We’re officially through two-thirds of the NHL season now and, with the trade deadline looming just three weeks away, these next few weeks will separate the “buyers” from the “sellers”. There are five games on the docket tonight with the NHL’s hottest team, the St. Louis Blues, looking for their eighth straight win. The NBA may garner more attention tonight, but there is still plenty of money to be made on the ice this evening.
Brian Elliott – St. Louis Blues – After watching his teammate Jake Allen make several impressive saves in his shutout victory over Buffalo last night, Elliott should be back between the pipes tonight. Yes, He’s expensive… but look at his numbers this season; 16-5-2 record with a 1.95 GAA and .929 SV%. Tonight he’ll take on a Columbus team that has dropped three straight games and who he owns a 6-0-1 record with a 1.98 GAA in seven career starts against. The Blues have picked up at least one point in 13 straight games and, considering the Blue’s domination of Columbus in recent years, there’s no reason to believe the Blue Jackets will be the team to derail their winning streak.
Others: Cory Schneider, Corey Crawford
Evgeni Malkin – Pittsburgh Penguins – The Penguins have been sputtering down the stretch, but they’re finally getting healthy and, after an impressive shutout victory in Edmonton, they’ll look to keep things rolling tonight in Alberta. Malkin looked sharp in his return to the lineup on Wednesday picking up the game winning goal and he also dished out a pair of assists in Pittsburgh’s 3-1 victory when these teams squared off back in December. To call him a weapon on the team’s #1 power-play unit would be an understatement and should be able to build on his 19 power-play points against the Flames’ 25th ranked penalty kill.
Richard Rakall – Anaheim Ducks – With some expensive options to choose from, you’re going to need some value plays tonight… and that’s where Rakall comes into play. He carries just a $2,600 price tag and all he’s done over his last ten games is rack up four goals and seven assists. With Ryan Getzlaf scratched last night (and questionable again tonight), Rakall jumped onto the Duck’s top line to skate alongside Corey Perry and promptly picked up a pair of assists against a tough Nashville team.
Others: Sidney Crosby, Nicklas Backstrom, David Backes, Bryan Little, Jonathan Toews
Vladimir Tarasenko – St. Louis Blues – Despite having stats eerily similar to his country mate Alex Ovechkin this season, Tarasenko’s asking price just continues to sit $2,000 cheaper. Tarasenko scored a goal (and dinged the crossbar) for the third straight game against the Sabres last night and has now ascended to 6th in the NHL’s scoring race. He feasted on the Blue Jacket’s in their two meetings last season, tallying a pair of goals while also picking up two assists. Tarasenko logs big minutes on the wing on the team’s #1 power-play unit and should thrive against the Blue Jackets subpar 79.9% penalty kill.
Andrew Ladd – Winnipeg Jets – Vegas has set the Blackhawks as fairly large favorites tonight, but I disagree. Not only is the MTS Centre a tough venue to play in, but Winnipeg has won all three previous games in this series this season. Ladd, the Jet’s leading scorer, brings a three game scoring streak into tonight’s game and he’s torched the Blackhawks for a goal and five assists in their three meetings. After an inauspicious start to the season, Ladd has ramped up his offensive production and has now tallied 10 goals and 19 assists over the last 27 games.
Others: Alex Ovechkin, David Perron, Patrick Kane, Jaden Schwartz, Jaromir Jagr, Marian Hossa, Blake Wheeler, Corey Perry, Jiri Hudler, Johnny Gaudreau, Patrik Hornqvist
Kris Letang – Pittsburgh Penguins – If I’m spending up for a defenseman tonight, it’s going to be Letang. His eight points since the All-Star break leads the entire NHL and he lit the lamp against the Flames in their only previous meeting. He’s routinely logging north of 25 minutes of ice-time per game and lives on the point of the Penguin’s top power-play unit where, like Evgeni Malkin, he’s also already amassed 19 power-play points this season.
Duncan Keith – Chicago Blackhawks – Keith is the workhorse of this Chicago team as he leads the Blackhawks in average ice-time per game (25:41) as well as average time on the power-play (3:42). With that said, Winnipeg enters tonight as the most penalized team in the NHL, which means Keith will likely see some extended run on the point of the team’s dangerous #1 power-play unit. This is a guy who racked up 61 points for the Blackhawks last season, so enjoy that very reasonable $4,700 price-tag.
Others: Paul Martin, Alex Pietrangelo, Mark Giordano, Mike Green, Brent Seabrook, Jay Bouwmeester, Dustin Byfuglien, T.J. Brodie
Best of luck tonight!
JMBWngFn (@JBritt2 on Twitter)