What about Bob? Or Spencer? Or even Alex? With Sergei Bobrovsky, Spencer Knight, and Alex Lyon all participating in Thursday's practice, we shouldn't expect confirmation of Friday's go-to against the visiting Kings until a little later in the day. Ideally, the Panthers would prefer to divvy up starts between Bobrovsky and Knight in their final back-to-back set ahead of the All-Star break, sending their call-up back to the AHL. Especially after Lyon surrendered seven goals on 49 shots in Tuesday's volatile -- and very group-effort driven -- 7-6 loss to the Penguins. But with every point serving as a precious commodity, the Panthers aren't in a position to rush either full-time NHLer back prematurely. Keep a view of who finally gets the nod as the day wears on -- opposing Jonathan Quick for the Kings, perhaps, as Los Angeles might reserve Pheonix Copley for Saturday's contest in Tampa, Florida.
In other pressing goaltending news, Toronto's Matt Murray is rumored to start against his old Ottawa club, despite Ilya Samsonov's successful tear of late. In breaking news Friday morning, the Leafs are ruling out Auston Matthews for three weeks because of a knee sprain. Michael Bunting is projected to fill in on the club's top power play. After leaving Wednesday's game with a reported upper-body injury, Frederik Andersen is considered a "maybe" against the visiting Sharks. "He's fine," according to GM Don Waddell. But with four(!) games remaining before the midseason recess, the Hurricanes won't be faulted for turning to Antti Raanta on the onset of such a hectic stretch.
The Rangers play their final game ahead of the break against the visiting Golden Knights. Look out for a sizzling Filip Chytil in that interconference matchup. We could be treated to a more modest scoring affair in Vitek Vanecek vs. Jake Oettinger, as both the Devils and Stars play their pre-rest finales. The Flames are hoping to wash off Thursday's 5-1 loss to Chicago with a victory over the unpredictable Kraken. Calgary's Dan Vladar -- winner of four straight -- was excellent in the previous meeting between these Pacific rivals. Also, Seattle star Matty Beniers isn't sure to play after suffering an injury against the Canucks on Wednesday.
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All times Eastern.
Favorable scoring matchups
Columbus Blue Jackets at Vancouver Canucks
10 p.m, Rogers Arena, Watch live on ESPN+
Game No. 3 for Rick Tocchet sets the table for early redemption after Wednesday's 6-1 loss to the Kraken in following up a victorious coaching debut over the Blackhawks earlier. Lightly understating matters, Bruce Boudreau's replacement was not pleased with the Canucks' unravelling in Seattle. This is Vancouver's final contest before returning to competitive ice on Feb. 6. It won't care to spend nearly 10 days stewing over another loss, particularly after enduring days, weeks, months of ongoing organizational drama. I expect Tocchet's charges to throw it all out there on offense against a porous enough Columbus club that's scheduled to play again Saturday in Seattle.
Mid-tier fantasy forwards
Lucas Raymond Detroit Red Wings (53.3%)
Carter Verhaeghe, Florida Panthers (64.2%)
Anton Lundell, Florida Panthers (40.0%)
Teuvo Teravainen, Carolina Hurricanes (59.3%)
Jared McCann, Seattle Kraken (38.2%)
Andrei Kuzmenko, Vancouver Canucks (61.8%)
Deep league/daily fantasy value forwards
Ridly Greig, Ottawa Senators (0.1%): The 20-year-old rifled eight shots on net and earned the primary assist on Claude Giroux's winner in Wednesday's tight 2-1 victory over the Islanders. Not bad for a first NHL outing. Mind you, there are worse positions from which to make a big league entrance than skating on a scoring line with Giroux and Alex DeBrincat. Selected 28th overall in 2020, Greig is also often good for a few penalty minutes here and there.
Michael Rasmussen, Detroit Red Wings (2.0%)
Filip Chytil, New York Rangers (7.8%)
Ryan Donato, Seattle Kraken (1.1%)
Quinton Byfield, Los Angeles Kings (1.4%)
Shane Pinto, Ottawa Senators (5.8%)
Kyle Palmieri, New York Islanders (1.1%)
Dillon Dube, Calgary Flames (2.0%)
Blake Coleman, Calgary Flames (4.4%)
Dakota Joshua, Vancouver Canucks (0.1%)
Kirill Marchenko, Columbus Blue Jackets (2.3%)
Mid-tier fantasy defensemen
Gustav Forsling, Florida Panthers (53.9%)
K'Andre Miller, New York Rangers (33.6%)
Deep league/daily fantasy value defensemen
Andrew Peeke, Columbus Blue Jackets (1.9%): The Columbus defender is serving as a fantasy star in leagues that value shot-blocking and hits, averaging 2.1 points/game in ESPN.com conventional leagues these past two weeks. Power-play asset Nick Blankenburg (2.8%) is also an intriguing play versus the Canucks' worst penalty kill in the league.
Magnus Hellberg (projected), Detroit Red Wings (0.2%): The Islanders are having great difficulty in putting the puck in the net -- more so than any other team since Jan. 4 (1.64 goals/game). If browsing around for a goaltender to stream or enlist in daily fantasy competition, Detroit's No. 2 netminder merits consideration. The Red Wings are off for 10 full days following Friday's meeting at UBS Arena. No excuse to not leave it all out there on the ice.