Another Wednesday, another short slate of games in the National Hockey League. However, all six teams in action on Hump Day are involved in the playoff race and will be skating hard trying to improve their standing. It should make for an exciting evening of action, even if there are just a few games. In fact, the Maple Leafs-Blue Jackets and Oilers-Ducks matchups might be Conference Quarterfinals playoff previews.
Maple Leafs (PP: 2, PK: 9) at Blue Jackets (PP: 8, PK: 10), 7:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Frederik Andersen (29-15-14, 2.65, .918), Sergei Bobrovsky (39-13-4, 2.04, .931)
Key Injuries: David Clarkson (back), Ryan Murray (hand), Alexander Wennberg (neck), Nathan Horton (back), Joffrey Lupul (abdomen)
The Maple Leafs received plenty of help Tuesday, as the Flyers, Lightning and Panthers are took losses. That left the Leafs three points ahead for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Blue Jackets have no such worries. They have 100 points and a spot clinched in the postseason. But there is still plenty at stake as they're just two points behind the Capitals for the President's Trophy and home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs. Sergei Bobrovsky is 23-8-0 with a 1.88 GAA and .939 save percentage at home, making him a solid play even against the league's No. 2 power-play unit. Alexander Wennberg had a pair of assists in the first meeting in Columbus back on Feb. 15, a 5-2 Jackets victory. Nazem Kadri lit the lamp twice in that contest, too, while Josh Leivo assisted on each goal.
Islanders (PP: 26, PK: 15) at Rangers (PP: 16, PK: 21), 8:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Thomas Greiss (24-16-5, 2.69, .913), Antti Raanta (15-7-2, 2.32, .920)
Key Injuries: Josh Bailey (illness), Johnny Boychuk (lower body), Mikhail Grabovski (concussion), Shane Prince (lower body), Dan Girardi (ankle), Kevin Klein (back), Henrik Lundqvist (hip)
The Islanders are slipping, losing four of their past five games overall. They're also just 1-5 in their past six against teams with a winning overall mark. The Rangers haven't been much better, though, dropping six in a row at Madison Square Garden. The Isles have dominated this series of late, winning six of the past seven, and four of the past five at MSG. Rick Nash needs to light the lamp just once to reach the 20-goal plateau for the 12th time in his 14-year career. J.T. Miller has cooled in March, posting just one goal and three assists in 10 games. He has a goal and assist in three games against the Islanders this season and could be a nice contrarian play in DFS. John Tavares needs just one goal to reach 235 for his career. That would tie Isles legend Bobby Nystrom for eighth-place on the team's all-time list.
Oilers (PP: 3, PK: 22) at Ducks (PP: 19, PK: 5), 10:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Cam Talbot (37-20-8, 2.32, .922), Jonathan Bernier (15-7-3, 2.49, .918)
Key Injuries: Simon Despres (head), John Gibson (lower body), Clayton Stoner (abdomen), Andrew Ference (hip), Tyler Pitlick (knee)
The Oilers have won four in a row, while the Ducks have won six of their past eight at home. Two good teams collide in the final contest of the evening. Edmonton has a lot more to prove, as they are just 7-26 in their past 33 against the Ducks, including 2-8 in their past 10 at Anaheim. A big reason for Anaheim's success lately is Cam Talbot. He blanked the Kings last time out, giving him second shutouts on the season. That's the most since Tommy Salo posted eight shutouts in the 2000-01 season. Talbot also needs three wins to tie Hall of Famer Grant Fuhr for the single-season franchise record of 40 wins. Jonathan Bernier has been hot lately, too, going 7-2-1 with a 1.78 GAA and .943 save percentage over his past 10 appearances. He'll need to cool off Leon Draisaitl, who enters play with four straight multi-point efforts. He has been pumped to see the Ducks, too, scoring four goals with a plus-3 rating in three meetings this season, including two game-winning tallies.
Patrick Maroon, LW, EDM - Maroon doesn't quite have the 'Moves Like Jagger', but he has picked up the pace on the offensive end, posting four goals and a plus-6 rating over his past four outings. Will it be a 'Maroon 5' in the fifth game? He hasn't needed 'Maps' to get to the penalty box lately, either, racking up 14 PIM in the past four contests. Maroon has been a streaky scorer this season and you should ride this hot run out. He sees plenty of time on the power-play unit and he has notched a pair of game-winning goals across eight outings in the month of March. While 'Nothing Lasts Forever', he'll be a great DFS play for at least 'One More Night'.