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The Penultimate Week

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Eastern Conference: Round 2
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Corey Abbott previews the second round of the postseason in the Eastern Conference

This is the second last column of the season and teams are heading into the finals of their head-to-head league or if they are in rotisserie pools, hopefully still looking for a top finish.

Best of luck to everyone still competing and I hope that injuries have not affected your team too much.


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

 

While you're at it, please also read Rotoworld writers @RyanDadoun, @CoreAbbott, @cyclelikesedins@kbrownroto and @katshockey for the latest news.

 

Now to The Week Ahead.

 

WEEK OF MARCH 31-APRIL 6

4 Games- Anaheim, Buffalo, Carolina, Colorado, Columbus, Dallas, Edmonton, Florida, Los Angeles, New Jersey,  New York Islanders, Ottawa, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, St. Louis,  Winnipeg

3 Games– Boston, Calgary, Chicago, Detroit, Minnesota, Montreal, New York Rangers, Phoenix, San Jose, Tampa Bay, Toronto, Washington

2 Games -  Nashville, Vancouver

Dallas plays all four games on the road.

Anaheim, Columbus, New Jersey, Ottawa, St. Louis, San Jose, Tampa Bay and Toronto play three games at home.

Buffalo, Calgary, Edmonton, Pittsburgh and Winnipeg play three games on the road.

INJURIES

Bobby Ryan is out for the remainder of the regular season with a sports hernia. (Click here to see the rest of the injury list.)

ANAHEIM

Games this week

vs. Winnipeg, vs. Edmonton, vs. Nashville, @ Edmonton

Rested team: vs. Edmonton

Tired Team: None

Notes

The Ducks play four times this week but not three games in four nights. Fredrik Andersen should play at least once in place of Jonas Hiller. They also play twice against the Oilers and it's likely that Tim Jackman, Patrick Maroon or Bryan Allen could get into an altercation. Teemu Selanne is now the third member of the Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry line and that has to help his fantasy value. He has only nine goals and 24 points in 57 games but don't be afraid to pick him up for the final two weeks of the season. Stephane Robidas picked up his first point as a Duck on Sunday.

BOSTON

Games this week

@ Detroit, @ Toronto, vs. Philadelphia

Rested team: None

Tired Team: @ Toronto (Thursday)

Notes

The Bruins play three games in four nights.  Chad Johnson is expected to play at least once in place of Tuukka Rask. Jarome Iginla continues to get closer to the 30 goal mark as he has nine goals in his last 10 games to give him 28 on the season. He was the third star of the week. Torey Krug was a healthy scratch on Saturday as Johnny Boychuk returned to the Bruins lineup. Going into action on Thursday, the Bruins had a seven point lead on the Penguins for the Conference lead so don't be surprised if they rest some of their regulars like Rask or Zdeno Chara down the stretch.  Milan Lucic is having a strong fantasy season with 21 goals and 53 points to go with a plus-27 rating and 78 penalty minutes. Patrice Bergeron has scored in each of the last six games.

BUFFALO

Games this week

vs. New Jersey, @ St. Louis, @ Detroit, @ Philadelphia

Rested team: @ Philadelphia (Sunday)

Tired Team: vs. New Jersey (Tuesday), @ Detroit (Friday)

Notes

The Sabres play three games in four nights as part of a four game week. They are still missing Jhonas Enroth and Michal Neuvirth to injury so they are relying on Nathan Lieuwen and Matthew Hackett to tend to the net. Tyler Myers was re-injured on Tuesday so the Sabres recalled first round pick Rasmus Ristolainen who scored on Thursday. Ville Leino has yet to score in 52 games this season and it will be a surprise if the Sabres retain his contract going into next year. Even Zenon Konopka has found the back of the net once this season. Tyler Ennis leads the Sabres with 38 points and now has 40 penalty minutes after picking up 12 including a misconduct, on Tuesday.

