The Playoff Race

Michael Finewax
Rotoworld
The Week Ahead breaks down the schedule for the next four weeks with playoffs upcoming in head-to-head drafts as well as news and notes from around the NHL

The Playoff Race

The Week Ahead breaks down the schedule for the next four weeks with playoffs upcoming in head-to-head drafts as well as news and notes from around the NHL

Playoffs start in many leagues either this week or next. The best way to plan for your fantasy squad is the knowledge of what lies ahead. Should your playoffs start this week, add the schedule in the body of the column to the following last three weeks.

12 Games – Boston, Florida

11 Games – Arizona, Buffalo, Carolina, Nashville, Ottawa

10 Games – Chicago, Columbus, Detroit, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Montreal, New Jersey, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, San Jose, Tampa Bay, Toronto, Vancouver, Vegas, Washington Winnipeg

9 Games- Anaheim, Calgary, Chicago, Dallas, Philadelphia

In addition, here is each team’s breakdown:

Anaheim (3, 3, 3)

Arizona (3, 4, 3)

Boston (4, 4, 4)

Buffalo (4, 3, 4)

Calgary (3, 3, 3)

Carolina (3, 4, 4)

Chicago (3, 3, 3)

Colorado (3, 4, 3)

Columbus (4, 3, 3)

Dallas (3, 3, 3)

Detroit (3, 4, 3)

Edmonton (4, 3, 3)

Florida (4, 4, 4)

Los Angeles (4, 3, 3)

Minnesota (3, 3, 4)

Montreal (4, 3, 3)

Nashville (4, 4, 3)

New Jersey (3, 4, 3)

NY Islanders (3, 4, 3)

NY Rangers (3, 4, 3)

Ottawa (3, 4, 4)

Philadelphia (3, 3, 3)

Pittsburgh (4, 4, 2)

St. Louis (3, 3, 4)

San Jose (3, 4, 3)

Tampa Bay (3, 4, 3)

Toronto (3, 4, 3)

Vancouver (4, 3, 3)

Vegas (3, 4, 3)

Washington (3, 4, 3)

Winnipeg (3, 3, 4)

The schedule is slightly different from the beginning of the season as Carolina and Boston end the season on the Sunday to make up for their postponement of a January game.

 

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WEEK OF MARCH 12-18

4 Games – Anaheim, Carolina, Colorado, Dallas, Detroit, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Montreal, Ottawa, Philadelphia, St. Louis, San Jose, Vegas, Washington, Winnipeg

3 Games – Arizona, Boston, Calgary, Chicago, Columbus, Florida, Minnesota, Nashville, New Jersey, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Tampa Bay, Toronto, Vancouver

2 Games - Buffalo, Pittsburgh

Dallas and Detroit play all four games on the road.

Anaheim plays all four games at home.

Boston, Edmonton, New Jersey, Ottawa and San Jose play three games on the road.

Arizona, Florida, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Tampa Bay and Vegas play three games at home.

INJURIES

Max Pacioretty could be gone for the season with a knee injury. (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. St. Louis, vs. Vancouver, vs. Detroit, vs. New Jersey

Rested Team: vs. Detroit (Thursday), vs. New Jersey (Sunday)

Tired Team: None

Notes

Rickard Rakell scored a pair on Thursday to reach the 30-goal mark for the second straight season. He has 58 points in 63 games and has been a great fantasy help to poolies. John Gibson lost for the first time in seven contests Thursday, dropping his record to 25-16-6. Corey Perry’s downward spiral continues this season as he hit the 40 point mark in his 57th game. He had only 53 points last season and 62 the year before after being around a point-a-game player his previous seven seasons. He has lost most of his fantasy value and should be a middle-to-late round pick in deeper drafts next season. Jakob Silfverberg has two goals and four points in his last three games as seems to be getting hot as the season draws to a close.

ARIZONA

Games this week

vs. Los Angeles, vs. Nashville, vs. Minnesota  

Rested Team: vs. Los Angeles (Tuesday), vs. Minnesota (Saturday)

Tired Team: None

Notes

Arizona finally is not alone in the basement as their recent 8-2-2 run has allowed them to tie Buffalo at 53 points for 30th overall in the NHL. Antti Raanta is out with a lower-body injury that has forced him to sit out the last two games. His status for the week is unknown at this time. The Coyotes recalled Adin Hill to back up Darcy Kuemper in the interim. Clayton Keller has four points in four March games to give the rookie 48 points on the season. Remember in October when he was the runaway leader for the Calder. His name is never mentioned now. The Coyotes signed Tyler Steenbergen to a three-year entry level deal. Derek Stepan has four points in his last five games to give him 42 this season.

