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The Penalty Kill

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Last Week before the Olympics
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As the NHL plays the last week of the season before the Olympic break, Michael Finewax lets you know …

While it does not seem important to fantasy pools, the penalty kill actually is as it is obvious that poor teams give up power play goals to the opposition while good teams do not.

It’s surprising therefore, to see some very good hockey teams at the bottom of the penalty kill in the NHL as the two worst teams in the league are the Anaheim Ducks and the Chicago Blackhawks, two of the best teams in the West.

Nine teams are below the 80 percent efficiency rating heading into action on Friday with four teams, the Phoenix Coyotes, the Minnesota Wild and the previously mentioned Blackhawks and Ducks currently in a playoff position. The rest of the team’s, Florida, Columbus, Edmonton, Calgary and the Islanders are not.

Washington is the only team over 90 percent with Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto and Colorado filling out the top five at 87 percent efficiency or better.

The first five teams have given up an average of seven goals while the bottom eight teams have given up an average of almost 13 goals.

So you can see it is close to double the chance that a bottom team will allow a power play goal compared to a top team and that should help you if you are looking for power play points the rest of the season.

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Now to The Week Ahead.

WEEK OF NOVEMBER 11-17

 

4 Games - Columbus, Los Angeles, St. Louis, San Jose, Tampa Bay

3 Games– Anaheim, Boston, Buffalo, Calgary, Carolina, Chicago, Colorado, Dallas, Detroit, Edmonton, Florida, Minnesota, Montreal, Nashville, New Jersey, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Ottawa, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Toronto,  Washington, Winnipeg

2 Games – Vancouver

Los Angeles and San Jose play all four games on the road.

Calgary, Minnesota, New York Islanders, Ottawa and St. Louis play three games at home.

Anaheim, Columbus, Dallas, Philadelphia and Tampa Bay play three games on the road.

Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $2,500 Fantasy Hockey league tonight (Friday). It's just $10 to join and first prize is $500. Starts at 7:30pm ET. Here's the link. 

INJURIES

Dave Bolland is out indefinitely after undergoing surgery to repair a torn tendon in his ankle. (Click here to see the rest of the injury list.)

 ANAHEIM

Games this week

@ Florida, @ Tampa Bay, @ Carolina

Notes

The Ducks play three games in four nights so look for Frederik Andersen to play once in place of Jonas Hiller. The Ducks are the tired team on Friday when they play the Carolina Hurricanes as Anaheim takes on Tampa Bay Thursday. It is very surprising that Dustin Penner is leading the NHL in plus/minus at plus-15. Teemu Selanne is back in action after missing four games following oral surgery. Cam Fowler has four points in his last four games. Mathieu Perreault continues to impress with 14 points in 16 games. Saku Koivu will have a tough time taking back his spot as the Ducks second line center from Perreault. It's hard to believe the Ducks are the top team in the NHL with the second worst power play and penalty kill this season.

BOSTON

Games this week

vs. Tampa Bay, vs. Columbus, @ Ottawa

Notes

The Bruins are tired on Friday when they are in Ottawa as Boston hosts Columbus Thursday. Loui Eriksson returned to action on Tuesday following a concussion that kept him out of the lineup for five games. He has only two goals and four points in 10 games but is a good buy-low candidate. Defenseman Troy Krug has six goals and nine points and should be in someone’s lineup, especially if you use defensemen goals as a category. Tuukka Rask is 8-4-1 with a sparkling 1.68 GAA and a .942 save percentage which is second and third respectively in the NHL.  Brad Marchand scored his second goal of the season Thursday and now has five points in 15 games.

