The Final Week

Michael Finewax
Rotoworld
The final week of the season sees the Senators and Maple Leafs each playing five games and the playoff races head down to the nitty gritty

The Final Week

The final week of the season sees the Senators and Maple Leafs each playing five games and the playoff races head down to the nitty gritty

It's the final week of the season and if you are still in contention to win, the best of luck to you.

I hope you enjoyed the columns this season as I sure enjoyed doing them for my 12th season with Rotoworld.

There is lots going on so let's get to it and I'll see you next season.

Listen to the Rotoworld Hockey Podcast with yours truly and Joey Alfieri here.


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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 APRIL 3-9

5 Games - Ottawa, Toronto

4 Games -  Buffalo, Carolina, Colorado, Columbus, Detroit, Edmonton, Florida, Los Angeles, Montreal, New Jersey, New York Islanders, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Vancouver, Washington

3 Games – Anaheim, Arizona, Boston, Calgary, Chicago, Dallas, Minnesota, Nashville,  New York Rangers, Philadelphia, San Jose, Winnipeg

Toronto plays four games at home.

Anaheim, Boston, Detroit, Florida, Los Angeles, Nashville, New Jersey and San Jose play three games at home.

Calgary, Chicago, Columbus, Edmonton, Montreal, the New York Islanders, Ottawa, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay and Vancouver play three games on the road.

INJURIES

 James Reimer is out with an upper body injury and may not play at all this week. (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

vs. Calgary, vs. Chicago, vs. Los Angeles

Rested Team: vs. Los Angeles (Sunday)

Tired Team: None

Notes

The Ducks have been blessed with the play of Jonathan Bernier in the month of March as he was 10-1-1 heading into action on Thursday with a .946 save percentage. John Gibson has returned to action but has been the backup to Bernier the last two games. Ryan Getzlaf returned to the Ducks lineup on Thursday after missing one game with a lower body injury. Andrew Cogliano has been selected as the Ducks nominee for the Bill Masterton Trophy. Patrick Eaves has meshed very well with Getzlaf and Rickard Rakell since his trade from Dallas.

ARIZONA

Games this week

@ Dallas, vs. Vancouver, vs. Minnesota

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

Notes

Shane Doan has missed the last seven games with a lower body injury but could play on March 31. You have to wonder if these are the final games of his career. The Coyotes inked the seventh overall pick in the 2016 Draft, Clayton Keller to an entry level deal this week and he picked up a power play assist in his second NHL game. He had 21 goals and 45 points in 31 games for Boston University in his freshman season before signing on the dotted line for Arizona. He is worth watching the remainder of this season and could be a nice sleeper pick next year. It was nice to see Alexander Burmistrov return from an upper body injury Monday after missing almost a month of action.

BOSTON

Games this week

vs. Tampa Bay, vs. Ottawa, vs. Washington

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

Notes

The Bruins remain in fourth place in the East heading into action on Friday but the good news is that they play four of their last five games at home. They have some tough ones as the game on the road is against Chicago April 2 and they finish the season against the best team in the NHL in the Capitals but being the home side sure doesn’t hurt. The Bruins inked defenseman Charlie McAvoy, the 14th overall pick in 2016 to an entry level contract. The defenseman had 26 points in 38 NCAA games with Boston University this season. Patrice Bergeron has certainly endured some lengthy goal scoring slumps this season, the most recent one a nine game stretch which was broken on Tuesday but he still has 18 goals this season.

BUFFALO

Games this week

vs. Toronto, vs. Montreal, @ Florida, @ Tampa Bay

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: vs. Toronto (Monday), @ Tampa Bay (Sunday)

Notes

The Sabres benched Sam Reinhart for the entire game on Tuesday as he was late for a team meeting earlier in the day. He spent the entire game glued to the bench and chances are he will never be late for a meeting or practice again. I will repeat that I love him for next season as he should line up with Jack Eichel. Eichel continues to rack up the points with 55 in 56 games including 23 goals and 24 points on the power play. Cody Franson is still day-to-day with an undisclosed injury. Matt Moulson had only 21 points in 81 games last season. He has 31 this year but that is still not good enough to be fantasy relevant.

