Week 25 Fantasy Hockey Planner

The Fantasy Hockey Planner is the essential guide to setting your lineup for the upcoming week. Every week, we provide you with top matchups, the latest news and give you the scoop on injured players.

Fantasy Week 25 (March 23-29)

Teams with four games: Anaheim, Calgary, Columbus, Detroit, Edmonton, Florida, Minnesota, Nashville, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Vancouver
Teams with three games: Atlanta, Buffalo, Carolina, Chicago, Colorado, Dallas, Los Angeles, Montreal, New Jersey, N.Y. Islanders, N.Y. Rangers, Ottawa, San Jose, Toronto
Teams with two games: Boston, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Washington

Editors Note: Projections are for March 23-29 games and all stats are through Thursday

This week's news and notes for each team:

Anaheim Ducks: Center Petteri Nokelainen, who did not have a goal in 33 games with Boston this season, scored his second in six games with the Ducks Thursday against the Coyotes since being acquired in a March 4 trade ... Drew Miller, recalled Thursday from Iowa of the AHL, scored a first-period goal against the Coyotes and skated most of the final two periods on the top line alongside Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry ... Anaheim plays Colorado (twice), Edmonton and Nashville Week 25. Anaheim is averaging 3.00 or more goals against Nashville and Colorado, and 2.00 against Edmonton.

Atlanta Thrashers: Joey Crabb is back up with the Thrashers after being demoted to the minors Jan. 30. Since his demotion to Chicago of the AHL, he recorded 17 points (nine goals) in 22 games. He has three goals and four assists in 26 games during his first stint with Atlanta ... All-Star forward Ilya Kovalchuk was back in the lineup Friday against the Red Wings after missing three games with an upper-body injury. He was also joined by Zach Bogosian (knee) and Ron Hainsey (leg). All three players appear ready for Week 25 ... Bryan Little has hit 30 goals in his second NHL season. He has five goals in eight March games and has five or more goals in four months this season.

Boston Bruins: Goalie Tim Thomas is just 3-4-1 in his last eight games after losing to Los Angeles Thursday. He has played the last five games and seven of the last eight ... Defenseman Matt Hunwick has three goals and two assists in the last five games he has played. Hunwick scored in his return Thursday after being a healthy scratch in five straight games ... Mark Recchi has scored in two straight games and has four in eight games since being picked up in a March 4 trade ... Patrice Bergeron hasn't scored in the last eight games, but does have six assists in that span.

Buffalo Sabres: Injured goalie Ryan Miller, who has been out since Feb. 21 after spraining his ankle, has skated with his teammates this week and has taken another step toward returning. Miller still hopes to return before the Sabres' season ends April 11, but his status for Week 25 is still questionable. Consider using other Fantasy alternatives.

Calgary Flames: Injured forwards Todd Bertuzzi (knee) and Rene Bourque (ankle) skated briefly Thursday as they continue the rehab process. However, neither player is set to return to the lineup in the near future. "It's really in the hands of the medical staff right now," coach Mike Keenan told NHL.com. "They're not cleared to play until that time." Consider both players less than desirable starts Week 25 ... Jamie Lundmark, who has spent a majority of the season in the AHL, has scored three goals in his last three games. He has 11 points (five goals) in 15 NHL games this season. He is currently situated on the second line with Daymond Langkow and Dustin Boyd ... The Flames appears to have an intimidating schedule on the horizon with games against Detroit, Columbus, Pittsburgh and Minnesota Week 25. However, Calgary is averaging 3.00 or more goals against the three Western Conference opponents. Consider starting your Calgary skaters.

Carolina Hurricanes: Defenseman Anton Babchuk has solidified his spot in the Hurricanes' rotation. After being a healthy scratch at times to begin the season, Babchuk has taken off under new coach Paul Maurice. He produced his first two-goal game Wednesday against the Devils and has seven of his 11 goals in the last month ... The Hurricanes play Florida, Ottawa and New Jersey Week 25. They are averaging 2.40 or fewer goals against the Panthers and Senators, and while they are averaging 3.50 goals in two games against New Jersey, they have yet to face Martin Brodeur this season. Consider benching your Carolina skaters.