BUFFALO

Games this week

vs. Los Angeles, vs. Toronto @ Toronto

Notes

The Sabres play a home-and-home series with the Maple Leafs and things could get nasty as John Scott is eligible to return from his seven game suspension on November 8. Scott tried to fight with the Leafs Phil Kessel in the preseason and Toronto will likely send out their enforcers in Colton Orr and Frazer McLaren, to deal with the hulking Scott. Grab Scott in pools if you need penalty minutes this week. Matt Moulson has not missed a beat since being dealt from the Islanders to Buffalo as he has six points in five games. Ryan Miller picked up his second win of the season Tuesday and now is 2-10-0.

CALGARY

Games this week

vs. San Jose, vs. Dallas, vs. Edmonton

Notes

The Flames the rested team twice this week as they play Dallas on Thursday after the Stars take on Edmonton the previous night. They then are rested on Saturday when playing at home against the Oilers as Edmonton play at home to San Jose Friday. Sven Baertschi has been a healthy scratch the last two games and is practicing with the fourth liners. Lance Bouma is seeing time on the first line due to injuries. Curtis Glencross is out six weeks with a knee injury. The Flames recalled Reto Berra on the weekend and waived Joey MacDonald. MacDonald passed through waivers and is now on the Abbotsford team in the AHL while Berra has taken over the net in Calgary with Karri Ramo backing him up for now. Berra sparkled in his NHL debut stopping 42 of 44 shots in a 3-2 upset win over Chicago.

CAROLINA

Games this week

vs. Colorado, vs. Anaheim, @ St. Louis

Notes

Carolina is the rested team on Friday when they host the Ducks as Anaheim play the Lightning in Tampa Bay Thursday. The Hurricanes then travel to St. Louis for a Saturday matchup with the rested Blues. Jeff Skinner is likely to miss another two weeks with an upper body injury. He has been out of action since October 24. The Hurricanes sent first round pick Elias Lindholm to Charlotte of the AHL after the Swedish rookie picked up a goal and an assist in 10 NHL games. They recalled Chris Terry at the same time after Terry had six goals and 10 points for the Charlotte Checkers in 10 games.

CHICAGO

Games this week

vs. Phoenix, @ Nashville, vs. San Jose

Notes

The Chicago Blackhawks play three games in four nights so they may go back to Nikolai Khabibulin for one game in place of Corey Crawford despite Khabibulin’s shaky start to the season. Coach Joel Quenneville had the opportunity to play 'The Bulin Wall' on Sunday as the Blackhawks played in back-to-back games but chose to play Crawford again. The Blackhawks are rested on Saturday when they face Nashville in Music City as the Predators are in Pittsburgh the previous night. Chicago then returns home on Sunday to host the rested Sharks. Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews are off to great starts in the goal scoring department with nine and eight respectively. Michal Handzus has missed the last seven games with an upper body injury.

COLORADO

Games this week

@ Carolina, @ St. Louis, vs. Florida

Notes

The Avalanche are rested Saturday when they host Florida who are in Minnesota Friday. Matt Duchene suffered a bruised foot Wednesday but is expected to play despite missing practice Thursday. Nathan MacKinnon is back centering the third line between John Mitchell and Maxime Talbot after coach Patrick Roy put Jamie McGinn on a line with Paul Stastny and Gabriel Landeskog. The moves were made with the injury to Alex Tanguay (knee). Semyon Varlamov is 1-1 since his arrest and subsequent release from jail but he has allowed seven goals in just 56 shots to lower his save percentage to .933.

COLUMBUS

Games this week

@ Washington, @ Boston, vs. Montreal, @ Ottawa

Notes

The Blue Jackets play four times this week including three in four nights so look for Curtis McElhinny to play at least once in place of Sergei Bobrovsky. Bobrovsky saw his record drop to 4-8-0 Thursday in a 4-2 loss to a tired New York Rangers team but he does have a good save percentage at .910. The Blue Jackets will be tired on Friday when they host the Canadiens as Columbus will play the Bruins in Boston on Thursday. Good news for Nathan Horton owners as he skated for the first time since undergoing off-season shoulder surgery. He is still four-six weeks away from playing. Marian Gaborik drew an assist on Thursday for his first point in five games. He now has five goals and 11 points in 14 games.

