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The Week Ahead

The Winter Classic

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

Happy New Year!

 

The Winter Classic this season takes place this week and it’s between two of the greatest (if not the greatest) rivals in the NHL as the Montreal Canadiens are in Boston to play the Bruins at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough.

 

The January 1st game has become must-watch television and the outdoor classic will be on NBC.

 

The two teams are one-two in the Atlantic Division standings and this could be a battle for first place.

 

Don’t ya dare miss it!

 

Editor's Note: This is your chance to try FanDuel risk free! Sign up today and if you lose your first contest, you’ll be refunded the entry fee up to $10. 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 DECEMBER 28-JANUARY 3

 

4 Games – Anaheim, Buffalo, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Nashville, New York Islanders, Washington, Winnipeg

 

3 Games –Arizona, Calgary, Carolina, Chicago, Colorado, Edmonton, Florida, Montreal, New Jersey, New York Rangers, Ottawa, Pittsburgh, San Jose, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Toronto

 

2 Games - Boston, Columbus, Philadelphia, Vancouver

 

Anaheim, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Montreal, Nashville, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Washington and Winnipeg play three games on the road.

 

Buffalo, Edmonton, Florida, San Jose and Tampa Bay play three games at home.

 

INJURIES

 

Martin Hanzal is day-to-day with a lower body injury. Again. (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

@ Calgary, @ Edmonton, @ Vancouver, vs. Winnipeg

 

Rested Team: vs. Winnipeg (Sunday)

Tired Team: @ Vancouver (Friday)

 

Notes

The Ducks play four times including three games in four nights. John Gibson and Frederik Andersen will likely split the net this week. Kevin Bieksa has yet to score this season. He had some big years with the Canucks including three seasons with over 40 points and five seasons with 90-plus penalty minutes but at age 34 his fantasy value is negligible as he has only four assists with a minus-nine rating in 33 games. It’s still hard to believe that Ryan Getzlaf has only one goal this season and it was an empty netter at that. His 20 points in 29 games is okay but not for where he was selected in pools.

 

ARIZONA

 

Games this week

vs. Chicago, vs. Winnipeg, @ Edmonton

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Mikkel Boedker has 11 goals and 23 points in 33 games this season and he and the Coyotes will start talking about an extension in January. The Coyotes need to hold onto a talent like Boedker so they will likely pull out all the stops in order to prevent him from becoming a UFA. The Coyotes have been getting some nice goaltending from Louis Domingue this past week as he has two wins in his last two starts while giving up only two goals on 64 shots, including a 25 save performance in shutting out the Islanders. He is worth a pickup in deep leagues. Zbynek Michalek has missed four games with a lower body injury but is back practicing and could return this week.

 

BOSTON

 

Games this week

vs. Ottawa, vs. Montreal

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Bruins play the back half of a home-and-home series with Ottawa so look for Zac Rinaldo and Brad Marchand to add to their penalty minute totals if there are any fisticuffs.  Brett Connolly has gone nine straight games without a point and was dropped to the fourth line as Landon Ferraro saw time on the top unit with Patrice Bergeron Sunday. But things returned to normal on Tuesday even though Connolly was once again held pointless. David Pastrnak could play for the Czech Republic at the World U20’s. Pastrnak is in the minors and would benefit in playing and starring in the tourney. Brad Marchand and Zdeno Chara lead the Bruins in plus/minus at plus-13.

 

BUFFALO

 

Games this week

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

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: vs. New York Islanders (Thursday)

 

Notes

The Sabres play four games including three in four nights so look for Chad Johnson to play three games with Linus Ullmark playing once. The Sabres also play a home-and-home series with Washington and expect to see Josh Gorges to pick up some penalty minutes if there is a fight. Sam Reinhart leads the Sabres with a plus-two rating. Rasmus Ristolainen continues to lead the Sabres defensive corps as he is tops in points with 24 in 34 games as well on the power play where he has four goals and five helpers. He only has two penalty minutes however, if you play in traditional pools.

 

CALGARY

 

Games this week

vs. Anaheim, vs. Los Angeles, @ Colorado

 

Rested Team: None  

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Mark Giordano has been gathering steam of late with a goal and four assists in his last three games and two goals and seven points in his last nine. He is also a plus-three in his last nine, but his overall minus-11 leaves a lot to be desired. Dennis Wideman finally found the back of the net for his first of the season in his 33rd game after scoring 15 last year. Michael Frolik is on the injured reserve list with an upper body injury. Johnny Gaudreau picked up the hat trick on Tuesday and now has 37 points in 34 games this season. The Flames have won 10 in a row at home but need to start winning on the road or they will not be a factor at playoff time.

