Your friendly NHL editor greets you, dear readers, from Eastern Europe, where he has to stay up until 5 a.m. to see the entire Rangers game. Is it worth it? Well, it certainly was Monday night (er, Tuesday morning) – that third-period scoring explosion between New York and San Jose was something to behold, with the Blueshirts clinging to their lead throughout a wild final eight minutes that featured six goals.
In another unexpected turn of events, how about Mike Green registering his first-ever NHL hat trick? Yes, he accomplished the feat Monday night for Detroit after failing to do so in a decade with Washington, including his 31-goal season back in 2008-09 – and he did it on his only three shots of the game. I was figuring on another campaign of 30-something points from Green, but it seems like his career might be getting a second wind after getting derailed by the many injuries he suffered during his Capitals days. If Green can stay reasonably healthy, I’m now willing to give him decent odds of hitting 50 points.
But now it’s Tuesday for real, so let’s take a look at a fresh slate of games – now with power-play and penalty-kill ranks! The sample sizes are extremely small, but hey, sometimes early success or failure portends the results of the next 80 games. Of course, sometimes (perhaps I should say “often”) it doesn’t, so take these ranks with an appropriately sized pebble of salt.
Let’s get into the groove.
Stars (PP:13, PK:20) at Predators (PP:1, PK:26), 8:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Kari Lehtonen (25-10-2, 2.76, .906), Pekka Rinne (34-21-10, 2.48, .908)
Key Injuries: Cody Eakin (knee), Ales Hemsky (groin), Jiri Hudler (illness), Mattias Janmark (knee), Miikka Salomaki (hand)
The Preds have been handed only eight power-play chances, but they’ve converted on four of them so far, which is good because they’ve only scored at even strength twice. Many were expecting sudden success for rookie Kevin Fiala, but he’s minus-2 without a point in two games and is averaging less than 12 minutes of ice time despite skating on the top unit with Filip Forsberg and James Neal at even strength. Meanwhile, the Stars have been exactly who we know them to be so far: offensively dynamic and defensively anemic. Rookie Devin Shore – a 2012 second-round pick and a strong AHL producer last year – has three points in the first two games and now finds himself centering the second line, a move that’s bumped Jason Spezza (at least temporarily) into the bottom six. You probably won’t pay much to employ Shore’s services in daily formats Tuesday.
Flyers (PP:24, PK:10) at Blackhawks (PP:10, PK:30), 8:30 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Steve Mason (23-19-10, 2.51, .918), Corey Crawford (35-18-5, 2.37, .924)
Key Injuries: Andrew Desjardins (lower body), Ryan Hartman (lower body), Jordin Tootoo (illness), Michael Del Zotto (lower body), Radko Gudas (suspension), Scott Laughton (knee), Brayden Schenn (suspension)
One of seven teams without a power-play goal yet, the Flyers head into a tough matchup at Chicago in what could be a high-scoring affair – the Blackhawks have been tagged for a league-high seven man-advantage tallies (among nine total goals) in 13 opportunities over three games; no other team’s allowed more than four so far. The Flyers are the perfect team to exploit a PK unit in a funk, with man-advantage dynamos Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds and Shayne Gostisbehere all well positioned to find the scoresheet Tuesday. Meanwhile, I won’t be the one to tell you to steer clear of the Hawks’ Richard Panik – I just spent $14 of FAAB to acquire him in our staff league. (In fact, I’m going to go ahead and recommend you grab him at the bottom of this very article.) Tyler Motte is another attractive and likely low-priced target for fantasy owners: He’s shifted into the top-six mix and has been steadily accumulating blocked shots, a category that offers him a solid DFS floor. The Flyers aren’t known for their defense, either.
Hurricanes (PP:1, PK:12) at Oilers (PP:10, PK:18), 9:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Cam Ward (23-17-10, 2.41, .909), Cam Talbot (21-27-5, 2.55, .917)
Key Injuries: Ryan Murphy (lower body), Brandon Davidson (undisclosed), Jonas Gustavsson (head), Matt Hendricks (lower body)
Will Talbot carry a 4.60 GAA throughout the season? Will Ward carry a 4.79? The answers are most likely no and no, but these two netminders are playing behind a pair of teams with outstanding offensive talent, but little attention to defense and non-name-brand netminders. (No, Ward doesn’t count as a name-brand goalie. Sorry.) It’s never a bad night to put Connor McDavid in your lineup, and this is an especially appetizing matchup for the superstar sophomore. Leon Draisaitl has seen early-season success in the past and is doing it again this year; this is a strong opportunity for him to carry that forward. For Carolina, this seems like it could be the day that Elias Lindholm gets it going, and Victor Rask remains widely underrated despite scoring goals in consecutive games to start the year.
