The NHL celebrates St. Patrick’s Day with an entertaining nine game schedule this evening. Tonight’s NHL breakdown will highlight the best, and, in some cases, the worst fantasy options from each of tonight’s nine games. Get your lineups made, grab some green beer, and enjoy the evening.
Ottawa Senators @ Carolina Hurricanes
Vegas Line: OTT (-125), O/U 5
With their playoff hopes on life support, the Ottawa Senators have been playing some inspired (AKA: Desperate) hockey lately. They’ve rattled off wins in 11 of their last 13 games and will head to Raleigh, NC sitting just five points behind the Boston Bruins for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Hurricanes, on the other hand, have dropped five of their last seven games but they have defeated the Senators in both prior meetings this season. This has the makings of a hard-fought, tightly checked game that makes for nice television, but I’m not expecting it to be overly friendly by fantasy standards.
If you believe in the numbers, then it may be worth fading the red-hot Senators here. Not only has Carolina had success against them already this season, but the Hurricanes have been rock solid on the penalty kill all season, are allowing just 2.21 goals per game at PNC Arena and the Senators have really struggled offensively away from home. On the blue-line, Erik Karlsson logged every single second of power-play time against the Flyers on Sunday (6:00 minutes) and we’re all aware of his offensive upside. A sneakier (and cheaper) option is Peter Wierioch who, despite having his three game point streak snapped, joined Karlsson on the point of the power-play for over five minutes on Sunday. Up front, the Ryan/Hoffman/Zibanejad line uses a combination of speed/power/creativity that Carolina may struggle to matchup against, making them nice high-upside GPP targets. In net, the legend of Andrew “The Hamburglar” Hammond continues to grow; the rookie net minder has yet to surrender more than two goals in a game and now sports a 10-0-1 record with a sparkling 1.39 GAA and .955 SV% thus far during his young NHL career.
The Ottawa Senators are only allowing 1.62 goals per game during their 13 game “heater” and Andrew Hammond has been a brick wall since being promoted from the AHL Binghamton Senators, making it tough to get too comfortable targeting Carolina players tonight. Justin Faulk is always an option on the blue-line as he leads this team in points and is a near lock to see 25+ minutes of ice-time. He scored a goal on Sunday in Columbus and has already tallied a goal and two assists in the two meetings against the Senators this season. The Staal brothers get most of the attention up front for Carolina, but 22 year-old Victor Rask has been their carrying the load offensively lately, scoring a pair of goals and adding five assists over the last five games.
Players to Target:
- Andrew Hammond
- Mike Hoffman
- Justin Faulk
Pittsburgh Penguins @ New Jersey Devils
Vegas Line: No Line Posted
The Penguins will look to rebound from a disastrous weekend tonight when they head to New Jersey to battle the Devils. After being shutout 2-0 by the Bruins on Sunday, Pittsburgh completely self-imploded against Detroit on Sunday and their undisciplined simply ways handed the Wings two points as they were routed 5-1. As for New Jersey, despite being “sellers” that the trade deadline, they’ve been playing solid hockey lately and own an 8-3-2 record over their last 13 games. This is the fifth and final meeting of the season between these two teams, with Pittsburgh winning three of the first four battles.
The biggest question here is the health and status of both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. After missing Saturday’s game against Boston with an illness, Crosby returned to the lineup against the Wings on Sunday, but didn’t appear to have his usual “giddy-up” although all reports available point to him being back to 100% tonight. Malkin, on the other hand, left after playing just four minutes against the Bruins on Saturday and was out of commission on Sunday; his status at this point is still very much unclear. For this analysis, I’ll assume Malkin will miss tonight’s game and therefore expect Sid the Kid to put this team on his back and right the ship. After a fairly quiet start to the second half of the season, he’s now picked up four goals and added nine assists over his last ten games and has scored three goals and picked up an assist in the four previous meetings against the Devils. With Patric Hornqvist out of action for the next week, it seems likely that Chris Kunitz and David Perron will join him on the team’s top scoring line and they should also see healthy doses of playing time with the man advantage making both of them solid, and less expensive, options tonight as well. Kris Letang is the only defenseman on this team who’s producing much offensively, and with an impressive finish to the season, he could be in the mix for this year’s Norris Trophy. He’s a staple on the point of the team’s #1 power-play unit and has dished out three assists in three games against the Devils this season. While I’m expecting Pittsburgh to leave here with two points, the Devils are only allowing 2.00 goals against per game since the All-Star Break, so keep your expectations in check.
The Devils rolled to a 4-1 victory over the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday but targeting them in Daily Fantasy Hockey can be a bit of a headache. Michael Cammalleri scored his 25th goal of the season on Saturday and remains their most dangerous offensive weapon. Adam Henrique is one of their building blocks for the future and he’s come alive lately, posting three goals and two assists over the last five games. With Marek Zidlicky shipped out of town at the trade deadline, Andy Greene has really stepped up on the blue-line to play some major minutes and owns a pair of goals and five assists over the last seven games. I’m expecting a much better effort out of the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight and New Jersey has been too inconsistent for my liking, so all of these guys are better served for GPP use.
