eight goals and 27 points in his last 15 games. Vladislav Kamenev is out with a shoulder injury that will require surgery. Ian Cole has a goal and nine points but 52 penalty minutes. Tyson Jost has been a disappointment this season as he has only four goals and 10 points in 27 games. Alexander Kerfoot has only four goals and 18 points in 30 games after a 43 point rookie season in 2017-18.

 

COLUMBUS       

 

Games this week

vs. Vegas, vs. New Jersey, @ Philadelphia, @ New Jersey

 

Rested Team: vs. Vegas (Monday)

Tired Team: @ New Jersey (Sunday)

 

Notes

The Blue Jackets play three games in four nights as part of their four-game week so look for Sergei Bobrovsky to play three games with Joonas Korpisalo playing once. Columbus play the Devils twice this week and there could be some fisticuffs. If so, look for Josh Anderson (if healthy) to add to his penalty minute count. He suffered an upper-body injury Tuesday against the Canucks and is considered day-to-day for now. Boy is Cam Atkinson hot. He saw his 12-game points streak end on Saturday but has three points in his last two games to give him 23 points in his last 15 games. Ryan Murray has a goal and 15 points this season and a plus-14 rating.

 

DALLAS

 

Games this week

vs. Calgary, vs. Chicago, @ Minnesota, vs. New York Islanders

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: @ New York Islanders (Sunday)

 

Notes

The Stars play four times this week as well as three games in four nights so look for Ben Bishop to play three games with Anton Khudobin playing once.  Miro Heiskanen has been great since John Klingberg has been out with a hand injury. Heiskanen was selected third overall in 2017 and came over from Finland this season and the Stars would not give him up in a possible deal for Erik Karlsson. It looks like a great move as the defenseman has seven goals and 17 points this season as well as three goals and five points in his last four games. He could give Elias Pettersson a run for his money for the Calder if he gets any publicity. Tyler Seguin has only one assist in his last five games.

 

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.