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Weekly Primer

Thanksgiving Showdown, McDavid against MacKinnon highlight week in NHL

Rangers, Bruins face off on Black Friday, Koivu's 1,000th game among can't-miss events

by Jon Lane @JonLaneNHL / Staff Writer

The New York Rangers and Boston Bruins will compete in the 2019 NHL Thanksgiving Showdown on Friday. But there are more stories to watch this week. Here are the top five along with fantasy can't-miss players. 


1. NHL Thanksgiving Showdown

The New York Rangers and Boston Bruins will play in the annual NHL Thanksgiving Showdown at TD Garden on Friday (1 p.m. ET; NBC).

It's the seventh consecutive season the Rangers are playing on Black Friday. They're competing in the Thanksgiving Showdown for the sixth time in seven seasons, and the six games have been on the road against either the Bruins or Philadelphia Flyers. 

New York is 2-3-0 in the Thanksgiving Showdown, including a 4-0 loss to the Flyers at Wells Fargo Center on Nov. 23, 2018. 

The Bruins will participate in their first Thanksgiving Showdown since defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3 in Boston on Nov. 24, 2017 behind two points from David Krejci (one goal, one assist) and two assists by Jake DeBrusk.

Also this week, Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist can pass Curtis Joseph for fifth place in NHL history with his 455th win.


2. McDavid against MacKinnon

Two early-season contenders for the Hart Trophy given to the player voted as NHL most valuable player face each other for the second time this season when Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers visit Nathan MacKinnon and the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center on Wednesday (10 p.m. ET; ESPN+, ALT, SNW, NHL.TV).

McDavid (47 points; 18 goals, 29 assists), a two-time Hart finalist who won the award in 2017, has points in 11 consecutive games (12 goals, 12 assists) and is second behind teammate Leon Draisaitl (48 points; 16 goals, 32 assists) for the NHL scoring lead. Edmonton's captain had his first six-point game in the NHL and Draisaitl had five assists in a 6-2 win against Colorado at Rogers Place on Nov. 14.

MacKinnon (33 points; 14 goals, 19 assists) is warranting early Hart consideration because of what he and the Avalanche (13-8-2) are doing without injured top-line forwards Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog. The forward has 21 points (nine goals, 12 assists) in 14 games after Rantanen left the game against the St. Louis Blues on Oct. 21 with a lower-body injury. 

Video: TOR@COL: MacKinnon buries heavy slap shot


3. Islanders can extend point streak out west

The New York Islanders look to extend their team-record point streak with three games beginning against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center on Monday (10 p.m. ET; PRIME, MSG+, NHL.TV).

The Islanders (15-0-2 since Oct. 12) are the third different team in the past four seasons to go at least 17 games without a regulation loss, joining the Columbus Blue Jackets (17-0-1 from Nov. 25, 2016 to Jan. 3, 2017) and Bruins (14-0-4 from Dec. 16, 2017 to Jan. 25, 2018 and 15-0-4 from Jan. 29 to March 9).


4. Zuccarello back in New York with Wild

Mats Zuccarello will play for the Minnesota Wild against the Rangers for the first time at Madison Square Garden on Monday (7 p.m. ET; ESPN+, MSG, FS-N+, NHL.TV). The forward has 11 points (four goals, seven assists) after he agreed to a five-year, $30 million contract with Minnesota on July 1. 

The 32-year-old played his first nine NHL seasons with the Rangers before he was traded to the Dallas Stars on Feb. 23. He had 352 points (113 goals, 239 assists) in 509 regular-season games for New York and competed in the Stanley Cup Final in 2013-14.


5. Wild center Koivu set for 1,000th game in NHL

Mikko Koivu is expected to be the first to play 1,000 NHL games for the Wild when they visit the Stars at American Airlines Center on Sunday (3 p.m. ET; FS-N, FS-WI, FS-SW+, NHL.TV). The 36-year-old center has played all 15 of his NHL seasons in Minnesota after he was the No. 6 pick in the 2001 NHL Draft and is one point from 700 in his NHL career.

Video: MIN@ARI: Koivu lifts home big rebound for PPG


Fantasy can't-miss picks

Emil Bemstrom, CBJ -- The rookie forward had points in five straight games (six points; three goals, three assists) from Nov. 7-19 and is thriving on the top line with center Pierre-Luc Dubois. The Blue Jackets have four games this week (tied for most in NHL), including three at home. -- Pete Jensen

Alexander Radulov, DAL -- He's been quiet with one goal in his past eight games and is due for more production. Radulov will have plenty of opportunity to break his scoring slump with four games this week against the Vegas Golden Knights, Chicago Blackhawks, Blues and Wild. -- Rob Reese

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