CALGARY

Games this week

@ Anaheim, @ Los Angeles, @ San Jose

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

Notes

The Flames end the season with three games on the road in California. Sean Monahan has points in five of his last six games with four goals and 11 points in the six contests. He is up to 57 points in 77 games and needs only three more to hit the 60-point mark for the third season in a row. Matthew Tkachuk in any other year would be a serious contender for the Calder Trophy but not this season as the rookie crop is so deep. Nevertheless, he has 13 goals and 46 points with 105 penalty minutes and a plus-12 rating, tremendous stats for a 19-year-old. Brian Elliott has lost two of his last four games, giving up four goals in each of the two defeats. He has been great since a 3-9-1 start as he is now 25-15-3.

CAROLINA

Games this week

@ Minnesota, vs. New York Islanders, vs. St. Louis, @ Philadelphia

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

Notes

The Hurricanes play four games this week including three in four nights so look for Cam Ward to play three times if Eddie Lack is healthy enough, otherwise Ward will see the net in all four games. Jeff Skinner has been carrying the Hurricanes of late with nine goals and 11 points in the last eight games. He has 32 goals and 57 points this season, his third 30 goal season of his young career. The Hurricanes are streaking as they have points in 13 straight games and still have playoff aspirations. Justin Faulk picked up his 16th goal of the season on Monday, part of a two goal game and has 15 or 16 goals in each of his last three seasons.

CHICAGO

Games this week

@ Colorado, @ Anaheim, @ Los Angeles

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

Notes

The Blackhawks finish the season with three games on the road. They will have the top record in the West with home ice advantage in the first three rounds at least (should they make it that far). Coach Joel Quenneville thinks that Artem Anisimov will be ready for the post-season as he suffered a lower body injury on March 15 and was expected to miss three-four weeks. The Blackhawks certainly got a great one when they signed Artemi Panarin as a free agent before the start of the 2015-16 season. He had a great rookie season with 77 points and has 69 points thus far with five games left in the season. You hope for that kind of production from your first round selection, not an undrafted free agent.   

COLORADO

Games this week

vs. Chicago, vs. Minnesota, @ Dallas, @ St. Louis

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

Notes

The Avalanche play four games in the final week of the season while playing three times in four nights. Calvin Pickard should start three games with Jeremy Smith getting the call in net once. Colorado has been a horrible team this season but there is some talent on the team in Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, Matt Duchene, Mikko Rantanen, Tyson Barrie and a couple of others. It’s a nice start but there needs to be better foot soldiers if the Avs want to just compete. Carl Soderberg had 48, 44 and 51 point seasons in his last three campaigns but has only 14 points in 74 games this season. This cannot do. Joe Colborne had a hat trick on opening night and has scored just once in his 60 remaining games. One positive note has been the play of Sven Andrighetto who has 11 points in 13 games since being dealt from Montreal. There is plenty to do in Denver this spring and summer.

COLUMBUS

Games this week

@ Pittsburgh, vs. Winnipeg, @ Philadelphia, @ Toronto

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

Notes

The Blue Jackets play four games this week including three games in four nights. Expect to see Sergei Bobrovsky play three times with Joonas Korpisalo playing once. Bobrovsky continues to make his case for the Hart Trophy as he is 41-13-5 with a 1.97 GAA and a .935 save percentage. Brandon Saad hit the 50 point mark for the second season in a row. The Blue Jackets have their second first round pick from 2015 (Zach Werenski was the other one) Gabriel Carlsson in North America as the defenseman will play for Cleveland of the AHL to acclimate himself to the change in game from Europe and be ready for training camp next season. It looks like the career of David Clarkson may be over as the winger, who has not played since March 11, 2016, has taken a high school coaching job. Back woes have put his career on hold and while he is seeing a specialist, it has been over a year.