BOSTON

Games this week

@ Carolina, @ Florida, @ Tampa Bay

Rested Team: @ Carolina (Tuesday)

Tired Team: None

Notes

The Bruins are on the road for all three games this week. Tuukka Rask has gotten his game back as he has won his last three contests including stopping 31 shots Thursday in a 3-2 win. Brad Marchand is having another great season with 29 goals and 68 points in 53 games. David Backes will return to action against Carolina after being suspended for three games for his high and late hit on Detroit’s Frans Nielsen. David Pastrnak is on a tear with five assists in his last two games as well as a goal and 10 helpers in his last seven games. He has 23 goals and 63 points in 65 contests. Torey Krug saw his four game scoring streak snap on Thursday but the blueliner did have three goals and nine points during the streak. He has 47 points in 61 games to date.

BUFFALO

Games this week

vs. Toronto, vs. Chicago

Rested Team: vs. Toronto (Thursday)

Tired Team: None

Notes

After a terrible start to the season, Sam Reinhart is becoming fantasy-relevant of late as he has five points in his last four games and 38 points in 68 games this season. The former second overall pick in 2014 should be on your radar next season and picked up late in deeper drafts. Kyle Okposo is day-to-day with an undisclosed injury suffered Thursday. Daniel O'Regan made his Sabres debut Thursday after he was the only player acquired in the Evander Kane deal to San Jose. He was held scoreless. Rasmus Ristolainen has 22 points in his last 30 games. The high scoring defenseman is having an off-year due to a slow start that had him picking up 11 points in his first 29 games.

CALGARY

Games this week

vs. Edmonton, vs. San Jose, @ Vegas

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

Notes

Sean Monahan left Wednesday’s game with an undisclosed nagging injury but will be fine to go on March 9.  Dougie Hamilton has 15 goals to lead the Calgary blueline and 39 points in 57 games this season. Like Sam Reinhart of the Sabres, plenty was expected of Sam Bennett this season but a slow start killed his fantasy value and while he has been okay since the first 23 games, he still have only 10 goals and 25 points. He is another player to watch next season. Mike Smith has been out of action with a lower body injury since February 11 and frustration is starting to set in. He has started practicing and hopefully will be back in action soon as the Flames need better starting goaltending than David Rittich is giving them.

CAROLINA

Games this week

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

Rested Team: None

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

Notes

The Hurricanes play a pair of back-to-back games this week so look for Cam Ward and Scott Darling to share the net. The big news out of Carolina this past week was GM Ron Francis being relieved of his duties by new owner Tom Dundon but given the job of President of hockey operations. The Canes will be looking for a new general manager but a lot of pundits think that Dundon will be hands-on. Stay tuned. Justin Williams is having a big year with 14 goals and 44 points in 68 games including six points in his last five. Jeff Skinner has 20 goals and 40 points this season but has not found the back of the net in his last eight games.

 CHICAGO

Games this week

@ Winnipeg, @ Buffalo, vs. St. Louis

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

Notes

The Blackhawks play three games in four nights. Look for Anton Forsberg and Jean-Francois Berube to share the netminding duties with Forsberg getting two starts. It continues to appear that Corey Crawford will not return to the lineup this season. He has been out since December 23 with vertigo and that has been a major reason why Chicago will not make the playoffs. The Blackhawks like defenseman Jan Rutta enough and have inked him to a one-year extension. He has six goals and 19 points in 43 gems and is out of action at this time with a lower body injury.  Jonathan Toews has five points in his last four games to give him 45 points this season in 67 contests. He is heading for his worst offensive showing in his 11-year NHL career.

COLORADO

Games this week

@ Minnesota, @ St. Louis, vs. Nashville, vs. Detroit

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

Notes

The Avalanche play four games this week including three games in four nights. Semyon Varlamov should get three starts with Jonathan Bernier getting the call in net once. The Avalanche are high on forward Tyson Jost who was selected 10th overall in 2016.  The 19-year-old will turn 20 on Wednesday and has taken over Gabriel Landeskog’s spot on the top line with Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen. He was pointless in his first game Thursday but he has the offensive talent to play with the duo and that should translate into being a fantasy asset. Nathan MacKinnon is on a seven-game points streak with seven goals and 14 points and is deservedly getting Hart Trophy consideration as the Most Valuable Player in the NHL.