CALGARY

Games this week

@ Toronto, @ Tampa Bay, @ Florida

Rested team: None

Tired Team: @ Florida (Friday)

Notes

The Flames play three games in four nights so expect to see Joey MacDonald play once for Karri Ramo. The Flames sent Joni Ortio to the minors as he was up on an emergency basis when Ramo was hurt and as a result Ortio had to be sent back to Abbotsford. Mark Giordano is up to 43 points in 54 games and trails only Jiri Hudler by four points for the Flames scoring lead. He and T.J. Brodie were both plus-five on Saturday and Giordano is now a plus-11 on a weak Calgary squad. Brian McGrattan set a career high, with his fourth goal of the season on Wednesday.

CAROLINA

Games this week

@ Ottawa, @ Pittsburgh, vs. Dallas, vs. New Jersey

Rested team: @ Ottawa (Monday), vs. New Jersey (Saturday)

Tired Team: @ Pittsburgh (Tuesday)

Notes

The Hurricanes play four times this week including three games in four nights. Anton Khudobin and Cam Ward should split the net this week. GM Jim Rutherford is expected to retire (or resign) at the end of the season and it may not look promising for head coach Kirk Muller's chances to remain as well as he has yet to make the post- season in three years at the helm in Carolina. Justin Faulk inked a six-year extension worth $29 million this week. Only one Hurricane has over 50 points and it's Eric Staal, who has 56 points including 17 goals but a minus-10 rating.    

CHICAGO

Games this week

vs. Minnesota, @ Columbus, vs. St. Louis

Rested team: vs. St. Louis (Sunday)

Tired Team: None

Notes

The Blackhawks play three times in four nights so look for Antti Raanta to play once in place of Corey Crawford. Coach Joel Quenneville was pleased with the NHL debut of Teuvo Teravainen. Teravainen didn't get a point in 11:39 minutes of action but was perfect in seven chances on the faceoff. Corey Crawford is heating up was he is 4-1 in his previous five giving up only seven goals before a 3-0 loss to Boston Thursday. Duncan Keith has been an offensive boon of late with three goals and nine points in his last 12 games. The Blackhawks inked defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk to a two-year deal. The undrafted van Riemsdyk is the younger brother of the Maple Leafs James.

COLORADO

Games this week

@ Columbus, vs. New York Rangers, @ St. Louis, vs. Pittsburgh

Rested team: None

Tired Team: None

Notes

The Avalanche play three games in four nights as part of a four game week so expect to see Jean-Sebastien Giguere to play once in place of Semyon Varlamov. The Avs are carrying a third goalie in Reto Berra and it is expected that Berra will back up Varlamov next season with Giguere retiring or going elsewhere. Ryan O'Reilly has a great chance to win a couple of trophies this season as he has yet to get a penalty minute which should put him in line for the Lady Byng while his outstanding defensive play should make him one of the favorites for the Selke. Oh yeah, he also has 26 goals and 32 assists in 71 games. Matt Duchene hit the 70 point mark for the first time in his young career.

           

COLUMBUS

Games this week

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

Rested team: vs. New York Islanders (Sunday)

Tired Team: None

Notes

The Columbus Blue Jackets play four times this week including three in four nights. Sergei Bobrovsky should be fine as he is recovering from the flu, but Curtis McElhinney will likely see action in one game. Ryan Johansen continues to have an outstanding season with 29 goals and 54 points in 72 games after only 21 and 12 point seasons in his previous two NHL seasons. The Blue Jackets were 0-36 on the power play before they scored twice with the man-advantage in the first period on Tuesday. R.J. Umberger has only one goal in the Blue Jackets last 11 games but that includes two games in which he was a healthy scratch.

DALLAS

Games this week

@ Washington, @ Carolina, @ Tampa Bay, @ Florida

Rested team: None

Tired Team: @ Florida (Sunday)

Notes

The Stars play all four games on the road including three times in four nights so expect to see Tim Thomas at least once in goal for Kari Lehtonen. Tyler Seguin has 75 points while Jamie Benn has 69 but it's a significant drop off after that as Alex Goligoski is next with 33. Look for Valeri Nichushkin to be a lot better next season as the rookie has 13 goals and 31 points but he has an awful lot of upside. The years may be catching up to Ray Whitney as the 41-year-old veteran has only eight goals and 29 points in 65 games. Antoine Roussel has 12 goals and 25 points to go with 183 penalty minutes.   