Top 10 Players Added
Player % Change
1. Tobias Enstrom, D, ATL 12
2. Alexandre Burrows, C, VAN 8
2. Sean Avery, LW, NYR 8
4. Rob Blake, D, San Jose 7
5. Evgeni Nabokov, G, SJ 6
6. Nikolai Khabibulin, G, CHI 6
7. Antoine Vermette, LW, CLB 6
8. Marian Hossa, RW, DET 5
9. David Backes, C, STL 5
10. Brian Elliott, G, OTT 5

Chicago Blackhawks: Defenseman Cam Barker was able to fend off a lower-body injury sustained Wednesday against the Blue Jackets to remain in the lineup Friday against the Oilers. It appears safe to keep him active heading into Week 25 ... Center Samuel Pahlsson played in his first game for Chicago Wednesday against the Blue Jackets. He had been out since Jan. 31 with mono and that was before he came to the Blackhawks in a March 4 trade from Anaheim. Pahlsson is a faceoff and short-handed specialist ... The Blackhawks have home games against San Jose, New Jersey and Vancouver Week 25. It definitely looks like an intimidating slate since they could potentially face Evgeni Nabokov, Martin Brodeur and Roberto Luongo. However, Chicago is sixth in home GFA (3.44) and average 3.33 or more goals against the Sharks and Canucks. Consider starting your Chicago skaters.

Colorado Avalanche: Injured center Joe Sakic, who has been out since late November with a herniated disc, skated Thursday before the team went through a morning skate. Sakic's goal is to play before the season ends, but Colorado has no timetable for the veteran's return. He is not a recommended start or add heading into Week 25 ... Paul Stastny, who returned to the lineup Feb. 24 after missing several weeks with a fractured forearm, is now day-to-day with a sore foot. Stastny, who has just one goal and four assists in 11 games since returning to the lineup, is a risky start Week 25 if he can't play Sunday against the Sharks ... Goalie Peter Budaj allowed a total of nine goals while posting a 3-1-1 record in his five previous outings before getting shelled Thursday against the Oilers for eight goals on 24 shots in an 8-1 loss. Despite the bad performance, Budaj seems to have gained favor with coach Tony Granato ... Colorado plays Anaheim (twice) and Vancouver Week 25. They are averaging 2.33 or fewer goals against each opponent, so consider benching your Colorado skaters.

Columbus Blue Jackets: Jakub Voracek, who has nine goals and 26 assists, is only four points shy of tying Rick Nash's club rookie scoring record, which he set during the 2002-03 season ... Speaking of Nash, he has a season-high eight goals in nine March games. He already has his double-digits in points for a fifth straight month ... Antoine Vermette scored his first game-winning goal with Blue Jackets Thursday against the Blackhawks. Vermette has four goals and seven points in six games since he was acquired from Ottawa at the trade deadline ... Columbus plays Calgary, St. Louis (twice) and Tampa Bay Week 25. While they have yet to play the Lightning, they are averaging 2.67 goals against the Flames and Blues.

Dallas Stars: Jamie Benn, a fifth-round pick in 2007, was recently named to his first All-Star team in the WHL (juniors). He has 46 goals and 36 assists in 56 games for Kelowna. He is fifth in goals and 15th in scoring in the WHL. He is also first in short-handed scores (six) and sixth in power-play tallies (15) ... Veteran forward Mike Modano is day-to-day with a lower-body injury ... Injured forward Brad Richards, who has been out since mid-February with a broken wrist, has been practicing with the team and appears ahead of schedule in his return (which originally was scheduled for 6-8 weeks). There is a chance he might play Saturday against the Sharks ... Dallas gets to stay home Week 25 to face the Canucks, Kings and Panthers. They rank 12th in home GFA, averaging 2.97 goals. The Panthers are the only team Dallas is averaging more than 2.50 goals against, so take that into consideration before starting your Stars skaters.

Detroit Red Wings: Valtteri Filppula was able to play Friday against the Thrashers after missing two games with back spasms. Tomas Holmstrom was not as lucky as he missed a second straight game with a strained knee. Holmstrom could be an injury-risk start Week 25 ... Pavel Datsyuk has three goals and seven assists during a six-game point streak. With 87 points, he's well on pace to become the first Detroit player to eclipse 100 since Sergei Fedorov in 1995-96 (107) ... Mikael Samuelsson has two goals and one assist in his last four games after not recording a point in his previous 12 outings ... Detroit has games against Nashville, Calgary, Edmonton and the N.Y. Islanders Week 25. They are averaging 3.25 or more goals against each Western Conference opponent and the Islanders rank in the bottom five for defense. Consider starting your Detroit skaters.