COLUMBUS

Games this week

vs. Montreal, @ Philadelphia, vs. Ottawa

Rested Team: vs. Ottawa (Saturday)

Tired Team: None

Notes

Sophomore defenseman Zach Werenski is heating up again and is up to 32 points as he has three goals and six points in his last five games. He had gone 25 games without a goal until this streak. Rookie Pierre-Luc Dubois is also ho with a goal and six points in his last three games. He has 15 goals and 37 points this season in 68 games which is more impressive when you consider he had three goals and five points in his first 23 games. Artemi Panarin also has six points in his last three games to give him 59 in 68 contests. Nick Foligno continues to disappoint with only 14 goals and 27 points in 64 games this season. He had 51 points in 2016-17.

DALLAS

Games this week

@ Montreal, @ Toronto, @ Ottawa, @ Winnipeg

Rested Team: @ Montreal (Tuesday)

Tired Team: @ Toronto (Wednesday)

Notes

The Stars play four times on the road including three games in four nights this week so look for Ben Bishop (if healthy) to get at least two starts with Kari Lehtonen getting one or two. He suffered a knee injury Monday and is expected to be with the team on their road trip to Canada and should be at least skating by this time. If he is unable to go, look for Lehtonen to get three starts with Mike McKenna getting one. Martin Hanzal could be gone for the rest of the regular season as his back injury is considered long-term. He has always been an injury-risk so this should come as no surprise. Tyler Seguin has taken over the team lead in points with 62 and has a shot at the Rocket Richard Trophy as he has 36 goals.

DETROIT

Games this week

@ San Jose, @ Los Angeles, @ Anaheim, @ Colorado

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: @ Anaheim (Friday)

Notes

The Red Wings play three contests in four nights as part of their four game week which are all on the road. Jimmy Howard should get three starts with Jared Coreau picking up one. Frans Nielsen may return this week after he suffered an upper body injury from a high and late hit by David Backes who got a three game suspension for his misdeed. Anthony Mantha had a big game on Tuesday with a pair of goals and two assists. He has 23 goals and 41 points in 65 games and is one of the young hopefuls on an aging Detroit squad. Niklas Kronwall has 19 points this season with 12 coming on the power play. The Red Wings have 13 goals from their blueliners with Mike Green having seven.

EDMONTON

Games this week

@ Calgary, vs. San Jose, @ Florida, @ Tampa Bay

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: vs. San Jose (Wednesday)

Notes   

The Oilers are in action four times including three in four nights. Cam Talbot should play three games, while Al Montoya will get the call once. The Oilers have received great production from Connor McDavid, good production from Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (when healthy) and little else this season. Drake Caggiula has only 14 points this season and plenty was expected out of him while Oscar Klefbom has struggled with injuries and has not performed up to snuff. Talbot was a stud last season but has been less than adequate in 2017-18. Ryan Strome was expected to get back to the 50 point mark but his lack of speed has hurt. Milan Lucic had not scored in 31 games until finally scoring this past week. I could go on-and-on but this Oilers squad needs a major overhaul or a return to form by too many players. 

FLORIDA

Games this week

vs. Ottawa, vs. Boston, vs. Edmonton   

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

Notes

The Panthers are one of the hottest teams in the NHL at 7-2-1 in their last 10 and just two points out of the wild card with three games in hand on Columbus. They are only 12 points in arrears of Toronto for third in the Atlantic and also have three games in hand so the Maple Leafs should be glancing over their shoulders a bit. Roberto Luongo had a 40 save shutout Thursday and is 6-0-1 in his last seven. The Panthers are thrilled he has returned to action. Evgenii Dadonov has five straight multi-point games and has three goals and 10 points in the five contests. Add in a hat trick seven games ago and he has six goals and 13 points in seven games. Aleksander Barkov has an eight game streak going with five goals and 14 points in that span.

LOS ANGELES

Games this week

vs. Vancouver, @ Arizona, vs. Detroit, vs. New Jersey

Rested Team:  vs. Vancouver (Monday)

Tired Team: @ Arizona (Tuesday)

Notes

The King play three games in four nights this week as part of a four game week. Jonathan Quick should play three games with Jack Campbell getting one start. Quick is turning things around and is 5-3 in his last eight games, giving up 16 goals on 235 shots. Jeff Carter has four goals and five points in his last five games. He returned six games ago after missing 55 games with an ankle injury. Anze Kopitar has 27 goals and 72 points, 20 better than all of last season and he should surpass his career high of 81 points. Alex Iafallo has three goals in his last three games. Jake Muzzin has 35 points this season but only two assists in his last 10 games.  

