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The Week Ahead

Ward and Lehtonen get 300 Wins

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

It’s a shortened week in the NHL as the Christmas break clicks in on Sunday. There are no games scheduled for Sunday as well as Monday and Tuesday of the following week.

 

The roster freeze starts this week as well as teams are banned from dealing from December 19-26. Players cannot be sent to the minors as well during this time period.

 

There is plenty of information and good chatter always on the Rotoworld Hockey Podcast. Listen here.

 

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 junior report and much, much more. Buy it now!

 

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

 

WEEK OF DECEMBER 18-24

 

 4 Games – Anaheim, Boston, Columbus, Philadelphia

 

3 Games – Arizona, Buffalo, Carolina, Colorado, Dallas, Detroit, Edmonton, Florida, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Montreal, Nashville, New Jersey, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Ottawa, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, San Jose, Tampa Bay, Toronto, Vancouver, Washington, Winnipeg

 

2 Games - Calgary, Chicago, Vegas

 

Anaheim plays all four games on the road.

 

Arizona, Boston, Dallas, Edmonton, New Jersey and the New York Islanders play three games at home.

 

Detroit, Minnesota, Montreal, St. Louis, Washington and Winnipeg play three games on the road.

 

INJURIES

 

Brandon Dubinsky is out six-eight weeks with broken orbital bone. (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

@ New Jersey, @ New York Rangers, @ New York Islanders, @ Pittsburgh

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: @ New York Rangers (Tuesday)

 

Notes

The Ducks are in the midst of a six game road trip as they play four times this week. Anaheim also plays three games in four nights so Ryan Miller should get at least one start with John Gibson taking the start in goal on the other occasions. Ryan Getzlaf returned on Monday after a lengthy absence with a fractured zygomatic bone. But they lost Corey Perry on Tuesday with a suspected knee injury. He could be gone weeks. Ondrej Kase could see some time on the first line with Getzlaf in place of Perry. If you were looking for minutes from Jared Boll, you had better be in an AHL pool as he cleared waivers and was sent to the minors.

 

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ARIZONA

 

Games this week

vs. Florida, vs. Washington, vs. Colorado

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: vs. Colorado (Saturday)

 

Notes

The Coyotes are at the bottom of the NHL standings but at least they are now getting goaltending with Antti Raanta as the starter with Scott Wedgewood backing him up. They loaned goaltender Marek Langhamer to Kometa Brno of the Czech Extraliga.  Clayton Keller scored his first goal in almost six weeks on Thursday as he snapped a 17 game goalless drought. The favorite for the Calder at the end of October, Keller is just one of many in consideration at this time. Niklas Hjalmarsson could be back at the end of the week. He has missed the last seven games with an upper body injury and the Coyotes really miss his presence on the blueline. Oliver Ekman-Larsson has six goals and 18 points in 34 games but a minus-23, the worst in the NHL.

 

BOSTON

 

Games this week

vs. Columbus, @ Buffalo, vs. Winnipeg, vs. Detroit

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: @ Buffalo (Tuesday)

 

Notes

The Bruins play three games in four nights as part of their four game week, so look for Anton Khudobin and Tuukka Rask split the net, although if one goalie is going to get extra starts, it’s Rask at this time. Khudobin has lost his last two in a row so Rask, who has won five straight, could get the start three times. The Bruins waived Matt Beleskey Thursday. He has been a disappointment in Boston as he inked a five-year deal in 2015-16 after a 22 goal season with the Ducks. He has only 18 goals in the two-plus seasons since in 143 games and had no points this year in 14 contests. Brad Marchand continues to fire on all cylinders as he is on a seven game points streak with four goals and 11 points and has 23 penalty minutes during that stretch.

 

BUFFALO

 

Games this week

vs. Boston, vs. Philadelphia, @ Carolina

 

Rested Team: vs. Boston (Tuesday)

Tired Team: @ Carolina (Saturday)

 

Notes

Benoit Pouliot has been one of the few bright spots for Buffalo this season as he has eight goals in 31 games, matching his total from last season. The unfortunate part is that he is a bottom-six forward and the Sabres need a lot better production from their top-six than they are getting. You are in big trouble when a player like Pouliot (no offense) is tied for second place among your goal scorers. Ryan O'Reilly moved into a tie for second with Pouliot as he scored the lone goal for Buffalo Thursday, snapping a 12 game goalless drought. Rasmus Ristolainen has no goals and nine assists in 23 games this season, a big drop from last season when he had six goals and 45 points in 79 contests. The 23-year-old should bounce back.

