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NHL Schedule Analysis: Targeting the Devils?

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"

NHL Schedule Analysis
by Brian Rutherford, RotoWire Writer

Five of the top seven teams in the Western Conference are vying for one (Central) division crown. Twenty-five of the 30 NHL teams have nine points or higher and we're just three weeks into the season.Your month and week converge to begin cleanly November 1st, so let's plan our trip with teams heading in various directions.

Two way road

It's been nearly 20 years since an NHL team salivated at the thought of the New Jersey Devils (2-7-1) coming to town. Martin Brodeur hasn't been all that bad, posting a 2.94 GAA. The team hasn't been all that awful for a mid-tier team, but the expectations of the New Jersey Devils are that of the top tier. This team hasn't been top anything.
This week: @VAN, CHI, vs. NYR

Next week we'll be talking about the Lil' Blues that could, with seven games in 11 nights. For this week, we focus more on quality than quantity of the St. Louis Blues' (5-1-2) schedule. What a difference a season can make for both St. Louis and their new no.1 goalie, Jaroslav Halak. Halak is sporting a gaudy 1.55 GAA and is 5-1-1. Third year center T.J. Oshie is leading the team with nine points (1 G, 8 A).
This week: vs. SJ, @ BOS, vs. NYR

Three lane highway

After a solid 2-1 effort at home against the Washington Capitals, the Minnesota Wild (4-3-2) are above .500. Not a $100 million dollar man on roster, and yet the Wild seem to be on their way to a balanced (eight players with five or more points) and successful season. Minnesota has the best power-play in the NHL. Niklas Backstrom has been fantastic (2.09 GAA), Mikko Koivu and team have a fluidity. This is a team on the rise.
This week: vs. SJ, CGY, @ CLS


The Tampa Bay Lightning are second in the Eastern Conference (13 points). Mike Smith was yanked in the first period of last Wednesday's game against visiting Pittsburgh. Dan Ellis came in and stopped all 24 shots he faced as Tampa Bay beat Marc-Andre Fleury and company, 5-3. The Lightning are headed for a West Coast swing this week. Pick up Ellis if you're in position to take on another goalie, this hot seat is just warming up.
This week:  @ ANH, LA and SJ

Be prepared for a possible spot start if you have a backup goalie on any of the following teams: Vancouver, Philadelphia, New York (Rangers), Chicago and Carolina will all play four games. If you have a player on the Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche and Los Angeles Kings choose wisely as all have a light two game schedule this forthcoming week.

Side to Side (Goalie movement and news)

- Semyon Varlamov is hurt (groin), Michal Neuvirth is solid while Braden Holtby remains the backup.
- Jason Bacashihua or John Grahame will take the place of the injured Craig Anderson (right knee).
- Chris Mason was inconsistent in Ondrej Pavelec's absence. It appears they will split time now.
- Andrew Raycroft replaced Kari Lehtonen in the Stars 5-2 loss to LA. He stopped 8 of 8. He followed that up with a shutout on Saturday.

Full Schedule Grid

Team  Away  Home  Total
Carolina 2 2 4
Chicago 2 2 4
New York Rangers 2 2 4
Philadelphia 2 2 4
Vancouver 2 2 4
Anaheim 0 3 3
Atlanta 1 2 3
Boston 2 1 3
Buffalo 1 2 3
Columbus 1 2 3
Dallas 1 2 3
Detroit 3 0 3
Edmonton 1 2 3
Florida 1 2 3
Minnesota 1 2 3
Montreal 2 1 3
New Jersey 2 1 3
Nashville 3 0 3
New York Islanders 2 1 3
Ottawa 2 1 3
Phoenix 1 2 3
Pittsburgh 3 0 3
San Jose 2 1 3
St. Louis 2 1 3
Tampa Bay 3 0 3
Toronto 1 2 3
Washington 0 3 3
Calgary 1 1 2
Colorado 0 2 2
Los Angeles 0 2 2