Opening Night!

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Michael Finewax looks the the power play including the mighty Washington Capitals in the first edition …

Welcome back! It's been five months since I last wrote this column and it's been nice getting back into the swing of things.

A lot happened in the off-season with the most surprising being the 'retirement' of Ilya Kolavchuk from the Devils and having him reappear in the KHL a couple of days later.

There were some coaching changes with Alain Vigneault moving from the Vancouver Canucks to the New York Rangers with John Tortorella moving the other way. Dallas Eakins finally got a well-deserved job in the NHL as he is the bench boss in Edmonton while Lindy Ruff is the new head coach in Dallas.

Editors Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $1,000 Fantasy Hockey league for opening night (Oct. 1). It's just $5 to join and first prize is $200. Starts Tuesday at 7pm ET. Here's the link.

This column will look at the schedule, let you know if team's are playing three games in four nights for goaltending purposes as well as back-to-back games so you know who the rested and tired teams are.

In addition there will be some notes for the past week and what may happen in the future.

Enjoy!

Now to The Week Ahead.

Don’t forget, for everything NHL, check out Rotoworld's Player News, or follow @Rotoworld_ HK or @mfinewaxhockey on Twitter.

WEEK OF OCTOBER 1-6

3 Games– Anaheim, Buffalo, Calgary, Detroit, Philadelphia,  Toronto, Vancouver, Washington, Winnipeg

2 Games – Boston, Carolina, Chicago, Colorado, Columbus, Dallas, Edmonton, Florida, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Montreal, Nashville, New Jersey, New York Islanders, Ottawa, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, San Jose, Tampa Bay

1 Game - New York Rangers

Anaheim plays all three of their games on the road.

Don't forget to join a Yahoo! Hockey pool. It's not too late.

INJURIES

(Click here to see the rest of the injury list.)

ANAHEIM

Games this week

@ Colorado, @ Minnesota, @ Winnipeg

Notes

The Ducks will be a tired team in Winnipeg on Sunday after playing in Minnesota the previous night. Dustin Penner was slated to play on the top line with Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf but has yet to pick up a point in four preseason games so his role may be in peril. Emerson Etem is a young scorer but has a leg injury and that could keep him out of the opening night lineup. The Ducks have been impressed with the play of Shea Theodore, their first pick, 26th overall, in the 2013 Draft. The offensive defenseman could crack the Ducks lineup on opening night but it is unlikely that he will play more than nine games.

BOSTON

Games this week

vs. Tampa Bay, vs. Detroit

Notes

Zdeno Chara scored three goals and only four points on the power play last season so using him at times in front of the net as well as on the point should help him garner more power play points. After suffering from lung, shoulder and rib injuries during the playoffs, Patrice Bergeron is healthy in training camp and looking towards a good fantasy season. He will play alongside Loui Eriksson who was the main player received when Tyler Seguin was shuffled off to Dallas. It appears that Chad Johnson will start the season as the backup to Tuukka Rask after Anton Khubodin left and went to Carolina. Jordan Caron is having a mediocre training camp and could find himself in the AHL to start the season.

BUFFALO

Games this week

@ Detroit, vs. Ottawa, @ Pittsburgh

Notes

The Sabres will play three games in four nights so look for Ryan Miller to play twice while Jhonas Enroth should play once. The Sabres will be tired on Saturday when they travel to Pittsburgh to face a rested Penguins team after hosting the Senators on Friday. Joel Armia is out indefinitely after suffering a broken hand on Wednesday. The talented Finn was a bubble player heading into training camp but is worth keeping an eye on in the coming years. It was a wild game on Sunday when John Scott tried to fight Phil Kessel after teammate Corey Tropp broke his jaw in a fight with Jamie Devane.  Marcus Foligno is expected to be in the opening night lineup in Detroit after suffering a shoulder injury. He's worth looking at in deep pools.

CALGARY

Games this week

@ Washington, @ Columbus, vs. Vancouver

Notes

The Flames play three games in four nights so look for Joey MacDonald and Karri Ramo to share the net. It's possible that Reto Berra could make the roster as a goalie but we think he'll start the season in the minors. The will be a tired team when playing the Blue Jackets in Columbus Friday after playing in Winnipeg the previous night.  Calgary will be the rested team on Sunday at home to Vancouver as the Canucks are in Edmonton Saturday. Sven Baertschi is having a tough time in training camp and could start the season in the press box or the AHL.  Roman Horak is also on the bubble as he heads into his third season. He has yet to make a dent in the NHL and may need to spend more time in the minors. Michael Cammalleri could be out for a while with a broken hand.