DETROIT

Games this week

vs. Boston, vs. Buffalo. @ Montreal

Rested team: vs. Buffalo (Friday)

Tired Team: None

Notes

The Red Wings play three games in four nights so look for Jimmy Howard to play twice with Petr Mrazek playing once if Jonas Gustavsson is still unable to go. The Red Wings have some young talent as Gustav Nyquist has been joined up front by Tomas Tatar, Tomas Jurco and Riley Sheahan. Nyquist had a six game goal scoring streak end on Thursday. The news is not good on Henrik Zetterberg as it appears the Red Wings are going to have to go deep into the post-season if the talented Swede has any chance of returning. Pavel Datsyuk skated in practice on Wednesday as he tries to return from a knee injury.

EDMONTON

Games this week

@ San Jose, @ Anaheim, @ Phoenix, vs. Anaheim

Rested team: None

Tired Team: @ Anaheim (Wednesday)

Notes

The Oilers play three times in four nights as part of a four game week so expect to see Ben Scrivens and Viktor Fasth split the net this week. Scrivens has given up eight goals in his last 49 shots. The Oilers play the Ducks twice this week so tempers may flare. If so, look for Luke Gazdic and Matt Hendricks to garner some penalty minutes. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins continues to be an enigma in the sense that he is talented enough to be garnering a lot more points than his 48 this season in 71 games. His minus-16 rating gives him little fantasy value. Taylor Hall on the other hand has 67 points in 66 games but his minus-15 hurts his fantasy value.

FLORIDA

Games this week

@ New Jersey, @ New York Islanders, vs. Calgary, vs. Dallas

Rested team: vs. Calgary (Friday)

Tired Team: @ New York Islanders (Tuesday), vs. Dallas (Sunday)

Notes

Roberto Luongo was injured on Thursday when he suffered an upper body injury as he was run into by Radek Dvorak. Dan Ellis replaced him and Ellis could see the majority of the starts this week if Luongo is unable to go. Tom Gilbert is out for the remainder of the season as he needs sports hernia surgery. Ryan Whitney used to be one of the top offensive defensemen in the NHL but he has played most of this season in the minors and has yet to pick up a point in seven games with the Panthers. GM Dale Tallon thinks that defenseman Erik Gudbranson has the chance to become the team captain at some point.

LOS ANGELES

Games this week

vs. Minnesota, vs. Phoenix, @ San Jose, @ Vancouver

Rested team: vs. Phoenix (Wednesday)

Tired Team: @ San Jose (Thursday)

Notes

The Kings play three games in four nights as part of a four game week so expect to see Martin Jones in net once in place of Jonathan Quick.  Jones stopped 35 shots in a rare start on Thursday as the Kings defeated the Penguins 3-2 on the road.  The win tied the franchise record for most consecutive wins on the road at eight, set in the 1974-75 season. Alec Martinez has been an offensive star in the month of March as the defenseman has six goals and five assists in 13 games. Dustin Brown has 10 points in his last 13 games but now has only 26 points in 71 games this season.

MINNESOTA

Games this week

@ Los Angeles, @ Chicago, vs. Pittsburgh

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

Notes

Keep an eye on Nino Niederreiter next season. After being a bust in Long Island, the 21-year-old has 13 goals and 34 points this season as his career is once again on an upward slope. Darcy Kuemper has given up eight goals on only 36 shots in his last two games. Charlie Coyle had a three game goal scoring streak end on Thursday. Niklas Backstrom had core muscle surgery on Tuesday and should be ready for the start of the 2014-15 season. Jason Pominville leads the Wild with 27 goals and 51 points while Niederreiter has the best plus/minus at plus-11.

