This article is part of our The Daily Puck series.
The coaching change: that desperation move served up by GMs throughout history in an attempt to rescue a flagging team. Will it work? Let's take a look at this season's four firings and hirings (so far), starting with the most recent.
Bruins: As Bill Belichick and the Patriots were parading through Boston to celebrate yet another Super Bowl win Tuesday morning, Bruins coach Claude Julien got handed his walking papers, ending a nearly 10-year reign that included a Stanley Cup championship. At 26-23-6, this Boston team has underperformed expectations, but the reasons for that go far beyond any coaching issues, as interim coach Bruce Cassidy is about to find out. It's a combination of bad luck (hey there, Patrice Bergeron) and a blue line that lacks depth while being anchored by over-the-hill 39-year-old Zdeno Chara. Aside from him and Torey Krug, none of the Bruins' regular blueliners (we're not counting John-Michael Liles here) has ever reached 20 points in a season, and they're not especially good defenders either. If this move doesn't come with a corresponding deal to bring a reliable defenseman in (and a left winger, too), well, the Bruins can only go so far relying on a few star forwards and Tuukka Rask.
Blues: Ken Hitchcock got the axe about a week ago, with former Wild coach Mike Yeo taking over behind the bench. They've played three games since, with embattled netminder Jake Allen drawing two of those starts and Carter Hutton making the other. Allen impressed in a win over Toronto, then at least put forth a capable showing in a loss to the Penguins; for his part, Hutton spun a shutout in Philadelphia on Monday. So things are at least temporarily pointing up for a Blues team that's struggled to keep pucks out of the net this year, but we won't know whether this coaching change actually worked until we see a bigger sample size. While it's clear that the Blues are one of the league's most talented teams, their goalies have been the issue; they'll be the bellwether here.
Islanders: Jack Capuano was removed from his job in mid-January, and the Isles have won six of their nine games since; that said, their defense and goaltending have been coming undone of late (15 goals allowed in the last three games). Much of the improvement in their play under Doug Weight has come from John Tavares picking up the pace – something that was already happening when Capuano was coach. Tavares unleashed a second-half storm of offense last year, and it looks like he's on his way to doing that again this season; that'll keep the Isles in the playoff hunt, as they're a better team than the record would indicate.
Panthers: GM Tom Rowe's decision to fire Gerard Gallant (a runner up for coach of the year last season, no joke) and take over as head coach himself back in November has not, by and large, had the desired effect. Yeah, the Panthers are on a little roll right now – three straight wins – but they were 11-10-1 when they fired Gallant. Since then, they've gone 12-9-9. It's good that they've been in a lot of games, but that's not enough, and Gallant shouldn't have been punished for Jonathan Huberdeau's Achilles injury (he just returned Monday after missing the whole season to this point) severely damaging Florida's depth at left wing. Remind me whose job it was to acquire forward depth again? Oh, right, Tom Rowe. Well, at least Panthers owner Vince Viola isn't going to become Secretary of the Army, so there's that.
On to Tuesday's action.
Stars (PP: 18, PK: 30) at Maple Leafs (PP: 2, PK: 7), 7:30 p.m.
Expected Goalies:Kari Lehtonen (11-15-6, 2.89, .902), Curtis McElhinney (2-1-2, 2.39, .924)
Key Injuries:Ales Hemsky (hip), Mattias Janmark (knee), Johnny Oduya (lower body), Jamie Oleksiak (hand), Jason Spezza (undisclosed)
This is the best bet for offense around – the high-scoring Leafs are playing the second of back-to-backs, and they'll have their backup goalie in net for the occasion. Meanwhile, the Stars come to town on a streak of four games with at least three goals scored (and 16 total tallies in that span). As usual, Lehtonen has been unreliable – three-plus goals in four of his last five starts – and Antti Niemi has been no better behind him. Stack your lineup with the best of both sides here, and take care to mark Cody Eakin's growing role on the Stars with Spezza injured. Centering Jamie Benn and Patrick Eaves offers a lot of fantasy potential, and the price is low.
Wild (PP: 12, PK: 12) at Jets (PP: 16, PK: 27), 8:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies:Devan Dubnyk (28-9-3, 1.99, .932), Ondrej Pavelec (4-3-0, 3.34, .895)
Key Injuries:Victor Bartley (triceps), Jonas Brodin (finger), Ben Chiarot (illness), Marko Dano (lower body),Tyler Myers (lower body), Drew Stafford (lower leg)
Pavelec has been giving up at least three goals per game like clockwork, and it's hard to imagine how that might change against a strong Wild team. That said, Dubnyk's given up eight goals in his last two outings and finished with sub-.900 save percentages in five of his last seven games, so he's not exactly a brick wall right at the moment. This Jets team certainly has plenty of offensive burst, so despite Dubnyk's sparkling record this year, we could see offense on both sides here. I wouldn't shy away from using guys like Nikolaj Ehlers and Patrik Laine just because of the matchup.
Canadiens (PP: 4, PK: 22) at Avalanche (PP: 29, PK: 25), 9:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies:Carey Price (23-12-5, 2.35, .922), Calvin Pickard (8-14-1, 3.05, .903)
Key Injuries:Tyson Barrie (lower body), Erik Johnson (leg), Fedor Tyutin (groin), Semyon Varlamov (groin), Brendan Gallagher (hand)
Price has recovered from his midseason stumble, and he draws a cake start against the league's worst team, the Avs, which should pay off with a win. While Gallagher's injury hurts, there's still plenty of fantasy appeal for top Habs scorers like Alexander Radulov, Max Pacioretty and Alex Galchenyuk. Although there's still reason to roll out Colorado skaters like Matt Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon in general, doing so against Price is rather risky unless you're forming a contrarian DFS lineup to hedge your bets.
