For the second time in three days, the NHL unveils an exciting eleven game schedule tonight. With the All-Star break behind us, we’re starting to get a better view of the playoff picture, and are getting to the point of the season when teams really focus on making a strong push down the stretch run. Los Angeles stepped up in a big way last night and showed the league that they’re not going away so easily, and there are several teams in action tonight that must follow suit.
Henrik Lundqvist – New York Rangers – I may choose to save some money and go with one of the cheaper guys listed below, but if I’m opening up my figurative wallet for a goalie tonight, than Lundqvist is my man. Lundqvist didn’t get off to the type of start this season that we’ve grown used to, but he’s locked in now. In 17 appearances since December 8th, he’s posted a 14-3-0 record with a sparkling 1.84 GAA and .936SV%. He’ll take on a Montreal team who ranks 27th in the league with just 2.09 goals per game on the road this season and who he shutout in their last visit to MSG.
Others: Brian Elliott, Tuukka Rask
Values: Ben Scrivens, Jonas Hiller, James Reimer
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Edmonton Oilers – “Can’t Miss TV” in this one as the two worst teams in hockey do battle in Alberta tonight. Make no mistake, Edmonton is bad…… but Buffalo is worse. The Sabres are a hot mess; they’ve dropped 12 straight games, have allowed 4.17 goals against per game on the road this season, sport the league’s worst penalty kill (73.8%), and own a mind-blowing 37.7 FF%. With that said, “The Nuge” is tied for the Edmonton team lead in both goals and assists and is the centerpiece to their one dangerous scoring line. He’s routinely logging over 20 minutes of ice-time per game and sees plenty of run on the team’s #1 power-play unit. He’s picked up a goal and three assists over his last four games and looks to be quite the bargain tonight at just $5,500.
Nazem Kadri – Toronto Maple Leafs – The Leafs forward lines have been routinely shaken up lately, but it looks as if Kadri has landed as the center of the team’s top scoring line alongside Phil Kessel and Leo Komarov. Kadri was held off the scoresheet in New Jersey last night, but had lit the lamp in the each of the two games prior. He’s been much more productive at the Air Canada Centre this season, where he’s posted eight goals and nine assists in 25 games. He gets a healthy dose of playing time on the point of the Maple Leafs #1 power-play, which should bode well for him against Arizona’s 27th ranked PK. Both of these teams enter the game owning ugly seven game losing streaks, but I’m expecting Toronto to come out on top tonight.
Others: David Backes, Claude Giroux, Steven Stamkos, Pavel Datsyuk, Patrice Bergeron, Tyler Seguin
Value: Mikhail Grabovski, Derick Brassard, Leo Komarov, Paul Stastny, Valteri Filppula, Zemgus Girgenson, Jori Lehtera
Alexander Steen – St. Louis Blues – To say he entered the All-Star break on a roll would be an understatement. Steen brings a ten game points streak into tonight’s game against Nashville that has seen him amass seven goals and eleven assists. Usually a matchup with the Predators is one to avoid, but St. Louis can smell blood in the water thanks to the Pekka Rinne injury and will be looking for a statement win against their division rivals as they battle for the Central Division crown. Steen has thrived at the Scottrade Center where he’s scored 11 of his 15 goals and has picked up 23 points in 23 games.
Mike Hoffman – Ottawa Senators – Only the Buffalo Sabres have allowed more goals per game on the road this season than the Dallas Stars and, despite some defensive struggles, they’ve hit their stride offensively with 21 goals over their last six games. Hoffman has picked up eight goals and added three assists over his last 15 games and scored a goal against the Stars when they met earlier this month. He found himself playing alongside Bobby Ryan and Mike Zibanejad against the Leafs in the last game before the All-Star break and also was treated to some time on the second power-play unit as well. He’s dirt cheap ($4,200) and well worth a look tonight.
Others: Vladimir Tarasenko, Taylor Hall (if healthy), Jordan Eberle, Rick Nash, Phil Kessel, jacub Voracek, Bobby Ryan, Ryan Callahan
Value: Jonathan Huberdeau, Josh Bailey, Matt Read, Alex Chiasson, Justin Abdelkader, Tomas Hertl
Kevin Shattenkirk – St. Louis Blues – I’m not exactly sure why we’re being treated to Shattenkirk’s salary decrease, but I’m not going to argue. He’s racked up three goals and ten assists in ten games this month and is now second in the league among NHL defensemen in points (with 39) and his 24 power-play points thus far this season trails only Claude Giroux for the NHL lead. He’s scored three goals and added 18 assists in 24 home games this season, so enjoy his temporary discount.
Justin Schultz – Edmonton Oilers – I mentioned earlier that the Buffalo Sabres (among other things) own the NHL’s worst penalty kill, so who better to target than the guy leading Edmonton in average power-play time per game (3:01/game)? While the numbers don’t necessarily show it, Schultz is a gifted offensive defenseman and looks to be quite the bargain in this matchup. Schultz is averaging nearly 23 minutes of ice-time per game during the month of January and tallied a goal and an assist in his two meetings with the Sabres last season.
Others: Erik Karlsson, Cody Franson, Aaron Ekblad, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Brent Burns, Victor Hedman, Mark Streit, Zdeno Chara
Value: Dan Boyle, Jake Gardiner, