This article is part of our The Daily Puck series.
I've been writing Daily Puck articles for a few years now, and a bit of an annual tradition has sprung up. There comes a day when I, as a Red Wings fan, writes an intro where I worry that this is the year Detroit doesn't make the playoffs. Usually, that comes at the end of the season, with the Wings fighting for a postseason spot down the stretch. This season though, I'm ready to write that intro and it's not even 2017 yet.
The Red Wings aren't going to make the playoffs this year. The Metro Division seems likely to take five spots, leaving only three for the Atlantic. Also, the Wings just haven't been very good. They only have 30 points in 31 games and a minus-13 goal differential. Detroit ranks 29th in goals scored and power-play percentage. They've only been as good as they have been, and clearly they haven't been very good, because of how amazing Jimmy Howard has been. Well Howard isn't going to have a .934 save percentage all season. In fact, in his last two games he's let in seven goals.
Detroit's playoff streak is going to end this season, and I've made peace with that.
Canadiens (PP: 11, PK: 16) at Capitals (PP: 15, PK: 8), 7:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies:Al Montoya (3-3-2, 3.09, .903), Braden Holtby (14-6-2, 2.08, .925)
Key Injuries:David Desharnais (knee), Alex Galchenyuk (knee)
After a hot start, Montoya has fallen apart. After the game where he gave up 10 goals to Columbus he's let in three goals apiece in his three starts since. Montoya did have to step in for Carey Price on Friday, and he managed to stop all five shots he faced. That's not exactly reassuring. Washington's offense has picked up, to the surprise of nobody, and they are now 13th in goals per game. Evgeny Kuznetsov has been part of the reason for the uptick. While he has no goals in his last 10 games, he has a six-game point streak, netting eight assists in that time. T.J Oshie should be able to help too. He's got nine goals and 14 points in 21 games, including three points in his five games since he's returned from injury. Only two Habs have double-digit goals. It's not surprising to see Max Pacioretty with 12 goals. However, Paul Byron also has 10, but he has a 25.6 shooting percentage, so that pace isn't going to continue. Shea Weber now has 79 shots on goal in 30 games, notching eight goals.
Blackhawks (PP: 14, PK: 30) at Blues (PP: 7, PK: 2), 8:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies:Scott Darling (8-2-2, 2.18, .928), Jake Allen (15-6-3, 2.50, .907)
Key Injuries:Corey Crawford (illness), Robert Bortuzzo (lower body)
The Blues clearly have the special teams advantage here. Before his last game, where he let in four goals, Darling had only allowed one goal or fewer in four straight games. While St. Louis has the edge on special teams, overall the Blackhawks allow 2.31 goals per game, while the Blues allow 2.77. On the other hand, St. Louis only gives up 27.1 shots per game, third best in the league, while Chicago cedes 30.9 shots per tilt. Spread out before and after his injury, Jonathan Toews hasn't scored a goal in 10 games. Artem Anisimov has 14 goals, but his 25.5 shooting percentage is bound to drop. Conversely, Patrick Kane only has a 8.1 shooting percentage, so those two could end up cancelling each other out. Colton Parayko has put 81 shots on net but has netted zero goals. You can probably give up on Nail Yakupov. He only has six points in 19 games, and he's only put 16 shots on goal.
Rangers (PP: 8, PK: 3) at Predators (PP: 12, PK: 21), 8:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies:Henrik Lundqvist (13-8-1, 2.44, .916), Pekka Rinne (12-8-4, 2.50, .916)
Key Injuries:Pavel Buchnevich (back), Mika Zibanejad (leg)
After sitting out four games while Antti Raanta caused rumblings about the Rangers' goaltending situation with his stellar play, Lundqvist returned to net to pitch a shutout against the Stars. New York has fallen to second in goals per game, but that's a minor quibble. One area Nashville bests the Rangers, though, is shots per game. The Predators are fourth in the league at 32.5 per game. Michael Grabner leads the Rangers with 13 goals, but he only has one in his last 11 games. Rick Nash is second with 12, and he lit the lamp in his first game after missing four contests with an injury. He also leads the team with 80 shots on goal. Nash also has four power-play goals, which is tied with Jimmy Vesey and Brandon Pirri for the team lead. Six of Pirri's 12 points have come with the extra man. The Predators have four players who have put at least 80 shots on goal. Viktor Arvidsson leads the way with 95, although James Neal has 81 despite missing four games. Neal is the only Predator with double-digit goals. P.K. Subban and Roman Josi both have 17 points, though Subban is a minus-11 to Josi's minus-1.
