This article is part of our FantasyAces NHL series.
The Penguins host the Devils in a Tuesday evening game that pits one of the league's underachieving teams (Pittsburgh) against an overachieving club (New Jersey). The Devils weren't supposed to be this competitive, but a group of veteran forwards have meshed well to lead the way and they are being supported by the stellar goaltending of Cory Schneider. For their part, the Penguins appear to have sorted out their top scoring lines and have survived a number of injuries on their blue line to finally find consistency in their play, which has led to a slow but steady climb up the division standings.
In another matchup with a similar profile, the Predators visit the Canucks. Much more was expected of a Nashville club that played so well last season and has been strengthened offensively this year. The trouble is that they have not seen the best of Pekka Rinne in goal, as his GAA is 32 points higher than last season. Meanwhile, Vancouver is hanging on to playoff hopes despite the fact that injuries have taken key players out of the lineup for extended periods. They're currently without Henrik Sedin and Brandon Sutter, leaving top-six pivot roles for youngsters Jared McCann and Bo Horvat.
Here are my recommendations for games on January 26, 2016:
C: Ryan Johansen, NAS at VAN ($5,150): He has performed exactly as advertised in taking over first-line minutes since joining the Predators. Johansen has three goals and six assists in his last eight games, making his transition to Nashville a seamless one.
C: Aleksander Barkov, FLA vs. TOR ($5,100): Barkov plays his first game after inking a huge six-year contract extension Monday. This big pivot is looking very comfortable in his first-line role, showing potent chemistry with fellow young gun Jonathan Huberdeau and the ageless Jaromir Jagr. The size of this line will pose a problem for the Leafs' defenders.
W: Artemi Panarin, CHI at CAR ($5,150): Panarin continues to come in a lot cheaper than other high-end alternatives. He's an easy pick as long as he continues to skate top-six minutes, especially against a low-end opponent like Carolina. He has seven points in his last six games.
W: Marian Hossa, CHI at CAR ($4,850): Even though his line is overshadowed by the Kane trio, he and Jonathan Toews have formed a nice chemistry with Andrew Shaw on a troika that should give the Hurricanes fits, particularly as they should avoid Carolina's top defenders.
W: Patric Hornqvist, PIT vs. NJ ($4,800): Hornqvist has emerged from extensive roster shuffling as the regular right winger for a resurgent Sidney Crosby. That partnership has resulted in two goals and five assists for the talented winger, who appears primed to enjoy this role alongside the league's longtime signature player.
W: David Perron, ANA at BOS ($4,450): Perron was recently traded to the Ducks after things did not work out in Pittsburgh. Anaheim is pleased with the early returns, as he has produced three points in his last three games while gaining familiarity with a first-line opportunity alongside Ryan Getzlaf. He faces a Bruins team that is playing the second of back-to-back games Tuesday
D: Brian Campbell, FLA vs. TOR ($4,050): With the return of a healthy Aaron Ekblad to the defensive rotation, teacher (Campbell) and pupil (Ekblad) have been reunited recently. They are expected to log first-line power-play minutes on a potent unit that faces a struggling Leafs penalty kill.
D: Tyler Myers, WPG vs. ARI ($3,900): Myers has been mired in a scoring slump in his last seven games, but is still getting playing time alongside Dustin Byfuglien on the Jets power play. He has still been generating a lot of offense, given his 16 shots in those seven games, so something has to give, and I think it could happen Tuesday against a Coyotes team that seems likely to be physically overmatched.
G: Martin Jones, SJ vs. COL ($7,550): Jones comes into this match on a streak of six wins and an overtime loss in his last seven starts, yielding only 15 goals during that stretch. Calvin Pickard, who is making only his seventh appearance of the season in goal for Colorado, will oppose him and the visiting Sharks.