DALLAS

Games this week

@ Edmonton, @ Calgary, @ Vancouver

Notes

The Stars are in Western Canada all week and will be the tired team on Thursday in Calgary after playing up the road in Edmonton on Wednesday. Rich Peverley has two game winning goals in a row with the first one in a shootout on Tuesday. Kari Lehtonen has been a stud in goal this season for the Stars as he is 7-2-2 with a 2.02 GAA and a .934 save percentage. Valeri Nichushkin scored his first of the season and his NHL career on November 3 and is playing with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin on the top line. Seguin won only one of 14 faceoffs on Sunday before coach Lindy Ruff replaced him in the dot.

DETROIT

Games this week

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

Notes

The Red Wings will be the tired team on Saturday when they travel to New York to face the Islanders after playing the Capitals at home on Friday. Jonas Gustavsson was healthy enough on Thursday to return as a backup to Jimmy Howard as Gustavsson was out with a neck strain for a week. Jordin Tootoo passed through waivers this week but the Red Wings have not sent the tough winger to the minors as of yet. Johan Franzen missed Thursday’s game with an illness but should be fine for this week’s slate of games. Jonathan Ericsson comes off the long-term injured reserve list on Friday and will be ready to play against Washington.

EDMONTON

Games this week

vs. Dallas, vs. San Jose, @ Calgary

Notes

The Oilers play three games in four nights so look for Jason LaBarbera to play once in place of Devan Dubnyk. The Oilers will be rested on Friday when they face San Jose who are in Vancouver on Thursday, but will be the tired team on Saturday in Calgary. Taylor Hall returned to action on Thursday after missing seven games with a knee injury and potted a goal. He is now playing with Sam Gagner at center and Nail Yakupov on the other side in which should be a high scoring line in Edmonton. GM Craig MacTavish stated that Yakupov is not going to be traded nor is he going to the minors and placing him on the top line reinforces that thought. David Perron could be back in the Edmonton lineup on November 9. Mark Arcobello finally scored and now has two goals and 12 points to tie for the points lead in Edmonton with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

FLORIDA

Games this week

vs. Anaheim, @ Minnesota, @ Colorado

Notes

The Panthers are the tired team on Saturday against the Avalanche in Colorado as they play in Minnesota Friday. The Panthers are tied for the third worst point total in the NHL at 10 and coach Kevin Dineen was relieved of his duties on Friday morning. Tim Thomas could return to action as early as November 9 and that will likely place Scott Clemmensen back in the minors. Jonathan Huberdeau has assists in each of his last three games but has only eight points in 16 games this season. Scott Gomez has only one goal and four points in 15 games this season and was a healthy scratch earlier in the week. He has no fantasy value.

LOS ANGELES

Games this week

@ Buffalo, @ New York Islanders, @ New Jersey, @ New York Rangers

Notes

The Kings play all four on the road this week and also play three games in four nights so expect to see backup Ben Scrivens play once instead of Jonathan Quick. They are the tired team on Friday when facing the Devils in New Jersey after playing the Islanders in Long Island on Thursday. The Kings will be rested Sunday when facing the Rangers as New York plays in Monteal Saturday. The Kings do not have to do a lot of traveling during the week as they will spend most of their time in New York. Tyler Toffoli has two assists since his call up two games ago and is seeing plenty of power play time. He had two goals and six points in 12 playoff games with the Kings last season so he is worth picking up in deeper pools.

MINNESOTA

Games this week

vs. Toronto, vs. Florida, vs. Winnipeg

Notes

Josh Harding continues to amaze as he is 9-2-1 this season with a spectacular 1.16 GAA and a just as sparkling .949 save percentage. Niklas Backstrom is now the backup as Harding has played the last four games. Backstrom is 1-1-2 this season with a 3.42 GAA and a .871 save percentage. Keith Ballard returned from a concussion and suffered an upper body injury three games later that is not related to the concussion. Zach Parise leads the team with 15 points while Jason Pominville has 10 goals to top the Wild. Zenon Konopka is the team leader in penalty minutes with 32 and has also scored once this season.   

