Don't set your fantasy hockey lineups tonight without taking a look at this game-by-game rundown from ASL's Robert Backus.
Boston Bruins vs. Washington Capitals
We have two teams trending in very different directions. The Bruins are winners of five in a row and Capitals have lost three in a row. Look for this to be a low-scoring battle as the Capitals want to get back to playing team defense and controlling the flow of the game. Boston will lean on its Big Three to continue to score and put up big fantasy numbers. The Capitals will continue to ride Alex Ovechkin and their top line while the Bruins will counter with the feisty Brad Marchand to get under the skin of the Caps.
Fantasy plays for Boston: Patrice Bergeron and Torey Krug
Fantasy plays for Washington: Look for T.J. Oshie and Nicklas Backstrom to hit the scoreboard tonight in a 2-1 Capitals win.
Montreal Canadiens vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay is proving to be the powerhouse of the Eastern Conference with a very strong team that can score and defend better than anyone. Montreal goes as goalie Carey Price goes. But with Montreal missing defenseman Shea Weber, look for TB to dominate this game.
Fantasy plays for Tampa Bay: The Lightning have a handful of players who can put the puck in the net, and is there a better combo in the league than Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov? I don't think so. Both should be worth the price of admission tonight.
Fantasy plays for Montreal: There's not much to like here, but if anyone is worth a shot, look for center Jonathan Drouin to hit the back of the net against his former club.
Philadelphia Flyers vs. Florida Panthers
Philly continues to struggle despite all that talent, but as it has been for the past decade(s), goaltending is always the question for the Flyers. Florida is a steady .500 team looking to keep a small win streak together and will do so on home ice tonight.
Fantasy plays for Philadelphia: This should be a 4-3 or 5-4 game, so get players such as wing player Wayne Simmonds in your lineup.
Fantasy plays for Florida: Same goes for defenseman Keith Yandle. Neither goaltender is recommended.
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Arizona Coyotes
This is one of the biggest games of the year for Auston Matthews as he returns to his home state to face the Coyotes. Look for Austin to be flying tonight, and his linemates could benefit from the attention he will be receiving. Arizona will be keeping with the trend of dressing younger and faster players, which seems to give Toronto fits in the defensive zone. I see this being a fast, high-scoring game with the Leafs coming out on top, 5-3.
Fantasy plays for Toronto: Matthews, William Nylander and Nazem Kadri
Fantasy plays for Arizona: Wingers Max Domi and Clayton Keller
Chicago Blackhawks vs. Vancouver Canucks
Has Chicago's window of dominance finally closed? I think so. A slow start sees Chicago looking up to get into the playoff race. Vancouver is in rebuild mode but still putting a very competitive team on the ice night in and night out. Both teams are on losing streaks, but Chicago will come out on top tonight. Look for a close game until the third period when the Blackhawks score twice to win a 5-2 game.
Fantasy plays for Chicago: Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov
Fantasy plays for Vancouver: Wing player Brock Boeser is the only one I like.
Las Vegas Golden Knights vs. Los Angeles Kings
Vegas, the surprise of the NHL world this year, is playing strong defensive hockey while hitting the back of the net on a regular basis. The Kings seem to have found some past glory. This is a battle for first place and I see this being a very close, low-scoring game that goes into OT, possibly even a shootout. Both teams are stellar, and goaltending is what will keep them moving forward in the second half of the season. I say the Kings pull out a 3-2 OT.
Fantasy plays for Las Vegas: Colin Miller and James Neal
Fantasy plays for Los Angeles: Look for Tyler Toffoli and Drew Doughty to each hit the net tonight with Toffoli getting the game-winner.
Calgary Flames vs. San Jose Sharks
With three points separating these two teams, you will see another close, low scoring game. The Sharks want to control the puck and the speed of the game. Calgary will counter with its young, fast forwards creating open space and high-octane chances. I say Calgary picks up the road W.
Fantasy plays for Calgary: Netminder Mike Smith may be the surprise play of the night. I think a shutout may be in the cards for him.
Fantasy plays for San Jose: Brent Burns would be the only worthy option for the Sharks as he will log 25-plus minutes trying to keep Calgary's young forwards at bay.
Here are my top fantasy plays for tonight's slate:
C: Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs
C: Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning
W: Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning
W: Wayne Simmonds, Philadelphia Flyers
W: T.J. Oshie, Washington Capitals
W: Tyler Toffoli, Los Angeles Kings
D: Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings
D: Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks
D: Keith Yandle, Florida Panthers
G: Mike Smith, Calgary Flames
Good luck from north of the border!
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