DALLAS

Games this week

vs. Arizona, @ Nashville vs. Colorado

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

Notes

The Stars recalled Julius Honka on Wednesday and they want to see the young defenseman play the last week of the season in all situations including the power play. He has four assists in 11 games thus far and is highly touted. It has been a mighty drop for the Stars this season has they have only 73 points in 77 games after leading the West last season with 109 points. Poor goaltending has been a major reason although it certainly has not just been because of what is going on in the crease. The Stars received nice seasons from Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn and John Klingberg but if anything, it was a touch disappointing rather than being special. Patrick Sharp was a huge disappointment but he has been injured all season and that has been a huge contributing factor in his 18 points in 48 games. He underwent hip surgery Tuesday and dealt with a couple of concussions and a very ill father this season.

DETROIT

Games this week

 vs. Ottawa, @ Ottawa, vs. Montreal, vs. New Jersey

Rested Team: vs. Montreal (Saturday)

Tired Team: None

Notes

The Red Wings play four games this week so look for Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek to split the net. Detroit plays a home-and-home series with Ottawa this week but do not expect fisticuffs as there really is not anyone of any significance who likes to drop the gloves on the Red Wings. The Red Wings will miss the playoffs for the first time in 26 seasons this year. Luke Glendening has only three goals in 74 games this season but that is still three better than fellow forward Riley Sheahan. When you get only three goals combined from two of your 12 forwards in 148 games, you are behind the eight ball. Tomas Tatar continues to impress and leads Detroit with 23 goals this season.

EDMONTON

Games this week

@ Los Angeles, @ San Jose, @ Vancouver, vs. Vancouver

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

Notes    

The Oilers play four games this week including three games in four nights. Look for Cam Talbot to play twice or three times as they may want to give the goaltender extra rest before the start of the playoffs, leaving Laurent Brossoit with the remainder of the starts. The Oilers play a home-and-home series with Vancouver this week (and also see the Kings and Sharks for the second time in a week) so there could be some big penalty minute games led by Patrick Maroon and Zack Kassian. Milan Lucic’s penalty minute total has been a disappointment this season as he has only 43. It was thought that 100 would be easily reached as he was supposed to ride shotgun on Connor McDavid’s wing but that has not been the case. McDavid leads the NHL with 91 points, seven better than Patrick Kane with only five games remaining.

FLORIDA

Games this week

vs. Montreal, vs. St. Louis, vs. Buffalo, @ Washington

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

Notes

The Panthers play four games this week including three in four nights. The goaltending of the Panthers is in flux at the moment as James Reimer may have a concussion. Roberto Luongo has been out since March 2 with a core injury and while it was hoped he would be able to start on Thursday, Reto Berra got the call with Adam Wilcox as his backup. Vincent Trocheck has not found the back of the net in the last 15 games. Aleksander Barkov has an upper body injury and missed Thursday’s game. Barkov continues to show why he was the second overall pick in 2013 as he has 52 points in 61 games. He needs to stay healthy over an entire season as his best result has been only 71 games in four NHL seasons.   

LOS ANGELES

Games this week

vs. Edmonton, vs. Calgary, vs. Chicago, @ Anaheim  

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: @ Anaheim (Sunday)

Notes

The Kings play four games this week including three in four nights so look for Jonathan Quick to play three games with Ben Bishop getting one start. Jarome Iginla was a nice pickup for the Kings at the deadline as he has five goals and seven points in 13 games. He won’t cost the Kings anything as they are on the verge of missing the playoffs and making the post-season was a condition of giving up a draft pick. Anze Kopitar will need a miracle to lead the Kings in points for a 10th straight season as he is 14 points behind Jeff Carter with only six games left in the season. Make it two seasons in a row that have been poor for Marian Gaborik who has 21 points in 52 games this season after a 22 point campaign in 54 games in 2015-16. His fantasy value is shot.                 