Sharks (PP: 21, PK: 11) at Sabres (PP: 5, PK: 29), 7:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies:Martin Jones (27-15-3, 2.19, .919), Anders Nilsson (8-7-4, 2.60, .923)
Key Injuries:Zach Bogosian (abdomen), William Carrier (knee), Johan Larsson (wrist), Dylan DeMelo (wrist), Joonas Donskoi (upper body)
The Sharks have had some leeway to adjust to changing time zones, as they last played Saturday. Even so, there's some appeal to Nilsson here, as he's been terrific in general and especially at home – 6-1-1 with a 1.84 GAA and .946 save percentage.
Ducks (PP: 10, PK: 5) at Rangers (PP: 9, PK: 15), 7:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies:John Gibson (20-12-8, 2.27, .921), Henrik Lundqvist (23-13-1, 2.74, .907)
Key Injuries:Simon Despres (head), Clayton Stoner (abdomen), Sami Vatanen (lower body), Kevin Hayes (lower body), Marc Staal (illness)
Hayes is expected to come off IR and return to the lineup Tuesday, resuming his spot on the third line.
Flames (PP: 7, PK: 20) at Penguins (PP: 3, PK: 24), 7:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies:Chad Johnson (16-12-1, 2.50, .913), Matt Murray (19-6-1, 2.42, .921)
Key Injuries:Garnet Hathaway (upper body), Brett Kulak (illness), Carl Hagelin (concussion), Evgeni Malkin (knee), Conor Sheary (upper body)
If ever the Pens were ripe to get taken advantage of, it's now, with two key top-six pieces in Malkin and Sheary on the sidelines due to injuries. Of course, they've won three straight anyway; that said, the Flames have been playing well lately themselves, so this should be a lively game. By the way, Sidney Crosby only needs three more points to reach 1,000 in his career.
Hurricanes (PP: 22, PK: 1) at Capitals (PP: 13, PK: 4), 7:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies:Cam Ward (21-16-6, 2.57, .907), Braden Holtby (26-8-4, 1.99, .929)
Key Injuries:Bryan Bickell (illness), Jeff Skinner (undisclosed)
Believe in the Caps, who hung six goals on Ward the last time he faced them; the veteran netminder has also struggled mightily on the road this year, going 6-11-5 with an unpleasant .895 save mark.
Blues (PP: 6, PK: 6) at Senators (PP: 20, PK: 10), 7:30 p.m.
Expected Goalies:Jake Allen (18-14-3, 2.82, .897), Andrew Hammond (0-1-0, 3.29, .857)
Key Injuries:Craig Anderson (personal), Clarke MacArthur (concussion), Kyle Brodziak (foot), Robby Fabbri (knee)
It remains to be seen whether Allen has truly turned the corner following the coaching change; in fact, it remains to be seen whether he'll even be in goal Tuesday. That uncertainty shouldn't much change fantasy players' usage of Senators; if Hutton draws the start, he'll be playing for the second straight day, and he doesn't exactly have a rich history of success even though he spun that shutout Monday. Use your Blues, too, as Hammond's not likely to impress anyone as he makes this spot start in place of Mike Condon.
Blue Jackets (PP: 1, PK: 13) at Red Wings (PP: 30, PK: 18), 7:30 p.m.
Expected Goalies:Sergei Bobrovsky (28-10-3, 2.19, .926), Petr Mrazek (12-12-5, 3.08, .899)
Key Injuries:Josh Anderson (illness), David Clarkson (back), David Savard (back), Johan Franzen (concussion), Jimmy Howard (knee), Niklas Kronwall (lower body), Frans Nielsen (upper body), Joe Vitale (concussion)
The Jackets seem like they might come out with something to prove in this one, as they just took an ugly loss against New Jersey over the weekend, with coach John Tortorella raising the prospect that they may not have had enough respect for their opponent.
Kings (PP: 23, PK: 8) at Lightning (PP: 8, PK: 21), 7:30 p.m.
Expected Goalies:Peter Budaj (25-15-3, 2.02, .920), Ben Bishop (12-12-3, 2.79, .904)
Key Injuries:Matt Greene (undisclosed), Jordan Nolan (lower body), Jonathan Quick (groin), Michael Bournival (upper body), Ryan Callahan (hip), Ondrej Palat (lower body), Steven Stamkos (knee)
Budaj's really been getting it done, while Bishop has seen his initially good results following a return from IR fade with into distant memory – he's turned in three straight ugly outings, giving up 11 goals on 68 shots in that span.
Canucks (PP: 28, PK: 23) at Predators (PP: 19, PK: 9), 8:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies:Jacob Markstrom (9-9-0, 2.56, .913), Pekka Rinne (20-14-6, 2.31, .922)
Key Injuries:Miikka Salomaki (lower body), Harry Zolnierczyk (undisclosed), Derek Dorsett (neck), Erik Gudbranson (wrist), Ben Hutton (hand), Anton Rodin (knee)
These teams have played tight, low-scoring games in their previous meetings this year, and I can't imagine it'll be much different this time.
Josh Bailey, LW, NYI – Bailey has rather quietly assumed a major role for the Islanders, seeing career-high ice time (18:47) that's resulted in an undoubtedly fantasy-relevant total of 38 points (just three shy of his career high already) in 51 games. Much of that has come recently alongside a surging John Tavares – over the past 12 games, Bailey's ripped off six goals and 14 total points along with 36 shots and a plus-5 rating. Despite all that, the 27-year-old is surprisingly lightly owned across the fantasy world; it's time for that to change.