MINNESOTA

Games this week

vs. Colorado, @ Vegas, @ Arizona

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: @ Arizona (Saturday)

Notes

Eric Staal has been on fire of late with 15 points in nine games to give him 67 in 67 games. Mikko Koivu has a five game points streak with seven points in that span. Luke Kunin tore up his ACL Sunday and after surgery, he will need seven months to heal. That should make it touch-and-go for the start of the 2018-19 season. Jason Zucker has six goals and 14 points in his last 10 games to give him 54 points this season. Ryan Suter is under the radar this season but has 47 points including six goals and is just four points away from tying his career high of 51. Zach Parise has a five-game point streak with three goals and two assists, but has only 13 points in 28 games this season.

MONTREAL

Games this week

@ Columbus, vs. Dallas, vs. Pittsburgh, @ Toronto

Rested Team: vs. Pittsburgh (Thursday)

Tired Team: vs. Dallas (Tuesday)

Notes

The Canadiens play four games this week including three in four nights. Montreal’s goaltending is a mess with Carey Price out. Antti Niemi just returned from a lower body injury and should get three starts with Charlie Lindgren getting the call once. The Habs had a couple of season-ending injuries this past week as Max Pacioretty is out four-six weeks with a knee injury while rookie defenseman Victor Mete is likely to miss six weeks with a fractured finger. It has not been a good season for Pacioretty as he has only 17 goals and 37 points in 64 games after four straight 30-goal seasons. Rinat Valiev played a couple of games for Montreal after he was acquired from Toronto at the deadline. He was injured Thursday when he was hit into the boards. Consider him day-to-day for now.

 NASHVILLE

 Games this week

vs. Winnipeg, @ Arizona, @ Colorado

Rested Team: vs. Winnipeg (Tuesday)

Tired Team: None

Notes

The Predators play three games this week in four nights. Juuse Saros should get the call once with Pekka Rinne playing the other two contests. Rinne could win the Vezina, as he has won 36 games this season and is 17-2-1 in his last 20 with a 2.03 GAA and a .934 save percentage in that span. The Predators have won 10 straight and they are apparently starting to rest some of their players, much to the chagrin of fantasy owners. It happened Thursday with Kevin Fiala and look for it to happen more often as the Predators are six up on Winnipeg and Vegas for the Western Conference lead with 15 games to go. Roman Josi has missed the last four games with an upper body injury. Keep an eye on Ryan Hartman who was dealt from Chicago at the deadline and has four points in six games since the trade.

NEW JERSEY

Games this week

@ Vegas, @ Los Angeles, @ Anaheim

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: @ Anaheim (Sunday)

Notes

The Devils are out West this week and in the midst of a six game road trip. Taylor Hall was held pointless Thursday for the first time in 27 games. He had 38 points in the 26 games during the streak and is among the contenders for the Hart. He has 74 points in 63 games this season. Will Butcher has three assists in his last two games after going his previous 11 tilts with nary a point. The rookie has 33 points in 67 games this season and quarterbacks the first power play. Travis Zajac is day-to-day after leaving Thursday’s game with a possible shoulder injury. Nico Hischier has 43 points after the rookie had a goal and an assist Thursday. Cory Schneider has lost all three games since returning to action on March 1, giving up three goals in each contest.

NEW YORK ISLANDERS

Games this week

vs. Washington, @ Washington, vs. Carolina

Rested Team: vs. Carolina (Sunday)

Tired Team: None

Notes

The Islanders play three games in four nights so look for Jaroslov Halak to play twice with Christopher Gibson getting one start. The Islanders play a home-and-home series with Washington and if there are any fisticuffs, then Cal Clutterbuck could be involved. The Islanders are 0-4-4 in their last eight games. Mathew Barzal, the overwhelming favorite for the Calder, has 69 points thus far, the same as Auston Matthews had all season in 2016-17 in winning the Calder. Barzal has a two point lead over John Tavares and four over Josh Bailey for the team lead. Jordan Eberle played in Edmonton for the first time since he was dealt in the off-season Thursday. He was held off the scoresheet but has 23 goals and 47 points in 67 games well ahead of Ryan Strome who went to the Oilers in the deal.                             

NEW YORK RANGERS

Games this week

vs. Carolina, vs. Pittsburgh, @ St. Louis    

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

Notes

Chris Kreider left Thursday’s game with a head injury but it was deemed not to be a concussion after he went through the protocol for concussions during the game. Ryan Spooner has been a revelation since the trade with Boston in which Rick Nash went the other way. He has ten points in six games with the Rangers and has 35 points in 45 contests. Henrik Lundqvist was pulled once again on Thursday and has a 2.92 GAA this season, his worst by far in his NHL career. Last year he set a personal record of 2.74 and the previous worst was 2.48 set two seasons ago. We can see in which direction his career is going. Kevin Shattenkirk has been skating for a bit as he tries to return after knee surgery and participated in Tuesday’s morning practice for the first time. He could return shortly.

OTTAWA

Games this week

@ Florida, @ Tampa Bay, vs. Dallas, @ Columbus

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: @ Tampa Bay (Tuesday), Columbus (Saturday)

Notes

The Senators have four games this week but both are back-to-back. Look for Craig Anderson and Mike Condon to split the net. Mark Stone has a ten-game points streak in which he has two goals and 13 points. Matt Duchene has five goals and eight points in his last 10 games to give him 43 points in 66 games. Bobby Ryan has one goal and six assists in seven games. Considering he has only 27 points in 47 games this season, he is having a good stretch. He had only 25 points last season so this believe it or not, is an improvement. Since the trade deadline when he was mentioned more than any other player in the NHL, Erik Karlsson has two goals and six assists in five games. He has hit the 40 assist mark for the fifth straight season but has not been scoring goals at the same pace. He has only seven while 16 is his worst total in the previous four seasons.

PHILADELPHIA

Games this week

vs. Vegas, vs. Columbus, @ Carolina, vs. Washington

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: vs. Washington (Sunday)

Notes

The Flyers play four games this week including three in four nights. Petr Mrazek should get the call three times with Alex Lyon starting once.  They are missing Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth a lot in net and hope to get them back and in shape before the playoffs. Claude Giroux has a five game points streak and is up to 80 points, the third time in his NHL career that he has hit the total. Travis Konecny has 18 goals and 37 points this season and the sophomore is someone you should target next season as he is now a first line player with Giroux and Sean Couturier.    Wayne Simmonds returned to action Wednesday after missing seven games with an upper body injury. He has only 20 goals and 37 points in 61 games this season after not getting less than 28 goals or 50 points in any of the last four seasons.

PITTSBURGH

Games this week

@ New York Rangers, @ Montreal

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: @ Montreal (Thursday)

Notes

The Penguins have a relatively easy week with only a pair of games. They are back-to-back so look for Casey DeSmith and Tristan Jarry to share the net. Matt Murray has been skating as he attempts to return from a concussion but there is no timetable for his return. Dominik Simon left Wednesday’s game with a lower body injury and the Penguins recalled Josh Jooris on an emergency basis. Evgeni Malkin does not get a lot of publicity this season but he certainly deserves some. Everyone is gushing over Taylor Hall’s 26 game points streak in which he picked up 38 points but Malkin picked up 46 points in the same 26 contests. He is second in scoring with 84 points, two less than Nikita Kucherov. Kris Letang has a quiet 40 points in 65 games this season.

ST. LOUIS

Games this week

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

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

Notes

The Blues play four games including three in four nights. Carter Hutton and Jake Allen will split the net this week.  Joel Edmundson is practicing with the Blues but has not returned to the lineup. He has been out with a compound fracture of his forearm since February 8 and could return this week. Scottie Upshall could miss the remainder of the season with a sprained MCL of his left knee. Jay Bouwmeester is gone for the season with a hip injury and is expected to miss the next four-six weeks. Brayden Schenn continues to lead the Blues in points with 57, one better than Vladimir Tarasenko. Schenn is also one off the penalty minute lead held by Edmundson with 53.

SAN JOSE

Games this week

vs. Detroit, @ Edmonton, @ Calgary, @ Vancouver

Rested Team: @ Edmonton (Wednesday)

Tired Team: @ Vancouver (Saturday)

Notes

The Sharks play three games in four nights as part of playing four times this week. Martin Jones should play three games with Aaron Dell getting the call once. Jones had a bad outing Sunday as he gave up three goals on only 13 shots before he was pulled but has been strong otherwise as he is 6-2 and has given up only 16 goals on 270 shots including his bad outing Sunday. Joonas Donskoi has 12 goals and29 points in 59 games and is playing alongside Evander Kane and Joe Pavelski. That’s a good assignment. Brent Burns is quiet again with three assists in nine games. He may be dealing with an upper body injury at this time.

