This article is part of our The Daily Puck series.
We all know that the Vegas Golden Knights will begin play next season, bringing the NHL to 31 teams. However, many don't expect, or at least hope, this won't be the end of the expansion for the NHL. After all, do we really want there to be an odd number of teams. There is often talk of the league returning to Quebec, or perhaps making their debut in Seattle. All of this probably bums Kansas City out. In 2005, ground was broken on the Sprint Center, a brand new multi-purpose indoor arena in Kansas City. It opened in 2007. Their hope was to bring an NHL or NBA team to the city to join the Royals and Chiefs. The city used to come up in relocation rumors, with teams like the Predators and Islanders coming up in discussions. Of course, those moves never happened, and you never hear Kansas City mentioned in the expansion talks. At this point, it seems like the Sprint Center will never be home to a major professional sports team. They do occasionally host preseason games, and in 2008 AVP Pro Beach Volleyball's "Hot Winter Nights Tour" took place there. That's something.
Maple Leafs (PP: 11, PK: 4) at Bruins (PP: 25, PK: 3), 7:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies:Frederik Andersen (10-7-4, 2.87, .911), Tuukka Rask (14-4-2, 1.79, .933)
Key Injuries:Matt Beleskey (lower body), John-Michael Liles (concussion), Frank Vatrano (foot), Joffrey Lupul (abdomen)
It's a bit odd to see the Maple Leafs ranked fourth on the penalty kill, considering that the team is allowing 3.08 goals per game, which ranks 27th in the NHL. Whereas, when you look at Rask's numbers, Boston's penalty-kill success feeling more sustainable. Andersen's numbers aren't good on the year, but his career save percentage is .917, which is better than what he's doing right now. He was also much better in November than in October, although his numbers in December (admittedly in only two starts) aren't good. In addition to his 18 points Nazem Kadri has 53 penalty minutes, which is helpful in fantasy leagues, if not in real life. If you are looking for a Leaf to be hurt by this matchup, it'll probably be William Nylander. Nine of his 16 points have come on the power play. Two Bruins are having unsustainably good seasons at the moment. David Pastrnak has a very impressive 18 goals, but his 23.1 shooting percentage is destined to go down. Dominic Moore, meanwhile, has a 21.9 shooting percentage. Of course, fantasy owners aren't exactly watching Moore with a careful eye. The veteran center has seven goals, which has him tied for second on the Bruins, but he's only taken 32 shots. He has his role, but "fantasy stud" is not it.
Penguins (PP: 15, PK: 28) at Lightning (PP: 5, PK: 15), 7:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies:Marc-Andre Fleury (8-5-3, 3.42, .900), Andrei Vasilevskiy (6-2-1, 2.27, .929)
Key Injuries:Daniel Sprong (shoulder), Ryan Callahan (lower body), Steven Stamkos (knee)
What happens when the 15th-ranked power play meets the 15th-ranked penalty kill? Probably not anything very exciting, as opposed to when a power play like Tampa's meets a penalty kill like Pittsburgh's. There seems to be a changing of the guard going on for both of these teams, if not necessarily in this game. When you compare Fleury's numbers to Matt Murray's (1.91 GAA, .934 save percentage) it feels like a matter of when, not if, Murray becomes the clear starter for the Penguins. Bishop has been decidedly worse than Vasilevskiy as well, but there is more reason to believe in him. After a disastrous October, Bishop posted a .916 save percentage in November and a .926 save percentage in December. Jonathan Drouin has been unlucky this year. In addition to dealing with injury, he has a 7.1 shooting percentage which should improve (although, in his rookie season he only put up a 5.3 mark). Surprisingly nobody, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Phil Kessel are 1-2-3 in scoring for the Penguins. So who's providing scoring depth? Conor Sheary has seven goals and 15 points in 20 games. Bryan Rust has 11 points, which ties his career high, and he has seven points in his last seven games. However, four of those came in one game against Ottawa, which could just be a fluke.
Hurricanes (PP: 12, PK: 1) at Sharks (PP: 13, PK: 14), 10:30 p.m.
Expected Goalies:Cam Ward (9-7-5, 2.17, .922), Aaron Dell (2-1-0, 1.93, .931)
Key Injuries:Eddie Lack (concussion), Elias Lindholm (lower body), Jordan Staal (concussion), Tomas Hertl (knee)
It would have seemed odd before the season to have the Hurricanes in a featured matchup. Even now, it seems a little unusual, considering they are 11-10-6 with a minus-6 goal differential. However, looking at their special teams rankings, especially that penalty kill, and Ward's numbers makes them interesting. Ward has the second-best save percentage of his career, it was .923 in the 2009-10 season, and this is far and away his best GAA. It's never been lower than 2.40 over a full season. It's hard to think, at 32, that Ward has suddenly found a new level of play. You know who could be finding a new level, though? Teuvo Teravainen. The 22-year-old has seven goals and five assists, and he's on pace for his first 20-goal season. Obviously, the Hurricanes have more room for him to carve out a role than the Blackhawks did, so it makes sense for his numbers to improve. The Sharks are on their second night of a back-to-back, which means Dell will likely get the start. Of course, based on how Dell is playing this year, that's not too concerning. That being said, it is a small sample size. Twenty-year-old rookie Kevin Labanc potted his third goal in 14 games Friday. He also played 15:30 and saw 47 seconds of power-play time. That's a big increase on the minutes he had been getting. It could just be circumstances of the game, or maybe the Sharks like what they've been seeing.