Flyers (PP: 2, PK: 14) at Stars (PP: 18, PK: 27), 2:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies:Steve Mason (13-8-3, 2.79, .905), Kari Lehtonen (6-10-3, 2.92, .894)
Key Injuries:Ales Hemsky (hip), Julius Honka (arm), Mattias Janmark (knee), Patrick Sharp (concussion), Mark Alt (upper body), Sean Couturier (knee), Michal Neuvirth (lower body), Matt Read (oblique), Mark Streit (shoulder)
Well this game should be high scoring, considering the Stars are allowing 3.13 goals per game, while the Flyers are giving up 2.97. Of course, things look better for Philly. That bodes well for the likes of Jakub Voracek. Voracek leads the Flyers in points with 33, and he has 11 goals despite a perfectly reasonable, perhaps even low, 9.8 shooting percentage.
Coyotes (PP: 26, PK: 19) at Wild (PP: 21, PK: 7), 2:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies:Mike Smith (7-4-4, 2.59, .932), Darcy Kuemper (2-2-1, 3.36, .897)
Key Injuries:Max Domi (hand), Connor Murphy (upper body), Brad Richardson (leg)
The fact the Wild are giving Devan Dubnyk a break definitely makes things more palatable for the Coyotes. Radim Vrbata, who's taken 91 shots on goal, is the only Coyotes to notch more than 68 shots on net this season. Jared Spurgeon is averaging 23:38 a game, but he only has one goal on 47 shots.
Penguins (PP: 10, PK: 26) at Maple Leafs (PP: 13, PK: 9), 7:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies:Marc-Andre Fleury (8-5-3, 3.42, .900), Frederik Andersen (11-7-6, 2.70, .916)
Key Injuries:Kris Letang (lower body), Daniel Sprong (shoulder), Joffrey Lupul (abdomen)
The Penguins play on Friday, which is why Fleury might be getting the start here. Obviously, that changes things from Toronto's perspective. No Letang should lead to greater opportunity for Justin Schultz, who's having a surprisingly good year. With Letang out, Schultz played 27:11 on Friday night. Nikita Zaitsev has 10 assists, but zero goals, for the Leafs. He's put 40 shots on goal, though, so a goal should be coming soon.
Schneider is having a really disappointing season, and the fact the Devils are allowing 32.1 shots per game doesn't help. Of course, Ottawa allows 31.1, and last season Condon had a .903 save percentage. Travis Zajac leads the Devils in points, but he's only taken four shots in his last six games.
Ducks (PP: 3, PK: 20) at Red Wings (PP: 29, PK: 6), 7:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies:John Gibson (10-8-4, 2.64, .908), Petr Mrazek (8-6-3, 2.92, .905)
Key Injuries:Simon Despres (head), Clayton Stoner (lower body), Nate Thompson (achilles), Justin Abdelkader (knee), Tyler Bertuzzi (ankle), Darren Helm (upper body), Alexey Marchenko (shoulder), Brendan Smith (knee), Joe Vitale (concussion)
The Wings' problems have been discussed earlier, and their penalty kill won't be as good if Mrazek is in net instead of Howard. There is a Duck highlighted in the Recommended Pickup section. Cam Fowler has nine power-play points, while Sami Vatanen has eight.
Sabres (PP: 4, PK: 29) at Hurricanes (PP: 5, PK: 1), 7:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies:Anders Nilsson (5-2-2, 2.38, .932), Michael Leighton (2-1-0, 3.53, .875)
Key Injuries:Zach Bogosian (knee), Tyler Ennis (groin), Taylor Fedun (shoulder), Eddie Lack (concussion)
The Hurricanes have to like this matchup for their power-play, but having Leighton in net would definitely change things for Carolina's penalty kill. The Hurricanes only allow 27.7 shots per game, though, and the Sabres average the fewest goals per game in the NHL. In his eight games since returning to action, Jack Eichel has eight points.
Lightning (PP: 6, PK: 23) at Oilers (PP: 9, PK: 10), 10:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies:Andrei Vasilevskiy (6-3-1, 2.44, .925), Cam Talbot (14-10-4, 2.57, .916)
Key Injuries:Mark Fayne (undisclosed), Andrew Ference (hip), Darnell Nurse (ankle), Ryan Callahan (lower body), Nikita Kucherov (undisclosed), Ondrej Palat (undisclosed), Steven Stamkos (knee)
While Connor McDavid leads the Oilers, and the league, with a whopping 39 points, Leon Draisaitl leads the team with 13 goals. Tyler Pitlick has seven goals on 51 shot for Edmonton, but he only has three assists, and he only plays 10 minutes a night. Neither Kucherov nor Palat played on Friday. Without those two, and without Stamkos, Tampa's offense takes a major hit.
Jakob Silfverberg, LW, ANA – The Ducks needed some secondary scoring, and Silfverberg has begun to provide it. The 26-year-old had his first 20-goal season last year, and he's on pace to improve upon that. This is probably in part because he's averaging 18:16 per game, which is more than a minute more than any other season. In his last six games, he's got six points, and he's put 30 shots on net in those contests. While it'd be nice if he could contribute a bit more on the power play, Silfverberg can still really help our your fantasy team.