Edmonton Oilers: Dwayne Roloson hasn't had a night off since the Oilers traded Mathieu Garon to Pittsburgh on Jan. 18. Roloson has started 26 straight games and it has allowed the 39-year-old to play in 50-plus games for the first time in his career ... Sam Gagner has his first career hat trick Thursday against the Avalanche. He has four goals and three assists during a five-game point streak ... Ales Kotalik, who was removed from the first line when he couldn't strike any chemistry with Ales Hemsky and Shawn Horcoff, is finding his rhythm alongside Gagner. Kotalik had a goal and three assists Thursday, his first points in six games with the Oilers since being acquired in a March 4 trade from Buffalo ... Robert Nilsson has been on a hot streak since being sent to the press box for lack of productivity. He has five points (two goals) in his last three games ... The Oilers play the Red Wings, Wild, Coyotes and Ducks Week 25. They are only averaging more than 2.50 goals against the Coyotes. Consider benching your Edmonton skaters.

Easiest Fantasy schedules
Team Schedule
1. Red Wings @CGY, @EDM, NYI, NSH
2. Predators ANA, SJ, LA. @DET
3. Flyers NJ, FLA, @NYI, BOS
4. Canucks @DAL, @STL, @COL, @CHI
5. Sharks @CHI, @NSH, PHO

Florida Panthers: Nathan Horton, who has missed five games with a lacerated left ring finger, skated and took some shots Friday. He is hoping to play Monday against the Hurricanes as Florida makes a vital playoff push. It appears Horton could be a low-risk start Week 25 ... Defenseman Nick Boynton has played just three games since getting into an argument with coach Peter DeBoer in late February. Those three games came when Bryan McCabe was out of the lineup due to a facial injury. Boynton has been scratched in the two games since McCabe's return. DeBoer claims that it's not personal with Boynton and just a personnel decision. However, it's clear Boynton is not a reliable Fantasy option at this time ... Speaking of McCabe, he doesn't have a point in his first two games back. He is also trying out new equipment to protect his face. He wore a full plastic shield when he returned Tuesday against Washington, but has since downgraded to a metal cage ... Florida plays three of their four games Week 25 on the road, where they are averaging 2.81 goals (10th). However, the only team they are averaging more than 2.50 goals against is Carolina.

Los Angeles Kings: Justin Williams, who came to Los Angeles in a March 4 trade from Carolina, finally made his debut Friday against the Penguins. Williams had been sidelined by a broken hand ... Teddy Purcell has three goals and five assists in his last nine games. The scoring outburst coincides with Purcell's promotion to the top line with Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown ... Brown has one goal and one assist in his last two games after totaling only one point in his previous four games ... Wayne Simmonds had two assists for the first multi-point game of his career Thursday against the Bruins. Simmonds has points in three consecutive games (one goal, three assists) after going nine consecutive without a point ... Alexander Frolov had his seven-game point streak end Thursday. He has two goals and eight assists in that span ... The Kings continue their six-game road trip with contests against St. Louis, Dallas and Nashville Week 25. They rank 23rd in road GFA (2.47), but is averaging 2.67 or more goals against each Week 25 opponent.

Minnesota Wild: Defenseman Brent Burns continues to be shut down from anything hockey-related as he battles concussions-like symptoms. He appears to be an injury-risk start Week 25 ... In a bit of bright news, it appears Marian Gaborik is finally ready to make his return from hip surgery. The former All-Star is targeting Sunday against the Oilers as his first game since Dec. 23. If that happens, then Gaborik will be a low-risk start Week 25 ... Cal Clutterbuck recorded four hits Tuesday against the Avalanche, pushing his NHL lead to 290. The NHL record for hits in a season is 311 set a year ago by Kings forward Dustin Brown ... Minnesota takes to the road for all four of their games Week 25. They are dead last in road GFA, averaging 2.15 goals. Consider benching your Minnesota skaters.

Montreal Canadiens: The Canadiens might have a goalie controversy once again. Jaroslav Halak had won four straight games in February before bowing out to a virus. Carey Price then regained the starting job in net when Bob Gainey took over for the fired Guy Carbonneau. But Price was pulled during Thursday's game against the Senators and Halak finished up strong. He earned the start Saturday against the Maple Leafs, and if he gets on a run, Gainey might stick with Halak over Price, who has struggled since returning from an ankle injury in late January ... Forward Guillaume Latendresse has three points (two goals) in three games after missing 17 contests with a shoulder injury ... The Canadiens are home for all three of their games Week 25. Montreal is ninth in home GFA (3.21), however, they are averaging 2.33 goals or less against each Week 25 opponent -- Tampa Bay, Atlanta and Buffalo. Take that into consideration when starting your Montreal skaters.