 

CAROLINA

 

Games this week

@ New Jersey, vs. Washington, vs. Nashville

 

Rested Team: vs. Washington (Thursday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Eric Staal broke a four game pointless streak on Monday with an assist. He has just five goals and 19 points in 34 games and that is not what he was looking for in a contract year. Justin Faulk has 12 of the Hurricanes 20 power play goals (after scoring eight of the first nine) and the 60 percent margin has not been done in the NHL since stats for the power play were first tallied after expansion in 1967-68. He has been amazing. He is leading the Hurricanes with 27 points while Victor Rask heads all forwards with 23 in 34 games. Rask also leads in plus/minus on the team with a plus-three.

 

CHICAGO

 

Games this week

@ Arizona, @ Colorado, vs. Ottawa

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Marian Hossa is hoping to play this week if he is unable to go on December 27 as he has missed the last two games with an upper body injury. Patrick Kane leads the NHL in scoring with 50 points in 36 games and has been held pointless in only four games. Before Tuesday’s game in which he gave up four goals, Corey Crawford was 7-1 in his previous eight and gave up only nine goals on 245 shots. He once again is a number one goalie in fantasy hockey and in the top-seven among netminders. Bryan Bickell has picked up only two assists in 17 games this season after a 14 goal, 14 assist 2014-15 season.  

 

COLORADO

 

Games this week

@ San Jose, vs. Chicago, vs. Calgary  

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: @ San Jose (Monday)

 

Notes

You can’t make this stuff up. Reto Berra suffered an ankle injury Monday while playing soccer before the game against Toronto. Consider him day-to-day for now but Semyon Varlamov has started the last six and had five wins in a row before being shellacked 7-4 against the lowly Maple Leafs. He was the first star of the week as he was 3-0 with a .981 save percentage and a 0.67 GAA. It looks like last season was the best the Avalanche were going to get out of Jarome Iginla as the veteran has only nine goals and 18 points with a minus-nine rating in 35 games. He is 38 so you really cannot expect a lot out of him anymore.

 

COLUMBUS

 

Games this week

vs. Dallas, vs. Washington  

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Joonas Korpisalo has started the last two games in net for the Blue Jackets and picked up his first NHL win over the Flyers on Saturday. Sergei Bobrovsky is due back at any time so Korpisalo could be back in the minors before the start of the week.  Scott Hartnell and Boone Jenner lead the Blue Jackets with 13 goals apiece. Hartnell also leads the team in points with 26 while Gregory Campbell is five penalty minutes ahead of Hartnell with 53. Nick Foligno missed Monday’s game with an undisclosed injury. Rene Bourque returned on Monday after being out with an upper body injury and lined up with Jenner and Ryan Johansen. Bourque has only one assist in 16 games so you really can’t think of him as an asset in fantasy hockey.

    

DALLAS

 

Games this week

@ Columbus, vs. Nashville, @ New Jersey, @ New York Islanders

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Stars play four games this week including three in four nights so look for Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen to share the net this week with each playing twice. Ales Hemsky is in a huge slump with only two assists in his last 18 games. He has only three goals and 13 points in 34 games this season. Swedish defenseman John Klingberg has five goals and 32 points to go with a plus-14 rating. Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin are tied for second overall in NHL scoring with 46 points. Johnny Oduya is having a nice season with four goals and 13 points with a plus-15 rating. He should be owned in deeper leagues. 

 

DETROIT

 

Games this week

@ Minnesota, @ Winnipeg, vs. Pittsburgh, @ Buffalo

 

Rested Team: vs. Pittsburgh (Thursday)

Tired Team: @ Winnipeg (Tuesday)

 

Notes

The Red Wings play three games in four nights as part of a four game week. Petr Mrazek has taken over as the number one goalie but Jimmy Howard is right on his tail. Mrazek is the better bet long-term as he has plenty of talent and should get more starts down the stretch than Howard. Pavel Datsyuk has not played like the Datsyuk of old, as he has only 11 points in 19 games with a plus-seven rating. Dylan Larkin deserves more talk for the Calder than he is getting. The rookie has 13 goals and 24 points with an astounding plus-21 rating. He trails only Henrik Zetterberg in points but leads the Red Wings in goal scoring. 

