The Daily Puck: Walk the Laine
The Daily Puck: Walk the Laine

This article is part of our The Daily Puck series.

A week after Auston Matthews scored four goals to take the league by storm on Opening Night, the Winnipeg crowd roared "Laine's better" as Patrik Laine scored two third-period goals and the overtime winner for his first career hat trick. Indeed, the kids are alright.

Moving on to a veteran, there might be reason for slight concern about Henrik Lundqvist. The Rangers had a 26th-ranked 47.4 CorsiFor percentage at five-on-five last season, but were bailed out by Lundqvist's sterling .937 save percentage at full strength. And while New York has been a possession dynamo (54.1 CF%) through the first four games this year, will the blue line hold up? It's unlikely Lundqvist is able to fully carry over his season-saving brilliance from last year, and if the Rangers regress anywhere close to the basement in possession again in 2016-17, Lundqvist's fantasy value will likely take a hit. He had slow starts in 2013-14 and 2014-15, so his current .875 save percentage isn't a real worry. Instead, at 34 years old, and with a hefty workload over the past 11 years, his prime is likely behind him. And in front of him, this might be the worst group of blue liners the Rangers have assembled in some time. It's nowhere near panic time, and Lundqivst isn't going to fall off the map, but there's reason for some pessimism.

Here are your notes, tips and analysis of Thursday's 11 games.

Featured Matchups

Sharks (PP:[power-play rank], PK:[penalty-kill rank]) at Penguins (PP:[power-play rank], PK:[penalty-kill rank]), 7:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies:Martin Jones (2-1-0, 2.68, .896), Marc-Andre Fleury (2-1-1, 2.94, .914)
Key Injuries:Sidney Crosby (concussion), Kris Letang (upper body), Matt Murray (hand), Conor Sheary (eye)

Unfortunately, there are going to be a few players missing from this tilt that had a significant impact on the Stanley Cup Finals last spring. Still, this is a marquee matchup with the Sharks hungry for redemption and likely able to achieve it. Pittsburgh has lost consecutive games and scored just nine goals through four contests to start the year. The Penguins miss Sidney Crosby. San Jose is playing its third road game in four nights, though, so this likely won't be a cakewalk for the Sharks. Brent Burns and Joe Pavelski have exploded out of the gate and combined for 14 points through four games. Joe Thornton has also registered two helpers in consecutive showings, and Logan Couture sits with two goals and two assists for the season. These are the cogs for San Jose, and outside of this foursome, the secondary scorers will likely remain inconsistent in all fantasy settings. Phil Kessel is the only Penguin with multiple goals this season, and tied with Evgeni Malkin for the team lead in points (three) is Matt Cullen and Conor Sheary. Someone will need to step up with a breakout game for Pittsburgh to win Thursday.

Avalanche (PP:[power-play rank], PK:[penalty-kill rank]) at Lightning (PP:[power-play rank], PK:[penalty-kill rank]), 7:30 p.m.
Expected Goalies:Semyon Varlamov (1-1-0, 4, .882), Ben Bishop (2-0-0, 3.39, .889)
Key Injuries:John Mitchell (hip), Ryan Callahan (hip)

Both of these teams offer youth and speed, and that leads to exciting hockey and typically plenty of fantasy returns. They're also both playing high-event hockey, as each has scored and allowed a combined 21 goals through their first three games. Additionally, Colorado is allowing 33 shots per game, and Tampa Bay is surrendering 32.3. As a result, both Ben Bishop and Semyon Varlamov have been shaky to start the season. Further encouraging, both teams bring a balanced scoring attack. Nathan MacKinnon stands alone atop the points leaderboard for Colorado with four tallies, while former Halifax Moosehead teammate Jonathan Drouin is tied with Steven Stamkos and Alex Killorn for the Lightning lead with four points. One player to watch is Mikhail Grigorenko. He's lining up with Carl Soderberg and Matt Duchene, which makes Grigorenko an intriguing flier in daily contests and a potential add in deeper seasonal settings.