MONTREAL

Games this week

@ Tampa Bay, @ Ottawa, vs. Detroit

 Rested team: None

Tired Team: @ Tampa Bay

Notes

Thomas Vanek is starting to come on with the Canadiens as he now has nine points in 11 games after a three point effort on Thursday. Tough Dale Weise is out two-three weeks with a hand injury after he was hit from behind on Monday. Lars Eller continues to struggle as he has only one goal and two assists in his last 31 games with a minus-18 rating. I guess that's a lot worse than struggling. Max Pacioretty potted his 33rd goal of the season on Thursday. Tomas Plekanec has three goals in his last four games after going 13 straight games with finding the back of the net.

NASHVILLE

Games this week

@ Anaheim, @ San Jose

Rested team: None

Tired Team: @ San Jose (Saturday)

Notes

The Predators play only twice this week so consider benching all your Nashville players with the exception of Shea Weber. Weber reached the 20 goal mark for only the second time of his career on Thursday. His defensive partner Roman Josi is up to 11 goals after scoring a pair on Tuesday. Carter Hutton is having a pretty good rookie year as he is 17-11-4 with a 2.68 GAA and a .907 save percentage. He has lost a lot of his playing time since the return of Pekka Rinne to the lineup but is 3-1 in the Predators last 10 games and has surrendered only five goals on 95 shots during that span. Calle Jarnkrok has started his NHL career in fine fashion with points in all four games as he has a goal and three assists.

NEW JERSEY

Games this week

vs. Florida, @ Buffalo, vs. Washington, @ Carolina

Rested team: None

Tired Team: @ Buffalo (Tuesday), @ Carolina (Saturday)

Notes

The Devils play a couple of back-to-back games this week so look for Cory Schneider and Martin Brodeur to split the net. The Devils have been using defenseman Eric Gelinas as a forward of late but the long term plans are still for him to be a rearguard. Gelinas is a very good power play player and has seven goals and 27 points in 54 games this season. Michael Ryder was not surprised when he found himself on the fourth line in practice this past week as he has only one goal in his last 27 games. Damien Brunner has been a disappointment this season with only 11 goals and has found himself as a healthy scratch at times.

NEW YORK ISLANDERS

Games this week

vs. Florida, @ Ottawa, vs. Washington, @ Columbus

Rested team: vs. Florida (Tuesday)

Tired Team: @ Ottawa (Wednesday), @ Columbus (Sunday)

Notes

Anders Lee continues to impress as now Lightning coach Jon Cooper is praising him as a 'born leader' and 'a winner'. The Islanders rookie has six goals and 11 points in 13 games this season and has put 44 shots on goal. Evgeni Nabokov is slated to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and still wants to play in the NHL. It remains to be seen if the Islanders are interested in re-signing the Russian netminder and if not, he may be forced to become a backup goalie. It was thought by some that Josh Bailey would have a breakout season but with only six goals and 28 points in 68 games, it was not to be.

NEW YORK RANGERS

Games this week

@ Vancouver, @ Colorado, vs. Ottawa

Rested team: vs. Ottawa (Saturday)

Tired Team: None

Notes

Ryan McDonagh is having a breakout season as the talented defenseman has 14 goals and 43 points this season. Chris Kreider is out of action and likely for the remainder of the regular season with a possible broken hand but there is no word at the time of this writing as to whether or not he will require surgery. Martin St. Louis continues to struggle with New York as he has only three assists in 12 games since being dealt from the Lightning. Brad Richards had just two assists in his previous 10 games before potting a goal on Monday. He has 17 goals and 47 points in 74 games this season and could be a buyout candidate in the off-season.