Ducks (PP:22, PK:8) at Devils (PP:24, PK:1), 7:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies: John Gibson (21-13-4, 2.07, .92), Cory Schneider (27-25-6, 2.15, .924)
Key Injuries: Simon Despres (upper body), Rickard Rakell (abdomen), Nate Thompson (Achilles), Sergey Kalinin (illness), Jon Merrill (finger)
It’s never easy finding the net against either Schneider, but Gibson’s off to a bit of a rougher start as he and the Ducks come to New Jersey for the Devils’ home opener. Taylor Hall’s scoreless in two games (six shots, minus-2), but perhaps joining with P.A. Parenteau – who’s quickly been promoted from the bottom six to the top line – will help him get going.
Avalanche (PP:3, PK:27) at Capitals (PP:24, PK:28), 7:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Semyon Varlamov (27-25-3, 2.81, .914), Braden Holtby (48-9-7, 2.2, .922)
Key Injuries: John Mitchell (hip), Mikko Rantanen (ankle)
The Avs are on the second of a back-to-back set, and the first one was a hard-fought overtime win against Pittsburgh. I doubt they’ll enjoy such a happy outcome against Holtby and the Caps.
Penguins (PP:4, PK:20) at Canadiens (PP:16, PK:10), 7:30 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Mike Condon (21-25-6, 2.71, .903), Al Montoya (12-7-3, 2.18, .919)
Key Injuries: Carey Price (illness), Sidney Crosby (concussion), Matt Murray (hand), Bryan Rust (undisclosed), Daniel Sprong (shoulder)
Decide now, fantasy owners: Who’s more frustrating to own, Price or Crosby? The Pens would be in tough here if Price was in net, as they’re coming off that OT loss in Pittsburgh and then had to catch a flight to Montreal. Montoya’s looked great, but is overdue for regression to the mean.
Coyotes (PP:17, PK:1) at Senators (PP:24, PK:[penalty-kill rank]), 7:30 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Mike Smith (15-13-2, 2.63, .916), Craig Anderson (31-23-5, 2.78, .916)
Key Injuries: Kevin Connauton (lower body), Jamie McGinn (upper body), Michael Stone (knee), Jarred Tinordi (suspension), Clarke MacArthur (concussion)
Things have been ugly for Anderson so far, and the up-and-coming Coyotes are well rested, having last played Saturday.
Panthers (PP:24, PK:1) at Lightning (PP:7, PK:16), 7:30 p.m.
Expected Goalies: James Reimer (6-2-0, 1.62, .938), Ben Bishop (35-21-4, 2.06, .926)
Key Injuries: Nick Bjugstad (hand), Jonathan Huberdeau (Achilles), Ryan Callahan (hip)
With Bjugstad and Huberdeau hurt, this is a Panthers team that’s pretty rough in the bottom six and not exactly star-studded in the top six. Bishop should be fresh after a mediocre opener, as he hasn’t played in five days.
Kings (PP:7, PK:16) at Wild (PP:18, PK:1), 8:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Jeff Zatkoff (4-7-1, 2.79, .917), Devan Dubnyk (32-26-6, 2.33, .918)
Key Injuries: Marian Gaborik (foot), Jonathan Quick (groin)
I like everyone against Zatkoff; the Kings should trade for another goalie with Quick facing a lengthy absence, lest they go the way of last year’s Habs. Dubnyk’s off to a slow start himself, having allowed three goals in each of his first two outings, but the Kings’ offense is horribly weak after you get past the first line.
Sabres (PP:10, PK:1) at Flames (PP:20, PK:18), 9:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Robin Lehner (5-9-5, 2.47, .924), Chad Johnson (22-16-4, 2.36, .920)
Key Injuries: Jack Eichel (ankle), Evander Kane (ribs)
Johnson gets a shot at revenge against the Sabres after they let him go over the offseason despite his solid play in Lehner’s place last year, and the lack of Eichel and Kane has some guys in Buffalo’s top six who just don’t belong. Edge: Calgary.
Blues (PP:9, PK:8) at Canucks (PP:24, PK:20), 10:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Jake Allen (26-15-3, 2.35, .92), Ryan Miller (17-24-9, 2.7, .916)
Key Injuries: Kyle Brodziak (upper body), Carl Gunnarsson (upper body), Jori Lehtera (upper body), Jaden Schwartz (elbow)
The banged-up Blues get a shot at the slowly but steadily declining Sedin twins and their Canucks, whose big offseason acquisition (Loui Eriksson) has taken one shot on goal in two games so far.
Richard Panik, RW, CHI – First game: goal. Second game: assist. Third game: hat trick. Yes, you could say Panik is enjoying life on Chicago’s top line this year, turning around the impression we formed of him over parts of four mostly ineffective seasons with the Lightning, Leafs and ‘Hawks. The Slovakian winger’s already been snatched up in a lot of leagues, but is still available in a lot more – and remember, we’re talking about a 25-year-old with second-round pedigree and a solid AHL scoring history who now gets to spend his ice time with star center Jonathan Toews. Sure, he’ll slow down, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t worth owning.