This article is part of our FantasyAces NHL series.
There are two particularly intriguing matchups in Tuesday night's eight-game slate.
The Penguins hope to ride the hot streaks of their signature players, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, into battle against the visiting Blackhawks. Meanwhile, Chicago comes in on a three-game winning streak. The 'Hawks are similarly led by star power, but they play a much more disciplined style than Pittsburgh. It will be up to the Penguins, winners of their last two, to see how they measure up against the defending champs.
Meanwhile, the Eastern Conference-leading Capitals visit a Bruins team that has designs on the top spot in the Atlantic Division. The Caps own the NHL's best goal differential, a testament to their ability to marry a commitment to defense with showcasing their offensive capabilities. The Bruins should consider this home date against the best of the Eastern Conference to be a measuring-stick game.
Here are my recommendations for games on January 5, 2016:
C: Claude Giroux, PHI vs. MON ($5,350): A struggling Giroux has been reunited with his Jakub Voracek, and Wayne Simmonds joins the two in hopes of igniting a sluggish Flyers offense (only five goals in their last three games). I sense a breakout performance for Giroux because the physicality and talent of this line presents a mismatch for a Montreal club that will deploy Ben Scrivens in goal.
C: Evgeny Kuznetsov, WAS at BOS ($5,150): Kuznetsov continues to anchor a second scoring line and benefit from the fact that he doesn't see the top opposing checkers on a nightly basis. He's making teams pay for that omission, having racked up seven points in his last seven games. His speed could be an issue for a slow Boston defense corps.
W: Jonathan Huberdeau, FLA at BUF ($4,600): It is hard to overlook the first-line winger of the NHL's hottest team, yet Huberdeau may not be among the most obvious choices on Tuesday because he has only four goals on the year. He has, however, managed to produce eight assists in his last seven games and gets a favorable matchup against a floundering Buffalo club that has lost four straight.
W: Marcus Johansson, WSH at BOS ($4,550): He may be a third-line center in Washington, but Johansson is also a regular participant on one of the Caps' power-play groups. The 25-year-old Swede has also been on a tear, racking nine points in his last eight games.
W: Charlie Coyle, MIN at CBJ ($4,450): Coyle is quickly approaching his career-high offensive totals in a second-line role, where his disciplined play has netted him seven points in his last seven games. He and the Wild face a less-structured Jackets team that's now forced to play an untested rookie, Anton Forsberg, in goal.
W: Valeri Nichushkin, DAL at NYR ($4,000): The Stars are giving this physically imposing and skilled youngster a long look as a top-six winger, and he rewarded them with a pair of goals in his last start. He's been a streaky scorer, so maybe he's ready to put a hot run together again. Nichushkin also has the benefit of working alongside Jason Spezza, one of the league's best puck distributors.
D: Brent Seabrook, CHI at PIT ($4,950): The long-time playing partner of Duncan Keith is producing points at a career-high pace so far this year, possibly in line for his first 50-point campaign. He seems like a good value when we see 11 other players priced ahead of him Tuesday.
D: Matt Niskanen, WSH at BOS ($4,300): With John Carlson out of the Caps' lineup, Niskanen has taken on the power-play quarterbacking assignment and has collected an assist in each of his last three starts. He is also seeing a 3-to-5 minute increase in his playing time, with more first-pairing ice coming his way.
G: Roberto Luongo, FLA at BUF ($7,600): This is a matchup of the league's stingiest defense against one of the lowest-scoring teams in the NHL. Luongo is on a seven-game winning streak that has seen him limit opponents to two goals or fewer six times, yet he's somehow cheaper than six other goalies on Tuesday's slate.