Last week, more than half of the NHL played four games. This week only a handful of Western Conference teams will play four games. With more of a quality than quantity thing going this week, those in daily leagues will have a chance to get their min/max games played. Let's see if we can get you an advantage with most teams (25) playing three games or less this week.
Last season I was certain the Ducks would crash and burn. It looks like I was one season off as Anaheim is tied for second worst in league points (16). Adding insult to injury, the Ducks schedule doesn't exactly have a few gimmes. Albeit from home, Anaheim takes on Montreal, Philly and Minnesota.
After Brad Boyes right leg injury, the Sabres called up former first-round pick (2009, 13th overall) in RW Zack Kassian. Kassian registered a point in each of his first two games (plus-2, six hits, 3 SOG) this past weekend. Luke Adam (two goals) also broke out for the time since October as Buffalo earned a commanding 5-1 win over limping Washington. Looking past a home duel with the Islanders, the Sabres have their work cut out of for themselves, playing host to Detroit and visiting Nashville.
The way the Caps (2-5) are playing lately, three at home or not, St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Ottawa player owners beware of the team with a chip on their shoulder?
Boston and Toronto players will yield only results for two games this week. The Bruins and Maple Leafs have a short, but focused week as they head off in a traditional home-and-home match up. Boston (9-0-1) is already leading this season series two games to none.
The stirring has begun, and Carolina fans want to sacrifice their head coach for a change. With an unpredictably explosive Florida team headed into town, it's entirely possible Paul Maurice would be gone in time for the 'Canes games with the Rangers and Penguins.
If not for the Isles (4-3 WIN) and Stars (6-7 OTL, 3-0 WIN), Colorado would be 0-for-November. That is until they opened things up on Edmonton this past Saturday. Goals from five different players, including defensemen Shane O'Brien (goal, 5 assists in November) and Stefan Elliott's first-career NHL tally. Colorado has an intense home schedule this week, with two organization rivalries (Dallas, Detroit) and a matchup with last season's trade partner, St. Louis. Add in New Jersey and it should be an interesting four game-week for Varlamov and Giguere.
A quarter of the way through the season, Minnesota looks to balance three losses a month with their leading point-getter (Koivu) at 16 points. Another question headed into the week, Backstrom was gone for personal reasons last week, theoretically missed two games for personal reasons. Minnesota looks to stay amongst the NHL's elite, with four games, including two home games against the Lightning and Devils and two road games in Edmonton and Anaheim.
Coming in December for Detroit (8-2-0) will be 15 total games. Ten of them will be away from Joe Louis Arena, where the Wings are merely a .500 (5-5) club this season. But first, one last home game against the Lightning on Versus. The Red Wings finish off the week in Buffalo and Colorado.
Although Phoenix (6-3-1) is looking good right now, they have a tough schedule (@CHI, WPG vs. PHI) this week. However, I do like the Winnipeg schedule this week. The Senators, aforementioned Coyotes and Devils all make their way into town. Both Montreal and Ottawa hit the road, but are they focused? The Sens have the lighter schedule with three against the Jets, Stars and Capitals, while the Canadiens head west to take on the Ducks, Sharks and Kings.
If Dallas (second in the NHL with 346 PIM) can manage to stay out of the penalty box, they could win all three (@COL vs. OTT, NYI) this week. Silver lining is they have four short-handed goals. Unfortunately, the Stars, already missing Alex Goligoski, may be missing Kari Lehtonen as well. Lehtonen, playing on back-to-back nights for the first time this season, left Saturday night's matchup with a right knee issue. He is listed as a day-to-day.
The Oilers ended their 17-game losing streak in Minnesota and this week will look to beat the Wild from home. In fact, all four of the Oilers games will be in Edmonton, looks like another busy week for Khabibulin and Dubnyk, who each went 1-1 during last week's road trip.
Taking back over the Western Conference is Chicago. Patrick Sharp set the tone on Friday in Anaheim with a hat trick en route to a 6-5 win over the Ducks. The Hawks finished out their six-game West coast swing with another one-goal win over the Kings. Chicago finally heads home for three fairly conquerable games against the 'Yotes, Islanders and Blues.
Matchup of the Week:
For those real speculative owners, former 6th round (168th overall) pick by the New York Rangers, Carl Hagelin has a goal and an assist in his two games since donning Broadway blue. Coincidentally the Rangers have won two after losing two games. The Rangers take their 8-2 November record and close out the month with a big Tuesday match-up against the rejuvenated Sidney Crosby and his hot Penguins squad. This should be a hell of game.
Got VERSUS? (all times EST)
MON - NOV 28: Lightning @ Wild / VERSUS - 7:30 PM
TUE - NOV 29: Penguins @ Rangers / VERSUS - 7:30 PM
WED - NOV 30: Lightning @ Detroit / VERSUS - 7:30 PM