MINNESOTA

Games this week

vs. Carolina, @ Colorado, @ Arizona

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

Notes

The Wild used Alex Stalock on Thursday in goal instead of usual backup Darcy Kuemper and that was a surprise. Devan Dubnyk, the definitive number one goalie in Minnesota has struggled in the last month and the Wild need him ready for the playoffs. Zach Parise missed Thursday’s game with an upper body injury after he was clipped near the eye by the stick of Tom Wilson on Tuesday. The one-time scorer has only 17 goals and 37 points in 64 games. As bad a season as Jason Pominville is having with 45 points in 73 games, he is still better this season than Parise. Mikael Granlund leads the Wild with 67 points, seven better than Eric Staal. Ryan Suter leads all Wild blueliners with 37 points, one better than Jared Spurgeon and five on top of Matt Dumba.

MONTREAL

Games this week

@ Florida, @ Buffalo, vs. Tampa Bay, @ Detroit

Rested Team: vs. Tampa Bay (Friday)

Tired Team: @ Detroit (Saturday)

Notes

The Habs play four games this week including three in four nights. They are still in a battle with Ottawa for first place in the Atlantic so do not be surprised if Carey Price plays until the spot is clinched. Once the spot is clinched either way, Al Montoya should get a start if he is healthy.  Paul Byron continues to have the season of his career as he is up to 22 goals and 40 points. The 40 points is fifth best on the Canadiens, behind only Max Pacioretty, Alexander Radulov, Alex Galchenyuk and Shea Weber. Brendan Gallagher has only 28 points this season but five in his last two games.    

 NASHVILLE

Games this week

vs. New York Islanders, vs. Dallas, vs. Winnipeg

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

Notes

The Predators are on the verge of clinching a playoff spot. Filip Forsberg hit the 30 goal mark on Thursday. What makes that plateau more special is that he had only two goals in his first 27 games, but has 28 in his last 50. P.A. Parenteau was picked up at the trade deadline as the Preds needed some scoring depth but he had been a healthy scratch for five games in a row before returning to the lineup on Thursday. Cody McLeod has 141 penalty minutes this season. I thought that Roman Josi was going to have an off-year when he got off to a slow start but the blueliner is up to 47 points in 68 games, restoring all of his fantasy value from the last two years.

NEW JERSEY

Games this week

vs. Philadelphia, vs. Pittsburgh, vs. New York Islanders, @ Detroit

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

Notes

The Devils play four games this week including three games in four nights. Cory Schneider should see the net three times with Keith Kinkaid going between the pipes once.  The Devils have been eliminated from the playoffs. Patrik Elias really wanted to return to the NHL this season but he announced his retirement on Friday after testing out his skating for a while. The 40-year-old had a great NHL career with 408 goals and 1,025 points in 1,240 games and won a couple of Stanley Cups with the Devils. Pavel Zacha continues to shine as the season goes on. He has points in seven of his last nine games and should be selected in most pools next season. Mike Cammalleri could return on the weekend from an upper body injury. He has been out a month.

NEW YORK ISLANDERS

Games this week

@ Nashville, @ Carolina, @ New Jersey, vs. Ottawa  

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

Notes

The Islanders play three games in four nights as part of a four game week, so look for Jaroslav Halak to play at least once with Thomas Greiss starting the remainder of the games. John Tavares has 65 points but he did not have the offensive outburst I thought he was going to have before the start of the season. Nick Leddy has had a solid fantasy season offensively with 11 goals and 41 points. Ryan Strome seems to be stuck in the mud and spinning his wheels as he has only 30 points including 13 goals in 69 games. One bright spot has been the play of Joshua Ho-Sang who has three goals and eight points in 15 games. He has offensive flair and should be a fantasy asset in the years to come.

