Itís been weird watching the NHL regular season wind down as a Wings fan. Itís been a new experience for me. Iíve had many a season where the Wings were cruising to a playoff spot, if not the Presidentís Trophy, and the end of the regular season was mostly about waiting to see how Detroit did in the postseason. Recently, itís been more intense, as the Wings have left it to the wire and barely eked into the postseason in the last few games. This year, though, Detroit is not going to the playoffs. This has been clear for weeks. So now, the Wings are just playing out the stretch. If they win it doesnít mean much. If they lose, it doesnít matter. Iím not one of those fans that get annoyed when their team wins because it messes up their potential to get the first overall pick, but I certainly donít mind a loss. I also still enjoy the wins. Itíd be nice to be white-knuckling another playoff race, but thatís not in the cards this year. The Wings are a lousy team, and for the first time as a hockey fan, I have no dog in the playoff fight.
Blackhawks (PP: 16, PK: 25) at Maple Leafs (PP: 1, PK: 9), 7:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Corey Crawford (28-15-3, 2.53, .920), Frederik Andersen (28-15-13, 2.68, .917)
Key Injuries: Artem Anisimov (lower body), Connor Carrick (upper body), Joffrey Lupul (abdomen)
These are two of the highest scoring teams in the league, but while the Blackhawks have only allowed 2.47 goals per game, the Maple Leafs have given up 2.87. Both teams have allowed a lot of shots, although Toronto has also been slightly worse on that front (32.7 to 31.5). Itís Chicagoís strong goaltending that has secured their defensive standing, despite their poor penalty-kill ranking. Thatíll be concerning going against Torontoís top-ranked power play. Several Maple Leafs have had excellent seasons with the extra man, including William Nylander who has 23 power-play points. Nazem Kadri has 28 goals on 205 shots. Patrick Kane has 256 shots on goal, so he could get quite a few pucks on the net in this game. Marian Hossa has 22 goals in 64 games, and heís also added nine power-play points.
Canadiens (PP: 12, PK: 19) at Senators (PP: 21, PK: 12), 7:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Carey Price (31-17-5, 2.27, .922), Craig Anderson (21-8-1, 2.23, .930)
Key Injuries: Alexei Emelin (illness), Brian Flynn (upper body), Nikita Nesterov (undisclosed), Alexander Radulov (illness), Craig Anderson (lower body), Mark Borowiecki (lower body), Chris Neil (finger), Mark Stone (lower body)
Anderson couldnít play Thursday because of his injury, but he did skate Wednesday, so the thought is that he will be able to return soon. If he canít, Mike Condon will almost assuredly be in the net. Both teams might be missing a key forward. Radulov is second on the Canadiens with 47 points, and he has 16 power-play points. Of course, Alex Galchenyuk has 40 points in only 49 games, and as long as they have Max Pacioretty (33 goals, 70 points) they have a chance. Stone, meanwhile, is second on the Senators in points with 50, and also in goals with 22. He does have an 18.3 shooting percentage, which is a bit high, but thatís sustained itself this long, and there isnít much season left for regression. After missing a little time, Kyle Turris (23 goals, 45 points) is back. Being a Senator has suited Alex Burrows well. Heís notched four goals and two assists in eight games. Both of these goalies have been playing great hockey recently, so it wonít be easy either way.
Capitals (PP: 8, PK: 7) at Lightning (PP: 6, PK: 17), 7:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Braden Holtby (35-11-6, 2.03, .926), Andrei Vasilevskiy (17-14-6, 2.61, .917)
Key Injuries: Ryan Callahan (hip), Tyler Johnson (lower body), Vladislav Namestnikov (lower body), Cedric Paquette (lower body), Steven Stamkos (knee), Andre Burakovsky (hand)
Vasilevskiy had been on a great run, but then in his last start he allowed four goals on 15 shots and was pulled early in the second period. However, while Washington has been strong offensively this season, in March theyíve only scored 2.00 goals per game in eight contests. Alex Ovechkin only has one goal in his last 12 games. T.J. Oshie has 26 goals to Ovechkin 28, but Oshie has only played in 52 games. Of course, both Oshie and Marcus Johansson have shooting percentages above 20.0 (and so does Brent Connolly) so puck luck can explain that a bit. Kevin Shattenkirk has four assists and 14 shots on goal in 17 games. Injuries have really hampered the Lightning on offense. Sure, they have Nikita Kucherov (31 goals, 69 points) and Victor Hedman (14 goals, 59 points), but they could use some depth. Their actions at the trade deadline didnít help on that front, either.
Avalanche (PP: 30 PK: 24) at Red Wings (PP: 29, PK: 11), 1:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Calvin Pickard (13-23-2, 2.82, .911), Jimmy Howard (6-8-1, 2.03, .931)
Key Injuries: Matthew Nieto (knee), Semyon Varlamov (groin), Nikita Zadorov (ankle), Jonathan Ericsson (wrist), Ryan Sproul (knee)
Well donít expect a power-play goal in this one. Howardís overall numbers are clearly better than Pickardís, but in Pickardís last 11 games he has a 2.30 GAA and a .930 save percentage.