Players to Target:
- Sidney Crosby
- Kris Letang
- Adam Henrique
Buffalo Sabres @ Boston Bruins
Vegas Line: BOS (-490), O/U 5
Forgive me if I sound like a broken record, but this is a dreadful Buffalo Sabres hockey team that has absolutely nothing to gain by winning any more games down the stretch. They’ve allowed an abysmal 3.85 goals against per game on the road this season, are on the second half of a back-to-back, and are a complete train-wreck by Corsi Standards. The Bruins on the other hand look to be gathering into form nicely as they make a push toward a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Boston is 7-1-1 over their last nine games and has won all three previous meetings against Buffalo this season. I will not be targeting anyone from Buffalo tonight, and I’d advise you to do the same.
Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand are often forced to play a “defense first” style of hockey as Claude Julien leans on them to slow down the oppositions top offensive weapons. However, that won’t be the case tonight as Buffalo lacks a true scoring threat, so they should enjoy some extra freedom in the offensive zone. Marchand has been held scoreless in each of the last four games, but has lit up Buffalo for two goals and two assists in their three previous meetings making that $4,400 asking price looks like an absolute bargain. Boston should have plenty of success here, so feel free to target any of the seven forwards that see consistent power-play time. The options on the Boston blue-line are also plentiful. Dougie Hamilton, Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara all see plenty of run with the man advantage and it’s simply hard to imagine them not piling up some points against Buffalo’s league worst penalty kill. In net, regardless if it’s Tuukka Rask or Niklas Svedberg that gets the call, either one is a rock solid cash game option.
Players to Target:
- Patrice Bergeron
- Dougie Hamilton
- Tuukka Rask/Niklas Svedberg
Montreal Canadiens @ Florida Panthers
Vegas Line: No Line Posted
While the Canadiens are fighting for the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference (as well as potentially the President’s Trophy), the Florida Panthers are clinging to the slightest hope of surpassing both Ottawa and Boston to grab the last remaining playoff spot. These two teams have split their two previous meetings this season, with both teams picking up road shootout victories. Counting tonight, they’ll square off three times over the last three weeks of the regular season, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see things turn a little bit nasty here.
No team in hockey has allowed fewer goals per game on the road this season than Montreal; however, and unfortunately for them, only Buffalo, Toronto and Florida have scored fewer goals per game away from home. They’ll look to bounce back from a disappointing loss last night against the Division Rival Tampa Bay Lightning. Max Pacioretty is the clear #1 scoring option on the Canadiens and a legit MVP contender as evidenced by his team leading 60 points, +39 and 267 shots on goal. However, he’s been far less productive on the road this year, is extremely expensive, and will almost certainly see a large dose of the stifling defense of Dave Bolland in this one. With the Panthers owning the 22nd ranked penalty kill, both P.K. Subban and Andrei Markov are sensible options on “D” tonight. Markov leads the team with 20 power-play points on the season, with Subban falling in right behind him with 16.
If Florida plans on winning this game, they’re going to have to slow things down, back-check aggressively, and grind out a low scoring victory. They’ll have the advantage of fresh legs, but there just isn’t anyone on this roster that has proven to be consistently productive. Aaron Ekblad looks to be back to 100% and will be looking to put a stamp on his overly impressive rookie campaign and at just $3,500 the 19-year old is a nice value option on the blue-line
Players to Target:
- P.K. Subban
- Aaron Ekblad
- Carey Price
Minnesota Wild @ Nashville Predators
Vegas Line: NSH (-140), O/U 5
These two teams may play very similar styles of hockey, but they’re currently headed in completely opposite directions. With an 18-4-1 record over their last 23 games, the Minnesota Wild have vaulted up the standings and now find themselves sitting in position to grab the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference. Conversely, after being the most dominant team in the league for ¾ of the season, the Predators have inexcusably fallen apart and have now lost eight of their last ten games and have coughed up first place in the Central Division. It was Minnesota’s 4-2 victory in Nashville three weeks ago that started this downward spiral for the Predators, so they’re hoping to exact some revenge tonight and get things moving back in the right direction.
