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By Allan Muir
December 05, 2014

If you haven't tried our daily Hockey Throwdown fantasy game, check it out. The link in the tile will take you to the game page where you can set up a head-to-head challenge with a friend, an enemy, the cable guy, the vicar, me ... basically anyone. Pick three players on three different NHL teams who you think will surpass their projected totals in such categories as wins, saves and goals-against average for goalies; and goals, assists, plus-minus, PIM and shots on goal for forwards and defensemen. Your team earns points based on live game stats. Highest score wins. You can play for free or wager anywhere from $1 to $500.

Each day, I offer up three picks that I think are primed to have a big night. Here are today's best bets:

Forward: Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks (vs. Montreal, 8:30 EST, RDS, SNE, CSN-CH)

Sometimes you gotta go with the hottest hand. Kane has been almost unstoppable since being placed on a line with Brad Richards and Kris Versteeg, tallying eight goals and 15 points and a plus-12 rating in his past eight games. He's the sort of player who can roll a streak into an extended 10-20 game stretch, so don't be put off by his fairly aggressive projections (0.4 G, 0.6 A, 0.1 +/-, 0.3 PIM, 3.4 SOG, 0.3 PPP). Kane's good for it.

Defense: Sami Vatanen, Anaheim Ducks (at Minnesota 8:00 EST, Prime, FS-N+)

The second-year blueliner is quietly putting together an exceptional sophomore season. He's already tied last year's point totals (7-14-21) in just 27 games, putting him on track for a 60-point season. Just two defensemen—Erik Karlsson and Duncan Keith—hit that plateau in 2013-14. He has eight points in his past eight , giving him a good shot at besting his fairly modest projections. (0.1 G, 0.4 A, 0.1 +/-, 0.5 PIM, 1.7 SOG, 0.2 PPP)

Goalie: Darcy Kuemper, Minnesota Wild (vs. Anaheim 8:00 EST, Prime, FS-N+)

With two of the six goalies on the FanNation chart not expected to start (and two others negated by our forward and defense picks), let's take a flyer on Kuemper. He's allowed two goals or fewer in six of his past eight starts, including a solid effort Wednesday when he allowed just one goal on 19 shots against the Canadiens. His projections (0.4 W, 2.2 GA, 24.0 SV, 0.1 SO) are reasonable although he might have trouble topping 24 stops considering the Wild allow a league-low 25.5 on average.

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