 

CALGARY

 

Games this week

vs. St. Louis, vs. Montreal

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Johnny Gaudreau is tied for third spot in NHL scoring with Connor McDavid, showing everyone that last season was an anomaly. He held out of training camp as an RFA and struggled (for him) all season. Jaromir Jagr is practicing as he should be back shortly from a lower body injury. The 45-year-old has only a goal and seven points in 17 injury-riddled games and this is likely his last season in the NHL. Matthew Tkachuk is having a fine sophomore season but his penalty minute totals are slightly down from his rookie season when he managed 105 minutes. One good fight and a misconduct will bring it back in line. Mark Giordano leads the Flames blueliners with four goals but has only eight assists.

 

CAROLINA

 

Games this week

@ Toronto, @ Nashville, vs. Buffalo  

 

Rested Team: vs. Buffalo (Saturday)

Tired Team:  None

 

Notes

Congratulations to now backup goalie Cam Ward, who picked up his 300th career NHL win on Tuesday. He is the 32nd NHL goalie in history to do so. Trevor van Riemsdyk is getting hot. The defenseman has four points in his last four games (all on the road) including his first goal of the season. Teuvo Teravainen leads the Hurricanes with 24 points. Jeff Skinner is tops in goals with 11 and trails Teravainen by three points. Justin Faulk remains a disappointment to fantasy owners with one goal and seven points in 30 games. He has 15, 16 and 17 goals in each of the last three seasons but has only a goal and an assist this season in even-man opportunities. Noah Hanifin leads the Carolina blueline with five goals and 15 points.

 

 CHICAGO

 

Games this week

@ Dallas, @ New Jersey

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Blackhawks only play twice in the week before Christmas and both are away from home as they begin a six game road trip. The Blackhawks are on the verge of the playoffs but they are used to being at the top of the standings at this point in the season so there is some concern in The Windy City. Corey Crawford has been great this season as he is 15-7-1 with a 2.15 GAA and a .934 save percentage as he has been a top-five goalie in the league thus far.  Patrick Kane had a two point night on Thursday and has 32 points in 32 games. Richard Panik has been a healthy scratch in the Blackhawks last two games and that is no surprise since he has not scored since October 21, a span of 21 games. Cody Franson was placed on the injured reserve list with an upper body injury.

 

COLORADO

 

Games this week

vs. Pittsburgh, @ Los Angeles, @ Arizona

 

Rested Team: @ Arizona (Saturday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Alexander Kerfoot has been a big hit this season with the Avalanche as he has nine goals and 21 points in 29 games in his first season in the NHL. Kerfoot has been great on the power play with three goals and 10 points thus far. He has missed the last two games with a leg injury. Nathan MacKinnon continues to have a fine season with 13 goals and 35 points in 31 games. He has been a big reason for the resurgence of the Avalanche this season. There is some nice young talent on Colorado with the likes of the above two as well as Mikko Rantanen, Gabriel Landeskog, Tyson Jost and others so the future is bright. Samuel Girard, another bright young prospect, has no points in his last 14 games but has lots of upside as a 19-year-old defenseman who was the centerpiece for Colorado in the deal that sent Matt Duchene packing.

 

COLUMBUS

 

Games this week

@ Boston, vs. Toronto, @ Pittsburgh, vs. Philadelphia

 

Rested Team: vs. Toronto (Wednesday), vs. Philadelphia (Saturday)

Tired Team: @ Pittsburgh (Thursday)

 

Notes

The Blue Jackets play three games in four nights as part of their four game week. Sergei Bobrovsky should get three starts in goal for the Blue Jackets with Joonas Korpisalo playing once. Bobrovsky is 17-8-1 with a 2.28 GAA and a .923 save percentage but has given up nine goals in his last five periods. Zach Werenski leads all NHL defensemen in goals with 10, three better than Roman Josi, Mikhail Sergachev and the injured Alex Pietrangelo. Artemi Panarin has been lighting it up of late with eight assists in four games. Brandon Dubinsky is out six-eight weeks with a fractured orbital bone but doctors say his long-term vision will not be impacted by the injury.  Grab Oliver Bjorkstrand if you can. He has a goal and seven points in his last five games with six goals and 21 points this season in 32 tilts.

