It’s Veterans Day weekend in the U.S. and Remembrance Day in Canada, so note the start times for Sunday’s games are mostly matinees.
The Bruins, Flyers, Rangers, Canucks, Coyotes and Jets will be pulling double duty playing back-to-back. It’s around this time of year the injuries start to pile up, and as we inch closer and closer to American Thanksgiving – if you’re in playoff position at that point, you’re more than likely to make the playoffs – we can start to separate the teams into contenders, pretenders and those committed to the Connor Bedard sweepstakes.
(All player positions and rostered percentages courtesy Yahoo).
Senators at Flyers (1 p.m. ET)
The Sens will try to avoid their eighth straight loss, but it will be difficult if their defense remains porous. Thomas Chabot is their lone defenseman who is top-pairing material, but Jake Sanderson (38 percent rostered) has been playing very well lately with four assists in six games and his average ice time is creeping up, making him a good streaming option. So far, only Chabot is averaging over 20 minutes per game on their blue line.
But that also means the Flyers have a very good chance to win despite ranking 29th in goals for per games played, and note they’re 4-1-1 at home. Owen Tippett (three percent) was on the ice for all five goals against Thursday in Columbus, but with a L1/PP1 role, he’s been rather productive with five points in seven games.
Oilers at Panthers (4 p.m. ET)
The Panthers are expected to have Aaron Ekblad back in the lineup, and that will be a huge help to their thin blue line. Of note, the Panthers are playing both Ekblad and Brandon Montour (82 percent) on the top power-play unit, so fantasy managers should hold on to Montour. Sam Reinhart has struggled all season but managed to score his first two goals of the season last Sunday against the Ducks and remains on PP1, but note it’s Eetu Luostarinen (two points in three games, two percent) and reclamation project Colin White (three percent) who skate on the second line with Sam Bennett.
With Evander Kane out of the lineup, it’s Dylan Holloway (two percent) who gets bumped to Leon Draisaitl’s line. He gets an immediate boost playing the league’s second-best player, but it’s a short-term streaming option until Holloway proves that he can stick on that line. Their power play will also take a huge hit without Kane, and Evan Bouchard (79 percent) continues to play second fiddle to Tyson Barrie (67 percent) on the power play. (In other words, if you have Bouchard, maybe swap him for Barrie). Bouchard has yet to score a goal this season and has just one helper in his past six games. Unless Jay Woodcroft’s usage of Bouchard changes, Bouchard is droppable in most standard leagues if it hasn’t happened already.
Coyotes at Devils (7 p.m. ET)
The Coyotes have reeled off three straight wins, which doesn’t happen very often – last season, they had only two such streaks, and the longest lasted just four games. The Devils, on the other hand, have won eight straight – teams have been particularly streaky this season, have they not? But Vitek Vanecek’s (68 percent) status is uncertain after taking a knee to the head from Chabot against the Sens and did not finish the game.
That means Akira Schmid (two percent) likely gets to start after stopping all seven shots he faced to preserve the streak and earn his first win after going 0-4-0 last season. Based on how well the Devils have played, Schmid is an under-the-radar streamer, and it’s unlikely he’ll face a lot of shots with the Devils so dominant in puck possession.
Bruins at Sabres (7 p.m. ET)
Charlie McAvoy made a triumphant return scoring the game-winner against Calgary for the Bruins’ ninth win in 10 games. Both of the Bruins’ losses this season have been on the road, but I wouldn’t worry very much with the Sabres on a four-game slide and allowing 21 goals during that span. What makes the Sabres so dangerous is their offense, but the Bruins are very good at suppressing high-quality shots, and expected starter Linus Ullmark has been excellent all season.
Penguins at Canadiens (7 p.m. ET)
This will be the Pens’ second road game in two nights while the Habs have won two in a row. I would still be wary of picking an upset, though, because Sidney Crosby has historically been excellent at the Bell Centre. Tristan Jarry is expected to start after Casey DeSmith started against the Leafs, but Jarry has also really struggled with 19 goals allowed in his past four starts. I’d be wary of the Habs’ scoring prowess at the moment, and Kirby Dach (nine points in six games, 30 percent) remains a strong streaming play or a mid-term hold playing on the top line.
Canucks at Maple Leafs (7 p.m. ET)
Everyone knows the Canucks defense is in shambles, but are we sure Thatcher Demko isn’t battling some sort of injury? He had a minor procedure done over the summer and looked 100 percent healthy coming into the season, but his lackluster play really suggests otherwise. If Spencer Martin (five percent) outplays him this weekend – the Canucks play again tomorrow – they should consider going with a timeshare like the Penguins with Jarry and DeSmith and the Oilers with Campbell and Skinner until Demko gets back on track. Demko needs to be stapled to the bench in fantasy until he rights the ship.
