This weekend’s slate features a grand total of 23 games, split between six on Friday, a solid dozen on Saturday, and wrapping with five contests Sunday. Meaning there’s plenty of fantasy hay to make to package up your own week. With no one idle, 14 teams play twice over this three day stretch, 10 of them engaged in back-to-back sets. So keep your quality backup goaltenders at the ready.
Other schedule highlights include Calgary’s two-game trip through Ontario with stops in Toronto and Ottawa. The Flames have a little extra pep in their scoring step these days, while the Leafs and Senators are conceding more goals than they’d like. The Golden Knights host the Sharks Friday, one day after San Jose pulled off their second win of the season over the stumbling Oilers. Although Mackenzie Blackwood has been great, Kaapo Kahkonen – much less solid this campaign – is pegged to start in Vegas. This one could get messy in favor of the home side. I’m also all over the Sabres’ schedule, featuring a home tilt with the Wild before Saturday’s gig in Pittsburgh. The Penguins have been better on the road than at PPG Paints Arena thus far this campaign.
However, I’m much less enthused about the Canadiens scoring prospects over the next 70-ish hours. The Habs host the Bruins Saturday, before welcoming the Canucks on Sunday. Guess which two teams have allowed the fewest number of goals this season? Yeah, that’s right. Consider benching your less prominent Canadiens, if armed with other viable roster options.
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Ilya Mikheyev, F, Vancouver Canucks: A ‘Streamer Special’ earlier this week, Mikheyev is earning quick promotion to full-blown recommended commodity in deeper leagues – and not only because Thursday’s off-the-back-of-skate goal against the Senators was super nifty. He’s fitting in beautifully, and scoring, on a top Vancouver line with premature Hart candidate Elias Pettersson and Andrei Kuzmenko. That’s reason enough.
Alex Iafallo, F, Winnipeg Jets: Competing on a line with Kyle Connor and Mark Scheifele has its privileges. In his past four games, Iafallo has earned assists on five Connor goals, one from Scheifele, and another provided by defenseman Neal Pionk. He also scored his own power-play goal, with Connor kicking in a helper. There’s no reason to tinker with this unit at present. The Jets are winning. Give the former King a look if you need fantasy help up front.
Erik Gustafsson, D, New York Rangers The Rangers defenseman has a goal and four assists in the three games Adam Fox (lower-body) has missed so far. That’s no coincidence. Gustafsson is enjoying more quality minutes, including on the top power play, with Fox out of the lineup. And New York’s No. 1 blueliner is still considered week-to-week.
Valeri Nichushkin, F, Colorado Avalanche: Especially if Artturi Lehkonen is, unfortunately, to miss any time after visiting the hospital Thursday. Fresh off welcoming a baby girl, Nichushkin scored a third-period goal against the Kraken after subbing in on the Avalanche’s top line Thursday. Underachieving on the fantasy front to date, the formidable forward is due for better numbers soon. Particularly if he sticks permanently alongside Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen.
Nazem Kadri, F, Calgary Flames: He has two goals and four assists in his last quartet of contests. Even more promisingly, that competitive glint in his eye is back. Visits to his old gliding grounds in Toronto, then down the highway in Ottawa, will only further fuel that fire. I’m back on Kadri big-time.
Trevor Zegras, F, Anaheim Ducks: The top-line forward has zero points on six total shots (minus-4) in his last four contests. He has a singular goal and assist to show for all season. Something’s not clicking. While it’s too early to jettison the 22-year-old altogether – outside of the shallowest of fantasy competition – I wouldn’t practice too much patience for too long either. Gauge how Zegras manages against the Flyers and Sharks over the weekend, then take it from there.
Jonas Johansson, G, Tampa Bay Lightning: Andrei Vasilevskiy is expected back within two weeks. After a strong start to 2023-24, Johansson has surrendered 19 goals in his past four games, to Chicago, Montreal, Toronto, and Seattle. It was a nice run, but those earlier consecutive shutouts feel like three months ago now.
Jaden Schwartz, F, Seattle Kraken: Darn right I’m streaming a sizzling-hot Schwartz against the shattered Oilers this Saturday. Just like I’ll stream any grooving forward against Edmonton until that squad figures out how to fix what’s badly broken. Also, Schwartz has registered at least a point in eight-straight, adding up to five goals and six assists.
Cam Talbot, G, Los Angeles Kings: With only two wins in their past nine, the Flyers are starting to really flounder. Which makes Talbot an extra-smart play against the John Tortorella’s crew, playing their second in as many nights, on Saturday. Particularly in considering the Kings’ No. 1 shutout Philadelphia on the east coast just last weekend.
JJ Peterka, F, Buffalo Sabres: Particularly against the porous Wild on Friday. The scoring forward has three goals and three assists in his past six contests. Also, keep a view of whether Matthew Savoie makes his NHL debut. The rookie was recently practicing on a top line with Tage Thompson and Jeff Skinner in place of an injured Alex Tuch.