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Tuesday Daily Puck: Backlund's Back, Alright

Andrew Fiorentino

Managing hockey editor, talent wrangler, football columnist, FSWA's 2015 fantasy hockey writer of the year. Twitter: @akfiorentino

Around the Rink

Ah, spring. Baseball’s coming, hockey’s going (basketball too, but eh), football’s in full-on hot-stove mode, and I’m sick as a dog. So let’s skip this morning skate and go straight to the action.

Projected Goalie Starters (all times Eastern)

Penguins (Marc-Andre Fleury) at Devils (Cory Schneider), 7:00 PM
Senators (Craig Anderson) at Hurricanes (Cam Ward), 7:00 PM
Sabres (Matt Hackett) at Bruins (Tuukka Rask), 7:30 PM
Canadiens (Dustin Tokarski) at Panthers (Roberto Luongo), 7:30 PM
Wild (Devan Dubnyk) at Predators (Pekka Rinne), 8:00 PM
Sharks (Antti Niemi) at Jets (Michael Hutchinson), 8:00 PM
Islanders (Michal Neuvirth) at Blackhawks (Corey Crawford), 8:30 PM
Blues (Brian Elliott) at Flames (Karri Ramo), 9:00 PM
Flyers (Steve Mason) at Canucks (Eddie Lack), 10:00 PM

For updates on the projected goalies later in the day, check out our Projected Goalies Grid.

Injury News For Teams Playing Tuesday

Pittsburgh Penguins
Evgeni Malkin, C (lower body) – Out a week or two
Patric Hornqvist, RW (undisclosed) – Out about a week
Olli Maatta, D (shoulder) – Out for season

New Jersey Devils
Patrik Elias, LW (back) – Day-to-day; Tuesday status uncertain
Ryane Clowe, LW (concussion) – Out for the year

Ottawa Senators
Chris Phillips, D (undisclosed) – Not considered close to returning
Chris Neil, RW (thumb) – Remains out indefinitely
Clarke MacArthur, LW (concussion) – Skating on his own
Zack Smith, C (wrist) – Potentially back in Tuesday
Robin Lehner, G (concussion) – Still symptomatic

Carolina Hurricanes
Rasmus Rissanen, D (knee) – Probably done for the year
Ryan Murphy, D (illness) – Didn’t go Sunday, but probably feeling better by Tuesday
Jack Hillen, D (concussion) – Will need to go through the protocol before returning, as usual

Buffalo Sabres
Andrej Meszaros, D (hand) – Didn’t play Monday; Tuesday in doubt
Patrick Kaleta, RW (lower body) – Participated in morning skate over weekend
Zach Bogosian, D (lower body) – Didn’t go Monday; Tuesday not looking good
Chad Johnson, G (lower body) – Out for an “extended period of time”
Zemgus Girgensons, C (ankle) – Unlikely to return this season

Boston Bruins
Brett Connolly, RW (finger) – Out for regular season following surgery
David Krejci, C (knee) – Skating before practice

Montreal Canadiens
Torrey Mitchell, C (upper body) – Didn’t play Monday; Tuesday uncertain
Nathan Beaulieu, D (illness) – Didn’t go Monday; also uncertain for Tuesday
Brian Flynn, C (upper body) – Left Monday’s game

Florida Panthers
Roberto Luongo, G (shoulder) – Skated over weekend; getting close, but probably not Tuesday
Al Montoya, G (groin) – Coming up on original two-week timeline

Minnesota Wild
Marco Scandella, D (upper body) – Practiced Monday; won’t go Tuesday, but Thursday possible
Matt Cooke, LW (sports hernia) – Not close to returning to practice
Keith Ballard, D (concussion) – Likely done for the season
Ryan Carter, C (shoulder) – Practiced Monday; could go as soon as Thursday
Nate Prosser, D (lower body) – Week-to-week
Jason Zucker, LW (shoulder) – Won’t return in regular season

Nashville Predators
James Neal, RW (upper body) – Didn’t play Sunday; possible for Tuesday
Eric Nystrom, LW (lower body) – Out about another three weeks

San Jose Sharks
Raffi Torres, LW (knee) – Expected to be ready for start of 2015-16 training camp
Mike Brown, RW (leg) – Practiced Monday; nearing a return, but likely not Tuesday

Winnipeg Jets
Bryan Little, C (upper body) – Didn’t practice Monday; seems unlikely for Tuesday
Dustin Byfuglien, D (upper body) – Could be back in Tuesday
Mathieu Perreault, C (lower body) – Could be done for the season
Tyler Myers, D (upper body) – Expected to play Tuesday
Paul Postma, D (undisclosed) – Out “a number of weeks”
Ben Chiarot, D (hand) – Out about another three weeks