Stars (PP: 14, PK: 27) at Flyers (PP: 2, PK: 23), 1:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies:Kari Lehtonen (6-8-3, 2.90, .896), Steve Mason (11-8-3, 2.82, .905)
Key Injuries:Ales Hemsky (hip), Julius Honka (upper body), Mattias Janmark (knee), Johnny Oduya (lower body), Patrick Sharp (concussion), Sean Couturier (knee), Michal Neuvirth (lower body), Matt Read (oblique)
The Flyers are allowing 3.1 goals per game, and the Stars are allowing a league-worst 3.18 goals per game. Needless to say, we should probably expect a few goals. Brayden Schenn has only four goals, but his 7.0 shooting percentage should improve. He does have 12 assists, though. Antoine Roussel has 15 points, but also 70 penalty minutes.
Senators (PP: 18, PK: 5) at Kings (PP: 28, PK: 21), 4:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies:Mike Condon (4-1-1, 1.77, .943), Peter Budaj (12-7-2, 2.23, .909)
Key Injuries:Brayden McNabb (collarbone), Jonathan Quick (groin), Craig Anderson (personal), Curtis Lazar (upper body), Marc Methot (lower body)
The Kings are surprisingly bad at special teams. Their defense is helping to keep Budaj's GAA down, but his save percentage is pretty poor, and in line with his career .903 save percentage. Of course, Condon only has a .908 career save percentage, so strange things can clearly happen in a small sample size.
Avalanche (PP: 18, PK: 24) at Canadiens (PP: 10, PK: 18), 7:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies:Calvin Pickard (5-2-1, 2.39, .922), Carey Price (15-3-1, 1.83, .940)
Key Injuries:Erik Johnson (leg), Gabriel Landeskog (lower body), David Desharnais (knee), Alex Galchenyuk (knee)
Colorado is 28th in goals scored with a mere 2.24 per game. Only one player, Matt Duchene, has double-digit goals. Not having Galchenyuk really hurts the Canadiens at center. Tomas Plekanec only has two goals and nine points. Torrey Mitchell has seven goals, but a 33.3 shooting percentage.
Canucks (PP: 26, PK: 8) at Panthers (PP: 29, PK: 7), 7:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies:Jacob Markstrom (6-4-2, 2.73, .900), Roberto Luongo (9-8-2, 2.25, .923)
Key Injuries:Jonathan Huberdeau (lower body), Jonathan Marchessault (lower body), Derek Dorsett (neck), Alexander Edler (finger), Jannik Hansen (ribs), Ryan Miller (undisclosed), Chris Tanev (ankle)
It's two goalies going against their former teams! And two terrible power plays! Obviously, Luongo is having the better season of these two. Jaromir Jagr is starting to pick up his play. He has four goals in his last eight games, though he only has six total.
Islanders (PP: 30, PK: 13) at Blue Jackets (PP: 1, PK: 17), 7:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies:Jaroslav Halak (5-6-5, 2.88, .912), Curtis McElhinney (1-0-2, 2.03, .930)
Key Injuries:Mikhail Grabovski (concussion), Ryan Strome (illness)
You won't find a greater disparity in power play quality. Columbus played Friday, which is why McElhinney may play in this one. He's been good in his limited minutes, but the 33-year-old has a very mediocre track record. In his career, he has a 2.96 GAA and a .904 save percentage. Anders Lee is now tied with John Tavares for the team lead in goals for the Islanders with eight. He has scored 25 goals once, but he's also averaging about 90 seconds less per game this year as opposed to last year.
Predators (PP: 8, PK: 19) at Coyotes (PP: 24, PK: 22), 8:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies:Pekka Rinne (11-6-4, 2.38, .922), Mike Smith (4-3-4, 2.70, .926)
Key Injuries:Max Domi (upper body), Brad Richardson (leg), Ryan Ellis (upper body)
If you are wondering why Smith has such a good save percentage with such an iffy GAA, look no further than this; the Coyotes are allowing the most shots on goal per game by a pretty wide margin. They're letting up 35.1. The Penguins, in 29th, only allow 32.5. That's good news for the player in the recommended pickup section, and also Roman Josi, who has 77 shots on goal.
Jets (PP: 21, PK: 25) at Flames (PP: 27, PK: 25), 10:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies:Connor Hellebuyck (10-9-1, 2.67, .910), Chad Johnson (12-4-1, 1.98, .932)
Key Injuries:Kris Versteeg (upper body), Alex Burmistrov (upper body), Shawn Matthias (lower body), Tyler Myers (lower body)
Mark Scheifele returned to action Thursday after missing three games. He played 21:20 and scored a goal. Speaking of playing well after injury, since Johnny Gaudreau returned from his finger injury, he's put up six points in three games.
Viktor Arvidsson, RW, NAS – If you thought that Arvidsson's start to the season was likely to be a fluke, he's proven you wrong. Over the last month, 14 games in all, he has five goals and four assists. On top of that, he's put 49 shots on goal, which, heading into Friday, was the sixth-most shots taken over the last 30 days by any player. The 23-year-old already has as many points as he had last season, 16, but clearly he's not stopping here. This feels like a legitimate breakout season, but Arvidsson is still readily available in most leagues.