It’s a busy night on the ice tonight and this article will help breakdown all eleven games and highlight some of the top players to target from each game. Keep an eye on the weather as Winter Storm Juno could potentially cause a postponement or two in the North-East.
New York Rangers @ New York Islanders
Vegas Line: NYI (-125), O/U 5.5
This battle of New York takes on more meaning tonight than it has in recent memory. Both teams played very well heading into the All-Star Break and find themselves battling each other for the top seed in the Atlantic Division. The Islanders have won both meetings thus far this season and put on a clinic in their 3-0 victory at Madison Square Garden two weeks ago. The Islanders success against the Rangers is backed up by the numbers as they’re 5th in the NHL in CF% while the Rangers have fallen to 19th and this helps explain the lopsided 44-27 shot totals in their last meeting.
If the Rangers want to walk away with two very important points here, then it’s imperative that they find ways to get on the power-play. Their power-play has been sputtering lately (just 1 for their last 19), but the Islander’s penalty kill is easily their biggest weakness and something they’ll have to address if they want to make a deep run in the playoffs. With that said, the five members of the Rangers top power-play unit are all solid options tonight.
In cash games, I’d prefer to target the Islanders in this one a they’ve posted a 16-4-0 record this season at the Nassau Coliseum. John Tavares and Kyle Okposo form a formidable offensive duo on the top line, and while they’ll see a full dose of Ryan McDonagh, they’re still terrific targets as they’ve combined for 12 goals and 13 assists in nine games this month. Brock Nelson joins Okposo and Tavares on the wing of the team’s top power-play unit where he’s already tallied nine power-play goals this season. Johnny Boychuck and Nick Leddy both see time on the point of the team’s power-play and aren’t afraid to jump into the play offensively.
I’m not willing to pay the expensive asking price for Henrik Lundqvist in this matchup, but Halak is an intriguing option. He turned away all 27 shots thrown his way the last time he faced the Rangers and sports an impressive 14-3-0 home record.Players to Watch:
- John Tavares – $8,500
- Nick Leddy – $3,900
- Rick Nash – $7,200
Arizona Coyotes @ Philadelphia Flyers
Vegas Line: No Line Posted
Arizona limped into the All-Star break having lost six straight games and have now firmly thrown their hat into the Connor McDavid sweepstakes. They’ll head to the City of Brotherly Love to take on a Flyers team who’ve had a disappointing season in their own right. However, Philadelphia has played much better at home this year and are a team I’m going to want some exposure to tonight.
With Arizona in a free fall, there just isn’t a ton to like among their forwards tonight especially with Mikkel Boedker sidelined. However, considering Philly’s struggles with their penalty kill, Antoine Vermette and Shane Doan should both have some opportunities. My top options from this team are defensemen Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Keith Yandle. Both of these guys rank in the top 4 of the NHL in average power-play ice-time per game this season and OEL lit the lamp (assisted by Yandle) on the power-play against the Flyers in their only other meeting this season.
Flipping to the Philadelphia side of things, there’s a lot to like here. Mike Smith has been abysmal in net for the Coyotes (7-20-3 with a 3.51 GAA and .887 SV%) and Arizona is the 2nd worst team in the league in 5on5 goal differential (Thanks, Buffalo). Two of the top plays of the night are Claude Giroux and Jacub Voracek. They’ve combined for more goals (34) than any other duo in the NHL and are a problem the Coyotes will have no answer for. Former first round pick Brayden Schenn recently found himself joining them on the top forward line and #1 power-play unit and is an excellent source for some salary relief. On the blue-line, Mark Streit has picked up three goals and added seven assists in just 11 games this month and quarterbacks the #1 power-play unit. Considering his strong recent play and Arizona’s 27th ranked penalty kill, he’s a top tier defensive option. In net, Ray Emery may have a solid chance at a “W”, but he’s just been too shaky to trust in cash games.Players to Watch:
- Claude Giroux – $7,600
- Jakub Voracek – $6,600
- Mark Streit – $4,700
Winnipeg Jets @ Pittsburgh Penguins
Vegas Line: PIT (-117), O/U 5
The Penguins escaped Winnipeg with a 4-3 shootout victory when these teams squared off earlier this season, but with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin both sidelined tonight, they’ll have their hands full tonight. While I usually love to target Pittsburgh when they’re home at the Consol Energy Center, the loss of their two offensive catalysts makes them less than desirable tonight. Winnipeg stormed into the break on a five game winning streak and outscored their opponents 22-8 during that stretch.