This is definitely a game I’ll be sure to watch, however I likely won’t have much exposure here in my DFS lineups. Both of these teams are fully capable of playing shut down defense and are notorious for their abilities to clog up the neutral zone. There’s a lot on the line for both clubs and I’m expecting this to be a bit of a “chess match” as both teams wait for the other side to make a mistake. The subplot to this game is Ryan Suter’s return to Nashville to take on his old team and he’s tallied seven assists in the previous eleven meetings against them since joining Minnesota. If you’re looking to take a trip down Narrative Street then he’s a reasonably priced option on the blue-line ($4,100). Minnesota will need an “A” effort from their top forward line tonight if they plan on picking up two points but will have the unpleasant experience of seeing a heavy dose of Shea Weber. Zach Parise may be somewhat matchup proof, but this is not the right time to invest in his $8,600 asking price in your cash games. His line mates Jason Pominville and Mikael Grandlund are much cheaper options, but with nine games on the slate there are much “safer” options.
The real story here is the battle of the goaltenders. Devan Dubnyk has been simply amazing since being acquired by Minnesota back in January; posting a 20-5-1 record with a 1.66 GAA and .939 SV% om 27 starts with the Wild. Rinne has looked vulnerable at times lately, but still sports an impressive 23-7-1 record with a 2.03 GAA and .925 SV% at the Bridgestone Arena.
Players to Target:
- Roman Josi
- Devan Dubnyk
- Zach Parise
San Jose Sharks @ Winnipeg Jets
Vegas Line: WPG (-125), O/U 5
In what is essentially a playoff game, the Sharks head to Winnipeg to take on the Jets tonight. San Jose has won both previous meetings between these two teams this season and they simply can’t afford to lose tonight. While handing Winnipeg two points here won’t mathematically eliminate the Sharks from playoff contention, it’ll make things exponentially more difficult for them with only 12 games remaining on their schedule. The Jets may currently be sitting in better shape than San Jose, but with Calgary and Los Angeles joining them and the Sharks in a chase for the two wild card spots in the Western Conference, every point is extremely important for both teams.
After a surviving through a rather tough string of home games, the unrelenting NHL gods now send San Jose onto a brutal seven game road trip that will almost certainly determine the fate of the playoff chances before they’re able to return to Northern California. The Sharks were beaten up on by Chicago (6-2) on Saturday, but only the Edmonton Oilers are allowing more goals per game during the second half of the season that Winnipeg (3.25 goals against per game), so there is at least some reason for hope. It’s been the Jet’s penalty-kill that has let them down lately as they’ve allowed an NHL worst 20 second half power-play goals. With San Jose owning the league’s 5th best power-play, this looks to be where you’ll want to focus the majority of your fantasy hockey attention. Joe Pavelski enters tonight’s game with 28 power-play points on the season and has picked up three assists in the first two meetings, but his $8,200 price-tag is definitely not a bargain. He’s joined on the top power-play unit by forwards Logan Couture ($6,700), Joe Thornton ($5,100) and Patrick Marleau ($5,200). On defense Brent Burns ($7,100) is one of the top options on the board. He’s a defenseman by title only and has already tallied a goal and added a pair of assists against Winnipeg this season. Their second power-play unit, while not nearly as reliable or threatening as the top unit, is full of nice value options if you’re looking for a respectable “punt” play.
Winnipeg will be happy to return home after going 2-2-0 on a difficult four game road trip. They’re still missing several key players due to injury (Byfuglien, Little and Perreault) but should be encouraged by their 2-1 victory in Tampa Bay on Saturday. Winnipeg has done a nice job of spreading out their scoring lately, making both of their top two forward lines viable players to target. Blake Wheeler brings a four game scoring streak into tonight’s game and has posted three goals and three assists during that stretch. He’s routinely logging over 20 minutes of playing time and sees plenty of time on the wing of the Jets top power-play unit that should have success against the Sharks lackluster 79.5% penalty kill. With Byfuglien out of the lineup, it’s been Tobias Enstrom and the newly acquired Tyler Myers soaking up nearly all of the power-play time on the point of the Winnipeg power-play, although it has been Myers who’s been the most productive lately.
Players to Target:
- Blake Wheeler
- Brent Burns
- Tyler Myers
New York Islanders @ Chicago Blackhawks
Vegas Line: CHI (-165), O/U 5.5
This game could really go one of two ways:
1) With Toews and Hossa shadowing the Tavares line, it could easily become a battle of secondary scoring. With Kyle Okposo’s return to the lineup creating more forward depth for the Islanders, coupled by the fact that Patrick Kane is still in the press box for the Blackhawks, this scenario seems like it would play into the hands of the Islanders.
2) The game becomes a clash of special teams. These two teams sit on the polar opposite of the spectrum in regards to penalty killing as Chicago sports the league’s second best PK (86%) while New York owns the third worst penalty kill in the NHL this season (77%). Obviously, New York will look to stay out of the penalty box at all costs.
