This article is part of our FanDuel NHL series.
It's a modest three-game Friday before a big slate on Saturday. Here are tonight's matchups:
Bruins at Rangers (7:00 p.m. EST): It's the second half of a back-to-back for the Bruins. Expect an improved effort on defense from them after poor breakouts and turnovers led to an embarrassing third period last night. They're still the favorites against the Rangers, who remain without Artemi Panarin and were outshot 39-27 against the Flyers last time out. The Bruins have also won their past six meetings.
Kings at Wild (8:00 p.m.): This is an intriguing West matchup because both teams have been surprisingly good so far. The Kings have won six in a row while the Wild have won four, with the Wild entering with a 3-2 edge in the season series.
Avalanche at Coyotes (9:00 p.m.): The Coyotes have been very impressive, staging comeback wins in two straight games against the Ducks. The Avs, meanwhile, have lost two straight and were outscored 9-2. It marked the first time this season Nathan MacKinnon was held without a point in consecutive games.
Tuukka Rask, BOS at NYR ($8,600): Rask's .901 Sv% and the Bruins' effort last night are definitely concerning, but he was excellent in his previous meeting versus the Rangers with a 33-save win. The B's D was no help last night with numerous turnovers in their own zone while allowing two shorthanded goals. Both issues should improve tonight.
Darcy Kuemper, ARI vs. COL ($8,100): This is assuming Philipp Grubauer ($8,400) starts Saturday's game instead, giving him an extra day's rest after getting shelled in his last outing. The Coyotes' offense has been impressive of late with two comeback wins and plenty of goal support. The Avs may start Hunter Miska, who's posted an .881 Sv% in two games this season, or Adam Werner, who has yet to play and managed a .909 Sv% in the AHL last year.
Kaapo Kahkonen, MIN vs. LA ($7,800): I expect the Wild to run it back to Kahkonen following the win against the Avs, while his strong play is starting to pave the way for him to be the permanent No. 1 goalie. This is a different Minnesota side than the one the Kings beat 4-0 on Feb. 16, which featured two rookies and Dakota Mermis on the blueline.
Colin Blackwell, NYR vs. BOS ($3,600): Size be damned, Blackwell has played a pretty big role for the Rangers. He's scored three points over four contests and seems to have found a home on the second line with Panarin out of the lineup. Blackwell was held without a shot in only one game this season, but added an assist that outing.
Gabriel Vilardi, LA at MIN ($3,400): Vilardi's point streak was snapped and was held without a shot on goal, but he still finished with 16 minutes and 70.0 CF% according to Natural Stat Trick. Scoring on the Wild could be pretty tough, but the Kings' top-six has also been surprisingly effective this season and Vilardi's a fixture on PP2.
Wild vs. Kings
This trio has been on a hot streak, so ride it while you can. It just doesn't seem likely to last as I'm still not sure Rask is a full-time NHL player even after 400-plus games, Zuccarello's pace is clearly unsustainable, and their possession numbers at even strength have actually been poor. You can get away with just talent, but note the Kings' goaltending has been very strong recently.
Cale Makar, COL at ARI ($6,200): Makar's been missing in Norris Trophy conversations because the Avs have played less games, but he should definitely be among the candidates.
Matt Dumba, MIN vs. LA ($4,800): Dumba doesn't score a lot of points, but he appears on the scoresheet with plenty of shots and blocked shots. He's a very active player and the ability to stuff the scoresheet with peripherals makes him a rather safe play.
Jakob Chychrun, ARI vs. COL ($4,500): Chychrun's racked up three points, six shots and blocked another three shots over his past two games. His role has diminished a little with Oliver Ekman-Larsson returning, but he is clearly the Coyotes' future and presents potentially first-pairing upside among second-tier defensemen.