MONTREAL

Games this week

vs. Tampa Bay, @ Columbus, vs. New York Rangers

Notes

The Canadiens play three times this week and will be the rested or tired team in all three games. They are rested Tuesday when hosting the Lightning as Tampa Bay plays Boston Monday. They are also rested on Friday when they are in Columbus as the Blue Jackets play in Boston Thursday but Montreal will be tired as they come home Saturday to host the Rangers.  Carey Price is only 6-7-1 this season but his peripherals are outstanding with a 2.22 GAA and a .930 save percentage. The relationship of P.K. Subban and coach Michel Therrien may not be good at this time as Subban found himself on the bench during the last four minutes of Tuesday game as Therrien is apparently not happy with the defensive play of Subban.

NASHVILLE

Games this week

@ New York Islanders @ Pittsburgh, vs. Chicago

Notes

The Predators will be the tired team on Saturday when they host the Blackhawks after playing in Pittsburgh Friday night. They sent Filip Forsberg to the minors on Thursday as he is not getting enough playing time at the NHL level. Viktor Stalberg finally potted his first goal as a member of the Nashville Predators on Wednesday, while adding an assist. Carter Hutton is now 4-1-1 this season as he is starting in place of Pekka Rinne who is out of action with a serious hip infection. It looks like Rinne will not return to the Nashville lineup until Christmas. Colin Wilson heated up on Wednesday with two goals and four points and now has nine points in 15 games.

NEW JERSEY

Games this week

@ New York Rangers, vs. Los Angeles, vs. Pittsburgh

Notes

New Jersey will be rested on Friday when they face the Kings who play the Islanders Thursday night.  Martin Brodeur picked up a shut out on Thursday and it was the 20th straight season in which he has recorded at least one in an NHL game. Cam Janssen was recalled from the minors on Wednesday and the enforcer potted his first of the season Thursday. It was only his fourth of his career in 313 career NHL games and his first since the 2010-11 season. Patrik Elias is out with back spasms. Travis Zajac returned to action Thursday after missing two games with an ankle injury. Jonathan Merrill went face first into the boards during his NHL debut but does not have a concussion.

NEW YORK ISLANDERS

Games this week

vs. Nashville, vs. Los Angeles, vs. Detroit

Notes

The Islanders are the rested team on Saturday when they host the Red Wings as Detroit is hoem to Washington Friday. Kevin Poulin is only 1-3 this season but his 2.27 GAA and .918 save percentage shows he deserves more playing time. Number one goalie Evgeni Nabokov has a 5-4-3 record with a weak 3.18 GAA and .897 save percentage. Cal Clutterbuck is out with an upper body injury. Kyle Okposo is off to a terrific start with 19 points in 16 games as he leads the Islanders in points, two more than John Tavares and Frans Nielsen. His career high is 52 points. Thomas Vanek has a goal and two assists in five games since his trade from Buffalo.

NEW YORK RANGERS

Games this week

vs. New Jersey, @ Montreal, vs. Los Angeles

Notes

The Rangers are the rested team on Saturday in Montreal as the Habs are in Columbus Friday. New York should be tired on Saturday as they host the rested Kings. Carl Hagelin has four goals and seven points in six games this season while Ryan Callahan has five goals and seven points in eight contests. Brad Richards continues to shine this season with five goals and 13 points in 16 games after a mediocre 2013 season in which he had 34 points in 46 games and found himself a healthy scratch at times in the playoffs. The Rangers are getting outstanding goaltending from Henrik Lundqvist and new backup Cameron Talbot and their play is a pivotal reason the Rangers are 6-4 in their last ten.

