The Anaheim Ducks were impressive in Week 9, going 3-1-1 on the road with a rare five-game schedule, and they get a much-deserved break with only two games in Week 10.
They’ll be one of four teams to sit out an action-packed Tuesday, but the extra day might be pivotal for John Gibson’s potential return, who sat out Sunday’s contest due to a lower-body injury. Anthony Stolarz has also been excellent this season, so perhaps it might not make a difference since the Ducks will be facing the easiest set of opponents based on aggregate points percentage.
The Vancouver Canucks are in vogue again with Bruce Boudreau earning his fourth straight win against the Hurricanes on Sunday. Both Brock Boeser and Elias Pettersson scored a goal in the same game, which is only the second time it’s happened this season. The problem was never one of talent, of which the Canucks have in spades; the problem was that they weren’t sure of themselves. They’re one of 8 teams to play four games in Week 10 and rank fourth, but could finish with a better record than the Knights, who will play all of their games on the road, and the Hurricanes, who have stumbled lately.
P% = season points percentage
Opp. P% = opponents’ season points percentage
Diff. = difference between P% and Opp. P%
Green is good. Red is bad. All advanced stats courtesy naturalstatrick.com.
A tough 6-4 defeat at the hands of the Knights – a preview of a potential conference final matchup – prevented the Wild from maintaining top spot in the standings, but they were a tough opponent playing in front of their home crowd. If the Wild were at home, where they play all three of their games in Week 10, it easily could’ve been a much different story.
The Wild’s excellent 10-2-0 home record will be enough reason to shrug off any worry as they face the Canes, who are tied with them with 39 points apiece, and the Panthers, who sit in first place but only by a one-point margin. Cam Talbot has been up to the task against every team this season, but note that his numbers are significantly weaker at home (.902 Sv%, 2.94 GAA) than on the road (.925 Sv%, 2.56 GAA). What’s bailing out the Wild is their excellent offense at home; they rank second with 4.50 GF/GP despite having the second-worst power play (10.9%), but ninth with a 3.06 GF/GP and ninth on the power play (23.9%) on the road.
Also note Sebastian Aho was a late scratch Sunday against the Canucks and Aleksander Barkov remains injured, which means the matchups for Ryan Hartman and Joel Eriksson Ek will be easier than usual, and maybe for once they’ll win more than 50 percent of their faceoffs.
There’s a bevy of options for the Caps, who may play Aliaksei Protas (most upside based on matchup) on the top line again with Tom Wilson injured, and have rookies Connor McMichael (most upside based on talent), Beck Malenstyn and Brett Leason sprinkled throughout the lineup. The difference in points percentage against their opponents ranks fourth-best among teams playing three games in Week 10, but they offer one key advantage over everyone else: they play Wednesday (three games), Friday (six) and Sunday (eight), the three days with the fewest games except for Monday’s single matchup.
Considering that most fantasy managers will have full teams playing on Tuesday – only four teams aren’t in action – and Thursday and Saturday are busy as usual, the Caps are the ideal add early in the week if fantasy managers want to play a little catch-up while everyone else is resting.
Vegas Golden Knights
Since Max Pacioretty returned from injury on Nov. 24, the Knights rank fourth in 5v5 CF%, behind only the Panthers, Canes and Flames, and a huge improvement from 21st prior to his return. They’re still not at full strength with Nolan Patrick, Alec Martinez and Jack Eichel recovering from injury, and even though they play all four of their games on the road, they’re certainly trending way up.
Chandler Stephenson has turned into a legitimate top-six center, and they have quality depth at nearly every position. The big worry for them, ironically after the events that transpired over the past two seasons, is Robin Lehner, who has not looked anything like the former Vezina finalist and two-time Jennings winner.
Los Angeles Kings
The Kings rank ninth on the schedule matrix because they play four games, but nothing about their Week 10 matchups suggests they’re worth of your time. All four games will be played on the road, including a weekend back-to-back against the Canes and Caps, the two best teams in the Metro and possibly the entire league, after visiting both the Panthers and Lightning, who are a combined 22-4-2 at home this season. Their opponents’ combined .720 points percentage is the highest number in Week 10.
True, the Kings have been getting results with three wins in their past four games, with Quick allowing just two goals. It bears mentioning that Quick is having a fantastic season, ranking third in 5v5 GSAA in naturalstattrick.com’s model and sixth in total GSAA in hockey-reference.com’s model, but even he should find keeping those four teams’ offense at bay particularly difficult.
The Kraken will play two back-to-backs, visiting the Sharks and Ducks before heading home to host the Oilers and Leafs. That likely means two games each for Philipp Grubauer and Chris Driedger, which is also another way of saying that the Kraken have already lost half of their games in Week 10. Fun stat? It is more statistically likely that Grubauer will allow five goals, which he’s done four times this season, than limit his opponents to just one goal. Last season, Grubauer held his opponents to one goal or fewer 18 times while allowing five goals or more just three times.
Driedger hasn’t been good, either, but he won two straight games before his injury, and even if he continues to outperform Grubauer, it seems unlikely he will play either of the back-to-backs himself. There’s no need to push Driedger unless Grubauer is truly unplayable, and goaltending depth was something the Kraken actually managed to adequately address in their botched expansion draft.