Friday night in the NHL brings us six games on the schedule. Some teams are really finding their groove to start the year while others are struggling to stay above water. As always, be sure to check out our Starting Goalie section for all of your starters for tonight’s action.
The first place Montreal Canadians travel into New York to take on the Islanders. The Habs have won three straight games behind great goaltending from Carey Price and the hot stick of Andrei Kostitsyn. After starting the first nine games of the season, Price takes a night off and will watch Alex Auld make his season debut. Price is first in the NHL with 6 wins and has faced 241 shots this season. Kostitsyn will be looking to score in his fourth consecutive game and has collected four goals and six points over his last three games.
After being shutout against the Capitals at their home earlier in the week, the Carolina Hurricanes are back on the road taking on the New York Rangers. Jeff Skinner, 18, appears likely to stay with the Hurricanes the entire season, and in my opinion is the right move. He’s look good on both sides of the puck this season. Goalie Cam Ward is likely to get the start for the Canes and even though his career record against the Rangers is 7-7-1, he’s put together a solid 2.06 GAA and a .932 SV% stat line together against New York.
The Rangers threw everyone for a curveball when they started Martin Biron over King Henrik last minute, but we can hopefully say that this won’t happen again and Henrik Lundqvist will be your starter tonight. After starting the season 1-1-1, Henrik has won his last two decisions and has only allowed three goals on 65 shots. Expect a good game from Lundy tonight. The Rangers do have some good news for their injury plagued team, as they announced that defenseman Michal Rozsival and winger Artem Anisimov are expected to play.
In the third meeting of the Battle for Pennsylvania, the Pittsburgh Penguins expect the results that they had last time out against the Philadelphia Flyers. The Pens scored five goals during their last meeting with the Flyers with Sidney Crosby stealing the show. So far this season, the Battle of PA series is tied at 1-1.
Coach Dan Blysma hasn’t given up on Marc-Andre Fleury…yet. MAF will be making his second start of the week after going 1-4 with a 3.41 GAA to start the season. With MAF starting tonight, you can guarantee that Brent Johnson will start tomorrow against Carolina Hurricanes. Maybe MAF starts because of his track record against the Flyers? He’s 19-7 with a 2.68 GAA and a .908 SV%, but these starts also came from Fleury when he appeared to be a better netminder.
After being held to just one point over his last two starts, I fully expect Sidney Crosby to make a lot of fantasy hockey owners happy tonight. In just 34 regular-season games against the Flyers, Crosby has 26 goals, a total of 59 points, and a plus-minus rating of plus-11.
After losing his previous two starts, Sergei Bobrovsky found his third win of the season against the Sabres on Tuesday night. “Bob” has faced the Pens in both PA matchups this season, posting a 3.00 GAA and a .903 SV% over 62 shots.
Winger Danny Briere has carried much of the scoring load for the Flyers here in recent games, capturing four points over his last three games. After a quiet start to the season, 27-year old Ville Leino has started to make some noise, capturing three points in his last four games. If a fantasy owner in your league dropped Leino due to his slow start, don’t be afraid to pull the trigger on grabbing him.
The Chicago Blackhawks will be playing without Marian Hossa for the next couple of weeks, and will rely heavily on red-hot Patrick Sharp. The Hawks and fantasy owners hope that Patrick Kane gets things going here soon, as he’s recorded just two goals this season, but has recorded two points in his last two games. Anyone else notice that Kane has shot the puck just three times over his last two games?
The New Jersey Devils continue to play horrible hockey. The Devils have just two wins this season and have not found any offense. Regardless of your personal thoughts on his new contract, Ilya Kovalchuk hasn’t played to the level he’s capable of. In fact, he’s recorded just one point over his last four games.
After going 4-2-1 over their last seven games, the Anaheim Ducks seem to have put their 0-3 start behind them. Defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky is starting to turn his offensive talent on, as he’s recorded back-to-back multi-point games and has six points over his last four games. Jonas Hiller has faced the second most shots (294) and made the second most saves (269) in the NHL this season. He started out on the wrong foot, but has improved his play, as he hasn’t allowed more than two goals over his last three starts.