From a fantasy perspective, I’m completely avoiding the Penguins tonight. They’ve lost four straight games and the few relevant fantasy options remaining in the lineup are still priced as if they’re asking next to Crosby or Malkin. Pittsburgh is in a dog fight in the Metropolitan Division, and really needs to right the ship quickly, so knowing that he can no longer just try to outscore his opponent, Coach Johnson may ask his team to uncharacteristically slow things down and simply try to grind out a low scoring victory.
This doesn’t appear to be the most fantasy friendly game on the schedule tonight, but Winnipeg is rolling right now and I disagree with Vegas on this one and think they should be a favorite tonight. Marc Andre-Fleury has just two wins and an ugly 3.19 GAA in his seven starts this month and his confidence couldn’t have been helped by giving up seven goals on 16 shots in Sunday’s All-Star game. Dustin Byfuglien, Bryan Little and Andrew Ladd have all picked up 11 points in 10 games this month and are all part of the Jet’s #1 power-play unit that could be set for a heavy workload against the NHL’s most penalized team. Between the pipes, Michael Hutchinson is fresh off a 29 save shutout against the Blue Jackets and now owns a 14-4-2 record to go along with a sparkling 1.90 GAA and .935 SV%. He’s definitely in play tonight but probably better served for GPP use.Players to Watch:
- Bryan Little – $5,400
- Michael Hutchinson – $8,300
- Dustin Byfulgien – $7,500
Washington Capitals @ Columbus Blue Jackets
Vegas Line: WSH (-135), O/U 5.5
The fans in Columbus had an exciting weekend hosting the NHL All-Star game, but now they’ll be forced to go back to the sad realization that the Blue Jackets simply aren’t very good. To make things worse for Columbus, Sergei Bobrovsky will miss over a month with a lower body injury which forces career back-up, Curtis McElhinney into a major roll. The Capitals look poised for a big night, and their top line of Ovechkin/Backstrom/Burakovsky as well as their #1 power-play unit are definitely the preferred targets in this one. Coach Richards will do all he can to get Brandon Dubinsky and Jack Johnson on the ice to oppose the Capitals top line at even strength, but he won’t have any strings to pull when the Blue Jackets find themselves in the penalty box. The Capitals own the league’s 3rd best power-play and the Blue Jacket’s 79.5% penalty kill is nothing to write home about, so fade the Capitals power-play at your own risk tonight.
As for Columbus, with the Dubinsky and Hartnell line likely on defensive duty, it’ll be the Foligno/Johansen/Morin line asked to pick up the pace offensively. Foligno and Johansen showed off their talents over the weekend and shouldn’t be overlooked tonight. Nick Foligno leads the Blue Jackets in goals (18) and has torched the Capitals for four goals and an assist in their three meetings this season. James Wisniewski hasn’t had the type of season he was hoping for, but he’s scored three goals and added four assists in 10 games this month and has picked up three assists in the three previous meetings with Washington this year. If the Blue Jackets find a way to win this game, it’ll likely be thanks to their superb 24.3% power-play, making Hartnell, Johansen, Foligno, Wisniewski and Johnson all intriguing GPP targets.
As for the goalies, I simply can’t trust McElhinney at all and Braden Holtby’s finish to the 1st half of the season doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence outside of GPP use.Players to Watch:
- Alex Ovechkin – $9,500
- Nick Foligno – $5,100
- Mike Green – $5,100
Dallas Stars @ Montreal Canadians
Vegas Line: MTL (-160), O/U 5.5
Dallas held the Canadians to just 17 shots on goal on their way to an impressive 4-1 win in their only previous meeting this year, but I’m not expecting a similar outcome tonight in Montreal. After a terrific run through the holidays, things have turned around for the Stars and they’ve now lost 6 of their last 9 games. Meanwhile, the Canadians entered the break on the heels of two very tough wins (Nashville and New York Islanders) and know they have a lot to prove down the stretch if they want to be Cup contenders. They sport a 15-5-2 record at the Bell Centre and should have success tonight against this Dallas team that’s allowing 3.45 goals per game on the road this season.
I’m not high on Dallas tonight, but with Seguin and Benn combining to score 29% of the team’s goals, they’re always GPP options. If you’re looking for salary relief, their linemate Colton Sceviour could be worth a look as well. The real fantasy goodness from this game comes from the Montreal bench. Max Pacioretty owns some of the league’s most drastic home vs road splits and has picked up seven goals and added three assists in just eight games this month. His linemate Tomas Plekanec is also rolling right now, as he’s scored three goals and added six assists over the same stretch. Both of those guys log big minutes on the point of the team’s top power-play and should have success against the Stars #23 ranked penalty kill. On a related note, both P.K. Subban and Andrei Markov unleash cannon slapshots from the point of the teams #1 power-play unit and become excellent options on defense.