CAROLINA

Games this week

vs. Detroit, vs. Philadelphia

Notes

The Hurricanes are rested Sunday when they host the Flyers as Philadelphia will play in Montreal Saturday.  Alexander Semin is out with an upper body injury believed to be his wrist but he is hopeful of playing in the opener against Detroit. Anton Khudobin will back up Cam Ward this season as Justin Peters was sent to the minors. Jeff Skinner, who has been injury-prone the last two seasons, is out with a lower body injury. The Hurricanes will keep him out of the remainder of the preseason with the hope that he will be ready for the start of the season.

CHICAGO

Games this week

vs. Washington, v. Tampa Bay

Notes

Marian Hossa missed practice on Wednesday with an upper body injury but is expected to be ready for the start of the season. Michal Handzus is slated to remain the Blackhawks second line center after Brandon Saad failed to impress during training camp. Saad stated that he is a winger and not a center. He won only nine of 38 faceoffs so it looks like he is right. Corey Crawford will see most of the action between the pipes barring any injuries as the Blackhawks inked veteran 40-year-old Nikolai Khabibulin to back him up. Ray Emery played plenty as Crawford's backup in 2013 but that stopped in the post-season and is expected to continue in 2013-14.

COLORADO

Games this week

vs. Anaheim, vs. Nashville

Notes

The Avalanche will be the rested team Friday as they host Nashville. The Predators are in St. Louis Thursday.  The Avs look to be weak on the blueline as one-time hopeful Erik Johnson is coming off a horrific season with only four measly assists in 31 games. He'll be paired with Andre Benoit to start the season as Ryan Wilson will likely be alongside Tyson Barrie while Jan Hejda and Cory Sarich will make up the third unit. Semyon Varlamov is looking to rebound from a poor 2013 season when he went 11-21-3 with a 3.02 GAA and a .903 save percentage. He will have to do a lot better than that if the Avs are even thinking of contending for a playoff berth.

COLUMBUS

Games this week

vs. Calgary, @ New York Islanders

Notes

Boone Jenner looks as if he has won the job on the first line alongside Marian Gaborik and Brandon Dubinsky. Gaborik is missing time due to a family matter but should be ready for the opener against the Flames. Jared Boll is out with an upper body injury and will likely miss the opener. He is worth grabbing late in pools that have penalty minutes as a category. Blake Comeau is no longer a top-six forward so pass on him in fantasy pools. Sergei Bobrovsky will try to match his Vezina Trophy winning season of 2013 and try to lead the Blue Jackets into the playoffs. He will be backed up by Curtis McElhinney.

DALLAS

Games this week

vs. Florida, vs. Washington

Notes

Rich Peverley is scheduled to miss at least the first regular season game after undergoing surgery to correct an irregular heartbeat. He came to the Stars in the deal that sent Loui Eriksson to Boston and sent Tyler Seguin to Dallas. Seguin and Jamie Benn could be killing penalties together which would be a new role for both. Dan Ellis will backup Kari Lehtonen this season. Look for Alex Chiasson to play on the second line with Ray Whitney and Shawn Horcoff. Aaron Rome and Trevor Daley could miss the start of the season allowing Jamie Oleksiak a shot at starting the season with the Stars.

DETROIT

Games this week

vs. Buffalo, @ Carolina, @ Boston

Notes

The Red Wings play three games in four nights so expect to see Petr Mrazek in goal once replacing regular number one netminder Jimmy Howard as usual backup Jonas Gustavsson is out with a groin injury.  The Red Wings are hoping that the move to the Eastern Conference will benefit the team with a shorter travel schedule and more time at home. Detroit will be the tired team Saturday when in Boston after playing in Carolina Friday. Jordin Tootoo is expected to start the season with Detroit after missing most of training camp with a bruised shoulder.  The signing of Stephen Weiss to fill the role of the second line center will allow Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk to play together on the top line.

EDMONTON

Games this week

vs. Winnipeg, @ Vancouver

Notes

The Oilers are having trouble at center as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Sam Gagner will each miss the month of October with Gagner likely out in most of November as well. Taylor Hall will move to center to alleviate part of the problem. Mark Arcobello will get the first shot as the second line center and he will likely line up between David Perron and Jordan Eberle. Despite an outstanding training camp, first round pick Darnell Nurse was returned to Sault Ste. Marie of the OHL. Ales Hemsky played with Hall and Ryan Smyth but look for Nail Yakupov to play a top-six role. Look for Ben Eager to stay as an enforcer, especially with the injury to Sam Gagner at the hands of Zack Kassian.