The one thing the Canucks don’t have to worry about is offense, and they might have a really good matchup facing Keith Petruzzelli (two percent) in his season debut after Erik Kallgren (35 percent) faced the Pens last night. Whenever untested backups play, teams tend to defend better, but the Canucks offense remains deep with Elias Pettersson, the red-hot Bo Horvat and J.T. Miller down the middle.
Blue Jackets at Islanders (7 p.m. ET)
A battered Jackets defense is really bad news against an improved Isles offense. Zach Werenski is now out for the season, and with Adam Boqvist (seven percent), Nick Blankenburg and potentially Erik Gudbranson all sidelined as well, it’s left a big gaping hole. In the interim, look for Jake Bean (two percent) to quarterback PP1, but if they’re on their heels the entire time, they won’t even get chances to generate offense. It’s looking like a lost season for the Jackets, and fantasy managers counting on Johnny Gaudreau and Patrik Laine may have to wave the white flag if they haven’t already.
I don’t think it’s a good idea to split up Anders Lee (69 percent) and Brock Nelson (56 percent), but at least they play together on PP1 and both have been very productive lately. The main concern continues to be Mat Barzal, who has zero goals, but he should be able to find the back of the net soon. Somewhat concerning is Barzal’s PDO of 1.030, according to naturalstattrick.com. It suggests Barzal isn’t suffering from bad luck, and note he’s never been a particularly good finisher. The Isles have won seven of their past nine without having to grind out low-scoring games. Obviously, getting shut out twice in their past four games is not ideal, but neither Joonas Korpisalo (four percent) nor Elvis Merzlikins (36 percent) has been able to steal games.
Rangers at Predators (8 p.m. ET)
The Rangers are struggling, but the Preds are flat-out not good. After going 2-0-0 against the Sharks – one of the few teams worse than the Preds – they’ve won just three (!) times in 12 games, and only twice in regulation. They’re far too dependent on a top line that isn’t consistent, and their defense has hung their goalies out to dry. Count Juuse Saros as one of the most disappointing starters this season along with Demko, and I’m also perplexed why John Hynes has stubbornly refused to break up Forsberg-Granlund-Duchene. It’s not working right now, and you can only affect so much change by swapping role players such as Zach Sanford, Cody Glass, Eeli Tolvanen and Jordan Gross in and out of the lineup.
The “Kid Line” is back together for the Rangers, but at what point do you stop buying fantasy stock in Alexis Lafreniere (33 percent) and Kaapo Kakko (eight percent)? We’re less than two months into the season, and while both players have improved, they’re still not close to a breakout season. Their fantasy upside doesn’t seem too much higher than Vitali Kravtsov’s (one percent) in the immediate term, who is getting bottom-six minutes but skates on Artemi Panarin’s line and just registered his first assist of the season.
Hurricanes at Avalanche (9 p.m. ET)
This is an interesting matchup as a potential Cup final preview, and the Avs will be facing a worthy opponent for the first time this month after playing the Jackets twice and the Preds on Thursday. There should be a ton of interest in Evan Rodrigues (10 percent) right now, who’s holding the second line together and is currently on a four-game point streak. Top prospect Alex Newhook (three percent) just had his three-game point streak snapped – his first three points of the season – and he might be heating up, so keep an eye on him.
If you look at moneypuck.com’s top lines, the Canes’ top three lines occupy the top 10 spots in expected goals percentage (min. 100 minutes TOI). That’s incredible, and their chemistry is superb. (One has to think where Max Pacioretty fits upon his return). Oddly enough, the Canes are barely top-10 in regulation wins. This should be a very close, entertaining matchup between two teams that like to play fast.
Blackhawks at Ducks (10 p.m. ET)
The Hawks have lost six of their past seven with their only win coming in overtime, and both teams are limited by the talent level on their respective rosters. However, note the Hawks have won six straight against the Ducks since 2019 (!) and the Ducks have never scored more than three goals in those games. Even if each team’s defense is ripe for picking, the overall offensive output is so bad that this might end up being a low-scoring affair that both season-long and DFS fantasy managers should just avoid.
If anything, load up on the Hawks power play with value plays in Max Domi (20 percent), Taylor Raddysh (one percent) and Caleb Jones (three percent) because the Ducks can’t stop taking penalties (league-worst minus-17 differential) even though their PK has been atrocious for many seasons.