OTTAWA     

Games this week

vs. Philadelphia, vs. Boston, vs.Columbus

Notes

The Senators will be the rested team on Friday when they host the Bruins as Boston hosts Columbus Thursday. Craig Anderson is out of action with a neck strain but the Ottawa net is being capably managed by Robin Lehner who is 2-2-2 this season but with a 2.15 GAA and a .947 save percentage. Bobby Ryan has been terrific in the early going for the Senators as he has nine goals and 18 points in 16 games with a plus-10 rating and three power play goals. His ice time on the first pp is a welcome sight as he played mostly on the second power play with the Ducks last season. Erik Karlsson leads all defensemen in points with 17, one ahead of P.K. Subban.

PHILADELPHIA

Games this week

@ Ottawa, @ Pittsburgh, @ Winnipeg

Notes

The Flyers play three games in four nights and all are on the road so look for Ray Emery to see the net once with Steve Mason drawing the other two assignments. The Flyers will be tired on Wednesday when they face the Penguins in Pittsburgh after playing in Ottawa on Tuesday. Claude Giroux has yet to score in 15 games this season. The Flyers have reunited Giroux with Jakub Voracek and Scott Hartnell in hopes that the trio can get untracked. Steve Downie could return as early as November 9 from a concussion suffered Nov. 1 courtest of Aaron Volpatti of the Capitals. Tye McGinn was tied for second in goals scored for the Flyers before he was returned to the minors. He had three.

PHOENIX

Games this week

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

Notes

Martin Hanzal is off to a great start with five goals and 13 points in 15 games. He also hits a lot so his value in fantasy pools is skyrocketing. Andy Miele, the former Hobey Baker winner was sent to the minors Thursday after picking up two assists in four games. Mike Smith is 9-3-2 with a .915 save percentage but his goals against average is so-so at 2.87. Rostislav Klesla is back after missing four games with a lower body injury. Brandon Gormley was returned to the minors as he still has not played a game in the NHL. Antoine Vermette has five goals and nine points in 17 games with a plus-eight rating and 14 penalty minutes. He has also been terrific in the faceoff circle at 58.1 percent, the sixth best in the NHL.

PITTSBURGH

Games this week

vs. Philadelphia, vs. Nashville, @ New Jersey

Notes

The Penguins play three games in four nights so it is likely that Jeff Zatkoff will play once in place of Marc-Andre Fleury. The Penguins will be rested on Wednesday when they host the Flyers as Philadelphia takes on Ottawa in Canada’s capital Tuesday. I was on @penguinslive with @Brian_Metzer Thursday and everyone in Pittsburgh is getting excited about the return of James Neal who could return at some point this week. It will add to the fantasy value of Evgeni Malkin who has struggled a bit this season without Neal on the wing. Malkin does have 14 points in 16 games but he was expected to do a lot better than that and has scored only three times. Combine that with the imminent return of Beau Bennett to the second line as well and it looks like the Penguins are looking good.

ST. LOUIS

Games this week

vs. Phoenix, vs. Colorado, vs. Carolina, @ Washington

Notes

The Blues play four games this week including three in four nights so Brian Elliott will get at least one start with Jaroslav Halak getting the rest of the action. The Blues will be the rested team on Saturday when they take on the Hurricanes as Carolina is home to Anaheim Friday. St. Louis will be the tired team on Sunday in Washington. Alexander Steen became only the fifth player since 1999-2000 to score 14 goals in his team’s first 14 games. Brenden Morrow was put on the injured reserve list with an upper body injury. Derek Roy saw only 12:01 minutes of ice time on Thursday including just 2:47 in the third period. T.J. Oshie was back on the first line Thursday after being bumped to the second unit during practice Monday. He set up Steen for his goal Thursday.