NEW YORK RANGERS

Games this week

@ Washington, @ Ottawa, vs. Pittsburgh

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 Notes

The Rangers are expected to make Jimmy Vesey a healthy scratch on March 31. Ryan McDonagh is dealing with an undisclosed injury but should stay in the lineup. Where the Rangers are situated (fourth in the Metropolitan and seeded seventh in the division) makes you wonder why they don't give McDonagh some time off to heal before the start of the playoffs. Derek Stepan has goals in each of his last three games but has only 16 this season. Henrik Lundqvist has struggled since returning from his hip injury as he has given up five goals in each of his two games. He has faced only 68 shots so that has to be disconcerting to Ranger fans.

OTTAWA

Games this week

@ Detroit, vs. Detroit, @ Boston, vs. New York Rangers, @ New York Islanders

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

Notes

The Senators play five times this week and amazingly enough are not the only tired team in any games. Look for Craig Anderson to get three starts and maybe four if they still have a shot at first place come Sunday. Of course they are only two points ahead of Toronto for second and that could be a factor as well. Mike Condon will play once or twice depending on the situation. Erik Karlsson has moved to within five points (73 to 68) of Brent Burns in the race for the top scoring defenseman but he blocked a shot on Tuesday and sat out Thursday. Zack Smith left Thursday's game with an upper body injury and did not return. Bobby Ryan has gone 10 games without a point.

PHILADELPHIA

Games this week

@ New Jersey, vs. Columbus, vs. Carolina

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

Notes

The Flyers are on the verge on elimination as they are six points out of a playoff spot with only five games to go. The bad news is that they are in 12th place and still have to pass four teams to get in. That is too tough to overcome. Claude Giroux has only 56 points in his worse season since his sophomore season of 2009-2010. It’s hard to believe that only two Flyers, Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn have hit the 20 goal mark. Jakub Voracek has only two goals and four points in his last 11 games. He is a minus-24 this season, the worst by far in his career.

PITTSBURGH

Games this week

vs. Columbus, @ New Jersey, @ Toronto, @ New York Rangers

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

Notes

The Penguins play three games in four nights this week, as part of a four game week so look for Matt Murray at least twice and possibly three times with Marc-Andre Fleury getting the net at least once. They are currently fourth in the NHL in points with 103 but are third in their own division, by far the toughest in hockey. It will be tough to get out of the Metropolitan but all the injuries the Penguins have incurred of late (Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, Trevor Daley, Olli Maatta. Ron Hainsey, Carl Hagelin, Tom Sestito and Jake Guentzel) could be a benefit in the post-season as they will be well rested. Conor Sheary is having a fabulous season with 21 goals and 50 points in only 56 games. He plays with Sidney Crosby so he has tons of value if you think the Penguins are going deep into the playoffs (like I do).   

ST. LOUIS

Games this week

vs. Winnipeg, @ Florida, @ Carolina, vs. Colorado

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

Notes

The Blues play four games this week including three in four nights. Jake Allen should play three games with Carter Hutton seeing action once. The Blues are firmly entrenched in the playoffs and you have to wonder if they will regret trading Kevin Shattenkirk at the deadline. I know they did not want to get shutout again if Shattenkirk left as a UFA but the fan base in St. Louis will not be happy if the team is out in the first round. Magnus Paajarvi has four goals and seven points in his last 10 games. It's his best stretch since his rookie season. Patrik Berglund tied his career high with his 22nd goal of the season Wednesday.

SAN JOSE

Games this week

vs. Vancouver, vs. Edmonton, vs. Calgary

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

Notes

The Sharks are falling behind in the Pacific Division as they are 3-7-0 in their last 10 games while the Ducks are 7-1-2 and the Oilers are 8-2-0. San Jose looked to be easy winners of the Pacific just a month ago but are now in third and are just three points ahead of Calgary. Logan Couture is out with a mouth injury but should be back by the start of the week. Martin Jones is 1-2 in his last three games but has given up 14 goals in his last three games including four goals in the win. The Sharks may be in big trouble come playoff time if they do not snap out of it. Joe Pavelski needs four points in his last five games to reach the 70 point mark for the fourth year in a row.    

