Approaching the final third stretch of the season, we're back to the league's own brand of regularly scheduled programming where the large majority of teams play during the meat of the weekend while only a precious few gear up on either daily side. Specifically, following a three-gamer on Friday, Saturday's lively slate features 13 tete-a-tetes, before Sunday's pair of matinees. (Super Bowl and all that.) While you'll want to pluck out some favorable streamers for both lighter dockets, figuring out who to play or sit on the busy day is equally important. For instance, I don't love Islanders skaters against a solid Jacob Markstrom and a won't-yet-say-die Flames club that's won three-straight.
Other noteworthy matchups feature St. Louis visiting Buffalo and Montreal after enjoying a week and half off. So fatigue shouldn't be an issue for a productive-of-late Brayden Schenn or any other member of the Blues. Bouncing off Tristan Jarry's sixth shutout of the season against the Jets Tuesday, the Penguins visit Minnesota Friday before landing in Winnipeg on Saturday. Plus, all eyes on L.A. when the Kings play their first game under new bench boss Jim Hiller against an Oilers team determined to get back to the streaky business of winning, and playing their second in as many nights. That one should be a doozy, especially if Cam Talbot earns the start against his old Edmonton club.
Samuel Ersson, G, Philadelphia Flyers: That's now two-straight victories post-All Star break, in which Ersson allowed only a single goal against the Panthers and Jets, respectively. We'll see if the club's current No. 1 can make it three in a row against the Kraken on Saturday. The Flyers are as healthy as they've been all season, which also helps. If you need fantasy goaltending help, there's an excellent chance Ersson is there for the snatching.
Ondrej Palat, F, New Jersey Devils: As long as he sticks on a forward line with Nico Hischier and Jesper Bratt, I'm all over Palat as a dynamic deep-league fantasy asset in the short term. After losing most of January to injury, the veteran forward has three goals and two helpers in his past three games, with Hischier and/or Bratt figuring in on every one of those points.
Jonathan Quick, G, New York Rangers: While there's little question Igor Shesterkin will be back in the Rangers' crease in short order, there's also no ignoring Quick's consecutive wins against the Avalanche and Lightning this week, in which he allowed one goal in each; two convincing victories that followed a 29-save win in Ottawa ahead of the break. If Shesterkin doesn't show tangible signs of bouncing back after spending time with tape and goalie coach Benoit Allaire, Quick could see more action than your average No. 2. At least, in the immediate future.
Patrick Kane, F, Detroit Red Wings: After missing half of January with a lower-body injury, Kane is due back against the Canucks on Saturday. There are very few fantasy leagues where this top-line/No. 1 power-play asset doesn't belong. He could be available for a click of the mouse in yours.
Mikhail Sergachev, D, Tampa Bay Lightning: Just a lousy situation, full-stop. After undergoing surgery to stabilize the tibia and fibula in his leg following this week's on-ice incident against the Rangers - his first game after missing 17 with another injury - Sergachev isn't expected back anytime soon. On the upside, following weeks of rehab, the Lightning defender could be good to go for the start of the playoffs - maybe even a bit earlier. Nonetheless, under most circumstances he should be dropped outright in the large majority of fantasy redraft leagues.
Casey DeSmith, G, Vancouver Canucks Look for a better Canucks team to show up this weekend after Thursday's sloppy effort in Boston. I imagine coach Rick Tocchet and Co. will ensure as much. So consider DeSmith as a streaming option whether he gets the opportunity to spell off Thatcher Demko in Detroit on Saturday or, more likely, against the Capitals Sunday.
Joel Hofer, G, St. Louis Blues: After a full 10 days off, the Blues are thrown right back into the competitive fire with back-to-backs in Buffalo and Montreal over the weekend. While the Canadiens are proving to be tough competition on many occasions, I like St. Louis' No. 2 as a streamer in this matchup, one of only two on Sunday. Especially after the Blues are given the chance to shrug off some rust Saturday. Montreal will also be playing their second in as many days after facing the Stars 24 hours earlier.
Marc-Andre Fleury, G, Minnesota Wild: Yes, I would roll out Marc-Andre Fleury against his old Penguins team when they visit Xcel Energy Center on a Friday slate speckled with only two other games. I would definitely do that.
Calvin Pickard, G, Edmonton Oilers: A repeat from Wednesday: Following the end to their recent successful run, the Oilers would like nothing better than to launch another chain of wins. Perhaps starting Friday in Anaheim. Pickard - now expected to start - logged a 4-0 record, with a .937 SV% and 1.74 GAA, during Edmonton's streak of 16 victories.