 

EDMONTON

 

 Games this week

vs. Los Angeles, vs. Anaheim, vs. Arizona

 

Rested Team: vs. Los Angeles (Tuesday)

Tired Team: None

Notes    

The Oilers start a five game home stand this week. Connor McDavid is skating and close to returning to practice. Look for ‘the wunderkid’ to return from a broken clavicle in mid-late January. Taylor Hall is having an outstanding season with 15 goals and 39 points to go with a plus-13 rating in 35 games. Linemates Leon Draisaitl and Teddy Purcell continue to play well as well so don’t be afraid to take him if available. Justin Schultz finally scored on Monday and it was his first goal of the season in 21 games. Andrew Ference is on the injured reserve list with an undisclosed injury.   

 

FLORIDA

 

Games this week

 vs. Montreal, vs. New York Rangers, vs. Minnesota

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: vs. Minnesota (Sunday)

 

Notes

Nick Bjugstad could return to action as early as this week. He has been out of action with migraines since November 29 but has been practicing on his own. The Panthers sent Rocco Grimaldi and Dylan Olsen back to the minors on December 21. Dave Bolland was expected to return to action but suffered a lower body injury in a rehab assignment in the AHL so his return is unknown. Erik Gudbranson has only one point since November 4. Jaromir Jagr is amazing. The 43-year-old leads the Panthers in scoring with 25 points in 32 games, two ahead of another veteran, Jussi Jokinen. Roberto Luongo continues to hold the Panthers together with a 14-11-3 mark to go with a 2.21 GAA and a .925 save percentage.    

 

LOS ANGELES

 

Games this week

@ Vancouver, @ Edmonton, @ Calgary, vs. Philadelphia

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: @ Edmonton

 

Notes

 The Kings play four times this week including three games in four nights. Jonathan Quick should see the net three times with Jhonas Enroth getting in one contest. The Kings start the week with a swing through Western Canada before coming home to face the Flyers. It was a bad night Saturday for the Kings top line of Anze Kopitar, Milan Lucic and Marian Gaborik as all three were minus-four in a 5-0 loss to Toronto. Lucic has 24 penalty minutes in 33 games but he has had only 14 in his last 32 games. Tyler Toffoli is having a nice season with 14 goals (to lead the Kings) and 24 points with a plus-17 rating.

 

MINNESOTA

 

Games this week

vs. Detroit, @ St. Louis, @Tampa Bay, @ Florida  

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Wild are playing four contests this week including three games in four nights so expect to see Devan Dubnyk play three times with Darcy Kuemper getting one start. The Wild start a four game road trip this week. Mikael Granlund is finally showing the potential everyone saw when he was drafted ninth overall in 2010 as he has 16 points in his last 20 games. He has only three goals this season but 21 points in 33 games. Nino Niederreiter scored on Monday and it was his first goal in 16 games. He now has seven goals and 15 points, Jared Spurgeon received an extension and will get 20.75 million over the next four years.    

 

MONTREAL

           

Games this week

@ Tampa Bay, @ Florida, @ Boston

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: @ Florida (Tuesday)

 

Notes

The Canadiens certainly did not expect Mike Condon to be playing in 23 contests thus far in the NHL and he has certainly struggled of late as he is 9-8-3 this season but is 0-6 in his last six starts. Montreal really misses Carey Price and he is still around three weeks from returning from a knee injury. Another key injury was the one to Brendan Gallagher as the Habs were 16-4-2 when he was hurt. His linemates Max Pacioretty and Tomas Plekanec have really struggled since. Gallagher could return for the Winter Classic this week and that should provide a boost to Montreal. Jeff Petry missed a couple of games with an upper body injury but is expected back December 26.

 

 NASHVILLE

 

Games this week

vs. New York Rangers, @ St. Louis, @ Dallas, @ Carolina

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: @ St. Louis (Tuesday)

 

Notes

The Predators play four games this week including three in four so expect to see Pekka Rinne play three times with Carter Hutton getting the other start. Mike Fisher (lower body) could return to action on December 26 and that will likely move Calle Jarnkrok back to being a bottom six forward. Ryan Ellis is worth looking at in deeper pools as he has three goals and 14 points in 33 games. He has a lot of upside as he was a highly regarded offensive blueliner as a junior. Shea Weber and Roman Josi continue to lead the Predators defensive corps with 19 goals and 51 points between them in 34 games.

 

NEW JERSEY

 

Games this week

vs.  Carolina, @ Ottawa, vs. Dallas

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

 The Devils play the back half of a home-and-home series against Carolina so look for Jordin Tootoo to get involved if there are any shenanigans. Mike Cammalleri continues to have a big season for the Devils with 12 goals and 32 points to go with a plus-10 rating. He has been in a slump with only a goal and an assist in his last eight games but all-in-all he has been very good this season. The Devils did quite well a couple of seasons ago when they dealt the ninth overall pick to Vancouver for Cory Schneider. Schneider has kept New Jersey in games they had no business being in as he is 15-9-5 this season with a 2.14 GAA and a .925 save percentage.