Blues at Golden Knights (10 p.m. ET)
The Blues snapped their eight-game losing streak against… the Sharks. Big deal. They’re still a bad team right now with Ryan O’Reilly (38 percent) in decline and Jordan Kyrou (61 percent) looking like an AHL tweener who must be dropped in most leagues. Meanwhile, the Knights are an absolute wagon, and Jack Eichel has returned to his status as a legit franchise center. The “Misfits Line” continues to perform well, and the Blues may not have an answer for the Knights’ balanced attack – their top two pairings are a combined minus-34.
Jets at Flames (10 p.m. ET)
The Jets are surprisingly good, which I didn’t expect, especially since Kyle Connor has scored only two goals. It’s starting to look like he won’t be a top-tier scoring option in fantasy this season, which in retrospect should’ve been expected under Rick Bowness. Meanwhile, Connor Hellebuyck looks like a steal among goalies this season and has the potential of a Vezina-worth campaign. Nikolaj Ehlers may unlock some offensive potential, but he’s at least one more week away from returning to the ice.
The Flames, meanwhile, have lost seven straight. Granted, they’ve played tough opponents, but this still isn’t the type of record you’d expect from a Cup contender. Could they still go on a tear? Absolutely – they had a 10-game winning streak last season but also never lost four games in a row. Jonathan Huberdeau is expected to miss a little more time, so Adam Ruzicka (zero percent), playing L1/PP1, remains a very strong streaming play.
Red Wings at Kings (10:30 p.m. ET)
Pius Suter (one percent) is a very meh player but has some fantasy value if he’s playing L1 with Dylan Larkin and Lucas Raymond (60 percent). We expected better from the Wings this season, but nobody has truly been disappointing, and I include Moritz Seider because the pre-season expectations were just way too high for a relatively inexperienced player playing arguably the toughest position to learn. Rookie Jonatan Berggren (zero percent) scored an assist in his NHL debut and could be an interesting short-term play – he was Skelleftea’s top scorer as a 20-year-old when they finished fourth in the Swedish League and led AHL Grand Rapids in scoring last season.
Gabe Vilardi (74 percent) continues to tear it up. Keep in mind this is his contract year, so he’s due for a big payday or a lucrative bridge contract, and the price keeps going up. He’s playing the role Kevin Fiala was supposed to play, and while Fiala’s point production is coming along, he’s not quite what the Kings had envisioned. They’re still middle of the table ranking 15th in goals for per games played.
Stars at Flyers (1 p.m. ET)
Good game for Scott Wedgewood (29 percent) to get back on track after losing 5-1 to Winnipeg, and I imagine the Stars will want to ease Jake Oettinger back into the lineup after missing the past two weeks. If Oettinger is in net, that does not bode well for a Flyers offense that struggles to score goals, and once he works his way back into a rhythm, Wedgewood can be dropped. As much as Peter DeBoer has managed to coax a few more goals out of this lineup, note Denis Gurianov (one percent) continues to struggle on offense, and they continue to be far too reliant on their top line.
Sharks at Wild (6 p.m. ET)
Mason Shaw (zero percent) is the player to target with four points in five games entering Friday’s contests and will play with Marco Rossi (four percent) and sophomore Connor Dewar (zero percent) on the second line while also playing PP2. A fourth-round pick in 2017, Shaw finished second with 52 points in 62 games for AHL Iowa last season.
Canucks at Bruins (6 p.m. ET)
The Bruins are perfect at home, and this is not a good matchup for the Canucks. There have been lopsided wins by both teams in the past – 9-3 for the Canucks in 2020 and 8-5 for the Bruins in 2018 – but, in general, their games tend to be high-scoring. The Canucks have the horses to compete in a track race, but the worry is that their defense and goaltending will do them in like it has all season.
Coyotes at Rangers (7 p.m. ET)
Historically, this matchup has always favored the Rangers with a 50-28-6 all-time record. A reminder that this is the Coyotes’ second game in two nights and just the fifth game of their 14-game (!) road trip. Jaroslav Halak (three percent), who is expected to start, has owned the Coyotes in his career sporting an 11-3-2/.938/1.81 line. Even factoring in his decline due to age, this should be an easy win for managers looking to stream a goalie.
Capitals at Lightning (7 p.m. ET)
It’s the second leg of their home-and-home series and note again that they tend to feature lower scores than you’d expect despite the offensive firepower on both teams. The record is split 2-2-0 over the past five seasons when the Caps visit Tampa with only a two-goal differential in total.
Jets at Kraken (8 p.m. ET)
Fun fact: the Kraken have never beaten the Jets. They’re 0-3-0 lifetime with a minus-six goal differential, and the only way the Kraken can end the drought is if Martin Jones (57 percent) stands on his head. This might be a really good goaltending matchup between Jones and Hellebuyck, and despite the top-end talent on the Jets and balanced scoring on the Kraken, neither team is considered an offensive juggernaut.