Hard to bet against the Boston Bruins at this point, isn't it? Even when they're set to face another formidable side in the East. Perhaps a little less formidable of late though, as the Tampa Bay Lightning are losers of three straight. Boston, on the other hand, hasn't dropped a game in nearly two weeks. Still, Andrei Vasilevskiy versus Linus Ullmark feels like the ideal lunchtime launch to Saturday's exceptionally chaotic 15-game schedule.
Elsewhere, the Nashville Predators and Seattle Kraken renew acquaintances after needing a shootout to settle matters, 2-1 in favor of Nashville, on Thursday. While Seattle's Joey Daccord was excellent in that defensive affair, Juuse Saros was a hair better. The Winnipeg Jets and Los Angeles Kings play their third of the season, after combining for 21 goals -- split nearly evenly -- through the first pair. Todd McLellan's troops are well-rested, off since Monday's 8-2 drubbing of the Calgary Flames. At last look, Kevin Fiala was kitted out in a non-contact jersey in practice.
ESPN+ features the latest edition of Alex Ovechkin vs. Sidney Crosby, when the Pittsburgh Penguins host the Washington Capitals. Since missing one game with a lower-body issue, Ovechkin has five goals and four assists (23 shots) in five contests. Oh, and defenseman John Carlson is back after sitting out months. The Florida Panthers are in tough, welcoming the red-hot New York Rangers to Sunrise, while the Carolina Hurricanes and Toronto Maple Leafs meet for the second time in eight days, following a 5-2 Maple Leafs victory on St. Patrick's. No Ilya Samsonov (personal) for this replay, meaning the visitors are relying on either Matt Murray or call-up Joseph Woll to defend the crease in Carolina, then likely the other in Sunday's tilt with the Predators.
Winners of five-straight, the Edmonton Oilers host the Las Vegas Golden Knights to wrap up Saturday's frenetic slate. Edmonton emerged victorious in their two previous rendezvous, each by a score of 4-3. With Logan Thompson back on the injured shelf, Johnathan Quick appears, again, the starting netminder for Vegas.
Resources: Goalie depth chart | Injuries | Schedule | How to watch on ESPN+ | Download the ESPN Fantasy App | Daily lines
All times Eastern.
Favorable scoring matchups
San Jose Sharks at Calgary Flames
Scotiabank Saddledome 4 p.m. ET
If the much-better Flames can't blast a few past the porous Sharks after feeling the frustration of losing yet another (record-setting) one-goal game to the Golden Knights on Thursday, and following two earlier December visits to San Jose in which they scored five and seven goals respectively, with a much-needed pair of playoff-chasing points in the balance ... then I just don't know. For record, I think they do manage to score a few past James Reimer or Kaapo Kahkonen, whoever gets the nod for the visitors. Beyond Calgary's heavier fantasy hitters, I also like the forward pairing of Mikael Backlund and Blake Coleman, along with MacKenzie Weegar on the blue line.
Mid-tier fantasy forwards
Ryan Hartman, Minnesota Wild (52.9%): Is Anton Khudobin making his second appearance for Chicago, after surrendering six to the Capitals on Thursday? Even if Alex Stalock starts against Minnesota instead, Hartman appears in fine form to pitch in a point or few when the Blackhawks come to town. Since losing linemate Kirill Kaprizov, the center has two goals and five helpers, including three power-play points, in seven games for the Wild. Only Matt Boldy - who's on a ridiculous tear - is averaging more fantasy points/game over the same period.
Viktor Arvidsson, Los Angeles Kings (60.6%)
Gabriel Vilardi, Los Angeles Kings (25.5%)
Brandon Hagel, Tampa Bay Lightning (71.7%)
Jake DeBrusk, Boston Bruins (64.9%)
Owen Tippett, Philadelphia Flyers (24.1%)
Andrei Kuzmenko, Vancouver Canucks (70.8%)
Dylan Strome, Washington Capitals (35.2%)
Jean-Gabriel Pageau, New York Islanders (33.7%)
Mikael Backlund, Calgary Flames (23.1%)
Deep league/Daily Fantasy value forwards
Tyson Foerster, Philadelphia Flyers (0.1%): Who? The Flyers' 23rd overall draft pick from 2020, that's who. Yanked up from the AHL, the 21-year-old has two goals and four assists, including a point with the extra skater, in four games. Which strikes as less surprising after realizing he's skating more than 18 minutes/contest on a scoring line and top power play. As far as outlying, potential Daily Fantasy assets go, Foerster shines brightly ahead of Saturday's match-up with the Red Wings.
Wyatt Johnston, Dallas Stars (4.4%)
Anthony Duclair, Florida Panthers (7.0%)
Calle Jarnkrok, Toronto Maple Leafs (2.9%)
Frank Vatrano, Anaheim Ducks (9.3%)
Pavel Dorofeyev, Vegas Golden Knights (1.6%)
Kyle Palmieri, New York Islanders (1.8%)
Zach Parise, New York Islanders (8.6%)
Kent Johnson, Columbus Blue Jackets (3.9%)
Quinton Byfield, Los Angeles Kings (1.5%)
Denis Gurianov, Montreal Canadiens (0.8%)
Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Carolina Hurricanes (5.5%)
Alex Chiasson, Detroit Red Wings (1.4%)
Jake Neighbours, St. Louis Blues (0.2%)
Sammy Blais, St. Louis Blues (1.7%)
Jack Quinn, Buffalo Sabres (2.7%)
Tommy Novak, Nashville Predators (9.6%)
Victor Olofsson, Buffalo Sabres (13.5%)
Marcus Johansson, Minnesota Wild (1.7%)
Blake Coleman, Calgary Flames (5.5%)
Mid-tier fantasy defensemen
MacKenzie Weegar, Calgary Flames (66.9%)
K'Andre Miller, New York Rangers (29.5%)
Mattias Ekholm, Edmonton Oilers (24.1%)
Damon Severson, New Jersey Devils (49.0%)
Cam Fowler, Anaheim Ducks (24.0%)
Mike Matheson, Montreal Canadiens (28.1%)
Deep league/Daily Fantasy value defensemen
Tyler Myers, Vancouver Canucks (8.3%)
Brady Skjei, Carolina Hurricanes (17.9%)
Andrew Peeke, Columbus Blue Jackets (8.0%)
Joel Hofer (possible), St. Louis Blues (6.9%): The Blues call-up is an impressive 3-1, with a .944 SV% and 1.74 GAA, since making his season debut last week. The opposing Ducks have scored four total goals in their past three games. Jordan Binnington also sports reasonable fantasy promise, if Craig Berube opts to run with the Blues' No.1 instead. Goodness knows Binnington should feel extra motivated after sitting sidelined since the 15th, suspended and otherwise.
Filip Gustavsson, Minnesota Wild (59.6%)