As usual for a Tuesday, it’s a busy night on the ice in the NHL this evening. Today’s NHL game breakdown will dive into each of the nine games on the schedule and highlight some of the better (and worse) options for your DFS hockey lineups.
Dallas Stars @ Boston Bruins
Vegas Line: BOS (-165), O/U 5.5
Dallas may be the third highest scoring team in the NHL this season, but things won’t be easy for them tonight in Bean Town. The Bruins, without the services of Brad Marchand, escaped Dallas with a 3-1 victory when these two teams squared off last month and own a 9-3-1 record since early January. Dallas’ top scoring line consisting of Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn is responsible for a disproportionate amount of the team’s offense and, unfortunately for them, they’ll be shadowed by the very strong and pesky defense of the Bergeron/Marchand/Smith line throughout this game, making them unplayable in cash games for me considering their high asking prices. The one Dallas player that I may look at is defenseman John Klingberg. His 10 points (4 goals and 6 assists) is the most in the NHL since the All-Star break and 22 year old is routinely logging 22+ minutes of ice-time.
If I’m targeting this game it’s going to be from the Boston side of things. With the Bergeron line on Seguin patrol, the weight of the offense will fall on the Lucic/Krejci /Pastrnak line. That line was the lone bright spot for Boston in their 3-1 loss against Montreal on Sunday night and all three see time together on the team’s #2 power-play unit. With Dallas sporting the NHL’s 23rd ranked penalty kill, all three are solid (and reasonably priced) options tonight. On the blue-line, Zdeno Chara receives a lot of attention, but it’s their two talented puck moving defensemen, Krug and Hamilton, that make for more appealing fantasy options tonight. It should be Tuukka Rask back between the pipes tonight and he’s an excellent option. He owns a 16-6-4 record at the Garden and sports an 8-3-2 record with a 1.60 GAA and .951 SV% over his last 13 starts.
Boston somewhat surprisingly finds themselves battling for a playoff spot, so these are the types of games they simply can’t afford to lose.
Players to Watch:
1) David Krejci
2) Tuukka Rask
3) Milan Lucic
Ottawa Senators @ Buffalo Sabres
Vegas Line: OTT (-180), O/U 5.5
After losing every game they played in January, the Sabres have already won two games this month. That’s neat and all, but they’re still an abysmal hockey team and, with nine games on the slate tonight, there’s simply no reason to target any of them in a daily league tonight.
Ottawa players, on the other hand, may have their highest ownership percentages of the season tonight. Among other things, Buffalo has allowed more goals than any other team in the NHL this season, have allowed the most power-play goals against in the league (47) and are allowing the most shots on goal against (34.9 shots per game). Bobby Ryan recorded a hat trick against the Sabres in their last meeting and is one of the top offensive options on the board tonight while his line mates Clarke MacArthur and Mika Zibanejad are solid value options as well. Let’s face it, their second and third lines get the green light here as well and defensively Erik Karlsson comes in as my most coveted defenseman on the board. In net, Robin Lehner has been playing well in replacement of the injured Craig Anderson and is a fairly safe cash game option here. However, Buffalo was only able to muster 10 shots on goal against NYI on Sunday, so don’t set your expectations too high.
Players to Watch:
1) Bobby Ryan
2) Erik Karlsson
3) Mike Hoffman
Edmonton Oilers @ New York Islanders
Vegas Line: NYI (-275), O/U 5.5
Despite out shooting the Oilers 33-23, Edmonton cruised to an easy 5-2 victory when these teams faced off against each other last month. However, after watching the Oilers get blasted 5-1 on Saturday by a Toronto team that had lost 11 straight games and watching them play one of the ugliest games of the year last night in New Jersey, it’s hard to imagine Edmonton leaving Long Island with two points tonight. With Taylor Hall headed back to Edmonton to have his injured ankle examined, I view the Oilers as GPP only options tonight. The New York Islanders do own the NHL’s worst penalty kill, so it wouldn’t be completely surprising to see Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and/or Jordan Eberle get on the scoresheet. Also joining those two on the team’s #1 power-play unit are potential value plays in Justin Schultz, Boyd Gordon and Teddy Purcell.
