This article is part of our The Daily Puck series.
The Avalanche have been tough to watch. Their 22 points from catchingArizona, who sit second to last in the NHL. The Avs are on track for the incredibly rare feat of averaging fewer than two goals per game.
With the season winding down, there's an important question to ask yourself about the Avs. Is there anyone left on the team you can expect results from? After all, this isn't the 2014-15 Buffalo Sabres. Colorado has Matt Duchene, Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, Erik Johnson, and Tyson Barrie.
The truth is you probably don't want to rely on anyone in Colorado. With Semyon Varlamov out for the season, the goaltending situation is dire. That poor goaltending has frequently put them down early in games, taking the wind out of their sails entirely.
Even more frustrating, the players you were starting early in the season aren't getting as many chances. You're seeing more time given to young players like J.T. Compher, Mikko Rantanen, and Tyson Jost. That's impacting ice time for depth players and even pushing stars out of their usual roles. Duchene, the team's faceoff leader, has been moved to wing with Compher playing center.
The whole situation is toxic. Duchene is without a point in nine games. Landeskog is on pace to finish with fewer than 20 goals in a full season for the first time in his six-year career. He's averaging just .44 points per game, which ties his career low. After scoring 13 goals in two of the last three seasons – and 12 in the other year – Barrie has only six goals. His 36-point total is the worst scoring pace he's posted in a full season.
Calling the year a tire fire would be a generous assessment. There's little left to salvage in terms of fantasy and you're probably looking at top players like MacKinnon as depth on your roster. However, in daily formats, the cost of that depth may exceed the reward.
Maple Leafs (PP: 2, PK: 8) at Sabres (PP: 1, PK: 26), 7:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies:Frederik Andersen (32-15-14, 2.66, .919), Anders Nilsson (10-10-4, 2.73, .920)
Key Injuries:Taylor Fedun (undisclosed), Cody Franson (upper body), Johan Larsson (wrist), Kyle Okposo (illness), Eric Fehr (hand), Josh Leivo (undisclosed), Joffrey Lupul (abdomen), Nikita Soshnikov (undisclosed)
This is a huge game for the Leafs. They are in the thick of the playoff hunt in the Atlantic. Second to fifth place are separated by only four points. A few wins to finish the season and the Leafs may start the playoffs on home ice. A few losses and the Leafs might miss the postseason entirely.
However, the Sabres aren't likely to roll over for a division foe and they continue to have an impressive power play. While their defense is a problem, Buffalo is offensively potent. Their 30.6 shots per game are tied for 10th in the league.
This could be a good place to dig up depth players on a slow Monday. The Sabres are allowing 34.1 shots against per game, the most in the NHL. While Nilsson has played well this season, there have certainly been inconsistencies in his game.
There's depth on both sides of the ice worth looking at, though. Toronto ranks 28th in shots against per game and the top of the Sabres forward group is dangerous. Eichel continues to be a dynamic player who is still flying too far under the radar. There's solid goaltending at both ends here, but both teams are creating offense even when they're not playing teams that give up this many shots.
Canadiens (PP: 13, PK: 15) at Panthers (PP: 24, PK: 1), 7:30 p.m.
Expected Goalies:Carey Price (37-18-5, 2.20, .924), Reto Berra (0-4-0, 3.54, .870)
Key Injuries:Aleksander Barkov (upper body), Aaron Ekblad (neck), Roberto Luongo (lower body), James Reimer (upper body), Jordie Benn (upper body), Torrey Mitchell (illness), Al Montoya (lower body)
Montreal is looking to secure a place atop the Atlantic Division against a struggling Panther squad racked by injuries. With both of their top goaltenders on the shelf, as well as their first line center and arguably their best defenseman, nothing is coming easy in Sunrise. It means there's a lot working in Montreal's favor, even if they're on the road.
At 31.5 shots against per game, the Panthers are giving up quite a bit, even if they've been good on the penalty kill. The Panthers enter the game having lost four straight, including a 6-2 drubbing at the hands of the Canadiens.
Max Pacioretty enters the game on a four-game point streak, over which he has two goals and four assists with an average of four shots per game. Further down the roster, Phillip Danault – who we will talk more about later – is on a three-game point streak and may be able to provide value at an affordable price in daily formats.
Senators (PP: 23, PK: 18) at Red Wings (PP: 28, PK: 14), 7:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies:Craig Anderson (22-11-3, 2.38, .925), Jimmy Howard (9-10-1, 2.16, .927)
Key Injuries:Jonathan Ericsson (wrist), Luke Glendening (lower body), Anthony Mantha (finger), Ryan Sproul (knee), Cody Ceci (lower body), Erik Karlsson (undisclosed), Marc Methot (hand), Chris Neil (finger), Zack Smith (upper body)
This is a tough game to feel confident about. Anderson has been good most of the year, though he's been less than perfect lately. However, to a certain extent, it's tough to trust the Sens' season-long stats right now. They're on a slide and don't quite look like themselves. That's a grim assessment in one of the most important stretches of the season. After sitting inside the playoff picture almost all year, this slide could be the end of the line for them.
Even though they're playing the Wings, who have been middling at best, the Sens are dealing with significant injuries. Recently adding Karlsson and Ceci to their injury list has hurt quite a bit.
Phillip Danault, LW, MTL — Don't expect Danault to be your savior, but on a slow night where the known quantities are pretty clear, Danault has the ability to give your lineup a boost on the cheap. For a depth option, his value extends beyond his current three-game point streak. He has points in six of the last 10 games for a total of three goals and five assists with an average of two shots per game.