This is a nice, full, 11-game slate with plenty of premium matchups tonight. We finally get to see the full-strength Toronto Maple Leafs host the Detroit Red Wings, the high-scoring Lightning host the injury-riddled Boston Bruins and the Montreal Canadiens visit the defensive disaster Ottawa Senators.
NOTE: Make sure to check the RotoGrinders Starting Goalies Page page prior to game time, to confirm that the goalies listed below are starting.
Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators – Many were expecting this to be the year that Juuse Saros would start to push himself into a more prominent role in net for the Nashville Predators. However, Saros has been terrible and Rinne has been phenomenal. On the season, Rinne has put up at 1.81 GAA and .935 SV% with two shutouts. Tonight the Predators take on the Vancouver Canucks — a team that started off hot and has been one of the worst in the league over the last month or so. The Canucks are 1-8-1 over their last 10 and have a -21 goal differential and sit 23rd with just 2.77 goals for per game.
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Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs – Auston Matthews returned from injury three games ago and in those three games he has put up four goals and seven points. He’s got 15 goals in 14 games on the season, and although he doesn’t quite look completely up-to-speed since returning, his numbers have not suffered at all. The Maple Leafs have a 62.16 CF/60 over the last three weeks, which is fourth-best in the NHL. He’s been playing with Kasperi Kapanen and Patrick Marleau as of late, but he is expected to be reunited with William Nylander tonight, with Kasperi Kapanen dropping down to the third line. The Leafs host the Detroit Red Wings, a team that has a horrific 45.89 CF% over the last three weeks — ranked 28th.
Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning – Over his last 10 games, Nikita Kucherov has been an absolute beast. He has put up five goals and 21 points over that stretch while firing 29 pucks on net. He’s been playing alongside Brayden Point and Tyler Johnson and the entire line has been fantastic. The Lightning have a 53.99 CF% over the last three weeks, which is third-best in the NHL. Additionally, they have a 59.75 CF/60 which sits ninth over the same time frame. Tuukka Rask will be in net for the opposing Boston Bruins tonight and he’s got a mediocre 2.59 GAA and .915 SV% on the season. However, he has been better lately with a 2.21 GAA and .925 SV% over his last 10 games. A road game in Tampa Bay is still a difficult one, though, so I expect the Lightning to come out firing.
Jonathan Drouin, Montreal Canadiens – Jonathan Drouin has developed some real chemistry with off-season acquisition Max Domi in Montreal. After a tough season last year for Drouin, he’s put up 25 points in 28 games this season including 11 in his last 10. The Habs are in Ottawa to take on the Senators — a team that has been the worst defensive team in the NHL this season. They are allowing 4.07 goals against per game, allow a 68.55 CA/60, and have a 43.25 CF% — all of which rank 31st. The Canadiens, on the other hand, have a 53.41 CF% (6th), 64.39 CF/60 (3rd), and are scoring 3.07 goals per game (14th), so their offense should be able to pick apart the Senators tonight.
Tyson Barrie, Colorado Avalanche – Tyson Barrie sits eighth in NHL scoring among defensemen with 21 points in 24 games, as the Colorado Avalanche are tied for second with the Maple Leafs in goals per game with 3.64. The Avs are also sporting the best power play in the NHL, as they are converting at an incredible — yet unsustainable — rate of 32.2 percent. Their opponent, the Florida Panthers, have a terrible penalty kill; their 25th-ranked PK kills off just 75.9 percent of their penalties. This bodes well for Barrie, who plays on the top unit with superstars Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, and Gabriel Landeskog.