- Sean Allen is a fantasy analyst for ESPN.com. He was the 2008 and 2009 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Hockey Writer of the Year. You can tweet him @seanard.
The rigors of the 82-game campaign are beginning to set in across the NHL. Injuries are always lurking, but are certainly ever-present as the clock ticks down on the regular season.
Will Pierre-Luc Dubois or Josh Morrissey return for the Winnipeg Jets as they host the Boston Bruins? Will Thomas Chabot miss another game for the Ottawa Senators as they get a visit from the Colorado Avalanche? Speaking of the Avs, how did their lines look on Wednesday in their first game without Artturi Lehkonen for the remainder of the season? Is Filip Forsberg going to suit up for the Nashville Predators with a juicy matchup in the visiting Chicago Blackhawks? Is Steven Stamkos going to miss another game against the New Jersey Devils after sitting out Tuesday’s matchup between the Eastern Conference heavyweights? Will Nick Schmaltz still be on the sidelines for the Arizona Coyotes as they host the Vancouver Canucks? Is Zach Hyman going to miss another game for the Edmonton Oilers as they take on the Dallas Stars? Is Kevin Fiala going to be available to the Los Angeles Kings as they host their trade partners from the Columbus Blue Jackets?
Most of these questions won’t have an answer until closer to puck-drop on Thursday, which is exactly the point: This is the time of year when more nagging injuries begin to crop up. If you are in tight races for the crown in your league, you will want to pay more attention to the day-to-day lineup cards, as a missed game here or a missed game there can start to add up.
Additionally, a missed game here or a missed game there is an opportunity for someone in that lineup to step up.
Thursday’s slate is 11 games, so let’s dive in.
Resources: Goalie depth chart | Injuries | Schedule | How to watch on ESPN+ | Download the ESPN Fantasy App | Daily lines
All times Eastern.
Favorable scoring matchups
Montreal Canadiens at Florida Panthers
7 p.m., FLA Live Arena, Watch live on ESPN+
How can this not be included as a favorable matchup for the Panthers, who has posted up six and seven goals in two games against the Habs this season? It could be worth jamming Eetu Luostarinen (on wing with Aleksander Barkov) and Sam Reinhart (on top power-play unit) into lineups. The Habs haven’t been quiet of late, either, with Mike Matheson and Josh Anderson as the latest standouts. And the Panthers penalty kill is still in the mire.
Colorado Avalanche at Ottawa Senators
7 p.m., Canadian Tire Centre, Watch live on ESPN+
To answer an earlier question, Denis Malgin was the one elevated to the top six on Wednesday in the Avs first outing without Lehkonen. The Sens have coughed up 25 goals in their past five games as they continue to rely on their third- and fourth-string goaltenders. The Avalanche are still No. 1 in the NHL for five-on-five goals per 60 in the past month.
Dallas Stars at Edmonton Oilers
9 p.m., Rogers Place, Watch live on ESPN+
The visiting team in two previous matchups between these clubs this season has managed to score six goals. Jamie Benn is hot on the power play again, with six power-play points in his past seven games. The Oilers may be without Hyman, so Warren Foegele would rise into the top six and Evander Kane would get time with the first unit power play.
Seattle Kraken at San Jose Sharks
10:30 p.m., SAP Center at San Jose, Watch live on ESPN+
The Sharks are becoming the league’s most generous team, now ranking 31st in five-on-five goals against per 60 and 32nd in the past month. That said, Logan Couture has four points over the previous two meetings between the clubs.
Mid-tier fantasy forwards
Jack Roslovic, C, Columbus Blue Jackets (41.4%): Last time the Blue Jackets and Kings squared off in December, Roslovic posted four points in a 6-5 overtime win. He’s lining up with Patrik Laine and Kirill Marchenko, so can boast elite shooters on either flank. The one disadvantage might be if Joonas Korpisalo has shared their tendencies from practice with presumed Kings starter Pheonix Copley.
Brandon Hagel, W, Tampa Bay Lightning (67.2%): He posted three points when the teams met on Tuesday and, if Stamkos is out again, Hagel will be a lock for PP minutes.
Evander Kane, W, Edmonton Oilers (88.2%)
Jared McCann, C/W, Seattle Kraken (62.6%)
Jamie Benn, C/W, Dallas Stars (86.9%)
Andrei Kuzmenko, W, Vancouver Canucks (69.3%)
Sam Reinhart, C/W, Florida Panthers (88.2%)
Barrett Hayton, C/W, Arizona Coyotes (7.8%)
Drake Batherson, C/W, Ottawa Senators (87.6%)
Deep league/Daily Fantasy value forwards
Taylor Raddysh, W, Chicago Blackhawks (1.4%): It’s hard to argue with six goals in four games, as Raddysh has taken the mantle as the top offensive threat among the Hawks forwards.
Brett Ritchie, W, Arizona Coyotes (0.2%): If Schmaltz is out again, Ritchie will get more run on the top line with Barrett Hayton and Clayton Keller.
Alex Nylander, W, Pittsburgh Penguins (0.1%): If you need to go this deep on such a heavy slate, Nylander is available and tabbed to play another game with Evgeni Malkin and Jason Zucker.
Josh Anderson, W, Montreal Canadiens (7.6%)
Eeli Tolvanen, W, Seattle Kraken (6.3%)
Tommy Novak, C, Nashville Predators (6.6%)
Philip Tomasino, C/W, Nashville Predators (0.8%)
Eetu Luostarinen, C/W, Florida Panthers (2.3%)
Denis Malgin, C, Colorado Avalanche (0.2%)
Evan Rodrigues, C/W, Colorado Avalanche (9.2%)
Quinton Byfield, C, Los Angeles Kings (1.5%)
Mid-tier fantasy defensemen
Dmitry Orlov, D, Boston Bruins (45.4%): He’s still elevated to the top power-play unit for the moment, so keep riding Orlov where you can.
Vince Dunn, D, Seattle Kraken (79.5%)
Mike Matheson, D, Montreal Canadiens (22.4%)
Deep league/Daily Fantasy value defensemen
Andrew Peeke, D, Columbus Blue Jackets (4.9%): Since Vladislav Gavrikov was shipped out to the Kings, Peeke has decided to take advantage of the extra minutes by blocking as many shots as he can. It’s been enough lately to keep him startable in fantasy. Maybe he even blocks a shot or two off the stick of Gavrikov in this one to complete the circle.
Juuso Valimaki, D, Arizona Coyotes (4.8%)
Caleb Jones, D, Chicago Blackhawks (0.7%)
Mikey Anderson, D, Los Angeles Kings (2.3%)
Sergei Bobrovsky, G, Florida Panthers (64.7%): There is some risk here with the Canadiens scoring 10 goals on Monday and Tuesday, but the Panthers have dominated the Habs twice already this season.
Jeremy Swayman, G, Boston Bruins (68.6%): With Linus Ullmark getting dunked on by the Blackhawks on Tuesday, Swayman could be on deck for this matchup against the Winnipeg Jets. While it’s not an easy matchup, the Jets have been struggling defensively in recent tough matchups.
Philipp Grubauer, G, Seattle Kraken (10.9%): His past two outings were on the rough side, but Grubauer had established a hold on the crease prior to that. This is a plus matchup with the Sharks here and the pressure is on for a good defensive outing after the team stumbled again with Jones in net on Monday.
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