FLORIDA

Games this week

@ Dallas, @ St. Louis

Notes

The big news in Florida is that Vincent Viola has bought the club and immediately made an impact by signing Tim Thomas to a one-year-deal. The signing will help young netminder Jacob Markstrom as Thomas will be a mentor to the Finn. Kris Versteeg has been cleared to play after suffering a knee injury. Jonathan Huberdeau made his training camp debut on Thursday after returning from a hip injury that he suffered during the World Junior Championships in January. He played the whole season with Florida despite the wonky hip, winning the Calder Trophy, so his future is bright with the Panthers. Rookie Aleksander Barkov is someone to keep an eye on in fantasy pools, especially keeper leagues as he set a record with 48 points as a 17-year-old in the SM-liiga. He has an NHL-ready body and should contend for the Calder this season.

LOS ANGELES

Games this week

@ Minnesota, @ Winnipeg

Notes

The Kings are the tired team on Friday in Winnipeg after playing in Minnesota Thursday.

Jacob Muzzin is questionable for the start of the season due to a sprained knee. Willie Mitchell missed all of 2013 with a knee injury but the Kings are hoping that he will return to the form he showed in helping Los Angeles win the Stanley Cup in 2011-12. He will not help you very much in fantasy pools anymore but could have some penalty minutes with a good plus/minus. The Kings received Matt Frattin when they traded Jonathan Bernier to Toronto. It was thought he was a bottom-six forward but the Kings will likely start him on the second line beside Jeff Carter and Mike Richards. He could be a nice late round flier in deeper pools.

MINNESOTA

Games this week

vs. Los Angeles, vs. Anaheim

Notes

It appears that Charlie Coyle, who has three goals in four preseason games, has won the second line center's job beating out Mikael Granlund. Granlund has been hurt as he has an upper body injury that occurred on Sept. 21, but he will get another chance to show what he is capable of doing on Friday. Granlund has a ton of talent but has struggled at the NHL level. One of these days he is going to put it all together and be a fine fantasy player but it may not happen this season. The Islanders gave up on Nino Niederreiter after taking him fifth overall in the 2010 Draft. He has plenty of offensive upside and the move from New York can only help his future. He is worth a shot in the deepest of fantasy pools but only as a very late pick as he has still not shown enough at the NHL level although he turned just 21 earlier in the month.

MONTREAL

Games this week

vs. Toronto, vs. Philadelphia

Notes

Brian Gionta was in the lineup Thursday after being out of action since the playoffs where he suffered a torn bicep that required surgery. He lined up with Tomas Plekanec and Rene Bourque and picked up an assist.The Canadiens picked up UFA Daniel Briere in the off-season from Philadelphia and he has a shot to play on the Habs first power play unit, making him worthy of taking in fantasy pools. Jarred Tinordi and Michael Bournival have made the Canadiens 23 man roster out of training camp but coach Michel Therrien does not know if and when they will play.

NASHVILLE

Games this week

@ St. Louis, @ Colorado

Notes

The Predators will be tired when playing the Avalanche in Denver Friday as they play in St. Louis Thursday. Nashville received bad news this past week when Viktor Stalberg was lost to the lineup for up to a month with a sprained shoulder. Filip Forsberg should start the season as a top-six forward. He was held pointless with a minus-five rating in five NHL games at the end of last season after being acquired from Washington in exchange for Martin Erat. Seth Jones is getting plenty of playing time and the fourth overall pick in the 2013 Draft is a shoo-in to break in with the Predators to start the season. Pekka Rinne looks to be his old self after undergoing hip surgery in May. He is still a top-seven goalie in fantasy hockey and should be drafted as such.

NEW JERSEY

Games this week

@ Pittsburgh, vs. New York Islanders

Notes

The Devils will be the tired team Friday when hosting the Islanders as they will play the Penguins in Pittsburgh Thursday. Condolences to Martin Brodeur on the loss of his father Denis Thursday. Denis was a famous sports photographer in Canada and was the goaltender for Canada in the 1956 Olympics, winning a silver medal. Brodeur could get the start in the opener against Pittsburgh with the newly acquired Cory Schneider seeing action in the second game. The split of games between the two netminders will be a bone of contention for poolies as they should share the net for most of the season. Try to handcuff them in drafts. Jaromir Jagr hopes to return to action for the start of the season as he has missed most of training camp with back and hip soreness. Damien Brunner is a welcomed addition to the Devils and while he won't replace Ilya Kovalchuk in the lineup as Kovalchuk was a superstar scorer, he will see top-six minutes up front and be a force on the first power play.