Blues (PP:[power-play rank], PK:[penalty-kill rank]) at Oilers (PP:[power-play rank], PK:[penalty-kill rank]), 9:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies:Jake Allen (2-0-1, 1.98, .909), Cam Talbot (3-1-0, 3.93, .886)
Key Injuries:Drake Caggiula (undisclosed), Brandon Davidson (undisclosed), Mark Fayne (undisclosed), Andrew Ference (hip), Jonas Gustavsson (head), Matt Hendricks (lower body), Iiro Pakarinen (leg), Kyle Brodziak (upper body), Carl Gunnarsson (upper body), Jori Lehtera (upper body), Jaden Schwartz (elbow)

Connor McDavid and Vladimir Tarasenko are worth watching for each shift of all 82 games. Both have six points to start the year, and they're not alone, as respective teammates Leon Draisaitl and Paul Stastny also have six tallies apiece. Edmonton has scored a league-high 17 goals thus far while allowing 15 through four games, whereas St. Louis has scored 12 times while surrendering just eight goals through four outings. St. Louis is likely equally capable of shutting down Edmonton or keeping up with them offensively. However, the Oilers will likely need to post a big number to top the Blues, so there should be plenty of high-danger scoring chances for both clubs. While everyone is scoring around them, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (one point) and David Perron (pointless) are off to slow starts. Both are receiving top-six minutes and have proven to be productive players in the past, so it wouldn't be surprising to see an uptick in offense sooner than later, especially from Nugent-Hopkins. It's also a Nail Yakupov revenge game, for those who enjoy strolls down narrative street.

Other Matchups

Ducks (PP:[power-play rank], PK:[penalty-kill rank]) at Flyers (PP:[power-play rank], PK:[penalty-kill rank]), 7:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies:John Gibson (0-2-1, 3.07, .885), Steve Mason (0-1-1, 3.71, .87)
Key Injuries:Simon Despres (head), Nicolas Kerdiles (concussion), Rickard Rakell (abdomen), Michael Del Zotto (lower body), Radko Gudas (suspension), Scott Laughton (knee), Michael Raffl (abdomen)

What did Anaheim do to deserve five road games in eight nights to start the season? The Ducks have picked up a single point in the standings, and have averaged just 1.75 goals per game. Philadelphia has 11 skaters with at least two points through three games and could easily hand Anaheim a fifth loss.

Devils (PP:[power-play rank], PK:[penalty-kill rank]) at Bruins (PP:[power-play rank], PK:[penalty-kill rank]), 7:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies:Cory Schneider (1-1-1, 1.99, .935), Tuukka Rask (2-0-0, 2.02, .939)
Key Injuries:Patrice Bergeron (lower body), Adam McQuaid (upper body), Kevan Miller (hand), Frank Vatrano (foot), Jon Merrill (finger)

New Jersey has allowed just six goals through three games, but unfortunately, the offense has only scored five. Cory Schneider continues to prove he's as good as anyone, but his win total like also continue to struggle unless he receives more goal support. This is Boston's home opener, and Patrice Bergeron is expected to return to the lineup: Advantage Bruins.

Coyotes (PP:[power-play rank], PK:[penalty-kill rank]) at Canadiens (PP:[power-play rank], PK:[penalty-kill rank]), 7:30 p.m.
Expected Goalies:Louis Domingue (0-1-0, 15.00, .727), Carey Price (10-2-0, 2.06, .934)
Key Injuries:Kevin Connauton (lower body), Jamie McGinn (upper body), Michael Stone(knee), Jarred Tinordi (suspension)

The Coyotes have allowed 10 goals through their first two games, whereas Montreal has surrendered four through three outings. This is a potentially blatant mismatch, especially if Carey Price returns as expected. Montreal's top forwards could also have a big night.

