An eight pack of games awaits us on the ice this evening. Tonight’s NHL breakdown will highlight the best, and in some cases worst, plays from each game.

 

New York Rangers @ New York Islanders

Vegas Line: NYI (-120), O/U 5.5

After owning the Rangers in each if their first three meetings this season, the Islanders coughed up a 5-3 third period lead to lose in heart breaking fashion to their rivals 6-5. With these two teams battling for the top spot in the Metropolitan Division, this should be quite the entertaining game to watch.

The Islanders have been a very solid 5-on-5 team this season, so if you’re going to target them you’ll want to attack their atrocious 75.9% penalty kill. They were forced into overtime in Toronto last night, and tired legs tend to take penalties, so firing up some guys on the Rangers top power-play unit certainly has some merit tonight. The obvious (and best) choice here is Rick Nash. The sniper is only one solid outing away from another 40 goal season and leads this Rangers team in nearly every significant offensive category. Centering Nash is the much more affordable Derick Brassard ($4,500) who leads this team in power-play points and has picked up a goal and two assists over the last three games. Mats Zuccarrelo joins those two both at even strength and on the power-play and he’s riding a three game point streak. On defense, the newly acquired Keith Yandle looks to have made a smooth transition to his new team and he’s soaking up as many power-play minutes as he can handle. Alongside him on the point of the power-play is the leader of this team, Ryan McDonagh. Both blue-liners are intriguing options tonight.

As for the Islanders, this game will likely be determined by whether or not the Rangers can slow down the John Tavares line. If the first three games are any indication, then the answer is likely a resounding “NO” as Tavares has scored three goals and chipped in an assist against them already this season. While the Lee/Tavares/Bailey line will see a large dose of Ryan McDonagh, it’s not a good enough reason to fade them. On the blue-line Nick Leddy has re-established himself as the point man on the Islander’s top power-play unit and he’s picked up two goals and two assists over his last five games. His defensive partner Johnny Boychuck has thrived against the Rangers this season, scoring two goals and adding three assists in the first four meetings.

 

Players to Target:
     
  • John Tavares
  • Rick Nash
  • Nick Leddy
 
 

Dallas Stars @ Philadelphia Flyers

Vegas Line: PHI (-140), O/U 5.5

Tyler Seguin made his surprise return to the lineup for the Stars on Saturday Night, but even his presence doesn’t seem to help their leaky defense. During a nine stretch that has seen Dallas go 2-5-2 the Stars have allowed an unsightly 4.44 goals per game. Tonight they’ll head to take on a Philly team that allowed five goals to New Jersey on Sunday and five of their last seven games to essentially put the nail in the coffin on their season.

Despite their defensive woes, the Stars still have several players well worth fantasy consideration on a nightly basis. Seguin put a stamp on his return by quickly netting a pair of goals and immediately becomes a matchup proof commodity for the Stars. With Jason Spezza sticking as the center of the team’s top forward line, Benn/Spezza/Seguin immediately becomes one of the most dangerous forward lines in the entire NHL and it doesn’t make much sense to look elsewhere among Dallas forwards for fantasy production. With John Klingberg banged up on the blue-line and either hobbled or potentially in the press box, Alex Goligoski could see some more power-play time. The Flyers own the league’s 28th ranked penalty kill making Klingberg’s status definitely worth monitoring.

This game could easily become the most fantasy friendly game on tonight’s slate, and Philadelphia sits as a small favorite by Vegas standards. Dallas has dropped seven of their last nine games and have surrendered an abysmal 40 goals during that stretch and are now allowing 3.38 goals per game on the road this season. With Claude Giroux and Jacob Voracek once again skating alongside each other on the team’s top forward line, they’re easily the best options here and make for two of the top plays of the evening. As the third wheel on that top line, Brayden Schenn is a viable value option and he lit the lamp against Dallas when they met earlier this season. Wayne Simmonds joins Voracek and Giroux on the top power-play unit that should have success against the Stars 22nd ranked penalty kill. With Michael Del Zotto out of action for the next week, Mark Streit is the top option here and should see all the ice-time he can handle. He was terrible against New Jersey on Sunday but had picked up points in each of the three games prior and has already dished out of pair of assists against Dallas already this year.