NEW YORK ISLANDERS

Games this week

@ New Jersey, vs. Columbus

Notes

The Islanders will be the rested team on Friday as they open the season in New Jersey against a tired Devils squad who are in Pittsburgh Thursday. Frans Nielsen could get some time on the point for the first power play unit as the Islanders look to replace the departed Mark Streit. Nielsen will play alongside Lubomir Visnovsky with John Tavares, Matt Moulson and Kyle Okposo up front. Griffin Reinhart, who was selected fourth overall in the 2012 Draft, should crack the Islanders lineup out of training camp. At six foot, four, Reinhart uses his big body to smother forwards who try to maneuver around him and has a good shot from the point making him a solid two-way defenseman. Brock Nelson has a good chance to break camp with the Islanders as well as the center had 52 points in 66 AHL games in 2012-13.

NEW YORK RANGERS

Games this week

@ Phoenix

Notes

The Rangers play only once this week so if you play in weekly transaction pools, I suggest benching all your New York players and take advantage of the schedule.  Look for Brad Richards to return to form after being benched during the playoffs last season. He had trouble dealing with deposed head coach John Tortorella but with Alain Vigneault behind the bench, look for Richards to have a nice comeback season and approach averaging a point-per-game.  Derek Stepan inked a two-year/$6.15 million contract Thursday but he may get off to a slow start due to the lack of a training camp. He is worth trading for later in the season in fantasy pools. Vigneault has been very impressed with rookies Danny Kristo, Jesper Fast and Oscar Lindberg and at least one should be on the opening night roster in Phoenix. Ryan Callahan () has been cleared for contact but will miss the opener.

OTTAWA     

Games this week

@ Buffalo, @ Toronto

Notes

The Senators are the tired squad on Saturday when facing the Maple Leafs as they are in Buffalo the previous night. Jason Spezza should rebound and have a big year after a tough year in 2013 when he suffered a back injury in January that required surgery and followed that up by tearing the meniscus in his knee in March while rehabbing his back. He played three games in the playoffs after only five in the shortened regular season. He'll have a new linemate in Bobby Ryan who will finally see first power play time in Ottawa, something that was denied him in Anaheim as he usually played on the second unit despite his scoring prowess. Look for big years from goalie Craig Anderson and the best offensive defenseman in the NHL, Erik Karlsson.

PHILADELPHIA

Games this week

vs. Toronto, @ Montreal, @ Carolina

Notes

The Flyers will be rested on Wednesday as the Maple Leafs go to Philadelphia after opening the season in Montreal. Philadelphia will be tired on Sunday when in Carolina to as they are in Montreal Saturday.  Claude Giroux will start the season in the lineup after undergoing offseason surgery to repair tendons in a finger which occurred when he golf club snapped and splintered. There was no information at the time as to whether or not he birdied the hole. It should be quite the goaltending battle between Ray Emery and Steve Mason this season but I see Emery getting the majority of the starts barring injury. Jakub Voracek, who is expected to be on the top line once again with Giroux, should be healthy when the season starts on Wednesday after suffering an upper body injury earlier in the week.

PHOENIX

Games this week

vs. New York Rangers, @San Jose

Notes

The big offseason news in Phoenix was that the Coyotes finally have themselves a new owner and will stay in Glendale for at least five years. They will be renamed the Arizona Coyotes in the 2014-15 season. They picked up a top center when they signed Mike Ribeiro in the offseason. He finished last season tied for first with Alex Ovechkin with 27 power play points as well as being on the ice for the most power play goals with 40. The Coyotes need to improve with the man advantage as they were 25th in the NHL last season with a 14.8 percent efficiency rating. Rostislav Klesla is out of action indefinitely after suffering a concussion/whiplash when hit by Jordan Nolan. Klesla is still unable to do off-ice workouts.

PITTSBURGH

Games this week

vs. New Jersey, vs. Buffalo

Notes

It looks like Beau Bennett will start the season on a line with Evgeni Malkin and James Neal and that has to boost his fantasy value. Tomas Vokoun is out indefinitely after undergoing surgery to remove blood clots from his pelvis. It was thought that he would battle the shaky Marc-Andre Fleury for the net as he played extremely well in the playoffs last season while Fleury floundered. Fleury is still having problems between the pipes and is not being drafted as high as he used to be in Yahoo! pools. Kris Letang is poised to have a big season if he can stay healthy.

ST. LOUIS

Games this week

vs. Nashville, vs. Florida

Notes

The Blues temporarily fixed their three headed goaltending problem by sending Jake Allen to the minors leaving Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott to handle the duties for now. Don't be surprised if the Blues trade one of their netminders at some point during the season. Coach Ken Hitchcock loves the play of Jaden Schwartz saying "He's been our best player." Look for Schwartz to start on a line with Derek Roy and Chris Stewart. Brenden Morrow was signed this week and should see bottom six minutes which will hurt his now limited fantasy value. Alex Pietrangelo should have a big fantasy season. Don't be surprised if he is a top-ten fantasy defenseman.

