This Friday's lighter slate showcases only four games, including two road favourites, an intriguing contest between Atlantic Division rivals, and one extra captivating inter-conference match-up between New York and Winnipeg. Coming off a convincing 7-3 victory in Minnesota, the Rangers - with backup Jaroslav Halak projected to spell off Igor Shesterkin - are visiting the Jets, who are set to play their first game of 2022-23. Under new head coach Rick Bowness, Winnipeg is under immense pressure to make up for last year's failure of a campaign. Starting tonight. That tilt could be a doozy.
All times Eastern.
Favorable scoring match-ups
7pm, Nationwide Arena
This rested Lightning squad will have a bee in its collective bonnet after being taken to task by a very good Rangers team in Tuesday's opener. Determined to not fall 0-2 to start the season, Jon Cooper's club should have an easier go of it against the Blue Jackets in Columbus - a team that probably feels a bit deflated after losing Patrik Laine (elbow sprain) for up to four weeks.
10:30pm, SAP Center, Watch live on ESPN+
It's already shaping up to be a long season for the San Jose Sharks. After losing a pair to Nashville overseas - almost a week ago - the home side will be in tough staving off one of the NHL's more potent offenses. Look for Brent Burns, in particular, to light it up in his first trip back to where he played for 11 years.
7pm, Little Caesars Arena, Watch live on ESPN+
As Montreal's defense is currently constructed, there will likely only be a few occasions in the foreseeable future when the opposition isn't favored to score a few. This isn't one of them. Play your favourite Red Wings skaters, from blueliner Moritz Seider on out.
Mid-tier fantasy forwards
Alexis Lafreniere, LW/RW, New York Rangers (33.0%): The No. 1 draft selection from only two years ago is off to a promising start, skating on a scoring line with Artemi Panarin and Vincent Trocheck. After a respectable enough debut against the Lightning, Lafreniere contributed two primary assists on goals scored by defenseman Adam Fox and Panarin in Thursday's shellacking of the Wild. If this slightly tired Rangers squad is able to pot a couple/few past Jets netminder Connor Hellebuyck - and I believe they are - there's a reasonable chance the 21-year-old winger will be in on such scoring action.
Jakub Vrana, C/LW, Detroit Red Wings (57.8%)
Deep league/Daily Fantasy value forwards
Martin Necas, C/RW, Carolina Hurricanes (13.3%): Slotted on a line with Andrei Svechnikov and Jesperi Kotkaniemi, the (still only) 23-year-old contributed a goal and two assists - all five-on-five - in Wednesday's 4-1 win over Columbus. This keeps up, and Necas won't qualify as a "value" fantasy forward for long. Take advantage in the meanwhile.
Seth Jarvis, C/RW, Carolina Hurricanes (19.3%)
Brandon Hagel, RW/LW, Tampa Bay Lightning (7.3%)
Luke Kunin, C/LW/RW, San Jose Sharks (5.2%)
Sean Monahan, C, Montreal Canadiens (1.9%)
Mid-tier fantasy defensemen
Erik Karlsson, San Jose Sharks (56.6%): If at all smitten with the idea of San Jose potting one or a few past Carolina's Frederik Andersen (probable), the Sharks' top offensive defenseman merits extra thought. Averaging nearly 27 minutes per game through two overseas contests against the Predators, Karlsson is the only Shark to emerge from that mini-series in the black (plus-one). The offense will come. Perhaps maybe even late Friday.
Deep league/Daily Fantasy value defensemen
David Savard, Montreal Canadiens (4.8%): The Canadiens defender blocked nine shots in Wednesday's surprising 4-3 victory over the Maple Leafs. Nine. If your fantasy league, traditional or daily, rewards that category, consider giving Savard a whirl in Detroit. The top-pair blueliner is also capable enough of contributing to the scoresheet on occasion. There's good reason to believe those out front of Jake Allen etc. will be blocking a fair number of shots this year, including the team's top defender.
Brady Skjei, Carolina Hurricanes (16.9%)
K'Andre Miller, New York Rangers (15.2%)
Ville Husso, Detroit Red Wings (62.8%): All jazzed up in their home opener Wednesday, the Canadiens put in an inspired performance against a visibly lackadaisical Maple Leafs club and still only managed to escape with a 4-3 victory. So the stage is perfectly set for a letdown of an encore in Detroit on Friday. Husso was good when called upon for St. Louis in 2022-23. He was more impressive in (limited) preseason play this fall. I'm not suggesting we're in for a shutout - Habs forward Cole Caufield already has it going on - but I like Husso escaping with a solid victory in the Red Wings' opener.
Andrei Vasilevskiy (projected), Tampa Bay Lightning (99.9%)
Frederik Andersen (projected), Carolina Hurricanes (97.0%)
James Reimer, San Jose Sharks (10.1%): For what it's worth, Reimer was pretty good against his former club through two starts last season. I still think the Hurricanes' dynamic offense will prove too much for San Jose's starting netminder, especially following an out-of-routine launch to the campaign, with two opening matches in Europe.
Elvis Merzlikins, G, Columbus Blue Jackets (73.9%)