 

Players to Target:
     
  • Claude Giroux
  • Tyler Seguin
  • Mark Streit
 
 

Columbus Blue Jackets @ Carolina Hurricanes

Vegas Line: CAR (-135), O/U 5

This is one of the least appealing games from a fantasy perspective on the slate tonight, so don’t get carried away here. The Carolina Hurricanes have only allowed 2.10 goals per game on home ice this season; however, they’ve also only scored 2.30 goals per game at the PNC Arena.

Columbus was shut out by Colorado in their last outing and have now dropped eight of their last nine games. It’s hard to trust any of these guys right now in cash games, but the Foligno/Johansen/Atkinson line is always very dangerous. However, much of their success this season has come on the power-play and this Carolina team owns the league’s best penalty kill.

Carolina put on an offensive clinic Sunday night against the Oilers, and have now scored 22 goals over their last six games (going 4-2-0 in the process). They defeated Columbus is both games of a home-and-home series earlier this season so there is reason for optimism tonight. Eric Staal is hands down their top offensive threat and he flashed his upside by dishing out four assists on Sunday. Joining Staal on the top line are the much less well known Victor Rask and Elias Lindholm, both of whom are quite cheap. Lindholm likely won’t fly under the radar any longer after his three goal and two assist performance Sunday, but he’s been solid on home ice and we’re not worried about his plus/minus liability. With Andrej Sekera gone, Justin Faulk is the “end all, be all” fantasy option on Carolina’s blue-line. He’s not cheap, but he’s second on the team in scoring and a near lock for 25+ minutes of ice-time.

 

Players to Target:
     
  • Eric Staal
  • Justin Faulk
  • Nick Foligno
 
 

Boston Bruins @ Ottawa Senators

Vegas Line: BOS (-120), O/U 5

With their backs against the wall, the Bruins have responded with a pair of impressive back-to-back victories and have now separated themselves from the chasing Florida Panthers just slightly. They’ll need to keep their feet on the gas tonight in Ottawa because the rest of the schedule is loaded with road games and the Panthers show very few signs of going away.

Typically know for their strong defense, it’s been the solid offensive production from Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron lately that has kept the Bruins afloat. After picking up a shorthanded goal against the Red Wings on Sunday afternoon, Marchand has now scored at least one goal in three straight games and leads this Boston team with 22 goals. Bergeron is riding a three game scoring streak of his own. Both players are solid cash game options tonight despite a somewhat tough matchup against a streaking Senators team. On the blue-line, Torey Krug logged a team high 5:52 of power-play ice time against the Red Wings on Sunday and lit the lamp against the Senators in their last meeting. Dougie Hamilton and Zdeno Chara aren’t strangers to the Bruins power-play and are also well worth a look tonight.

While it may inevitably prove to be too late, the Senators are making a solid push to sneak back into the playoff picture. They blew away the Calgary Flames on Sunday and have now won eight of their last nine games and find themselves just five points behind Boston (with a game in hand) for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. A win here would certainly go a long way and this game will look and feel like a playoff game. The Senators have taken two of the first three games in this series and shouldn’t be overlooked tonight. Offensively, it’s been the Hoffman/Zibanejad/Ryan line doing most of the damage for Ottawa lately, and despite likely being shadowed by the very strong defense of Marchand and Bergeron, they’re still viable GPP options. We all know what Erik Karlsson is capable of doing on the offensive end of the ice as well, but the matchup and price make him a GPP only option.