 

DALLAS

 

Games this week

vs. Washington, vs. Chicago, vs. Nashville

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Stars are home all week. Congratulations are in order for Kari Lehtonen as the netminder became the all-time leader in games played by a Finnish netminder with 624, one better than the retired Miikka Kiprusoff. This happened on Wednesday and there were double congratulations due as he also picked up his 300th career win, duplicating the feat that Cam Ward set the night before. Tyler Pitlick had a pair of goals Wednesday. He has been playing with Jamie Benn of late, and that can’t hurt his fantasy value. Alexander Radulov suffered a lower body injury Wednesday. Consider him day-to-day at this time. Antoine Roussel should be back December 15 after missing six of his last seven games with an elbow injury and the flu. He has three goals, nine points and 47 penalty minutes in 26 games thus far.   

 

DETROIT

 

Games this week

@ New York Islanders, @ Philadelphia, @ Boston

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: @ Philadelphia (Wednesday)

 

Notes

Henrik Zetterberg scored on Monday and it was his first goal in 22 games as he had not scored since October 18. The Red Wings activated Luke Witkowski from the suspended list after the winger served his 10 game suspension for returning to the ice after a fight. Witkowski had a couple of fights in his return and should be picked up if you are desperate for penalty minutes. Mike Green started the season like a house on fire but has only one goal in his last 12 games to give him two markers and 18 points in 31 games. Danny DeKeyser had 31 points in his sophomore season three years ago and it was thought he would be a decent fantasy option in deeper drafts. That is not the case as he has yet to get a point in 14 games this season. His minus-11 doesn’t help either.

 

EDMONTON

 

Games this week

vs. San Jose, vs. St. Louis, vs. Montreal

 

Rested Team: vs. St. Louis (Thursday), vs. Montreal (Saturday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes   

Connor McDavid and Jesse Puljujarvi look like quite a speedy combination, even with the turtle-like Milan Lucic on the other side. If Puljujarvi can stick (he was the fourth overall pick in 2016 after all) then he is worth picking up in all pools. He has five goals and seven points in 15 games with a plus-six rating. Matthew Benning leads all Oiler defensemen with four goals. Cam Talbot should be back in the lineup this week as he has been out with an upper body injury the last seven games. The Oilers are apparently not happy with the play of Drake Caggiula who has been a healthy scratch in three of the last four games.  He has only one assist in the last seven games he has played and was taken off the McDavid line. Speaking of McDavid, he is over the flu and is tied for third in NHL scoring. Look for him to take over the lead shortly. 

 

FLORIDA

 

Games this week

@ Arizona, vs. Minnesota, vs. Ottawa  

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: vs. Ottawa (Saturday)

 

Notes

The Panthers finish a five game road trip with their game against the Coyotes. Evgenii Dadonov returned to the Panthers lineup on Tuesday but was not reunited with Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov. Instead, he has been playing with Radim Vrbata and Vincent Trocheck. He has yet to pick up a point in two games but the move should give Florida some balanced scoring. Vrbata has been struggling this season with only three goals and 11 points in 26 games so hopefully this will get him going. Barkov is on an eight game scoring streak. Micheal Haley has 73 penalty minutes in 32 games after a pair of fights with Luke Witkowski of the Red Wings this week.

 

LOS ANGELES

 

Games this week

@ Philadelphia, vs. Colorado, @ San Jose 

 

Rested Team:  None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Anze Kopitar has had a magnificent start to the season with 16 goals and 38 points in 32 games. He has four more goals this season than he did in 2016-17 when he played in 76 games. Marian Gaborik is pointless in his last three but has four goals and six points in 10 games with a plus-six rating. He will play in his 1,000th NHL game on December 15. The Kings picked up Jordan Subban from Vancouver in exchange for Nic Dowd but the brother of P.K. and Malcolm is unable to play in the AHL as he has an upper body injury. Look for his return in a couple of weeks. Tyler Toffoli had 31 goals and 58 points two seasons ago but slumped to 16 goals and 34 points last year in 63 games. He already has 14 goals and 22 points this campaign in 32 games with a plus-11 rating.

 

MINNESOTA

 

Games this week

@ Ottawa, @ Florida, @ Tampa Bay

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: @ Tampa Bay (Saturday)

 

Notes

Devan Dubnyk is week-to-week with a lower body injury suffered on Tuesday so unless the Wild make a deal, they will rely on Alex Stalock until the return of Dubnyk. Steve Michalek will back up Stalock for now but the Wild could be in trouble. Stalock looked very good Thursday in a 2-0 shutout over the high-flying Toronto Maple Leafs so he may be able to handle the job, although one game is just one game. Jared Spurgeon participated in practice on Wednesday as he tries to return from a groin injury. Get ready to activate him or pick him up if you dropped him as he has been the Wild’s best offensive defenseman this season. Zach Parise is working out on his own and coach Bruce Boudreau is encouraged by his progress. He underwent back surgery on October 24 and could return in two-three weeks.