OTTAWA     

Games this week

vs. Carolina, vs. New York Islanders, vs. Montreal, @ New York Rangers

Rested team: vs. Carolina (Monday)

Tired Team:  vs. New York Islanders (Tuesday), @ Ottawa (Saturday)

Notes

The Senators play four games this week including three in four nights so expect to see Craig Anderson and Robin Lehner to split the net as Anderson returned to action from a shoulder injury. Bobby Ryan is out for the remainder of the season as he will undergo sports hernia surgery. Mark Stone was recalled from the minors and is now seeing second line minutes alongside Kyle Turris and Clarke MacArthur. Stone has a goal and two points in two games since his recall from the minors. Patrick Wiercioch played on Tuesday for the first time in nine games as he has been a healthy scratch.  Mika Zibanejad is out with an upper body injury.

PHILADELPHIA

Games this week

@ St. Louis, vs. Columbus, @ Boston, vs. Buffalo

Rested team: None

Tired Team: vs. Buffalo (Sunday)

Notes

The Flyers play four times this week so look for Ray Emery to play once for Steve Mason. The Flyers have three players over 100 penalty minutes as Zac Rinaldo has 132 while Steve Downie and Wayne Simmonds each have 106. Four players have over 20 goals with Claude Giroux, Simmonds, Jakub Voracek and Matt Read leading the way. Scott Hartnell has 19 and Brayden Schenn has 18 so the Flyers scoring has been spread around. Steve Mason is picking up the pace again as he is 5-2-1 since March 5 and has given up only 19 goals in 233 shots.

PHOENIX

Games this week

vs. Winnipeg, @ Los Angeles, vs. Edmonton

Rested team: vs. Winnipeg (Tuesday)

Tired Team: @ Los Angeles (Wednesday)    

Notes

The Coyotes play three games in four nights but Mike Smith is currently injured so look for Thomas Greiss to play with Mark Visentin backing him up. Mike Ribeiro was a healthy scratch for the second game in a row on Thursday. Well, Chris Summers proved that he didn't need me to be in Phoenix as he scored his first goal on Thursday on his own as I was back in Toronto. So much for my theory from last week's article. Of course, he has yet to score at Jobing.com Arena without me, so one streak is still alive. Martin Hanzal picked up an assist on Tuesday and hit the 40 point mark for the first time in his career.

PITTSBURGH

Games this week

vs. Carolina, @ Winnipeg, @ Minnesota, @ Colorado

Rested team: vs. Carolina (Tuesday)

Tired Team: None

Notes

The Penguins play four games this week including three in four days so expect to see Jeff Zatkoff play once in place of Marc-Andre Fleury. Fleury has lost his last four starts and that has to worry the Penguins as they head into the playoffs. Evgeni Malkin is out two-three weeks with a foot injury so Brandon Sutter will get a chance to center the second unit. Rob Scuderi has played 44 games this season and the defenseman has yet to pick up a penalty. That is a rarity. Jussi Jokinen has 18 goals and 51 points this season and that includes 19 points on the power play which is the best in the NHL.

ST. LOUIS

Games this week

 vs. Philadelphia, vs. Buffalo, vs. Colorado, @ Chicago

Rested team: None

Tired Team: @ Chicago (Sunday)

Notes

The Blues play three games in four nights including a three game in four night stretch, so expect to see Brian Elliott play once in place of Ryan Miller. David Backes is red hot of late with four goals and six points in his last three games with a plus-six rating. He is a fantasy stud this season with 27 goals and 55 points with a plus-16 rating and 97 penalty minutes to go with 10 power play goals. T.J. Oshie had not had a point in his previous three games but he has broken loose in the last two games with four goals and six points including a hat trick against the Wild Thursday. Patrik Berglund has only one assist in his last six games.

SAN JOSE

Games this week

vs. Edmonton, vs. Los Angeles, vs. Nashville

Rested team: vs. Los Angeles (Thursday), vs. Nashville (Saturday)

Tired Team: None

Notes

Joe Pavelski has been a fantasy stud this season with 37 goals and 72 points in 75 games but his plus-24 and 27 power play points to go with 202 shots on net makes him the Sharks top fantasy player, ahead of Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau. Adam Burish suffered a hand injury on Tuesday that required surgery as he needed a couple of pins placed in his finger after he blocked a shot. Freddie Hamilton was recalled from the minors. Logan Couture was out of the lineup on Tuesday after blocking a shot on Monday but returned on Thursday. He has 20 goals and 48 points in 58 games this season.