 

Players to Target:
     
  • Patrice Bergeron
  • Torey Krug
  • Mike Hoffman
 
 

Tampa Bay Lightning @ Montreal Canadiens

Vegas Line: MON (-125), O/U 5

In what could easily shape up to be the matchup in the Eastern Conference semi-finals, the Tampa Bay Lightning will head north to take on the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre this evening. Both teams enter tonight’s game well rested after posting victories on Saturday Night, so this one should be fun to watch. Tampa Bay has won each of the prior two meetings this season, but they’re not nearly as efficient away from home ice, so they’re set to have their hands full here.

Breaking down the Lightning has been rather easily lately; target their top two forwards lines as well as their top three defensemen (Hedman, Stralman and Garrison). Nikita Kucherov and Victor Hedman have led the way against the Canadiens in the first two meetings, as both players have picked up four points. Steven Stamkos recorded a hat trick in the first meeting and he’s a threat to score anytime he takes the ice. However, with Montreal only allowing a league best 2.17 goals against per game this season and sporting a 22-7-4 home record, they’re probably best served for GPP use tonight.

Despite the tough matchup against Ben Bishop and the Lightning, it’s never wise to completely ignore the Canadiens at the Bell Centre. Max Pacioretty is the catalyst of their offense and sports some rather extreme home vs road splits; scoring 76% of his goals on home ice but his asking price is a slight turn off.  Brendan Gallager has scored goals in consecutive games and owns a goal and an assist against the Lightning this year; at $5,600 he seems to be reasonably priced. P.K. Subban and Andrei Markov are really the only defensemen worth looking at from a fantasy perspective as both players log big minutes and see plenty of run on the team’s top power-play unit. Despite massive struggles against Tampa this season, Carey Price enters tonight’s game fresh off of a 28 save shutout against Arizona and a 21-6-2 record with a 1.84 GAA and .937 SV% in 29 starts at the Bell Center.

 

Players to Target:
     
  • Max Pacioretty
  • Carey Price
  • Nikita Kucherov
 
 

New Jersey Devils @ Minnesota Wild

Vegas Line: MIN (-210), O/U 5

Both of these teams are playing quite well lately, but on an eight game night, it’s simply hard to see the value in rolling with any New Jersey Devils tonight against Dubnyk and the Wild in Minnesota. Since being acquired by the Wild, Dubnyk has posted a ridiculous 18-4-1 record with a 1.66 GAA and .937 SV% (with five shutouts) in 24 starts.

As I mentioned above, the Devils are somewhat surprisingly playing inspired hockey down the stretch and they’re now 7-2-1 in their last ten games. However, they’re allowing over three goals per game on the road this season and Minnesota owns a distinct advantage by Corsi standards in this matchup. The Wild get a disproportionate amount of scoring from their top forward line of Parise/Grandlund/Pominville but only Granlund comes with an affordable asking price. However both Pominville and Parise have four points in their last three games and are still worth consideration. Granlund, on the other hand, is currently the hottest of the three; the former first round pick has tallied two goals and seven assists over the last nine games and looks like a nice bargain at just $4,200. On defense, this is Ryan Suter’s team. He’s averaging over 29 minutes of ice-time per game and is a staple on the point of the team’s top power-play unit. With the Devils sporting a subpar 80.7% penalty kill, he’s a great defensive option at $4,200.

 

Players to Target:
     
  • Zach Parise
  • Ryan Suter
  • Devan Dubnyk
 
 

Winnipeg Jets @ St. Louis Blues

Vegas Line: STL (-180), O/U 5

The injury-riddled Winnipeg Jets have been treading water since the All-Star break (7-7-4 record), but will head into St. Louis on the heels of an impressive win in Nashville on Saturday. They find themselves barely hanging onto to the final playoff spot in the Western Conference and will need a near flawless effort tonight if they want to grab two points away from the St. Louis Blues. The Blues jumped all over Toronto on Saturday and will be happy to return home to the Scottrade Center where they own an impressive 22-8-2 record. St. Louis has taken both previous meetings this season, and should be highly motivated to catch a slumping Nashville team and potentially avoid a first round playoff date with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Between the numerous key injuries and the very difficult matchup, the fantasy options from Winnipeg are rather limited tonight. Tyler Myers has tallied points in three straight games and should see plenty of added responsibilities with Dustin Byfuglien in the press box. The Backes, Oshie, Steen line is as defensively sound as any line in the league, but it’s not totally clear which offensive grouping Kent Hitchcock will deploy them against, making them all better served for GPP use. Mark Scheifele, their first round pick from 2011, has scored two goals and added four assists over the last six games making him a fine value option.