 

NEW YORK ISLANDERS

 

Games this week

@ Toronto, @ Buffalo, @ Pittsburgh, vs. Dallas

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: vs. Dallas (Sunday)

 

Notes

The Islanders play four times this week with three coming over four nights.  Thomas Greiss has played quite well this and should get at least one start with fellow netminder Jaroslav Halak getting the remainder. The Islanders also play the back end of a home-and-home series with Toronto. The Maple Leafs have had only one fight to date but if there is another, it is likely that Matt Martin would be involved. Kyle Okposo has missed the last two games with a lower body injury and the hope is that he will be able to return this week. The Islanders loaned Kirill Petrov back to the KHL’s Ak Bars Kazan after he scored only once and had four assists in 13 AHL games. After picking up only two points in six games, John Tavares had a couple of helpers Monday.

 

NEW YORK RANGERS

 

Games this week

@ Nashville, @ Tampa Bay, @ Florida

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None    

 

Notes

The Rangers are on the road for all three games this week. Antti Raanta should return this week from a head injury when he took a slapshot to the head. The Rangers sent Magnus Hellberg to the AHL. The Rangers have to be wondering what is wrong with Henrik Lundqvist. Granted, he won his last start in overtime 3-2 but in his last five starts he was pulled three times and gave up 20 goals on 143 shots in only 247 minutes of action which is barley more than four games. That’s not good. J.T. Miller has three goals and five points in his last six games.

 

OTTAWA     

 

Games this week

@ Boston, vs. New Jersey, @ Chicago

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Senators play the back end of a home-and-home series with the Bruins so expect to see Chris Neil and/or Mark Borowiecki to add to their penalty minute count. Erik Karlsson is tied with Patrick Kane for the NHL lead in assists at 29 and is on a five game points streak. Bobby Ryan missed Tuesday’s game with a hand injury and is day-to-day at this time. Mike Hoffman has two goals and five points in his last five. For all the hype that Andrew Hammond brought about last season, he has only started six games this season. Craig Anderson is the undisputed number one netminder on the Sens as he is 15-9-4 in 28 starts.

 

PHILADELPHIA

 

Games this week

@ San Jose, @ Los Angeles

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Flyers play only twice this week as they finish their California swing of the NHL schedule. Claude Giroux is in a bit of a slump as he is pointless in his last four games. Jakub Voracek has new linemates in Sean Couturier and Wayne Simmonds and he thinks there is something special there as he has two goals and eight points in his last five games. Shayne Gostisbehere has been a revelation as the defenseman has taken over quarterbacking the power play from the injured Mark Streit. Gostisbehere has 14 points in 18 games thus far with three goals and seven of his eight assists coming with the man-advantage.

 

PITTSBURGH

 

Games this week

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

 

Rested Team: vs. Toronto (Wednesday)

Tired Team: @ Detroit (Thursday)

 

Notes

The Penguins play three games in four nights this week. Marc-Andre Fleury is still out of action with a concussion so it will be Matt Murray, who picked up his first NHL victory of the season on Monday, and Jeff Zatkoff splitting the net. I think that Murray will get two starts this week and I recommend picking him up in deeper pools at this time. Phil Kessel potted a couple of goals on a line with Nick Bonino at center and Chris Kunitz on the other wing Monday so do not be surprised if new head coach Mike Sullivan keeps them together even upon the return of Sidney Crosby. Crosby missed Monday’s tilt with a lower-body injury and it’s believed to be a short-term injury.

 

ST. LOUIS

 

Games this week

vs. Nashville, vs. Minnesota, @ Toronto

 

Rested Team: vs. Nashville (Tuesday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Last week I wrote that Magnus Paajarvi lost his spot on the top line with Vladimir Tarasenko and Paul Stastny but this week he is back on it as Paajarvi has impressed Ken Hitchcock with his play of late. Paajarvi scored his second of the season on Monday and if he continues to play with Tarasenko and Stastny, he may be a sneaky pick in deep leagues. Robby Fabbri is still eligible to play for Canada at the World U20’s but with seven goals this season for the Blues there was no way St. Louis was going to release him from their roster. He is a keeper. Carl Gunnarsson is out with a lingering upper body injury.