I don’t want any part of Kari Lehtonen tonight, but Carey Price owns a 14-5-1 record with a 2.09 GAA and .930 SV% in his 20 home starts and is a solid option in all formats.Players to Watch:
- Max Pacioretty – $8,700
- Tomas Plekanec – $6,400
- Colton Sceviour – $3,200
Detoit Red Wings @ Florida Panthers
Vegas Line: DET (-135), O/U 5
Let me preface this being stating that I’m a huge Detroit Red Wings fan, but there just isn’t much to like about the Florida Panthers in this one. They’re ranked 25th in the NHL with just 2.42 goals per game and their leading scorer has just 27 points. Pavel Datsyuk is one of the game’s best defensive forwards and will be asked to disrupt the talented Nick Bjugstad. There’s not much hope on special teams either as the Panthers own the league’s second least effective power-play (12.8%) and they’ll face a Detroit team who owns a very solid 84.6 penalty kill. Aaron Ekblad is an impressive talent and worth a look on the blue-line and Roberto Luongo is more than capable of leading you to a GPP win, but otherwise I’ll be looking elsewhere.
As for Detroit, I expect them to get two points here, but I’m certainly not expecting a shootout. Mike Babcock probably loves their balanced scoring, but as a daily fantasy hockey player, it makes using Detroit forwards rather difficult. Both Gustav Nyquist and Henrik Zetterberg have been on a tear lately, combining for 14 points over their last three games and are the best bets among Detroit forwards. Niklas Kronwall is a workhorse on the blue-line for the Wings and now has points in three straight games and Danny DeKeyser is quickly developing into the top pairing defenseman the Wings desperately needed. Petr Mrazek has proven to be quite capable in net while Jimmy Howard is out of commission and makes for a solid play in both cash games and GPP’s against this Florida offense that owns the league’s second worst shooting percentage (7.41%)Players to Watch:
- Henrik Zetterberg – $7,800
- Petr Mrazek – $7,700
- Danny DeKeyser – $2,800
Tampa Bay Lightning @ Carolina Hurricanes
Vegas Line: TB (-160), O/U 5.5
On paper this looks like quite the mismatch, as the Lightning enter tonight’s game with the most points in the Eastern Conference and the Hurricanes find themselves sitting in the cellar of the Metropolitan Division. Vegas has the Lightning as solid favorites in this game, but there are plenty of red flags that have me concerned. This Tampa Bay team is much less effective away from home (11-10-3 road record) and the Hurricanes are allowing just 2.10 goals per game at the PNC Arena. Tampa may have won both prior meetings this season, but each game was a closely contested 2-1 victory for the Lightning.
Now that your expectations are a bit in check, let’s take a closer look at some of the better plays here. Tyler Johnson is set to be a GTD tonight and, considering his lower body injury kept him from participating in his first all-star game, there’s a real possibility that he’ll be watching from the press box. Tampa’s success this season has had a lot to do with the emergence of their second scoring line, so his absence would be a big hit to their offense. If Johnson can’t lace them up, then the weight of the offense will fall directly on the Filppula/Stamkos/Callahan line. Both Anton Stralman and Victor Hedman are decent options on “D”, but a lot of their success has come on the power-play and the Hurricanes own the league’s 4th best penalty kill.
On the Carolina end, there just aren’t too many appealing options. Tampa Bay is the 2nd best team in the NHL at 5on5 and therefore I’m really only looking at the Carolina power-play for offensive upside. Eric Staal leads the team in power-play points (11) and has picked up the pace offensively, scoring eight goals over the last 11 games. If you’re looking for a value play, his linemate Jiri Tlusty is just $3,700 and leads the team in power-play goals. Power-play point men Justin Faulk and Andrej Sekera both log big minutes and could have success against the Bolts average PK.
In net, Cam Ward is simply too risky to use. Ben Bishop on the other hand is an excellent option. He’s won eight of his last nine starts and will face a Carolina team that owns the league’s worst shooting percentage this season (6.96%).Players to Watch:
- Ben Bishop – $8,100
- Steven Stamkos – $8,000
- Eric Staal – $6,200
Colorado Avalanche @ Nashville Predators
Vegas Line: NSH (-170), O/U 5
These teams kick off the second half of the season with the first game in a home-and-home series tonight in Nashville. My analysis regarding the Colorado Avalanche is quiet simple; avoid them in this matchup. Few teams in the NHL can clog up the neutral zone as well as Nashville and few defensemen in the league are as imposing as Shea Weber. Nashville shutout the Avalanche 3-0 in their only other meeting this season and now own a sparkling 18-2-1 home record. Pekka Rinne’s injury will be tough for them to overcome, but there are just too many other options than to trust Colorado here.