Nashville Predators: Prospects Jonathan Blum and Chet Pickard were both honored as First Team All-Stars in the WHL (juniors). Blum, who is one of two finalists for WHL Defenseman of the Year, had 16 goals and 66 points in 51 games for Vancouver. He was Nashville's 2007 first-round pick. Pickard, who is one of two finalists for WHL Goaltender of the Year, posted a 35-12-3 record with six shutouts, 2.28 goals against average and .921 save percentage for Tri-City. Pickard was the first goaltender taken in the 2008 draft ... Goalie Pekka Rinne is 13-3-3 since Feb. 1. He has the second-most wins in the NHL during that span ... Ryan Suter's eight-game point streak ended Thursday against the Sharks. He has two goals and eight assists in that span ... Joel Ward has four goals and one assist during a three-game point streak ... J.P. Dumont has four goals and 15 assists in his last 15 games ... Jason Arnott continues to be day-to-day with an upper-body injury. He appears to be an injury-risk start Week 25 ... Nashville has three of their four games Week 25 at home, where they are averaging 2.72 goals (22nd). Nashville is averaging 3.67 or more goals against Anaheim, Los Angeles and Detroit. Consider starting your Nashville skaters.

New Jersey Devils: In case you missed one of the top hockey news stories of the week, Devils goalie Martin Brodeur took over the career wins lead from Patrick Roy as he notched his 552nd victory Tuesday against the Blackhawks ... Brian Gionta has scored in two straight games and it's the first time he's scored in back-to-back games since a five-game streak from Nov. 15-26 ... Zach Parise has three goals and five assists during a six-game point streak. He has six goals and nine assists in his last 15 outings ... Jamie Langenbrunner had his nine-game point streak end Wednesday against Carolina. He had six goals and five assists in that span ... Brendan Shanahan has gone eight games without a goal ... New Jersey has games against Philadelphia, Carolina and Chicago Week 25. They average 3.00 or fewer goals against each opponent.

N.Y. Islanders: Mark Streit, in his first season of a five-year deal signed in the offseason, became the first Islanders' defenseman since Vladimir Malakhov (1993-94) to record a 50-point season with two goals and an assist in a 4-2 win Sunday against the Blackhawks ... The Islanders play Detroit, Minnesota and Philadelphia Week 25. They have yet to face the Red Wings, but average 1.75 or fewer goals against the Wild and Flyers. Consider benching your Islanders skaters.

N.Y. Rangers: The Rangers play the Wild, Penguins and Thrashers Week 25. They average 2.33 or fewer goals against Atlanta and Pittsburgh. New York has yet to face Minnesota, but the Wild rank third in defense (2.44 GAA). Consider benching your Rangers skaters.

Ottawa Senators: Goalie Brian Elliott has won seven straight games. He has allowed more than three goals just once in that span. Elliott is putting on a show and at the right time. He is in the final season of his contract and is trying to display to the league he can excel on this level ... Center Jason Spezza has 13 points during an eight-game point streak ... Defenseman Brendan Bell had a pair of assists Thursday against the Canadiens and has four points (two goals) in his last two games. He had previously gone six games without a point ... Ottawa has road games against Carolina, Atlanta and Tampa Bay Week 25. They rank 24th in road GFA, averaging 2.36 goals. Atlanta and Tampa Bay rank in the bottom three for defense, and Ottawa is averaging 3.33 goals per game against Carolina. Consider starting your Ottawa skaters despite the low road GFA.

Philadelphia Flyers: While the Flyers have been pleased with Daniel Briere since his latest return from a setback with a groin injury, Fantasy owners can't say the same. Briere hasn't recorded a point in his last four games since returning to the lineup March 12 and hasn't had a point since Nov. 11 (eight games). Briere has also looked slow since recently moving to the fourth line with Darrell Powe and Riley Cote ... Scott Hartnell has a career-high 26 goals in 2008-09 ... The NHL opted not to suspend defenseman Braydon Coburn for his high stick to the face of Rangers forward Nik Antropov, calling it a move in self defense ... Defenseman Randy Jones is expected to be sidelined until late March/early April with a hip and groin injury. Jones had surgery on his hip in early October and missed the first three months of the season ... Philadelphia has three of their four games Week 25 at home, where they average 3.66 goals (third). And their only road game is against the Islanders, whom rank in the bottom three for defense. Consider starting your Philadelphia skaters.

Toughest Fantasy schedules
Team Schedule
1. Avalanche ANA, VAN, @ANA
2. Wild @NYR, @NYI, @CGY, @EDM
3. Islanders MIN, @DET, PHI
4. Coyotes EDM, @SJ
5. Hurricanes @FLA, OTT, @NJ

Phoenix Coyotes: New acquisitions Matthew Lombardi and Scottie Upshall have both made an immediate impact since being acquired at the March 4 trade deadline. Upshall has three goals and three assists and Lombardi has two goals and three assists in eight games since joining the lineup ... Phoenix has games against Edmonton and San Jose Week 25. They are averaging 2.50 or fewer goals against each opponent, so consider benching your Phoenix skaters.