    

SAN JOSE

 

Games this week

vs. Colorado, vs. Philadelphia, vs. Winnipeg

 

Rested Team: vs. Colorado (Monday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Joel Ward missed two games but is expected back from an upper body injury for the Colorado game. Ward has been a great signing as the veteran has 10 goals and 23 points in 32 games. The Sharks start a five game home stand this week. Patrick Marleau is having a nice offensive season but is a minus-12. Brent Burns is having an even better offensive start with 14 goals and 31 points but the defenseman is a minus-13. Martin Jones continues to show the Sharks why he is the number one goalie as he is 15-10-2 with a 2.39 GAA and a .916 save percentage. He is a low-end number one goalie in fantasy.

 

TAMPA BAY

 

Games this week

vs. Montreal, vs. New York Rangers, vs. Minnesota

 

Rested team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Lightning end a six game home stand this week. Look for Ondrej Palat to return to action at some point this week from a power body injury. Jonathan Drouin has been out of action for a couple of weeks with a lower body injury as well but he hopes to return on December 26. Jonathan Marchessault is on a five game points streak and has three goals and five points during the streak. Steven Stamkos has taken over the Lightning lead in points as he now has 14 goals and 25 points, a point clear of Nikita Kucherov. Victor Hedman leads the Lightning blueline brigade with 18 points. 

 

TORONTO

 

Games this week

vs. New York Islanders, @ Pittsburgh, vs. St. Louis  

 

Rested team: None

Tired Team: @ Pittsburgh (Wednesday)

 

Notes

The Maple Leafs play the back end of a home-and-home series with the Islanders but do not expect any extra-curricular activity as only Nazem Kadri has had a fight for the Leafs this season. Jonathan Bernier finally won a game as he shut out the Kings 5-0 on Saturday and then made it two in a row with a win over the Avalanche. The run could be over as James Reimer is ready to return to action and should be available this week. Leo Komarov has been terrific this season as he has blown past his career best in goals. The winger has 15 goals and 24 points this season with five goals and seven points coming in three games before he was held off the scoresheet on Tuesday in Arizona. 

 

VANCOUVER

 

Games this week

vs. Los Angeles, vs. Anaheim

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: vs. Anaheim (Sunday)

 

Notes

Henrik Sedin returned to action after missing a couple of games with a Ryan Miller is having a tough season as he is 9-11-6 with a lower body injury. Jacob Markstrom is only 2-3-3 this season but look for him to eventually take over the starting gig from Ryan Miller who seems to have lost it somewhat. I'm not saying that this will happen this season but it appears that the writing's on the wall for the veteran goaltender. Bo Horvat has only two goals and 10 points with a team worst minus-10 rating but don't let his poor start fool you as he is going to be a force in the NHL eventually.  Derek Dorsett scored for the first time in 25 games this past week and while he has only three goals and seven points, his 106 penalty minutes make him fantasy worthy.

 

WASHINGTON

 

Games this week

@ Buffalo, vs. Buffalo, @ Carolina, @ Columbus

 

Rested team: None

Tired Team: @ Carolina (Thursday)

 

Notes

The Capitals play four times this week including three games in four nights. Look for Philipp Grubauer to play once while the sensational Braden Holtby plays three games. The Capitals play a home-and-home series with the Sabres so expect to see Tom Wilson add to his penalty minute totals this week. Nicklas Backstrom has never been invited to an All-Star game despite 603 points in 607 games. It's a shame that a star with his talent has never been able to showcase his talents with the best in the world. Andre Burakovsky has only two goals and eight points in 30 games this season but do not forget about him next year as he is a talent who is just having trouble (like most) in his second NHL season. 

 

WINNIPEG

 

Games this week

vs. Detroit, @ Arizona, @ San Jose, @ Anaheim

 

Rested team: vs. Detroit (Tuesday)

Tired Team: @ Anaheim (Sunday)

 

Notes

The Jets play three games in four nights as part of their four game week. There is still no word as to when Ondrej Pavelec will return from injury but Connor Hellebuyck should remain the starter once Pavelec returns as he gives the Jets the best opportunity to win, both now and in the future. Look for Hellebuyck to get at least two and possibly three starts this week with Michael Hutchinson picking up the rest. Tyler Myers is beginning to show signs that he is returning to his rookie form in Buffalo when he was awarded the Calder Trophy. The defenseman has only four goals and 14 points this season but has two goals and six points in his last four games. Nikolajs Ehlers has not scored a goal in 10 games. It would have been a good idea to send him to the World's U20 Championships but the Jets decided otherwise.

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.