 

MONTREAL

               

Games this week

@ Vancouver, @ Calgary, @ Edmonton

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: @ Edmonton (Saturday)

 

Notes

The Canadiens trek out to Western Canada to play all three this week. Montreal loaned defenseman Victor Mete to the Canadian Under-20 team for the World Championships. Shea Weber has played in the last five games but never practiced with the team until Wednesday as he is playing with a lower body injury. Max Pacioretty has scored only once in his last 14 games. He has only eight goals in 32 games which is on a pace to get him 20 goals this season. He has hit the 30-plus mark in each of the last six years, save for the lockout season when he had only 15. Nikita Scherbak is back in the minors as the Habs sent him to Belleville of the AHL to play. He suffered a knee injury October 26 and is healthy enough to resume playing. The Canadiens picked him 26th overall in 2014.  

 

 NASHVILLE

 

Games this week

vs. Winnipeg, vs. Carolina, @ Dallas

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Juuse Saros picked up a rare win on Thursday when he stopped all 46 shots in a 4-0 shutout over Edmonton. It was only his third win of the season and that bodes well for the Predators who need to play the 35-year-old Pekka Rinne a bit less the rest of the season. Kyle Turris has two goals and nine points in his last six games with points in eight of his last nine. The Predators did great in the trade that brought Turris in from Ottawa as he has given Nashville a very good second center behind Ryan Johansen. They actually are 1 and 1A. Johansen has only three goals in 28 games but does have 16 helpers. Kevin Fiala is on a six game scoring streak with five goals and eight points, giving him seven goals and 22 points in 30 games this season.

 

NEW JERSEY

 

Games this week

vs. Anaheim, vs. New York Rangers, vs. Chicago

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Devils picked up some depth at center (albeit a fifth or sixth center) when they acquired Michael Latta from Arizona for Ryan Kujawinski. Taylor Hall is day-to-day with a knee injury suffered on Tuesday while Marcus Johansson was placed on the injured reserve list with an ankle injury. He has a chance to play this week. Kyle Palmieri partook in some of practice Wednesday as he has been out since November 20 with a foot injury. He could return at any time his time frame when injured was four-six weeks. Will Butcher is the only Devils blueliner in double digits as he has two goals and 18 assists. Damon Severson is next with nine. Brian Gibbons continues to lead the Devils in two categories, goals with 12 and plus/minus at plus-13.

 

NEW YORK ISLANDERS

 

Games this week

vs. Detroit, vs. Anaheim, vs. Winnipeg

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Josh Bailey has been awesome this season. He set a career high in points last year with 56, 15 better than his previous high. He is going to smash that this season if he stays healthy as he picked up the hat trick on Thursday to give him eight goals and 38 points in 32 games, tied for fifth in NHL scoring. Kudos if you drafted him this season before the start of the season. John Tavares, on the final year of his contract, is one point behind with 37. Anders Lee, the other member of the line, has a four game points streak like Bailey, and has 19 goals and 33 points in 32 games. Joshua Ho-Sang is pointless in his last six games. Nick Leddy has gone four games without a point and is a minus-four in those contests.

 

NEW YORK RANGERS

 

Games this week

vs. Anaheim, @ New Jersey, vs. Toronto   

 

Rested Team:  vs. Anaheim (Tuesday)

Tired Team: @ Boston (Saturday)

 

Notes

Mika Zibanejad has been skating on his own as he tries to recover from the concussion he suffered on November 26. He has yet to practice with the Rangers since the injury as far as contact is concerned, so his return is still unknown. Michael Grabner has 15 goals this season giving him 42 in the last season-and-a-half. He has one shorthanded goal and 41 at even strength.  Rick Nash halted a 10 game scoreless streak on Monday with his eighth goal of the season. He really has not been a fantasy factor in the last two-and-a-half seasons. Kevin Shattenkirk is pointless in his last four games. He needs to score as his defensive prowess is, well, rather non-existent.