TAMPA BAY

Games this week

@ Boston, @ Toronto, @ Montreal, vs. Buffalo

Rested team: vs. Buffalo (Sunday)

Tired Team: @ Montreal (Friday)

Notes

The Lightning play three games in four nights as part of a four game week so Andrei Vasilevskiy should get the crease at least twice this week with Peter Budaj playing the remaining games. The Lightning are only three points out of a playoff spot with a game in hand but they do have a tough remaining schedule. I wrote last week that Nikita Kucherov was having a brilliant season with 31 goals and 69 points in 63 games. Well in the five games since the article he has seven goals and 11 points and is sixth in the NHL in points. He missed Thursday’s game with an illness but should be back on April 1. Ondrej Palat has been scoring of late with 16 points in his last 15 games including a six game points streak.

TORONTO

Games this week

@ Buffalo, vs. Washington, vs. Tampa Bay, vs. Pittsburgh, vs. Columbus  

Rested team:  @ Buffalo (Monday)

Tired Team: vs. Washington (Tuesday)

Notes

The Maple Leafs play five games this week and depending on if and when they clinch a playoff spot expect to see Frederik Andersen play in goal until it has been decided. Curtis McElhinney was sharp this week in a win over Florida but the Leafs will go with Andersen. Auston Matthews broke the rookie record for most goals by a Leaf with his 35th, surpassing Wendel Clark. Mitch Marner picked up his 41st assist of the season to set a Maple Leafs rookie record, one ahead of Gus Bodnar who set the record in 1943-44. Connor Brown has 19 goals this season as he attempts to become the fifth Leaf this season to hit the 20 goal marks. Nikita Zaitsev is reportedly on the verge of signing a long-term contract. The rookie blueliner has 30 assists and 34 points. William Nylander saw his 12 game points streak end on Thursday. 

VANCOUVER

Games this week

@ San Jose, @ Arizona, vs. Edmonton, @ Edmonton

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

Notes

The Canucks play four games this week with three games coming in four nights so expect to see Ryan Miller get the call three times with Richard Bachman playing once. They also play a home-and-home series with the Oilers to finish off the season so if there are any fisticuffs, look for Nikita Tryamkin to add to his minute totals. Loui Eriksson and Troy Stecher are due back on March 31. Eriksson has been out of action almost four weeks while Stecher missed a game. Brock Boeser has two goals in his first three NHL games. His future is bright and he is also seeing time on the first power play unit. Don't forget about him next season.  

WASHINGTON

Games this week

@ Toronto, vs. New York Rangers, @ Boston, vs. Florida

Rested team: @ Toronto (Tuesday)

Tired Team: None

Notes

The Capitals look to be the President Trophy Champions as the NHL has only 10 days left. They play four games this week including three in four nights so look for Braden Holtby and Philipp Grubauer to share the net, especially once the Capitals clinch. Alex Ovechkin is heating up with five goals and seven points in his last five games to give him 33 goals and 66 points this season. He hit the 30 goal mark for the 12th season in a row to start his NHL career. Only Wayne Gretzky and Mike Gartner have done that. The Capitals have 12 players in their lineup who have scored double digits this season with John Carlson knocking at the door with nine. Tom Wilson has 123 penalty minutes this season.

WINNIPEG

Games this week

@ St. Louis, @ Columbus, vs. Nashville

Rested team: None

Tired Team: None

Notes

One of these seasons the Winnipeg Jets are going to put it all together and make a huge jump in the standings, and easily make the playoffs. This was not the season and yet there is so much to be hopeful for as they have so much young talent. Not only is it young, it is outstanding as every team in the NHL would love a core of Mark Scheifele, Nikolaj Ehlers and Patrik Laine. Add in Bryan Little, Blake Wheeler, Jacob Trouba, Dustin Byfuglien and Josh Morrissey and you can see why the Jets are one of the most envied franchises in the NHL. But they could not do it this season and they likely will need to upgrade their goaltending. Marc-Andre Fleury and Ben Bishop should be available and that would be a huge bump in talent. We shall see.

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