Capitals (PP:[power-play rank], PK:[penalty-kill rank]) at Panthers (PP:[power-play rank], PK:[penalty-kill rank]), 7:30 p.m.
Expected Goalies:Braden Holtby (1-0-1, 1.45, .942), Roberto Luongo (2-0-0, 0.98, .957)
Key Injuries:Nick Bjugstad (hand), Jonathan Huberdeau (lower body)

A big bout in the Eastern Conference, Washington has collected a point in all three games but scored just seven goals. The Capitals may be able to take advantage of a depleted Florida lineup, but this game could also be low scoring and not fantasy friendly.

Leafs (PP:[power-play rank], PK:[penalty-kill rank]) at Wild (PP:[power-play rank], PK:[penalty-kill rank]), 8:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies:Jhonas Enroth (7-5-1, 2.17, .922), Devan Dubnyk (1-1-0, 3.05, .875)
Joffrey Lupul (abdomen), Stephane Robidas (knee)

The Leafs enter on the wrong end of back-to-back road games, which sets up nicely for Minnesota. The Wild are unbeaten at home, and Devan Dubnyk posted an impressive .924 save percentage at Xcel Energy Center last year. This will be a tough game for Jhonas Enroth to earn his first win as a Maple Leaf in.

Kings (PP:[power-play rank], PK:[penalty-kill rank]) at Stars (PP:[power-play rank], PK:[penalty-kill rank]), 8:30 p.m.
Expected Goalies:Jeff Zatkoff (0-3-0, 4.38, .839), Antti Niemi (1-0-0, 4.83, .873)
Key Injuries:Cody Eakin (knee), Ales Hemsky (groin), Jiri Hudler (illness), Mattias Janmark (knee), Marian Gaborik (foot), Jonathan Quick (groin)

Los Angeles has Vancouver and Columbus up next, so there might be a shot at victory in the near future, and sure the Kings could top Dallas. It's just seems highly unlikely. Devin Shore is an early-season riser for Dallas, and a potential low-priced flier in daily contests or grab in deep seasonal leagues. He's playing in the top six and skating with the No. 2 power-play unit.

Hurricanes (PP:[power-play rank], PK:[penalty-kill rank]) at Flames (PP:[power-play rank], PK:[penalty-kill rank]), 9:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies:Eddie Lack (0-0-1, 4, .871), Brian Elliott (0-2-0, 5.08, .818)
Key Injuries:Ryan Murphy (lower body), Ladislav Smid (neck)

The Hurricanes are eyeing their first win of the season, and they are likely a better team than their record will indicate at any time this season. Carolina has a stable of young mobile defensemen who move the puck well to pair with some equally nice youngsters up front. Cam Ward and Eddie Lack will delay any ascension up the standings, though. Here's your reminder that Johnny Gaudreau has scored 58 points over his last 42 home games dating back to last season.

Sabres (PP:[power-play rank], PK:[penalty-kill rank]) at Canucks (PP:[power-play rank], PK:[penalty-kill rank]), 10:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies:Robin Lehner (1-1-1, 3.33, .89), Jacob Markstrom (2-0-0, 1.97, .913)
Key Injuries:Jack Eichel (ankle), Evander Kane (ribs), Anton Rodin (knee)

There is a chance Vancouver pulls this out to win its fourth straight game to start the season. However, there is a better than zero chance the Canucks fail to match their current three-game winning streak again all year. Buffalo has nine goals through its past two games, and Kyle Okposo and Ryan O'Reilly look like a formidable pair.

Recommended Pickup
Charlie Coyle, RW, MIN: Still widely available despite receiving a top-line role to start the season and finding the scoresheet in each of his first three games. Coyle is in the heart of his offensive prime and averaging 3:08 power-play minutes per game thus far. He's also increased his point total each season in the league, and head coach Bruce Boudreau has a knack for getting the most of out his players and putting them in positions to succeed.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Neil Parker
A loyal Cubs, Cowboys and Maple Leafs fan for decades, Neil has contributed to RotoWire since 2014. He previously worked for USA Today Fantasy Sports.
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