The NHL All-Star break is nearly upon us, and Wednesday's short slate is the quiet before Thursday's 13-game storm.
Despite the four-game schedule for Wednesday, there are a surprising number of intriguing matchups with plenty of stars in action. We'll check out interesting angles for seasonal fantasy and DFS purposes.
Maple Leafs (PP: 2, PK: 4) at Red Wings (PP: 30, PK: 20), 7:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Frederik Andersen (20-10-8, 2.62, .920), Petr Mrazek (10-11-5, 3.13, .895)
Key Injuries: Johan Franzen (concussion), Jimmy Howard (knee), Dylan Larkin (upper body), Steve Ott (shoulder), Brendan Smith (knee), Thomas Vanek (lower body), Joe Vitale (concussion), Joffrey Lupul (abdomen), Morgan Rielly (lower body), Ben Smith (hand)
The Maple Leafs have won 10 of their past 14 games overall, and they've been picking on the dregs of the league to help their ascension in the standings. Toronto is a perfect 6-0 in their past six against teams with a losing overall mark. That's great news for the fantasy prospects of Frederik Andersen, who picked up a win in overtime against the Wings in their most recent matchup on Jan. 1. Nazem Kadri passed the 100-goal milestone last time out against Calgary, and he is up to 20 goals in a single season for a second time in his still fledgling career. He has been red hot in the month of January, posting seven goals with 12 points in 10 games, making him a slam-dunk DFS play regardless of price tag.
Flyers (PP: 9, PK: 21) at Rangers (PP: 10, PK: 12), 8:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Steve Mason (15-15-6, 2.92, .899), Henrik Lundqvist (21-12-1, 2.75, .906)
Key Injuries: Jesper Fast (upper body), Kevin Hayes (lower body), Antti Raanta (lower body), Marc Staal (concussion)
The Flyers have really hit the skids, dropping 10 of their past 13 outings. A major reason for their ills has been an inability to win on the road, as the Fly Guys have dropped nine of their past 10 away from the City of Brotherly Love. The Blueshirts have also been their kryptonite, as the Flyers are just 7-19 in their past 26 trips to Madison Square Garden, and 10-25 in the past 35 meetings overall. Look to Henrik Lundqvist to maintain his mastery against Philly. He is 2-0-0 with a 2.00 GAA and .946 save percentage in two starts against the Flyers this year, and he is a perfect 7-0-0 in the regular season against Philadelphia since his last loss to the Flyers on March 1, 2014. King Henrik will be helped out by a toothless Philly team which has been blanked in each of their past 14 power plays. Mats Zuccarello enters play with a goal and seven assists in his six-game point streak.
Oilers (PP: 12, PK: 16) at Ducks (PP: 8, PK: 9), 10:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Cam Talbot (24-12-7, 2.41, .919), Jonathan Bernier (8-4-1, 2.89, .902)
Key Injuries: John Gibson (upper body), Simon Despres (head), Nicolas Kerdiles (concussion), Jakob Silfverberg (upper body), Clayton Stoner (abdomen), Sami Vatanen (undisclosed), Andrew Ference (hip), Jujhar Khaira (undisclosed), Darnell Nurse (ankle), Iiro Pakarinen (leg), Tyler Pitlick (knee)
The Oilers have an amazing young core, led by Connor McDavid. He potted his 16th goal last time out, but he has been blanked in five career meetings against the Ducks. Leon Draisaitl carries a four-game point streak into action, and he has a good chance to extend it against Anaheim. Draisaitl has lit the lamp four times with three helpers in nine career games against the Ducks. The good news for the Oil is they are unlikely to face John Gibson, who is 4-0-1 with a 1.19 GAA in his career against them. Gibson left Saturday's game due to an upper-body injury, and his status is unclear. However, with the All-Star break looming, Jonathan Bernier is likely to be in between the posts. Rickard Rakell has caught fire over the past seven outings, lighting the lamp four times with six points during the span.
Canucks (PP: 29, PK: 22) at Avalanche (PP: 26, PK: 24), 9:30 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Jacob Markstrom (8-9-3, 2.59, .912), Calvin Pickard (7-12-1, 3.01, .904)
Key Injuries: Tyson Barrie (lower body), Rene Bourque (lower body), Matt Duchene (illness), Erik Johnson (leg), Semyon Varlamov (groin), Derek Dorsett (neck), Erik Gudbranson (wrist), Jannik Hansen (knee), Ben Hutton (hand), Philip Larsen (upper body), Anton Rodin (knee)
The Canucks-Avalanche matchup might not have the same panache as the other games on the slate, but there is plenty of fantasy talent on the ice. If you're looking for a sleeper DFS netminder of streaming option, Markstrom might fit the bill. Colorado is just 4-11 in their past 15 home games against Vancouver, and they're 8-24 in their past 32 tries overall against the Canucks. Henrik Sedin carries a five-game point streak into battle, and he had two assists against Colorado in the most recent meeting on Jan. 2. Sedin has excelled over the years against the Avs, posting three goals and seven assists with a plus-3 over the past eight meetings. On the flip side, All-Star Nathan MacKinnon has no goals and just three assists in 10 career games against the Canucks. Matt Duchene (illness) is also a question mark for this one.
Tomas Tatar, LW, DET -- Tatar managed 29 goals and 56 points during the 2014-15 season, but he took a step back last season with just 45 points. He is on pace for another backslide this season, currently projected for 39 points, but that could change if he continues to stay hot. Tatar is a nice buy-low candidate with two goals, four points and a plus-7 over his past four outings. He also has posted two helpers with a plus-2 in the Jan. 1 outing in Hogtown.