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Schedule Analysis: Stars Aligning

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"

Shake off the cobwebs of your Halloween, the first of November brings more than cheesy mustaches and turkey dinners.



Four Aces
While players from teams with two games (Arizona, Buffalo, Carolina, Minnesota, Nashville, Chicago) are least likely to provide you with a fantasy burst this week, players on teams with four games may provide the opposite.

If not for their unblemished road record (5-0), Boston would be a low percentage play with four of the league's best offenses on the docket. Jonas Gustavsson has been solid in his minimal time and should get a nod this weekend.

After a 3-1 home stand, Dallas heads Northeast for four tilts. 2012 second-round pick Devin Shore will make his debut. John Klingberg has a nice streak going, as does Patrick Sharp. Vernon Fiddler and Antoine Roussel got in on the scoring in Saturday's win over San Jose. For now, it appears the elder Fin goaltender has won, leaving Kari Lehtonen as the back-up, but continue to handcuff these guys as Antti Niemi has been far from sharp.

Los Angeles visits St. Louis and Chicago on back-to-back nights, starting Monday, before hosting five consecutive games. Christian Ehrhoff left Saturday's game with an upper-body injury.

Philadelphia (see Monthly Outlooks below)

Vancouver (see Monthly Outlooks)

Like the Bruins, Toronto begins the week hosting Dallas. Jonathan Bernier seems to have a good hold on the No. 1 job.

Monthly Outlooks

Fold (11)

Although Carolina only plays 11 games, eight of them will be at home. Kris Versteeg collected a pair of assists this past Friday.

Sometimes less is more, as is the case for Minnesota. While they'll play just 11 games in November, they have one of the more difficult schedules.

Hold (14)

Philadelphia continues their five-game road trip. Sean Couturier (upper body) remains day-to-day.

Dealer's Choice

The following teams will play an imbalanced number of games on the road or at home this month:

Home (games home/games away)

Detroit (9/4) - Mike Green (upper body) could return by the weekend. The carousel continues for Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek.

Montreal (8/4) - Still reeling from losses to Vancouver and Edmonton, it looks like Carey Price (lower body) will be out of commission until 11/11. Mike Condon will get most of the starts and Dustin Tokarski will back up. Lars Eller found himself in the dog house Friday, as did Alexander Semin.

Tampa Bay (8/4) - Steven Stamkos is ice cold.

Away (games home/games away)

Calgary (4/8) - Michael Frolik had a hat trick this past Saturday.

Chicago (5/8) - Good news from Buffalo for Patrick Kane owners?

Colorado (3/9) - Carl Soderberg scored his first goal with the Avs this past week.

Edmonton (4/8) - Considering Leon Draisaitl's line assignment, you may want to consider his services.

Vancouver (4/9) - After two at home, Vancouver plays seven straight on the road where they boast a 4-0-1 record. With Jacob Markstrom out, Richard Bachman earned his first win with the Canucks this past Saturday.

Winnipeg (4/9) - Blake Wheeler is fulfilling promise so far.

ASOS (Average Strength of Schedule)
Every week, Leftwinglock.com rates a team's strength of schedule using factors like home/away, opponents record and other notables. In this week's grid, I have added ASOS, a collective average rating for all four weeks of November and ranked them 1-5 (lowest being easiest, highest hardest).

TABLE TALK
Florida's Jaromir Jagr (hamstring) is expected to return Wednesday. Sergei Bobrovsky looks to have lost his job to Curtis McElhinney, at least for the time being. At least Bob deserves it, all Brian Elliott did was get sick, but it was long enough for Jake Allen to take a strong grip on the No. 1 tender job. Eric Fehr had a nice debut. St. Louis is still missing Kevin Shattenkirk (groin) and Vladimir Tarasenko (undisclosed).