For those people looking forward to the end of the 2016 calendar year, it's almost here. We still have one more night of action to go, not to mention one more afternoon worth of action. With the countdown to puck drop on, it will be a quick post for the starting goalies, so it helps that there is no anxiety about the survivor pool. I don't have to drone on about the story lines. Ha!
We know that Robin Lehner is going to start this afternoon for the Buffalo Sabres and it should be fair to assume that Tuukka Rask gets the nod for the Bruins, which will make this a Jeremy versus Troy match-up in the standings.
Jeremy could have had two starts today, but the Capitals have opted for their back-up, Philipp Grubauer in the matinee start, a non-pool start here and we know that he's going to face Keith Kinkaid in the New Jersey Devils' net, making this game a non-pool wash from the crease.
No one was confirmed for this huge date today, but with two huge winnings streaks on the line, we should expect the best to try and keep them going. Sergei Bobrovsky versus Devan Dubnyk, the two top players in pool scoring today, going for the Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild, respectively. Mike and John S. are both surviving teams, hoping for the best in this one.
With Jaroslav Halak getting sent down to the minors today, the New York Islanders will likely be going to Thomas Greiss this evening and we know that the Winnipeg Jets will be going with Connor Hellebuyck tonight. It will be Dale B. versus Tony in the pool standings at the MTS Centre tonight.
It should be 2nd place versus 3rd place in Pittsburgh tonight, as Benson's Carey Price should be going up against Cam's Marc-Andre Fleury in the game between the Canadiens and the Penguins. Price has yet to be confirmed, but he is well rested, so he should be ready to go.
We know Ryan is going to get a start from Tampa's Andrei Vasilevskiy, but it is still unconfirmed, which way the Hurricanes will go tonight. There is a good chance that Cam Ward will make back-to-back night starts, as they try to make up ground for the playoffs, but Eddie Lack is healthy again and could get the start. It's either Brian's start or no one's start, as Lack was dropped earlier this season.
Calvin Pickard will get the start for the home side again tonight, as the Colorado Avalanche will play host to the New York Rangers. The blueshirts have yet to confirm, but if Henrik Lundqvist is healthy, he should get the easy start tonight. This means, Derek B. versus Grant, in theory. I guess we can't discount the thought that Antti Raanta could start, given how well he's played lately. Stacey M. should keep her fingers crossed.
Antti Niemi will get the nod for the Dallas Stars tonight, confirmed, which is good news for Wilton, but the other side has yet to be confirmed, but the Florida Panthers will likely give Cam his second start of the night, thanks to a Roberto Luongo start.
No one confirmed for this one so early in the day, but with the Canucks playing last night, there is a fine chance that Jacob Markstrom goes for them, while Cam Talbot should get the start for the Oilers in their barn, trying to close out the year with a big W. Clayton versus Marcie is the projected pool teams in this start.
Marcie could get a second start from the Coyotes in Mike Smith and John S. is projected to have a second start from the Flames in Chad Johnson. It's certainly a bonus game for both pool teams, as they continue to try and find their way into the money spots.
Finally, we're expecting a top end battle in Los Angeles, as it should be Martin Jones going for the Sharks and Peter Budaj going for the Kings in this, an all-Wes affair. Wes' 24th place team is continuing to tread water in that spot, having lost some ground on 23rd this week.