SAN JOSE

Games this week

vs. Vancouver, vs. Phoenix

Notes

Tomas Hertl has been the big surprise of training camp and it looks like he'll start the season on the top line with Joe Thornton and Brent Burns. If Burns has eligibility on defense in your pool, he should be a top-ten blueliner as he could score 20 goals. Alex Stalock and Harri Sateri are battling it out to be the backup for Antti Niemi. Niemi will likely play 60-65 games this season so Stalock and Sateri could be shuffling between the bench and Worcester of the AHL. Defenseman Brad Stuart has an undisclosed injury and could miss the start of the season.  Raffi Torres is out for the next three-four months after undergoing surgery to repair a torn ACL.

TAMPA BAY

Games this week

@ Boston, @ Chicago

Notes

The Lightning still have yet to decide whether or not to keep Jonathan Drouin who was selected third overall in the 2013 Draft. I think they will give him a trial for nine games and then decide if he is better served going back to junior or sticking in the NHL. Steve Stamkos and Martin St. Louis will get time killing penalties this season, adding a bit to their fantasy value if shorthanded points are a category in your pool. Surprise, surprise. Ryan Malone is out with an injury. It has been a common occurrence over the last few years as his fantasy value has plummeted. Valtteri Filppula will take over the job as the second line center from the departed Vincent Lecavalier.

TORONTO

Games this week

@ Montreal, @ Philadelphia, vs. Ottawa

Notes

The Maple Leafs are the only team to start off the season playing the first two nights and will be the tired team in Philadelphia Wednesday after playing in Montreal Tuesday. They have two nights off before playing the Senators Saturday after Ottawa is in Buffalo Friday. David Clarkson will be lost to the team for the first 10 games as he was suspended for leaving the bench during a fight. The battle for the top goaltending spot between Jonathan Bernier and James Reimer will carry on into the season with the duo splitting the first two games on the road before coach Randy Carlyle decides who will play in the home opener. The signing of Cody Franson probably means that Morgan Rielly will be sent back to junior hockey. He'll get another chance to play for Team Canada at the U20 World Championships over Christmas.

VANCOUVER

Games this week

@ San Jose, vs. Edmonton, @ Calgary

Notes

The Canucks play three times in four nights, so expect to see Eddie Lack once in net as Roberto Luongo should get two starts. They are the tired team Sunday in Calgary after playing Edmonton Saturday. Jordan Schroeder is out three weeks after breaking a bone in his foot or ankle. Zack Kassian received a five game suspension in the regular season for breaking the jaw of Sam Gagner with his stick.  Bo Harvat and Hunter Shinkaruk are on the bubble as the Canucks whittle down their lineup. The top two picks, ninth and 24th overall in the 2013 Draft will likely be sent back to junior hockey before they play ten games in the NHL.  

WASHINGTON

Games this week

@ Chicago, vs. Calgary, @ Dallas

Notes

Brooks Laich is out of action with a hip flexor after missing all but nine games in the truncated 2013 season with a groin injury. He will get second line time once healthy where he will be centered by Mikhail Grabovski. Grabovski had a tough time last season in Toronto under Randy Carlyle but will take on a more offensive role in Washington which will add to his fantasy value. Mathieu Perreault is on the bubble as far as making the Capitals. Expect Braden Holtby to have a big year in net for the Capitals with Michal Neuvirth in the back up role. Alex Ovechkin may be tired for the opener in Chicago Tuesday as he will travel to Greece on Friday to participate in the Olympic torch relay before heading back to Washington Sunday.

WINNIPEG

Games this week

@ Edmonton, vs. Los Angeles, vs. Anaheim

Notes

The Jets get a break this week as they are the only team to be playing tired squads twice this week. They take on the Kings Friday after Los Angeles is in Minnesota Thursday while the Ducks will be the tired team on Sunday as they take on the Wild Saturday.  Mark Scheifele is making a concerted effort to crack the Jets lineup after being drafted as their top pick, seventh overall, in the 2011 Draft. The Jets have a lot of talent on their blueline with Dustin Byfuglien, Tobias Enstrom, Zach Bogosian and Jacob Trouba. The foursome will be a force for many years to come. Blake Wheeler is out with an undisclosed injury but should be ready for the start of the season. He'll start on the top line with Bryan Little and Andrew Ladd while Evander Kane will start on the second line with either Scheifele or Olli Jokinen centering him.

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