The Islander’s top line of Bailey, Tavares and Okposo is immensely talented, but the matchup tonight in Chicago is far from ideal. Instead of going that route tonight, take a look at the forwards on their 2nd and 3rd scoring lines. Guys like Frans Nielsen, Anders Lee, Ryan Strome and Nikolay Kulemin are all very reasonably priced, see action on the power-play and should be able to avoid squaring off against the suffocating defense of Hossa and Toews. On the blue-line, Nick Leddy’s injury has opened the door for both Johnny Boychuck and Travis Hamonic to log as many minutes as they can handle and both players have been used regularly on the point of power-play.
With a 21-9-5 record at the United Center, the Blackhawks would love to extend the Islanders current slump to four games tonight. As I mentioned above, the Islander’s own the league’s worst penalty kill, so getting some exposure to the Blackhawks power-play seems prudent. Marian Hossa and Jonathan Toews are the usual suspects up front, but Patrick Sharp finally broke out of a 19 game scoreless drought and lit the lamp twice on Saturday in San Jose. While those guys are all priced fairly aggressively, there’s also a lot of value mixed into this Chicago power-play; Andrew Shaw, Antoine Vermette and Teuvo Teravainen have all seen steady minutes with the man advantage and all four players can be had for less than $4K. Defensively, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook remain the only two players with much fantasy upside and, between the two of them, log nearly all of playing time on the point of the power-play.
Players to Target:
- Jonathan Toews
- Kyle Okposo
- Duncan Keith
St. Louis Blues @ Calgary Flames
Vegas Line: STL (-145), O/U 5.5
In what could conceivably be a preview of a first round playoff series, the Blues will look to duplicate their performance versus Calgary in their only previous meeting this season. St. Louis won that game 4-1 and outshot the Flames 39-24. Both of these teams have a lot on the line tonight, so expect this to be a hard-hitting and very physical hockey game.
With two extremely dangerous forward lines, the Blues are going to be a tough matchup for the Mark Giordano-less Flames tonight. Vladimir Tarasenko continues to put up MVP-esque numbers; scoring a goal in the last game and now sporting 34 goals and 33 assists (+29) in 69 games played. He’s fairly expensive, but pairing him with either of his line mates (Schwartz or Lehtera) lowers the average cost hit rather significantly. The other line of interest is the Oshie/Steen/Backes line and while they’re more than capable of producing a multi-goal effort, I’m expecting them to be a bit more focused on their defensive games tonight. On defense, Alex Pietrangelo looks to finally be growing comfortable without Kevin Shattenkirk. He scored a goal against the Flames in that first meeting and has now dished out five assists over the last five games.
Shifting to Calgary, the bulk of their recent offensive production has come from the scorching hot Hudler/Monahan/Gaudreau line. They’ve admittedly been rolling along as well as any other line in hockey, but this is a terrible matchup for them. The Blues will look to out muscle them all evening and the Backes/Oshie/Steen line is one of the best defensive forward groupings in the NHL right now. They’re too talented to be ignored completely, but they’re probably better served for GPP use. Kris Russell and Dennis Wideman have been the two defensemen to benefit from Giordano’s absence. Russell has picked up two goals and six assists over the last seven games while Wideman has dished out eight assists over the same time-frame. Both players log heavy minutes and see plenty of action on the team’s top power-play unit.
Players to Target:
- Vladimir Tarasenko
- Alex Pietrangelo
- Dennis Wideman
Philadelphia Flyers @ Vancouver Canucks
Vegas Line: VAN (-160), O/U 5
Philadelphia may not be mathematically eliminated from playoff contention just yet, but they’re awfully close. Vancouver, on the other hand, enters tonight’s game sitting in second place in the Pacific Division but yet are just one cold-streak away from being out on the golf course a couple months earlier than they had hoped. With three different teams within two points of the Canucks, this is simply a game they can’t afford to lose.
Aside from a 7-2 drubbing they put on Detroit over the weekend, Philadelphia has been pretty bad lately. They’ve dropped five of their last six games and only managed to score six goals in those five losses. They sport a dreadful 9-18-9 road record this season and were completely dominated by the Canucks when these two teams squared off earlier this season. The offensive talent of players like Claude Giroux, Jacob Voracek, Wayne Simmonds and Mark Streit is not up for debate, but this team is just too hard from me to trust in cash games right now.
The Canucks used to be a fairly easy team to predict by fantasy standards as the Sedin line was responsible for such a high percentage of their scoring. However, they’ve been getting plenty of secondary scoring lately which is great for Vancouver fans, but makes this a bit difficult for daily fantasy purposes. However, with Philadelphia sporting the league’s 29th ranked penalty kill, it’s clear that you’ll want some exposure to the Canucks top power-play unit. No duo in the NHL has tallied points on the same goal more often than the Sedin twins, so pairing them together for the TOTAL price of $8,800 seems like one of the best bargains on the board tonight. They’re joined on the top power-play unit by forwards Zack Kassian and Radim Vrbata and the solid play-making defenseman Alex Edler.
Players to Target:
- Daniel Sedin
- Alex Edler
- Claude Giroux