Only the Buffalo Sabres are allowing more goals per game on the road (3.50) this season than the Edmonton Oilers, so you’ll likely want some exposure to the Islanders tonight. The obvious player to target here is John Tavares as he leads the Islander’s in goals (24) and his 22 power-play points this season is tied for 5th in the NHL. The injury to his old line-mate Kyle Okposo has opened the door for Anders Lee to join him on the top scoring line as well as the #1 power-play unit. Lee has lit the lamp three times over the last four games and is a physical mismatch for the rather small Edmonton defense, making him a strong value option. On defense, Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk grabbed most of the fantasy headlines early in the season, but it’s been Travis Hamonic doing the damage lately. Hamonic was recently promoted to the top power-play unit and he’s responded with four assists over the last four games. Halak has a nice chance for a “W” tonight and should see more action than he did on Sunday, making him a viable option in net.
Players to Watch:
1) John Tavares
2) Travis Hamonic
3) Jordan Eberle
New York Rangers @ Toronto Maple Leafs
Vegas Line: NYR (-140), O/U 5.5
Ever since removing Randy Carlyle from his head coaching duties at the beginning of January, the Maple Leafs have become a much more defensively aware team. This, however, has come at the expense of their offense. In 14 games since the coaching change, the Leafs own just a 2-11-1 and have only averaged 1.64 goals per game during that stretch. To make things worse, they’ve been held to one goal or less in 9 of those 14 games. The Usual Suspects from the Maple Leafs are too talented to ignore completely, but they’ll see a healthy dose or Ryan McDonagh, and are better served as GPP fliers than cash game options even with Henrik Lundqvist out of action.
The Rangers scored 11 total goals in the first two meetings against the Leafs (both NYR victories), and should have some success again tonight. However, both of those meetings came well before the coaching change and this version of the Maple Leafs will be much more focused on clogging up the neutral zone and slowing down the NY attack. Rick Nash has lit the lamp five times over the last five games and scored goals in each of the first two meetings, making him an elite option on the wing. Derek Stepan, Derick Brassard, and Martin St. Louis all join him on the team’s top power-play unit and should be on your radar as well. Defensively, Ryan McDonagh is the workhorse and most stable option, but it’s been Dan Boyle logging most of the minutes on the point of the #1 power-play unit.
The matchup for Cam Talbot in net is a nice one, just temper your expectations a bit as he’s looked a bit shaky since the Lundqvist injury.
Players to Watch:
1) Rick Nash
2) Derek Stepan
3) Ryan McDonagh
Philadelphia Flyers @ Montreal Canadians
Vegas Line: MTL (-180), O/U 5.5
It’s really easy to break down this Philadelphia team from a fantasy perspective; target Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek, and to a lesser extent, anyone who plays alongside them. Giroux and Voracek have combined (as in both players have had points on the same goal) for an NHL best 35 goals. Philly has won just 8 of their 27 road games this season and the Canadians look to be making their charge towards a playoff run, so it doesn’t make too much sense to dig too much deeper tonight.
The Canadians have jumped all over the Flyers this year, scoring nine total goals on their way to two victories. I’m quite high on Montreal tonight, and considering the Flyer’s dreadful penalty kill, the options are abundant. Max Pacioretty has heated up lately (3 goals and 4 assists over the last six games) and owns some of the league’s most drastic home vs road splits. His linemates David Desharnais and Dale Weise are also sizzling; Desharnais was just named one of the NHL’s Players of the Week and Weise has scored three goals in the last two games. On defense, P.K. Subban is a known commodity, but I’ll be targeting his teammate Andrei Markov. Markov is a power-play specialist who has scored in back-to-back games and who has torched the Flyers for a goal and four assists in their two meetings this season.
Players to Watch:
1) Andrei Markov
2) David Desharnais
3) Claude Giroux
Anaheim Ducks @ Florida Panthers
Vegas Line: NA (-), NA O/U
Anaheim has sputtered a bit down the stretch, but they still comfortably lead the Atlantic Division and trail Nashville by just one point for the top seed in the Western Conference. Ryan Getzlaf returned to action on Sunday and promptly scored a goal and picked up an assist against the Lightning. Somewhat surprisingly the Panthers left Southern California with a 6-2 victory when these teams met earlier this year, but the Panthers have dropped seven of their last nine games this time around. The obvious players to target for Anaheim are studs Corey Perry and Ryan Getzalf. Gerard Gallant shadowed that line with a familiar foe Willie Mitchell in that first game, but the Panthers may be without their best defender tonight. On the blue-line, the top option from Anaheim is Sami Vatanen. Vatanen lit the lamp in his last game and his 17 power-play points this season leads the Ducks, which could bode well for him against the Panthers subpar penalty kill.
The Panthers are still hanging on to their playoff hopes, but they have a tough climb ahead of them. Aaron Ekblad scored a goal and logged over 26 minutes of ice-time in his last game and is one of the few players from Florida I’d consider targeting here. Their leading scorer, Nick Bjugstad, will likely see a heavy dose of Ryan Kesler’s suffocating defense which limits any fantasy value from that line. While I wouldn’t rule out Florida being able to win this game, there are just too many appealing options on the board from other games.
