Get your playoff beards ready, as the NHL’s second season got underway last night with four intense series openers. Tonight we’re greeted with another four game schedule as the remaining eight playoff teams all commence their fight for Lord Stanley. The playoffs present a different challenge then daily fantasy hockey during the regular season; there are no longer easy targets to pick on, and the games are generally lower scoring. With that said, there are still plenty of matchups to exploit, and here are my favorite options for tonight’s slate.
Henrik Lundqvist – New York Rangers – Lundqvist led this Rangers team to the Stanley Cup finals last season, posting an impressive 2.14 GAA and .927 SV% in 25 post season games. He looks to be back to 100% after missing nearly two months after taking a puck to throat and will turn his attention to the Pittsburgh Penguins. After dropping eight of their final 12 games, the Penguins barely held onto the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference and Lundqvist dominated them during the regular season; posting a 3-0-1 record with a 1.69 GAA and .950 SV% in their four meetings. The Penguins can be dangerous offensively, but the Rangers are heavy favorites by Vegas standards and Pittsburgh only averaged 2.46 goals per game on the road this season.
Others to Consider: Jake Allen, Ben Bishop
Steven Stamkos – Tampa Bay Lightning – $9,000 – It’s hard to call a 43 goal season disappointing, but Stamkos failed to reach the point-per-game level for the first time since his rookie season in 2008-09. With that said, he’s still one of the game’s most dangerous offensive weapons and he lit this Detroit team up for four goals in their four regular season meetings. On the surface, Detroit’s 80.9% penalty doesn’t jump off the page as a glaring weakness, but the Red Wings 76.2% penalty kill since the All-Star break ranked 26th in the NHL. Stamkos led this Tampa Bay team with 25 power-play points and will be leaned on heavily by John Cooper to ignite the Tampa offense.
Ryan Getzlaf – Anaheim Ducks – $8,700 – After sitting out for several games down the stretch, the well-rested Getzlaf should be eager to his the ice tonight when Anaheim hosts the Winnipeg Jets. Winnipeg had no answer for Mr. Getzlaf during the regular season as they big center scored a goal and added four assists in three meetings. He was a bright spot in the playoffs for the Ducks last season, posting 4 goals and 11 assists in Anaheim’s 12 playoff games.
Rickard Rakell – Anaheim Ducks – $3,000 – Those two picks were admittedly “chalk” so here’s a nice value option to offset some of the cost. With Winnipeg doing whatever they can to try and slow down Perry and Getzlaf (good luck), Rakell should see plenty of favorable matchups in this one. The third line center has played very well against the Jets in their previous meetings, tallying two goals and four assists in their three meetings. The former first round pick has been rewarded with playing time on the wing of the Ducks #2 power-play unit and has seen a steady rise in his playing time throughout the season.
Others to Consider: Tyler Johnson, Pavel Datsyuk, Jori Lehtera, Derek Stepan, Derick Brassard
Rick Nash – New York Rangers – $8,800 – Nash is said to be back to full health after a bout with a flu-bug, and should see his full complement of playing time against the Penguins tonight. Nash set his career high for goals (42) this season and his 304 shots on goal trailed only Alex Ovechkin this season. Nash brutalized these Pittsburgh Penguins during the regular season, scoring four goals and adding three assists in their four meetings. Pittsburgh has allowed 3.2 goals against per game during their current 3-5-2 skid and ended the regular season as the most penalized team in the NHL.
Vladimir Tarasenko – St. Louis Blues – $5,800 – Tarasenko returned to the Blues lineup on Saturday after missing over a week with a lower-body injury and promptly scored a goal and added an assist against this Minnesota team. The Russian sniper emerged as one of the games brightest young talents this season, scoring 37 goals and adding 36 assists in 77 games. Tarasenko tallied three goals and two assists in four games against the Wild and thrived at the Scottrade Center, where he racked up 20 goals and 20 assists in 38 home games. He was consistently priced over 7K prior to the injury, so enjoy the temporary discount.
Gustav Nyquist – Detroit Red Wings – $5,000 – The Red Wings seem to have been mining Sweden for talent for years, and Nyquist looks to be one of their next great Swedes. The talented forward racked up 27 goals and 27 assists while playing all 82 games for Detroit this season and had plenty of success against this Tampa Bay team, scoring a pair of goals and adding two assist in their four meetings. The Red Wings finished the regular season with the NHL’s second best power-play and they’ll need Nyquist (and his 24 power-play points) to produce if they want to be competitive in this series.
Others to Consider: Corey Perry, Jaden Schwartz, Alex Steen, Ryan Callahan, Nikita Kucherov, Patrick Maroon, Mats Zuccarello, Zach Parise
Keith Yandle – New York Rangers – $5,700 – After spending his entire career in the desert with the Coyotes, the Rangers made a big splash at the trade deadline with their move to acquire Keith Yandle. Yandle is one of the best puck-moving defensemen in the league and is a major threat on the point of the Rangers #1 power-play unit. He’s scored one goal and dished out nine assists over the last 12 games and is a near lock to see 20+ minutes of ice-time.
Anton Stralman – Tampa Bay Lightning – $3,400 – I mentioned earlier that the Wings really struggled with their penalty kill down the stretch, so being able to roster Stralman at this price seems like a bargain. The 28 year old finished the 2014-15 season with a career best 39 points and has taken over as the point man on the team’s #1 power-play unit. With a goal and an assist already against Detroit this season, he’s a great value option on the blue-line.
Others to Consider: Nicklas Kronwall, Paul Martin, Sami Vatanen, Ryan Suter, Ryan McDonagh, Tobias Enstrom, Marek Zidlicky
Best of luck tonight!
JMBWngFn (@JBritt2 on Twitter)