TAMPA BAY

Games this week

vs. Montreal, vs. Dallas, vs. Calgary

Rested team: None

Tired Team: None

Notes

In the early going, the Lightning have certainly won the Ryan Callahan-Martin St. Louis trade as Callahan has four goals and eight points in 11 games while St. Louis has three assists in 12 matches. It is still early however. The Lightning power play has been on fire of late with nine goals in 32 chances in their past eight games. Steve Stamkos has four power play goals and is starting to return to form with seven goals and 10 points in his last eight games. Twenty-three-year-old defenseman Victor Hedman should be drafted as a top-ten defenseman next season as he is really coming into his own after being drafted as the second overall pick in the 2009 draft. He has 12 goals and 35 assists with a plus-six rating and 47 penalty minutes.

TORONTO

Games this week

vs. Calgary, vs. Boston, vs. Winnipeg

Rested team: vs. Boston (Thursday)

Tired Team: None

Notes

The slumping Leafs have lost six in a row and are now out of the playoffs as they are tenth with 80 points and tied with Columbus, Detroit and Tampa Bay but have played more games than the other three teams. It's hard to imagine where the Maple Leafs would be in the standings if not for the thievery of their GMs as Brian Burke and David Nonis picked up Dion Phaneuf, Jake Gardiner, Joffrey Lupul, Cody Franson, James van Riemsdyk and Jonathan Bernier for very little and made a great free agent signing in acquiring Tyler Bozak out of college. It has been a horrible season for David Clarkson who has only four goals and 10 points in 52 games and has not had a point in his past 14 games.

VANCOUVER

Games this week

vs. New York Rangers, vs. Los Angeles

Rested team: None

Tired Team: None

Notes

The Canucks play only twice this week so I recommend benching all your Vancouver players in weekly transaction pools. David Booth has three goals and four points in his last three games but don't get too excited as he only has 17 points this season. He really has had only one good fantasy season and that was in 2008-09 when he had 31 goals and 60 points for the Panthers. Ryan Kesler returned from a knee injury three games ago and has one goal, giving him 23 on the season to go with 41 points in 70 games. He has 77 penalty minutes and 223 shots on goal but his minus-15 rating hurts.

WASHINGTON

Games this week

vs. Dallas. @ New Jersey, @ New York Islanders

Rested team: None

Tired Team: None

Notes

Nicklas Backstrom left Tuesday's game with an upper body injury but it does not look like he will miss any time. Alex Ovechkin leads the NHL in goals with 48 but could end up being the worst in the NHL in plus/minus as he is second-worst at this time at minus-31, just two ahead of Nail Yakupov of the Oilers. Mikhail Grabovski skated with the Capitals on Monday for the first time since February 27 as has been out with an ankle injury. Evgeny Kuznetsov has a goal and six points in eight games thus far and is worth looking at next season as he has a lot of offensive upside.

WINNIPEG

Games this week

@ Anaheim, @ Phoenix, vs. Pittsburgh, @ Toronto

Rested team: None

Tired Team:  @ Phoenix (Tuesday)

Notes

The Winnipeg Jets play four times this week including three games in four nights so look for Al Montoya to play at least once for Ondrej Pavelec. Josh Morrissey who was selected with the 13th overall pick in the 2013 Draft, will play for St. John's of the AHL after his Prince Albert Raiders were eliminated in the WHL playoffs. He had a very good season with Prince Albert as he had 28 goals and 73 points. The Jets blueline looks like it will be outstanding in a few years with Morrissey, Jacob Trouba and Zach Bogosian leading the way. Blake Wheeler had a goal and three points on Thursday and now has 25 goals (a career best) and 62 points in 74 games. His 61 penalty minutes and 16 power play points give him plenty of fantasy value.

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