Auston Matthews

It’s a short four-game slate tonight with an interesting mixture of teams and matchups. The struggling Stars take on the still bad Senators at home. Meanwhile the Avalanche, who have yet to lose in regulation this season, will put their semi-perfect record on the line when they take on the Blues. Maple Leafs vs. Blue Jackets and Golden Knights at Flyers are also on the slate as the Golden Knights and Leafs will look to better their winning records against weaker teams.

Top Line Stacks

Maple Leafs vs. Blue Jackets

Auston Matthews ($8,200) – Mitchell Marner ($7,300) – Morgan Reilly ($6,700)
The Leafs will be without John Tavares for the next couple weeks and may be down Andreas Johnsson (Q; leg) in tonight’s game too. This should mean they’ll be relying on the trio of superstars they have left even more than usual in the short-term. Both Matthews and Marner averaged well over 21 minutes of ice time in the Leafs first game without Tavares and they should push for more big minutes tonight against the Blue Jackets.

Columbus has been OK defensively but has suffered from poor goaltending and special teams as starter Joonas Korpisalo enters the game with a save percentage barely above .900 — while the Blue Jackets penalty kill sits as the 11th worst in the league at the moment. The three M’s should see plenty of ice as a trio and will certainly handle heavy power-play minutes together, giving them an excellent shot of combining on multiple goals for fantasy rosters tonight.

Blue Jackets at Maple Leafs

Gustav Nyquist ($4,200) – Pierre-Luc Dubois ($4,400) – Cam Atkinson ($6,400)
If you need a more affordable trio, the other side of the Leafs-Blue Jackets game is certainly worth looking at. Toronto has allowed just under 3.5 goals per game thus far and is allowing well over 30 SOG every night. Each skate on the Blue Jackets’ first line is averaging well over 17 mins of ice per game and play together at even strength and on the power-play. Atkinson is due for some positive goal regression soon as well, as he enters this game with just three goals but sits fifth in the league in SOG with 36 (averaging over 4.5 SOG per game). The matchup here on a short slate makes this a great spot to take a shot on stacking one of the cheapest first lines in the league.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Nick Foligno skated with Dubois and Atkinson during practice today

Superstar to Build Around

Vladimir Tarasenko, STL vs. COL ($6,600)- Tarasenko has gotten off to a bit of a slow start but he’s starting to show signs a breakout is coming soon. He enters this game with just two goals in eight games, but both came in his last three and he now has 12 SOG in his last three games after registering just 10 through his first five. Colorado is one of the league’s worst teams at limiting shots against as they enter this game having allowed over 36 SOG per game. Despite the Avalanche getting off to a hot start, the Blues are favored here and have an implied team goal total here of over 3.0. Given Tarasenko’s still affordable price and his recent uptick in SOG, this seems like a good time to roll with him as one of your high-priced picks.

Value on Offense

Chris Tierney, OTT at DAL ($3,200) – Despite the Senators being bad, they are playing the Stars, who have started the season 2-7-1. Tierney is playing in a top-six role for the Senators and playing heavy minutes as he enters this game averaging 17.5 minutes per game and is seeing time on the first-unit power play of late as well. Ottawa is #notgood, but anytime you can get a forward at $3,200 putting in the minutes like Tierney is — with nightly power play exposure — a pretty solid fantasy value target will exist. On a four-game slate with less options than normal, Tierney stands out as a solid cheap target at forward.

Ilya Mikheyev, TOR vs. CBJ ($4,400) – Mikheyev could get a boost in playing time for the second straight night, as the Leafs will be without Tavares (finger) and may be without Johnsson. Mikheyev skated over 18 minutes in the Leafs last game and now has points in each of his last two starts — and is also averaging just under 4.0 SOG over his last four starts. If Johnsson sits, Mikheyev could see power play or regular strength time with the Leafs big stars tonight, which would make him an ultra-value target at his sub $5K price.

Stud Goalies

Ben Bishop, DAL vs. OTT ($8,200) – The Stars are the slates biggest favorites tonight at -210 putting Bishop in line with a great chance to score the win bonus. That aside, the Dallas netminder has averaged 35 saves over his last two starts and is still playing decent hockey despite his teams struggles, as he’s posted save percentages of .914 or better in three of his last four starts. He’s expensive but a good pay up candidate who should give you a shot at both a lot of saves and the win.

Philipp Grubauer, COL at STL ($7,500) – The Avalanche may be 7-0-1 to start the year but they have still been allowing a massive number of shots against every night. Coming into tonight, Colorado has allowed an average of 36.2 SOG per game thus far, with Grubauer seeing 40 or more shots against in two of his last four starts. The volume of shots has allowed the Avalanche No. 1 to post some big fantasy games on the year already and, despite the Avalanche being slight underdogs here, he should be in a good spot to rack up big save numbers again and possibly a GPP winning kind of fantasy total.

Value on Defense

Esa Lindell, DAL vs. OTT ($3,800) – Lindell is still playing big minutes for the Stars and comes into this game averaging 23 mins per game. The added bonus with Lindell is that he’s also averaging 1:50 on the power play per game as well and is going up against one of the weakest defensive teams on the slate in the Senators. Despite the lack of point production so far (two points in 10 games), Lindell is averaging nearly two blocked shots per night and over a SOG per game, giving him a solid floor with the added bonus that he’s in a role where his point production should eventually start improving soon.

Shayne Gostisbehere, PHI vs. VGK ($4,100) – Gostisbehere has started the season slowly, with zero points in six games. However, the power-play specialist is still averaging 2.33 SOG per game and over three minutes of power play time per game as well. This kind of exposure means the goals and assist should be coming soon for Gostisbehere who scored nine times last season and added 28 assists in a similar role. His price has stayed depressed due to his slow start so going after him here and hoping for some offensive fireworks isn’t a bad idea at all on this shorter slate.

Power-Play Defensemen

Thomas Chabot, OTT at DAL ($6,100) – It’s a short slate, so we don’t have a ton of pay-up options on defense, but Chabot is certainly in play here. The Senators power-play quarterback is averaging 3.2 SOG per game, while playing over 26 minutes per game, including a whopping 4:00 on the power-play. Despite being on a poor team, this kind of volume and exposure to the power play gives Chabot big-time upside every night and his matchup this Monday isn’t one to shy away from either. The Stars have allowed three goals per game, overall, and three or more goals against in seven of their eight starts. Pairing Chabot with one or more of the Senators cheap forwards here isn’t the worst idea, especially on a short slate, and he’s a fine pay-up option on defense for your lineups here, if you have the salary space to make it work.

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