 

OTTAWA

 

Games this week

vs. Minnesota, @ Tampa Bay, @ Florida

 

Rested Team: @ Florida (Saturday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Cody Ceci has scored in each of his last two games as the defenseman has four goals and seven points this season. Former Senator Chris Neil announced his official retirement this week after playing 1,026 NHL games, all with Ottawa. He ended up with 2,522 penalty minutes in his career and that mark may not be threatened for a long time due to the changing of the game. Bobby Ryan doubled his goal count on Tuesday to two in 22 games. It looks like last year’s playoff scoring run was an anomaly. Derick Brassard finally scored on Tuesday for the first time in 21 games. He has eight points in his last 22 contests. If you took Mark Borowiecki for his penalty minutes you must be disappointed as he had 25 in 12 games before a concussion forced him to miss the last four weeks. He return date is unknown.

 

PHILADELPHIA

 

Games this week

vs. Los Angeles, vs. Detroit, @ Buffalo, @ Columbus

 

Rested Team: vs. Detroit (Wednesday)

Tired Team: @ Columbus (Saturday)

 

Notes

The Flyers play four games this week including three games in four nights. Michal Neuvirth should be back this week if not sooner as he has a leg injury. If so, Neuvirth should play once with Brian Elliott getting three starts. If Neuvirth is unable to go, then Alex Lyon will get a start. Travis Sanheim scored his first NHL goal on Thursday and has five points in 28 games. Michael Raffl has been thriving as a top-six forward since his promotion a few weeks ago as he is playing alongside Valtteri Filppula and Jakub Voracek. Raffl is on a five game points streak with three goals, all game winners, and six points. He is up to five goals and nine points in 31 games after starting the season with no points in his first 21 contests.

 

PITTSBURGH

 

Games this week

@ Colorado, vs. Columbus, vs. Anaheim

 

Rested Team: vs. Columbus (Thursday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Matt Murray returned to action on Thursday after missing six games with a lower body injury. His stats aren’t great this season as he is 11-8-1 with a 2.91 GAA and a .907 save percentage. Actually those numbers represent a middle-to-low-end second goalie in most pools. His activation will send Tristan Jarry back to the bench on most occasions. Patric Hornqvist moved to the left wing Thursday and saw the second line with Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel. He is worth a pickup if available. Malkin saw his six game points streak end on Thursday. He has 29 points in 28 games. Dominik Simon has been seeing time on the first line with Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel. He is worth a flier in deep leagues, especially if there are spots open on your reserve list. 

  

ST. LOUIS

 

Games this week

@ Calgary, @ Edmonton, @ Vancouver

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: @ Edmonton (Thursday)

 

Notes

The Blues play three games in four nights in Western Canada. Jake Allen should get the call in two games with Carter Hutton getting the crease once. Hutton was activated on Friday morning while Jordan Binnington was sent back to the minors. Jay Bouwmeester missed his second consecutive game Thursday with an undisclosed injury and was placed on the injured reserve list. That injury was magnified when Alex Pietrangelo was sidelined Saturday while blocking a shot. He leads the Blues defensive corps with 23 points in 30 games and will be missed while out. The Blues suffered an even bigger loss (well at least equal) when Jaden Schwartz was injured Saturday while blocking a shot. It was to his ankle and his return date is unknown but he should be out quite a while.

 

SAN JOSE

 

Games this week

@ Edmonton, vs. Vancouver, vs. Los Angeles  

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Joe Thornton has five goals and 22 points in 30 games this season and is on a four game scoring streak. He is currently 19th all-time in NHL scoring, one behind Doug Gilmour who has 1,414 points. Brent Burns was held pointless on Thursday to snap a three game scoring streak in which he had three goals and six points. The talented offensive defenseman has four goals and 18 points this season. After missing six games with a lower body injury, Joonas Donskoi scored the game winner Thursday to give him eight goals in 24 games. Joe Pavelski saw his three game points streak snap Thursday. He has struggled this season with 17 points in 30 games but he is playing through an injury.  

 

TAMPA BAY

 

Games this week

@ Vegas, vs. Ottawa, vs. Minnesota

 

Rested team: vs. Minnesota (Saturday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Brayden Point is having an outstanding season with 14 goals and 30 points, giving the Lightning a lot of secondary scoring behind the likes of Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov. Ryan Callahan returned to action on Thursday after missing one game with an undisclosed injury and promptly was injured once again when he crashed into the boards in the third period, and finding himself with his arm in a sling after the game. He should be out for a bit. Andrei Vasilevskiy is showing why he is the best goalie in the league at this time as he is 21-4-1 with a 2.11 GAA and a .934 save percentage. He has been gold for poolies.  Tyler Johnson is white-hot of late with four goals and 11 points in his last six games. That’s half his points as he had 11 in his first 25 contests.

