This article is part of our The Daily Puck series.
It's not just a great day for fantasy hockey, it's a great day to plop down on the couch and take in what should be one of the season's best events. The Oilers are headed to Winnipeg for the Heritage Classic. Getting an outdoor game right at the start of the season is rare and wonderful.
Even if outdoor games aren't the once-in-a-lifetime events they once were, don't let the cynics ruin the day. It's still a special game and there's no reason not to enjoy a quality afternoon game on national TV.
That's especially true since we're getting a glimpse of some of the game's best young talent with Connor McDavid and Patrik Laine skating Sunday. The Oilers are also bringing Jesse Puljujarvi back into the lineup for the first NHL summit against Laine, his former national team linemate. With those rookies lacing up, this could be a preview of an intense rivalry that lasts for years.
Let's take a look at Sunday's slate.
Oilers (PP: 18, PK: 15) at Jets (PP: 22, PK: 29), 3:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies:Cam Talbot (4-1-0, 3.32, .904), Connor Hellebuyck (1-1-0, 3.44, .863)
Key Injuries:Drake Caggiula (undisclosed), Brandon Davidson (undisclosed), Mark Fayne (undisclosed), Matt Hendricks (lower body), Iiro Pakarinen (leg), Bryan Little (lower body)
The Heritage Classic should be a heartening milestone for fans of both teams, as their clubs start to round the corner on rebuilds, showcasing a shiny fleet of young talent.
For Edmonton, Talbot has been fine in net so far, but the Oilers blue line is still a mess. They're going to make life hard on him and make opposing forwards appealing starts for your lineup. With the Oilers averaging 33.6 shots against per game, one of the league's worst marks, there are a lot of reasons to stick Jets forwards in your roster today. Additionally, if you believe that big-game players get up for big games, then skaters like Laine and Mark Scheifele, who have done it before, should be very appealing starts.
Wild (PP: 26, PK: 4) at Islanders (PP: 29, PK: 2), 6:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies:Darcy Kuemper (1-0-0, 3.00, .900), Jaroslav Halak (2-2-0, 2.77, .905)
Key Injuries:Erik Haula (lower body), Jared Spurgeon (upper body), Eric Boulton (lower body), Mikhail Grabovski (concussion), Nick Leddy (upper body), Shane Prince (lower body), Ryan Pulock (lower body)
The Islanders and Wild meet for the first time this season and it might be a good day to take a gamble on some Islanders forwards. The Wild are on the back-end of a back-to-back with their backup netminder between the pipes, which puts them at a disadvantage to start. Plus, the Wild were sloppy last night against the Devils, a team that poses less of a challenge than the Islanders.
The Wild are without one of their best defensemen in Spurgeon and the loss of Haula shouldn't be ignored either. Though he's the third-line center, Haula's line has been clicking like they were at the end of last season when he combined with Jason Pominville and Nino Niederreiter to be one of the team's most dangerous trios night after night. There's a chance that Islanders forwards could feast in this game.
However, the Isles have issues of their own. It seems like just about every night the Islanders blue line is dismantled a little bit more. First Leddy went out. In response, Pulock gets called up, plays one game, and now he's out. The X-factor could be trying to determine just how "unplayable" the ice at Barclays Center is for the game. It's been an issue early in the season.
Coyotes (PP: 23, PK: 14) at Rangers (PP: 14, PK: 17), 7:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies:Louis Domingue (0-3-0, 6.25, .836), Antti Raanta (1-0-0, 4.00, .871)
Key Injuries:Jamie McGinn (upper body), Mike Smith (lower body), Pavel Buchnevich (back), Oscar Lindberg (hip)
The Rangers enter Sunday's game on the back-end of a back-to-back as well. But their foe hasn't been at the top of their game. Arizona is without their starting netminder and they've struggled defensively. The Coyotes allow a league-leading 36.5 shots against per game. More importantly, they're allowing 4.5 goals per game, which is also the highest mark in the league. The Arizona penalty kill is middling and their power play hasn't been much of a threat so far.
On the other side of the rink, however, the Coyotes young offense is actually pushing play pretty well. They take the 10th most shots per game and are tied for 16th in the league in goals per game. But, if you're fearing playing Coyotes forwards because of the satisfactory defensive marks of the Rangers, know that there's a bit of an illusion there. The Rangers defense can be picked apart and with Lundqvist out (even if he is struggling early in the season), there are plenty of opportunities for the Coyotes to do some damage.
Canucks (PP: 19, PK: 13) at Ducks (PP: 24, PK: 16), 8:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies:Ryan Miller (1-0-0, 0.00, 1.000), John Gibson (1-2-1, 2.81, .890)
Key Injuries:Simon Despres (head), Rickard Rakell (personal), Nate Thompson (achilles), Anton Rodin (knee)
In the early going, Vancouver has surprised many with a franchise-best 4-0-0 record. They took their first loss of the season Saturday against the Kings. Might this be the moment when we see the emperor has no clothes? On paper, Vancouver's defense and goaltending simply aren't as good as the stats have been in the season's small sample size. Yet, they're only allowing 1.8 goals against per game, which is the second-best mark in the league.
But are Randy Carlyle's Ducks really the team that's going to show us that you can break open the Vancouver defense? Anaheim has scored fewer goals than Vancouver, though their shot totals are a little more toward the middle of the pack. This could be a low-event game that doesn't leave much to chew on in terms of fantasy.
Joel Eriksson Ek, C, MIN — The young rookie (pronounced Yule) made his NHL debut Saturday against the New Jersey Devils and scored Minnesota's lone goal. He could be an interesting pickup in a deep league. He's not expected to blow the doors off the NHL, but he's talented and impressed at camp. If he's performing well, as he did Saturday, coach Bruce Boudreau wants to give him some ice and Eriksson Ek could get it.
Because of strong play the prior game, Zac Dalpe centered the third line in place of Haula, leaving Eriksson Ek to center the team's speedy fourth line. By the end of Saturday's game, he was up on the team's second line with Mikko Koivu and Mikael Granlund. Eriksson Ek took the place of Chris Stewart, who Boudreau was displeased with. That could open the door for Eriksson Ek to get better linemates and more playing time. He's available in season-long formats and dirt cheap in daily formats. He's no sure thing but could provide interesting, easy to acquire upside.