Players to Watch:
1) Ryan Getzlaf
2) Sami Vatanen
3) Aaron Ekblad
Tampa Bay Lightning @ Nashville Predators
Vegas Line: NSH (-135), O/U 5.5
The Lightning have a loads of offensive talent, but a matchup in Nashville against the Predators (with Pekka Rinne back in net) is simply not the time to deploy them onto your rosters. Nashville sports a 21-3-1 record on home ice and thwart opposing rushes as well as any team in the NHL. Bearing in mind Tampa Bay’s struggles on the road (12-11-4 record) and the presence of Shea Weber for 30+ minutes, targeting them is likely best suited for GPP use.
On the Nashville side of things, both of their top two lines have proven to be very capable offensively. Tampa has allowed 3.22 goals per game on the road this, so they’re both decent options tonight. With points in each of the last five games, Filip Forsberg just keeps rolling towards the Calder Trophy and now leads this team with 48 points. On defense, both Weber and Josi have secured their spots as top tier fantasy defenseman, but Seth Jones looks to be headed direction also. The 20 year old has points in four straight games and has racked up three goals and six assists over his last 12 games.
Players to Watch:
1) Filip Forsberg
2) Roman Josi
3) Steven Stamkos
Arizona Coyotes @ St. Louis Blues
Vegas Line: STL (-300), O/U 5.5
This looks to be yet another lopsided game on this slate as the Blues have simply dominated the Coyotes this season, outscoring them 12-1 in their two previous meetings. The Arizona forwards don’t offer much fantasy appeal, and considering the tough matchup, are a pretty easy fade tonight. On defense, both Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Keith Yandle can rack up points, especially on the power-play, and therefore remain viable GPP options.
On the other hand, the Blues are huge favorite by Vegas standards and should be highly motivated to get back to their winning ways after back-to-back for the first time since Christmas. While St. Louis runs four forward lines as well as anyone in the league, it’s each of their top two lines that are responsible for nearly all of their offense and all six are solid options for both cash games and GPP’s. Vladimir Tarasenko has certainly emerged as the “sniper” the Blues badly needed and, despite climbing into the NHL scoring race, his price-tag is still a tier below the rest of the NHL elite. The Blue’s power-play seems to have lost its identity a bit without Kevin Shattenkirk, but with the Coyote’s owning the 27th ranked penalty kill, they should be able to get things rolling once again. Alex Pietrangelo has slid onto the point of that top power-play to fill in for Shattenkirk and routinely logs 25+ minutes of ice-time, solidifying him as a top tier option on the blue line.
It looks like Coach Hitchcock will roll with Jake Allen in net tonight. He owns an 8-2-1 record at the Scottrade Center and cruised to an easy win against the ‘Yotes earlier this year.
Players to Watch:
1) Vladimir Tarasenko
2) Alex Steen
3) Alex Pietrangelo
Minnesota Wild @ Winnipeg Jets
Vegas Line: WPG (-130), O/U 5
These two teams are heading in opposite directions, and yet despite Minnesota’s six game winning streak, Vegas has marked the Winnipeg Jets as a small favorite. All three prior meetings between these teams has been a tightly contested, one goal game and I wouldn’t expect anything different tonight.
The Wild have allowed just six goals during their six game winning streak, making Devan Dubnyk one of the hottest goalies in the league right now. Offensively, I’m not expecting this game to be a “track meet” by any means, but Zach Parise is still a dangerous offensive weapon for the Wild. The Winnipeg Jets happen to be the most penalized team in the NHL this season, so along with Parise, getting some exposure to the Wild’s improving power-play isn’t a bad idea. Ryan Suter logs more minutes than any other player in the NHL and sees plenty of run on the point of the team’s top power-play unit. He scored just his second goal of the season in their last game but is still a top tier option on the blue-line.
Shifting focus to the Winnipeg bench, and considering the red hot Wild are nipping at the heels of the Jets for a playoff spot, this is nearly a must win game for Winnipeg. The Jets snapped a six game losing streak by beating Colorado on Sunday. With this game having the feel of a playoff game, there are really only seven viable players to target on Winnipeg; their top two scoring lines and Dustin Byfuglien. However, the matchup tonight is far from ideal and there are safer options elsewhere.
Players to Watch:
1) Zach Parise
2) Devan Dubnyk
3) Dustin Byfuglein