SAN JOSE

Games this week

@ Calgary, @ Vancouver, @ Edmonton, @ Chicago

Notes

The Sharks play all four on the road this week including three games in four nights so expect to see Alex Stalock in goal once with Antti Niemi playing three times. The Sharks will be the tired team on Friday against the Oilers after playing in Vancouver Thursday but will be rested on Sunday in Chicago as the Blackhawks are in Nashville Saturday. There is still no timetable for the return of Brent Burns who has been out of action since October 19 after taking a puck to the mouth. He has four goals and eight points but has missed the last eight games. Tommy Wingels saw time on the first line Thursday with Joe Thornton and Tomas Hertl but by the third period the line combinations were all mixed up.

TAMPA BAY

Games this week

@ Boston, @ Montreal, vs. Anaheim, @ Phoenix

Notes

The Lightning play three games in four nights as part of a four game week so expect to see Anders Lindback play once in place of Ben Bishop. They will be the tired team on Tuesday in Montreal after playing in Boston on Monday. Bishop’s play has been so good this season that his name is being bandied about for Team USA at the Sochi Olympics. Bishop is 10-2-0 with a 2.14 GAA and a .928 save percentage. Keith Aulie has played only twice this season but is working hard in practice. He will need to clear waivers to go to the minors and that is unlikely. Alex Killorn is playing well on the top line with Steve Stamkos and Martin St. Louis and is worth picking up in all pools at this time.

TORONTO

Games this week

@ Minnesota, @ Buffalo, vs. Buffalo

Notes

The Maple Leafs play three games in four nights so James Reimer and Jonathan Bernier will get net time with Randy Carlyle deciding who plays the extra game. The Maple Leafs play a home-and-home series with Buffalo and look for tempers to flare with the Phil Kessel-John Scott incident in preseason play. Colton Orr, and Frazer McLaren should add to their penalty minute totals and Mark Fraser is likely to as well. Fraser will return on November 8 after missing a month with a knee injury. Look for Morgan Rielly to be a healthy scratch more often in the next month. Jerred Smithson was signed this week as the Maple Leafs needed a center with the injury to Dave Bolland.

VANCOUVER

Games this week

vs. San Jose, vs. Dallas

Notes

The Canucks are the only team in the NHL this week to play two games so I would suggest benching all your Vancouver players in weekly transaction pools with the exception of the Sedin twins and Ryan Kesler, if you can. Henrik Sedin leads the NHL with 17 assists. Roberto Luongo has been outstanding this season and is the leading candidate to play goal for Canada at the Olympics at this time as he is 9-4-2 with a 2.23 GAA and a .916 save percentage. Christopher Higgins is playing well with six goals and 10 points in 18 games.   The Canucks sent David Booth to the minors on a conditioning stint.

WASHINGTON

Games this week

vs. Columbus, @ Detroit, vs. St. Louis

Notes

The Capitals will be the rested team on Sunday when they host the Blues as St. Louis takes on Carolina at home on Saturday. How the mighty have fallen. Brooks Laich was a good fantasy player a couple of seasons ago as he had point totals of 53, 59, 48 and 41 from 2008-09 to 2011-12. But an injury in 2012 forced him to miss 39 of 48 games and he has only three points in 16 games this season. Marcus Johansson is having a breakout season with 14 points in 16 games. Alex Ovechkin returned to action after missing two games with an upper body injury.  

WINNIPEG

Games this week

@ Detroit, vs. Philadelphia, @ Minnesota

Notes

Jim Slater, who has been out of the lineup since October 18, underwent sports hernia surgery and is out indefinitely. Evander Kane (lower body) was held out of Wednesday’s game although he thought he could play. Bryan Little has 13 points including eight goals in 17 games and is on pace to beat his best season ever as he had 51 points in 2008-09. Mark Scheifele had two assists on Monday and now has five points in 17 games. Dustin Byfuglien has yet to find the back of the net but does have 10 assists this season. He has 22 penalty minutes as well but his minus-nine rating lowers his fantasy value.

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