Pittsburgh Penguins: Evgeni Malkin had to miss Monday's practice because of an illness, but he showed no ill-effects during Tuesday's 6-2 rout of the Thrashers. Malkin tied a career-best with five points as he put two goals and three assists on the board. It helped him break 100 points for a second straight season ... Janne Pesonen established a single-season scoring record for AHL affiliate Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. With two assists Monday, Pesonen hit 68 points and broke Toby Petersen's record of 67 (2000-01). Pesonen is now up to 26 goals and 44 assists in 59 games. Pesonen was a huge acquisition in July after a successful career in Finland. However, he has had trouble breaking the Penguins' roster, but the organization isn't giving up on the 26-year-old forward ... Chris Kunitz has six goals and six assists in 10 games since being acquired in a late February trade from Anaheim ... Pittsburgh has home games against the Rangers and Flames Week 25. Pittsburgh is 11th in home GFA (3.09).

San Jose Sharks: Ryane Clowe is expected to miss at least a week after having a medical procedure to repair a lower-body injury Wednesday. He is not a recommended start Week 25 ... Milan Michalek recorded his 20th goal Thursday against the Predators. He now has 20 or more goals in three straight seasons ... The Sharks play the Blackhawks, Predators and Coyotes Week 25. They average 3.00 or more goals against Chicago and Nashville, and get to play Phoenix at home where they average 3.51 goals. Consider starting your San Jose skaters.

St. Louis Blues: Keith Tkachuk left Thursday's game against the Canucks with a left wrist injury, but X-rays Friday came back clean for no breaks and the veteran is merely day-to-day ... Paul Kariya (hip) continues to skate in hopes of being activated in the chance St. Louis makes the playoffs. However, he won't return during the regular season and can be ignored in Fantasy ... Forward David Backes has six goals and four assists in his last eight games ... St. Louis has three of their four games Week 25 at home, where they average 2.89 goals (14th). They play Los Angeles, Vancouver and Columbus (twice). While they average just 1.67 goals against the Kings, the Blues are averaging 3.33 or more goals against the Canucks and Blue Jackets.

Tampa Bay Lightning: Cory Murphy is the latest Lightning to feel the injury bug. Murphy sustained a broken bone in his right foot Tuesday against the Lightning and is expected to miss 3-4 weeks, which means he could miss the remainder of the season. It appears safe to cut Murphy, who was just becoming a Fantasy viable player as he totaled 15 points in 24 games since being scooped up off waivers from Florida ... Steven Stamkos scored his 16th goal Thursday against the Capitals, the second-most goals scored by a Tampa Bay rookie. Brad Richards holds the record with 21 goals during the 2000-01 season ... Martin St. Louis has five goals and 10 assists during a seven-game point streak.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Defenseman Tomas Kaberle, who has missed eight games since suffering a setback with his broken hand, hopes to play Saturday against the Canadiens. If that happens, he is a low-risk start Week 25 ... Alexei Ponikarovsky accomplished his first 30-assist season with a helper Thursday against the Panthers.

Vancouver Canucks: Pavol Demitra was expected to miss Thursday's game against the Blues after skipping the morning skate with a mild left knee sprain suffered Tuesday against Dallas. But Demitra was active against St. Louis, taking a regular shift alongside Mats Sundin and Ryan Kesler on the second line, and working the point on the second power-play unit. It appears safe to keep him active Week 25 ... Alexandre Burrows leads the league among players without any power-play goals, scoring all 23 goals and 41 points without any on the man advantage ... Goalie Roberto Luongo improved to 16-2-1 in his last 19 starts -- and 16-4-4 since returning from his groin injury in January -- with 30 saves in a 3-0 win Thursday. It was Luongo's sixth shutout and first since Nov. 8 ... Ryan Kesler has three goals and 10 assists in his last 10 games ... Vancouver is on the road for all four of their games Week 25. They rank 12th in road GFA (2.79). Vancouver is averaging 3.00 or more goals against the Blues, Avalanche and Blackhawks, so consider starting your Canucks skaters.

Washington Capitals: Reigning MVP Alex Ovechkin became the first player in Capitals' history to score 50 goals three times after he lit the lamp in the first period Thursday against the Lightning ... Defenseman Mike Green scored twice Thursday to up his goals total to 27. He has scored in three straight games after scoring just once in his previous 13 appearances ... Boyd Gordon is out 2-3 weeks with a broken finger.

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