A packed 10-game Thursday slate features several highlights, including a Sidney Crosby-Connor McDavid matchup in Pittsburgh.
Alex Ovechkin is a possibility to return for the Washington Capitals as they host the Anaheim Ducks. He's back with the team but may still take a game off -- the team isn't rushing him back following the death of his father.
And the St. Louis Blues should get some reinforcement on their scoring lines after being down a few bodies for the past couple weeks.
The Minnesota Wild, Los Angeles Kings and Buffalo Sabres are embarking on back-to-back sets, as the teams are in action again on Friday. Best guess is that we see the veteran netminders for all three teams on Thursday -- Marc-Andre Fleury, Jonathan Quick and Craig Anderson, but that's far from a lock. Going to other way, the Calgary Flames are coming off a win against the Arizona Coyotes on Wednesday. Dan Vladar was in net for that one (allowing three goals on only 14 shots in the victory), so Jacob Markstrom is a basically a sure thing to start for the Flames.
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All times Eastern.
7 p.m., Amalie Arena, Watch live on ESPN+
Both teams sport a top-10 offense coming into this affair and they've gifted us 19 goals in their previous two meetings this season. Of course, the Lightning used backup Brian Elliott in both of those contests, so the Sabres would have a tougher time if Andrei Vasilevskiy gets the call. Brandon Hagel is back on the Bolts top line with Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point, and Hagel posted five points across the previous two games against the Sabres. Even on a 10-game slate like this, Hagel should be a lock for lineups. Three of Owen Power's 16 assists across 52 games this season have come against the Lightning, so he seems to enjoy the matchup.
8 p.m., Enterprise Center, Watch live on ESPN+
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I know anything can happen in the NHL, but this game has the looks of a true high-scoring battle. Both offenses are middle of the pack when it comes to scoring (the Canucks are just on the verge of the top 10), but it's the goals allowed that really opens the eyes. In overall goals against per 60, the Canucks rank 31st and the Blues rank 29th, and in just goals against per 60 at five-on-five in the past month, the Cancuks rank 30th and the Blues rank 32nd. The Blues get some top-six wingers back after Pavel Buchnevich and Brandon Saad each missed a couple games each. Saad practiced on a line with Jordan Kyrou and Robert Thomas, while Buchnevich was with Brayden Schenn and Ivan Barbashev. Justin Faulk also holds more interest as he moves to the top power-play if Torey Krug misses the game -- and it sounds like Krug won't be available. On the Canucks side, early returns on the Elias Pettersson top line with Andrei Kuzmenko and Anthony Beauvillier are quite positive. In 61 minutes together at five-on-five they are posting a 58% Corsi for advantage and scoring at a clip of 4.92 goals per 60 (MoneyPuck). If sustained, that goals-per-60 clip would be among the league leaders for lines.
Jonathan Marchessault, W, Vegas Golden Knights (76.6%): Getting some run on the top line with Jack Eichel, Marchessault has 11 shots on goal in his past two games. The Flames haven't been able to keep the puck out of the net lately, so it's a decent spot to attack.
Jake DeBrusk, W, Boston Bruins (56.4%): Let's get DeBrusk back on more rosters. Since returning from his leg injury, he's posted two goals and an assist while averaging 3.5 fantasy points in two games. Don't forget that he doesn't just play with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, he joins them and David Pastrnak on the power play, too.
Andrei Kuzmenko, W, Vancouver Canucks (61.6%)
Brandon Hagel, W, Tampa Bay Lightning (70.2%)
Rickard Rakell, W, Pittsburgh Penguins (73.1%)
Pavel Buchnevich, W, St. Louis Blues (82.1%)
Tom Wilson, W, Washington Capitals (21.2%): Whether or not Ovechkin laces up for this one, Wilson should remain in the Capitals top six and on the power play. The Ducks have been atrocious defensively in February, allowing an average of five goals per game. Wilson has one goal in each of his past two games since returning to the lineup.
Tommy Novak, C, Nashville Predators (2.1%): With Filip Forsberg ruled out through next week and Ryan Johansen getting surgery for a leg injury, the Predators are quickly running out of top-six forwards. Enter Novak, who has a scorching stick with three goals and three assists across his past three games. While he's been achieving that offense deeper in the lineup, it wouldn't be a shock to see him get a chance on the top line with Mikael Granlund and Matt Duchene with Forsberg and Johansen out.
Frank Vatrano, W, Anaheim Ducks (11.9%): Scoring from the bottom six lately, Vatrano could get a look higher up the depth chart with news that Adam Henrique is sidelined for at least a few days. The current stretch sits at nine goals in the past 13 games for Vatrano.
Lucas Raymond, C/W, Detroit Red Wings (44.7%): The Wings sent Jakub Vrana back to the AHL again -- after only one game in the lineup -- so Raymond might be ready to return from injury for this one. The Rangers don't have one of the best penalty kills lately and Robby Fabbri is day-to-day, which could clear a spot on the top unit for a returning Raymond.
Ondrej Palat, W, New Jersey Devils (53.4%)
Ryan Hartman, C/W, Minnesota Wild (46.3%)
Anthony Beauvillier, W, Vancouver Canucks (5.3%)
Mikael Backlund, C, Calgary Flames (13.1%)
Nicolas Roy, C/W, Vegas Golden Knights (1.2%)
Owen Power, D, Buffalo Sabres (55.8%)
Ryan Graves, D, New Jersey Devils (27.3%)
Colton Parayko, D, St. Louis Blues (56.7%)
Matt Roy, D, Los Angeles Kings (35.1%)
K'Andre Miller, D, New York Rangers (34.0%)
Adam Boqvist, D, Columbus Blue Jackets (2.9%)
Trevor van Riemsdyk, D, Washington Capitals (4.3%)
Jonas Brodin, D, Minnesota Wild (16.1%)
Ryan McDonagh, D, Nashville Predators (19.7%)
Cam Fowler, D, Anaheim Ducks (18.3%)
Joonas Korpisalo, G, Columbus Blue Jackets (2.7%): He's been stealing games for the Blue Jackets lately, and he could steal another one here. The Wild come into this contest with the lowest goals per 60 at five-on-five in the past month of any NHL team. Korpisalo just has to survive the power play, where the Wild have the second-most power-play tallies in the league during that same past month of action.
Laurent Brossoit, G, Vegas Golden Knights (4.3%): It's still not clear if Adin Hill will be available for this game, so Brossoit feels like the most likely starter among himself, the injured Hill and fourth-string Michael Hutchinson. The Flames offense is dangerous, but the Golden Knights crease has been on lockdown. Vegas ranks third in five-on-five goals allowed per 60 in the past month, which is a bit of a surprise considering Logan Thompson is sidelined.
Stuart Skinner or Jack Campbell, G, Edmonton Oilers (35.4% or 63.8%): This should be another good test to see where the Oilers are at with their goaltending tandem. If Skinner is the "starter," he should get the nod here. It's not a back-to-back set and he's coming off a win. If Campbell is still in consideration for a rotation after allowing 14 goals in his past three starts, I expect him to get the nod. Either goaltender should be a decent play in fantasy though, as the Penguins offense has been cold of late (27th in goals per 60 at five-on-five in the past month).
James Reimer, G, San Jose Sharks (7.2%): Here's a Hail Mary start for a Thursday if you are behind in the goaltending stats in a head-to-head league. Reimer is coming off a shutout and the Predators will be without two of their top-six forwards.
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