This looks like a nice spot to target some players from the St. Louis Blues, but picking which forward line to target each night can be frustrating. The Jets enter tonight’s game as the second most penalized team in the NHL this season, so this looks like a spot to key in on the Blue’s power-play. While they have struggled quite a bit to replace Kevin Shattenkirk’s production, it’s been Alex Pietrangelo seeing nearly all of the playing time on the point with the man advantage. On offense, Alex Steen leads all active Blues with 21 power-play points and he’s fresh off of a three assist game on Saturday. All of the other usual suspects here are nice plays (ie. Tarasenko, Backes, Oshie, Schwartz) and Dmitrij Jaskin and Jori Lehtera make for top notch “punt” plays.

 

Players to Target:
     
  • Vladimir Tarasenko
  • Alex Steen
  • Tyler Myers
 
 

Los Angeles Kings @ Colorado Avalanche

Vegas Line: LA (-127), O/U 5

Los Angeles will look to bounce back from a heart-breaking 1-0 overtime loss to Pittsburgh on Saturday when they head to the Pepsi Center to do battle with the division foe Colorado Avalanche. As usual this time of year, the Kings have dug themselves out of an early season hole and now appear to be a legitimate threat in the Western Conference. In their only prior meeting this season, the Kings defeated the Avalanche 4-1 in Denver but that score may be slightly misleading as Colorado outshot Los Angeles 43-26 and it took an outstanding effort for Jonathan Quick to secure two points for the Kings. While it’s likely too late to get them into the playoff picture, the Avalanche are playing solid hockey right now and should make things difficult for the Kings tonight.

Despite the lopsided shot totals from the first game between these two, this is a matchup of a Los Angeles team that has allowed the 2nd least shots on goal per game in the NHL this season (27.2 shots/game) versus a Colorado team that has allowed the 2nd most shots on goal per game (33.2). While I’m not expecting fireworks from this game, there are some worthwhile options on the Los Angeles bench especially with Semyon Varlamov’s status up in the air. While the home vs. road splits aren’t in his favor tonight, Jeff Carter looks to be a very strong option as he’s tallied four goals over the last four games and found the back of the net twice against the Avalanche in that first meeting. Kopitar had been heating up prior the Kings being shut-out on Saturday and he and Marian Gaborik form a formidable offensive threat on the Kings top line. Defensively, Jake Muzzin and Drew Doughty see most of the work on the point of the team’s power-play and are your strongest fantasy options, but Colorado sports an impressive penalty kill, so keep your expectations in check.

The Nathan MacKinnon injury really thins out the forward depth for the Avalanche, and with Anze Kopitar likely being tasked with shutting down Jarome Iginla and Matt Duchene, the “best” forward options tonight are Gabriel Landeskog and Ryan O’Reilly. Both players have been red-hot lately, with Landeskog scoring goals in three straight contests (and amassing nine goals and six assists in his last 12 games) and O’Reilly picking up assists in three straight games. With Erik Johnson sidelined it’s tough to get too excited about any of the Avs’ defenseman, but the Kings have struggled a bit on the penalty kill (18th ranked) and Tyson Barrie sees the lion’s share of the work on the power-play and has really come alive lately; scoring three goals and adding eight assists in the last eight games.

 

Players to Target:
     
  • Jeff Carter
  • Anze Kopitar
  • Tyson Barrie