This article is part of our FantasyAces NHL series.
If you had to guess which team in the Oilers-Rangers matchup would come into Tuesday's action on a six-game winning streak, the Broadway Blueshirts would be the consensus choice … but not Tuesday. I'll sound a note of caution, though, as Edmonton did play a tough game Monday night, while New York got the night off. The Rangers have been in a funk of late, with a 2-6-2 record in their last 10 games, so the evening's contest is a tale of teams headed in opposite directions.
A media circus will descend upon Toronto on Tuesday, as Steven Stamkos and the Lightning visit the Leafs in the midst of speculation regarding the contract extension (or lack thereof) for Tampa's captain, who's scheduled to hit free agency this summer. The Leafs, of course, have their own drama – theirs pertains to Jonathan Bernier, who returns as the starting goalie after a conditioning stint in the AHL. Can he finally register a win after starting the year 0-8-1?
Here are my recommendations for games on December 15, 2015:
C: David Backes, STL at WPG ($4,700): The Blues' captain loves the physical game, and a willing Jets team will oblige him on Tuesday. Backes comes into this contest on a personal-best streak this season, with five points in his last four games.
C: Claude Giroux, PHI vs. CAR ($5,350): A perennial top-10 scorer, Giroux started slowly, but has really picked up his pace and is now the hottest scorer in the league, with 15 points in his last 10 games. The Flyers' captain is particularly dangerous on the power play, where he's produced 13 of his 28 points this season. That's not good news for a Carolina team that ranks 29th in penalty killing.
W: Alex Steen, STL at WPG ($5,300): The Blues' annual visits to Winnipeg are a homecoming that Steen truly cherishes, and he normally plays very well against the Jets as a result. He seems to be at the top of his game, with four points and a plus-5 rating in his last five games.
W: Chris Kreider, EDM at NYR ($4,650): This big winger favors a speed game in which he moves his big body more freely, and that should be the case against an Edmonton club that likes a wide-open pace. He's on a nice run, having picked up four points in his last four games.
W: Drew Stafford, WPG vs. STL ($4,450): Stafford has always been a streaky scorer, and he's recently snapped out of a long drought, notching five points in his last three games. He gets a nice chance to extend that roll against a St. Louis team that has looked a bit disorganized while losing five of its last seven.
W: Valeri Nichushkin, DAL vs. CLM ($4,000): Nichushkin may be the most undervalued player on Tuesday's board, considering: A, he's playing with Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn on the Stars' top line; B, he has seven points in his last seven games; and C, this is a matchup between the league's first and worst teams.
D: Justin Faulk, CAR at PHI ($4,750): The 'Canes may be among the NHL's cellar dwellers, but Faulk leads all defensemen in goals and is third in points. He's also on a tear, with six points in his last three games. Faulk should get some chances to pad those stats against an undisciplined Philadelphia defense Tuesday.
D: Rasmus Ristolainen, NJ at BUF ($4,200): Ristolainen has moved into fifth in scoring among defensemen thanks to a surge that's seen him rack up nine points in his last seven games. He's taken a huge step forward in his development as a third-year prom but remains underpriced – 40 other blueliners will cost more in Tuesday's FantasyAces games.
G: Kari Lehtonen, DAL vs. CLM ($7,500): Curiously, eight goalies cost more than Lehtonen on Tuesday's slate. I find that a huge surprise – this is a home date for the NHL's No. 1 team so far against the league's last-place club, which is entering the second half of a back-to-back set to boot. All signs point to an easy Dallas win.