On the Nashville end, Mike Fisher’s return to the lineup has given Coach Laviolette two dangerous scoring lines and both are acceptable options tonight. The Forsberg/Smith/Ribeiro line has drawn most of the headlines thus far this season, but it’s their second line that I’d prefer to target tonight. James Neal has had a quiet season by his standards, but lit the lamp against the Avs in their shutout victory and has picked up two goals and two assists over the last four games. His linemates Colin Wilson and Mike Fisher have been excellent this month as well. Seth Jones looks to have hit his stride and has now scored six of his 14 points this season during the month of January. He joins Shea Weber (and his 108 MPH slapshot) and Roman Josi as impressive options on the Predators blue-line.Players to Watch:
- Colin Wilson – $5,100
- James Neal – $6,700
- Seth Jones – $3,900
Buffalo Sabres @ Calgary Flames
Vegas Line: CGY (-275), O/U 5.5
Ahhhhh, the dumpster fire that is the Buffalo Sabres; don’t just avoid them, stack against them. They’re far and away the worst team in hockey by Corsi standards, have dropped 11 straight games, and are allowing a ridiculous 4.18 goals against per game on the road this season. Unless you’re going the contrarian route in GPP’s, you’ll want some exposure to the Calgary Flames tonight.
On defense, Mark Giordano won’t come cheap, but he’s one of the best options on this slate. His teammates Dennis Wideman and T.J. Brodie are a bit cheaper, and both make for excellent options as well. Offensively Jiri Hudler and Johnny Gaudreau have led the way for the Flames and are both relatively cheap tonight. They’re joined by Sean Monahan on the team’s top power-play unit and are fantastic plays tonight against the Sabres dead last penalty kill.
Jonas Hiller is set to draw the start between the pipes, and at just $6,900, he’s a rock solid cash game option.Players to Target:
- Jonas Hiller – $6,900
- Jiri Hudler – $4,100
- Johnny Gaudreau – $4,500
Minnesota Wild @ Edmonton Oilers
Vegas Line: MIN (-130), O/U 5.5
The Edmonton Oilers are kind of like the Western Conference’s version of the Buffalo Sabres….. except with a capable offense. With that said, Minnesota is one of the league’s most disappointing teams this season and considering the Oilers solid play to close out the first half, I’m not inclined to load up on this game. Minnesota gets the majority of its offense from their top forward line making them the preferred options. Zach Parise has scored in four straight games and is easily the top option from this game but his $9,000 asking price is a turnoff. His linemates on the other hand own rather unsettling home vs. road splits but at least have the matchup going for them. Ryan Suter logs more minutes than any other player in the NHL and has turned things up offensively lately, scoring a goal and adding four assists over the last four games.
If you’re going to target the Oilers, than the Hall/Eberle/RNH line as well as Justin Schultz are really on the only reliable options. All three forwards enter tonight’s game owning 29 points on the season and Schultz is a gifted offensive weapon on the blue-line.Players to Watch:
- Zach Parise – $9,000
- Ryan Suter – $4,900
- Taylor Hall – $5,600
Anaheim Ducks @ Vancouver Canucks
Vegas Line: VAN (-110), O/U 5
Vegas has basically marked this game as a “pick-em”, but I do not agree. Anaheim has owned this series lately, winning 9 of the last 11 games in this series. The Ducks have won five straight games and have the most points in the NHL at the All-Star break and this Vancouver team has been sputtering for nearly a month now.
Perry, Getzlaf and Maroon are a known commodity on the Ducks top forward line, but they’re also quite expensive and will also draw the full attention of both Dan Hamhuis and Coach Desjardins. While I’m not overlooking them here, the intriguing play is Ryan Kesler in his return to Vancouver where he played the first 10 years of his career. On defense, Sami Vatanen leads the team in average power-play ice-time per game and is in the midst of a breakout season.
On the Vancouver side of things, it’s just simply too hard to rely on anyone outside of the very reasonably priced Sedin, Sedin. Vrbata line. With that said, they’ll be shadowed by Andrew Cogliano and Cam Fowler all night which will make for some tough sledding. Throw Alex Edler in the mix here as well, but their better GPP targets than cash game options in this matchup.Players to Watch:
- Ryan Kesler – $5,200
- Ryan Getzlaf – $7,700
- Henrik Sedin – $3,900
Best of luck tonight!
JMBWngFn (@JBritt2 on Twitter)