Blue Jackets (PP: 7, PK: 10) at Islanders (PP: 26, PK: 16), 1:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Sergei Bobrovsky (38-13-4, 2.06, .930), Thomas Greiss (24-16-4, 2.68, .913)
Key Injuries: Ryan Murray (hand), Johnny Boychuk (lower body), Casey Cizikas (upper body), Mikhail Grabovski (concussion), Shane Prince (lower body)
The Islanders have allowed 31.9 shots on goal per games. Cam Atkinson leads the Blue Jackets in goals (31) and shots on net (205), but Boone Jenner is actually second on Columbus with 177 shots. John Tavares and Anders Lee both have 26 goals.
Rangers (PP: 17, PK: 18) at Wild (PP: 10, PK: 8), 7:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Antti Raanta (14-7-0, 2.29, .921), Devan Dubnyk (36-16-3, 2.11, .930)
Key Injuries: Victor Bartley (triceps), Martin Hanzal (illness), Dan Girardi (ankle), Kevin Klein (back), Henrik Lundqvist (lower body)
The Rangers played Friday, but with Lundqvist out it wouldnít be surprising to see Raanta play two games in a row. New York probably doesnít want to have to turn to Magnus Hellberg in goal. After a hot start to the season, Charlie Coyle has 15 goals and 46 points in 69 games. He came back down to Earth a bit.
Predators (PP: 11, PK: 21) at Hurricanes (PP: 22, PK: 5), 7:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Pekka Rinne (27-16-8, 2.54, .915), Cam Ward (23-20-10, 2.69, .904)
Key Injuries: Jay McClement (lower body), Jeff Skinner (undisclosed), Valentin Zykov (upper body), Miikka Salomaki (lower body), Colin Wilson (lower body)
When you remember how well Ward was playing early this season, his .904 save percentage becomes even more worrying. Filip Forsberg has 12 goals on 44 shots in his last 12 games. After an extended cold streak, Victor Rask has nine points in his last 12 games.
Blues (PP: 4, PK: 6) at Coyotes (PP: 27, PK: 27), 9:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Jake Allen (26-19-3, 2.53, .910), Mike Smith (18-20-8, 2.95, .913)
Key Injuries: Alex Burmistrov (upper body), Kevin Connauton (upper body), Shane Doan (lower body), Brad Richardson (leg), Robby Fabbri (knee), Dmitrij Jaskin (upper body), Jori Lehtera (upper body)
St. Louis has a clear special teams advantage in this one. Patrik Berglund has 19 goals, but only nine assists. Radim Vrbata is the only Coyote with more than 34 points.
Canucks (PP: 28, PK: 26) at Oilers (PP: 5, PK: 23), 10:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Ryan Miller (17-22-6, 2.76, .915), Cam Talbot (35-20-8, 2.39, .920)
Key Injuries: Andrew Ference (hip), Tyler Pitlick (knee), Loui Eriksson (lower body), Brendan Gaunce (undisclosed), Nikolay Goldobin (illness), Erik Gudbranson (wrist), Jacob Markstrom (lower body), Anton Rodin (knee), Jack Skille (groin), Chris Tanev (illness)
Bo Horvat leds the Canucks in goals with 20, but do you know whoís second? That would be Markus Granlund with 19. The Sedin twins have passed the torch. Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Patrick Maroon all have 24 goals. They will probably be licking their lips over this matchup as well.
Ducks (PP: 18, PK: 3) at Sharks (PP: 25, PK: 13), 10:30 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Jhonas Enroth (0-3-1, 3.94, .872), Martin Jones (32-17-6, 2.25, .916)
Key Injuries: Simon Despres (head), John Gibson (lower body), Clayton Stoner (abdomen), Melker Karlsson (lower body), David Schlemko (lower body)
Gibson is day-to-day, and the Ducks will hope he can return this weekend. Theyíve probably prefer avoiding starting third-stringer Enroth. Rickard Rakell has hit the 30-goal threshold. Brent Burns has taken 278 shots in 70 games, while Joe Thornton has taken 71. They approaching shooting differently.
Tanner Pearson, LW, LOS Ė Jeff Carter has shouldered the load offensively for the Kings this season, but if anybody has been the Robin to his Batman it has been Pearson. Pearson has tallied 22 goals and 19 assists in 68 games, and heís notched 163 shots on goal as well. Recently, though, heís taken his game to another level. In his last 15 games, Pearson has six goals and six assists, and heís registered 46 shots on goal. Additionally, his ice time in those contests is up to 17:37 per game, which may help explain the uptick in performance. Heís even thrown in three power-play points. The Kings are fighting for a playoff spot, and they will be hoping Pearson can keep this up. He may help Los Angeles make the postseason, but he could also help you to fantasy success.