It’s a six-game slate this Friday which features plenty of interesting matchups as we approach playoff hockey. From a playoff perspective, the most interesting matchup is Carolina at Columbus, as both teams are in a battle for the last spot in the East, and from a DFS perspective, Philadelphia at Toronto carries a ton of high-scoring potential.
Top Line Stacks
Flames vs. RangersJohnny Gaudreau ($7,300) – Sean Monahan ($6,700) – Elias Lindholm ($6,500)
Calgary’s top line is coming off a historic night where it combined for 14 actual points against the Devils. Winger Johnny Gaudreau had been slumping for much of the second half of the season, but his recent six-point, 20.5 DKFP night should help his confidence get back on track. The top line remains one of the most productive in the NHL and has now combined for the most goals of any line in the league. Despite the feeling of chasing points here, this isn’t really a trio I’d be wanting to fade as the Rangers are every bit as terrible as the Devils, and come into this game having lost eight of their last nine games. The Rangers have allowed the eighth-most goals against in the league thus far and also possess the seventh-worst penalty kill in the league. With two of the three top players from the Flames still under $7k in salary and in a great game environment, stacking this trio makes far too much sense on a night where most other top lines have either poorer matchups or recent production issues.
Superstar to Build AroundAuston Matthews, TOR vs. PHI ($7,400) – The Leafs-Flyers matchup feels like a game you will need to have some kind of exposure to tonight, and while there’s the more consistent John Tavares ($7,500) to consider or cheaper options on the Flyers, this seems like a perfect spot to roster the upside of Auston Matthews. Matthews has broken out of his recent mini-slump with goals in each of his last two games and a multi-point effort in his last start vs. the Blackhawks. While there isn’t a huge gap in his home-road splits, it should be noted that Matthews has recorded 10 of 17 power play points at home, and the Flyers have been a great matchup for elite power play units like the Leafs, as Philadelphia comes in with the sixth-worst penalty kill in the league. This game feels like an important one for Toronto, a team that has lost two in a row at home and aren’t quite 100 percent safe from Montreal in the standings.
Value on OffenseWilliam Nylander ($3,700), TOR vs. PHI – Nylander has been getting a bump in playing time of late due to some injuries on the wing in Toronto. The early season holdout played over 18 minutes in his last game alongside Auston Matthews, and he’s likely to slot into that same role in tonight’s game against the Flyers. There’s every reason to like the Leafs forwards tonight and Nylander gives a very cheap way to stack, as he’s locked into a top-six role at the moment. He’s had a poor year, but comes into this game with three assists in his last three games and seemingly assured of a bigger role until Kasperi Kapanen (concussion) returns.
Josh Leivo ($3,400), VAN vs. NJD – Leivo is playing a top-six role for the Canucks and seeing time at even strength alongside Elias Pettersson ($6,000). More importantly, he’s been joining Pettersson on the Canucks first line power play of late and playing big minutes there, as he’s currently seen over 18 minutes of ice in three of his last four games. The Devils are a great opponent to target at the moment and have allowed at least three goals in each of their last four games. Leivo gives you a cheap way to get solid exposure to Vancouver’s top-six and their first line power play in a matchup that has lots of potential given the way many of New Jersey’s recent games have gone.
Stud GoaliesJacob Markstrom ($7,900), VAN vs. NJD –
Markstrom has been a bright spot for the Canucks this season, recording 25 wins on the year and a save percentage of .913 to date. He comes into this game playing well, having recorded save percentages of .933 or better in five of his last six starts. He may not be the biggest favorite on the slate, but with the Canucks set as -170 favorites as of writing, he’s certainly in a great spot to pick up the win bonus tonight against the lowly Devils. At under $8k in price, Markstrom looks like a solid value on a slate where most of the top projected options in net are priced well over $8k.
Semyon Varlamov ($8,100), COL vs. ANH – Varlamov can be tricky to time but the Russian is one of the biggest favorites on the slate tonight as the Avalanche are -200 favorites over the Ducks as of writing. He comes into this slate with a .500 record over his last four starts, but he’s been a better player at home this year, having recorded a 2.67 GAA average and a 10-7-5 record in Colorado. The Ducks are merely playing out the string and the Avs, who are still in a playoff race, should be happy to enact some revenge here after being beaten by the Ducks 2-1 a couple of weeks ago. Varlamov’s in a good spot to collect the win bonus and put up a solid fantasy total on this slate.
Value on DefenseRasmus Andersson ($3,100), CAL vs. NYR – If you’re in need of a cheap defenseman tonight, there’s some appeal with the Andersson. He has now taken up some of the point duties on the Flames power play and has played the most minutes with the man advantage for the Flames, of any defenseman not named Mark Giordano ($6,500), over their last three games. As a result, it’s not a shock that he comes into this game with assists in each of his last two starts -— one of them on the PP. He may not play heavy minutes at even strength, but it should be noted that Andersson has still been good at racking up fantasy points in other areas, as he has now recorded multiple shots on net in four of his last seven games, and also has at least one blocked shot in each of his last five games. The arrow is pointing up on this cheap defenseman, who carries upside as a part of his expanded power play role and has a great matchup against the Rangers, who possess the seventh worst penalty kill in the league.
Morgan Rielly ($6,400), TOR vs. PHI – It’s a close call at the top tonight between Rielly and Mark Giordano ($6,500), but the tie goes to Rielly as he comes in hot with three goals in his last four games and has a slightly better matchup tonight against the Flyers, who possess the sixth-worst penalty kill in the league. Toronto comes into this game having lost two straight at home but are in a great spot to rebound against the Flyers, a team they dominated 6-0 earlier in the year. Despite some struggles to get wins lately, the Leafs power play has been effective of late as Rielly himself enters this game having scored with the man advantage in two of the last three games, and he should get every opportunity to add to his goal totals in this game too. If you’re stacking Leafs tonight, mixing and matching wingers can be tough, but Rielly fits well with either of their stud centers as he’s a sure thing to be involved in the power play. It’s a good night to use Toronto studs and anchoring your defense with Rielly here makes a ton of sense.
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