New York Islanders
Jaroslav Halak, G (undisclosed) – Unlikely for Tuesday
Mikhail Grabovski, C (concussion) – No timeline released
Nick Leddy, D (upper body) – Traveling with team for Tuesday’s game

Chicago Blackhawks
Joakim Nordstrom, C (suspension) – Will sit out Tuesday and return Wednesday
Patrick Kane, RW (collarbone) – Could return if ‘Hawks make deep playoff run

St. Louis Blues
Kevin Shattenkirk, D (abdomen) – Back at practice; late-March return estimated

Calgary Flames
Paul Byron, C (lower body) – Skating again
Joni Ortio, G (lower body) – Likely to miss rest of regular season
Ladislav Smid, D (neck) – Done for the year
Mark Giordano, D (biceps) – Out for the year after surgery

Philadelphia Flyers
R.J. Umberger, LW (hip/abdomen) – Having surgery Wednesday; season over
Michael Del Zotto, D (upper body) – Won't play Tuesday
Matt Read, RW (personal) – Away from team for birth of child
Radko Gudas, D (knee) – Should start skating within a week or so
Shayne Gostisbehere, D (knee) – Was supposed to be back to skating already, but crickets

Vancouver Canucks
Ryan Miller, G (leg) – Still a couple weeks away
Alex Burrows, RW (undisclosed) – Expects to play Tuesday

Hot

Jordan Eberle, RW, EDM – A supremely talented player on a supremely awful team, Eberle has suffered mightily from his surroundings this year. His scoring rate’s been lagging, and he’s on pace to finish short of last year’s total in shots on goal. But things have been looking up lately – way up. Over the course of his current five-game point streak, Eberle has racked up a whopping four goals and seven assists – this despite the fact that he’s only taken eight shots on goal (total!) in that span. Of those 11 points, eight have come on the power play, which he’s near-singlehandedly revitalized, and he’s now got a career-high 21 points on the man advantage. Last year’s 65 points are now well within reach, and if the Oilers can put together a better roster in the future (or trade him to a friendlier situation), he’s still got the goods to be a point-per-game player at the NHL level.

Scott Hartnell, LW, CBJ – So, no one’s really questioning who won the Hartnell-for-R.J. Umberger trade, but then again, who (besides the Flyers for some reason) thought it was a good idea in the first place? Hartsy has been, if anything, better for the Jackets than he was for the Flyers over the last two seasons, and his current four-game goal-scoring streak has him just four points shy of last year’s 52, with plenty of time left to surpass that. In fact, going back a little further, we find that Hartnell has racked up seven goals and a pair of assists in his last eight games. You can probably find a place for that in your lineup.

Cold

Kyle Okposo, RW, NYI – After missing 22 games with an eye injury, Okposo got plunged right back into full-time action upon his return to the ice last Tuesday, as he’s skated more than 18 minutes with top-unit power-play time in all three games since returning. But the points have not been forthcoming – he’s taken an uncharacteristically low seven shots on goal in those three games, and the result has been zero goals, zero assists and a minus-5 rating. Ouch. Okposo was, however, putting up some of the finest stats in the league before he went down, and he’s still John Tavares’ right-hand (right-wing?) man, so he’ll surely get it going soon.

Jonathan Drouin, LW, TB – One of the league’s most highly regarded prospects, Drouin has had a slow rookie season. His 27 points in 60 games would be considered promising for a less-heralded kid, especially one who’s 19 years old. But he only has two goals, with the last one having come more than three months ago now, and he’s picked up just a single point over his last seven games (with just five shots on goal in that span). Despite that, he’s seen an uptick in minutes recently, including skating more than 15 minutes with an even 4:00 of power-play time Monday, so the Lightning are going to give him every chance to come out of it.

Recommended Pickup
Mikael Backlund, C, CGY – Because it’s happened in Calgary, it’s happened under the radar, but Backlund has been absolutely on fire recently. He’s got points in eight straight games, with three goals and six assists in that span, while generally seeing very heavy minutes at center for the Flames. The 25-year-old’s development into an offensive force has been a gradual one, as this is his sixth season in the league (not counting the one game he played at age 19), but he’s finally starting to show off the scoring chops we saw from him in Sweden during the NHL lockout. It’s easy to forget now, eight years later, that Backlund was a first-round pick (24th overall in 2007) once upon a time.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire.