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NHL Schedule Analysis: Light Schedule

Brian Rutherford

Brian Rutherford

A freelance writer of all things but mostly sports, music and politics, Brian Rutherford was raised on Long Island, NY and currently resides in a suburb of Dallas, Texas. His favorite teams are the New York Rangers, Texas Rangers, New York Giants and New York Knicks. "So the difference I think, boils down to this: you can either impose yourself on reality and then write about it, or you can impose yourself on reality by writing it." -Hunter S. Thompson "The Proud Highway"

Only three teams will play more than three games and six total teams will play only two games this upcoming week in the NHL.

Trends

We start off in the Western conference, where the Dallas Stars have three rough (@WAS, PIT, DET) games on the road. With Dallas on an East coast swing, San Jose looks to gain ground in the Pacific against three (LA, MIN, PHO) home games. Chicago starts off with two divisional road (@STL, CLM) games, then back home for two against the worst and first teams (CGY, EDM) of the Northwest division.

Though Edmonton had its six-game winning streak snapped, they are still first in the Northwest. That being said, the Oilers have a tough week ahead, visiting four (@MON, BOS, DET, CHI) Original Six opponents. A surprising second ranking in the Southeast, Florida, has their work cut out for themselves. In addition to a road game in Toronto and playing host to Philadelphia, the Panthers, look to avenge a late-October lost to the Jets. Starting Tuesday against Chicago, St. Louis, will play seven of their next 9 games at the Scottrade Center, including this Sunday night's game, the Canucks are in the midst of five of their next six games on the road.

Los Angeles starts off their week Monday in San Jose and heads home to take on Nashville, Vancouver and Minnesota. Anyway else catch the Wild's dismantling of the Canucks, winners in four straight? This week (@CGY, SJ, LA, ANA) could be an interesting gut check for the Twin Cities' ice hockey club. Could Josh Harding (4-0, 1.18) be taking over Niklas Backstrom's (3-3-2, 2.30) job?

New Jersey and Washington square off in a traditional home-and-home starting this Friday. The hope for Parise and company is to get a win at home. Once they head to Washington on Saturday, they won't be back to play in the Garden State until November 23rd and only twice total for the rest of the month.

Life is not pretty on Long Island, so perhaps a road-trip to... um... well, Boston, Colorado and Vancouver for an Islanders team already 0-2-1 on the road? Follow S.O.P. and avoid the Islanders like the plague.

With half as many points (5) as the Islanders and an embarrassing minus-22 goal-differential on the season, the Blue Jackets look to regroup with a slow two-game (vs. CHI, WPG) homestand. Yes Columbus, you may sigh, keep them (0-7-0) off the road. No team is slower than the New York Rangers over the next two weeks. Pittsburgh's only games this week come on back-to-back nights, starting this Friday against Dallas. As noted on the grid above, Philly, Tampa and Phoenix play only twice this week.

Team to Watch:

Fresh off extending the contract of Pekka Rinne, Nashville plays three (@LA, ANA, vs. MON) under-achieving squads this week. The Predators are only three points out of first in the Central division.

Got Cable? (subject to blackout)

VERSUS, Monday, November 7 - New York Islanders @ Boston Bruins VERSUS, Tuesday, November 8 - Carolina @ New Jersey VERSUS, Wednesday, November 9 - Philadelphia @ Tampa Bay

Next Big Thing (AHL news and notes)


Tied for second in the NHL with 19 points, the old adage comes to mind. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Regardless, it's only a matter of time before Ron Wilson and Brian Burke summon Joe Colborne (10 goals, 9 assists) of the Toronto Marlies back to the big ice. Colborne was recently named Rebook/AHL Player of the Month for October. Chad Johnson (3-1-2, 2.22) of the Connecticut Whale (AHL) was named Goalie of the Month for the month, while Carter Ashton (10 goals, four assists, 26 PIM) of the Norfolk Admirals took home Rookie of the Month.

Others to watch out for:

FORWARDS
- T.J. Hensick has four goals, 13 assists in 13 games for Peoria
- Chris Bourque has 14 points (six goals, eight assists) in 11 games with Hershey

DEFENSE
- Another Norfolk standout, Mark Barberio (13 PIM) has two goals, nine assists in 10 games

GOALIES
- Jeremy Smith (6-1-1) has a 1.60 GAA for Milwaukee
- Brad Thiessen (7-2) ranks second (567 minutes) in AHL goalies minutes played.