 

TORONTO

Games this week

vs. Carolina, @ Columbus, @ New York Rangers   

 

Rested team:  None

Tired Team: @ Columbus (Tuesday)

 

Notes

Auston Matthews has missed the last three games with an upper body injury. There are rumors flying around that it may be a concussion but it is just a rumor at this time. Matthews has missed seven games this season and while the Maple Leafs won the first five without him, they have dropped the last two. Patrick Marleau moved back to center with Matthews out of the lineup. Frederik Andersen has been solid in the Leafs cage with a 17-10-1 mark to go with a 2.67 GAA and a .922 save percentage. Curtis McElhinney was great in goal Sunday as he stopped all 41 shots in shutting out Connor McDavid and the Oilers 1-0.  Mitch Marner has only two goals in 33 games but still has 20 points. Zach Hyman has six goals and 16 points in 33 games after picking up 28 points in all of last season.

 

VANCOUVER

 

Games this week

vs. Montreal, @ San Jose, vs. St. Louis

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Sven Baertschi is out four-six weeks with a fractured jaw suffered when he was hit in the face with a puck Saturday. With Bo Horvat also out long-term, that’s two of their top-six on the sidelines. Brock Boeser continues to show why he is among the leading candidates for the Calder, if not the top gun, as he has 16 goals and 29 points in 29 games for the Canucks. Derrick Pouliot had a tough night Wednesday in a 7-1 loss to Nashville as he was a minus-five. Anders Nilsson gave up all seven goals in the game but still managed to make 41 saves. Michael Del Zotto leads all Vancouver defensemen in points with 11, one ahead of Pouliot. Sam Gagner is a team worst minus-16, one better than Thomas Vanek.

 

VEGAS

 

Games this week

vs. Tampa Bay, vs. Washington

 

Rested Team: vs. Washington (Saturday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Golden Knights finally got their number one goaltender back on Tuesday as Marc-Andre Fleury returned to action after missing two months with a concussion. He has given up three goals in the last two games as he beat his former Pittsburgh teammates 2-1 Thursday after dropping a 3-2 shootout loss to Carolina Tuesday. He stopped 59 of 62 shots and is 4-1-1 with a 2.13 GAA and a .934 save percentage. Malcolm Subban will back him up as the Golden Knights finally have their top two goalies healthy. Luca Sbisa is day-to-day with an undisclosed injury. Oscar Lindberg is still looking for his first assist of the season although he does have six goals. David Perron has seven goals and 24 points thus far in 25 games.

 

WASHINGTON

 

Games this week

@ Dallas, @ Arizona, @ Vegas

 

Rested team: None

Tired Team: @ Vegas (Saturday)

 

Notes

The Capitals are on the road for all three this week. Jakub Vrana has goals in back-to-back games and has four of his 10 goals in his last nine contests. He is only 21. Nicklas Backstrom has three goals and 10 points in his last 10 games as he is trying to regain his form. Alex Ovechkin is tied for the NHL lead in goals with Nikita Kucherov at 22. T.J. Oshie could return this week from an upper body injury that has kept him out of action since December 4. Braden Holtby is not having a great season by his standards as he is 18-7-0 with a 2.66 GAA and a .918 save percentage. Most goalies would kill for stats like that but Holtby was 42-13-6 last season with a 2.07 GAA and a .925 save percentage. He was almost as good in 2015-16 with his peripherals and tied an NHL record for most wins in a season with 48.

 

WINNIPEG

 

Games this week

@ Nashville, @ Boston, @ New York Islanders

 

Rested team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Connor Hellebuyck is 16-4-4 with a 2.55 GAA and a .917 save percentage but he has struggled of late, going 1-2-1 in his last four while giving up 14 goals including 13 in the three losses including the overtime one. Nikolaj Ehlers has scored in each of his last four games and has 15 goals and 25 points this season. Dustin Byfuglien is week-to-week after suffering a lower body injury on Saturday. He will be missed on the power play and has been replaced by Tucker Poolman on the first unit. Mathieu Perreault has three goals and eight points in his last seven games despite seeing mostly fourth line duty. He had three points in his one game on the top line when Kyle Connor was unable to go but is back giving the Jets some bottom-six scoring.  

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.