TAMPA BAY

Games this week

vs. Ottawa, vs. Boston, vs. Edmonton

Rested team: vs. Edmonton (Sunday)

Tired Team: None

Notes

Andrei Vasilevskiy stated earlier in the week that he may be getting tired from playing so much this season and that is not a surprise as he has played in 56 games, six more than all of last season and 32 more than the previous campaign. Vasilevskiy won his 40th game of the season but should be rested more often down the stretch as the Lightning need him healthy for the post-season. Peter Budaj is finally back after missing over two months with a lower body injury. He has been sent to the minors on a conditioning assignment and should be back soon. Ryan McDonagh should make his Lightning debut this week as he has yet to play since the trade that brought him to the Lightning at the deadline.

TORONTO

Games this week

vs. Dallas, @ Buffalo, vs. Montreal  

Rested team: vs. Dallas (Wednesday)

Tired Team: @ Buffalo (Thursday)

Notes

The Maple Leafs play three games in four nights and as always when the Leafs play back-to-back games, Curtis McElhinney will get a start. Auston Matthews has been out of action since February 22 and will likely not play on Saturday but he is back at practice and should return to play against the Stars. Frederik Andersen is also getting overworked like Andrei Vasilevskiy and could start seeing the net less in the coming weeks as the playoffs near. Mitch Marner leads the team with 54 points while fellow sophomores Matthews and William Nylander are tied for second with 50. Tomas Plekanec has yet to pick up a point in four games with Toronto.

VANCOUVER

Games this week

@ Los Angeles, @ Anaheim, vs. San Jose

Rested Team: vs. San Jose (Saturday)

Tired Team: @ Los Angeles (Monday)

Notes

The Canucks got a jolt this week when rookie sensation Brock Boeser injured his back trying to make a check on Cal Clutterbuck and ended up hitting his back into the open bench door. He will miss the next four-six weeks, effectively ending his season. Sven Baertschi is also out for the season with a separated should suffered a week ago. Reid Boucher was recalled from the minors upon the injury news on Boeser and likely will be up the rest of the season. Brendan Leipsic had two goals and six points in his last four games and has been quite good since he came over from Vegas at the dead-line.  He has only four goals and 19 points this season in 48 games but is someone to keep an eye on next season.

VEGAS

Games this week

@ Philadelphia, vs. New Jersey, vs. Minnesota, vs. Calgary

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

Notes

Reilly Smith is day-to-day with an upper body injury. He has a career best 60 points, nine better than the 51 he had with the Bruins four seasons ago. Cody Eakin had two goals and three points Thursday. It was thought that he would be one of their better players at the expansion draft and while he has nine goals and 23 points, he is their third line center. The Golden Knights inked free agent defenseman Zach Whitecloud to a three-year/entry-level contract and he could appear this week if not sooner in a game. He was signed out of Bemidji State University and the knights are quite high on him. I thought Jonathan Marchessault had a career season last year with 30 goals and 51 points but he has smashed that this season with 22 goals and 65 points with 15 games left in the season.          

WASHINGTON

Games this week

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

Rested team: @ Philadelphia (Sunday)

Tired Team: None

Notes

The Capitals play four games this week including three in four nights. Expect to see Braden Holtby three times with Philipp Grubauer playing once. Holtby has been pulled in three of the last four games and is GAA is at 3.03 after his last three seasons of 2.07, 2.20 and 2.22. He was likely taken in the first round in most drafts and if you were the one taking him, you likely are not winning. The Capitals also play the New York Islanders twice this week so expect to see Tom Wilson add to his penalty minute count as he should see some action. Jakub Vrana has two goals in his last three games after going 25 without lighting the lamp. He is someone to watch going into next season as a late round pick in a deep draft.

WINNIPEG

Games this week

@ Washington, @ Nashville, vs. Chicago, vs. Dallas

Rested team: None

Tired Team: @ Nashville (Tuesday)

Notes

The Jets play three games in four nights as part of a four game week. Connor Hellebuyck should get three starts in goal with Michael Hutchinson playing once should Steve Mason not return from his lower body injury. Patrik Laine is on fire with 14 goals and 20 points in his last 10 games and was named the second star of the week. He has 39 goals thus far and is only one behind Alex Ovechkin for the NHL lead. Paul Stastny has two goals and six points in five games as a Jet. He is playing with Laine and Nikolaj Ehlers and gives the Jets possibly the best second line in the NHL. Dmitry Kulikov is day-to-day with an upper body injury suffered Thursday. Connor Hellebuyck is up to 35 wins and is by far having his best season as an NHLer. Mark Scheifele is day-to-day with an upper body injury.

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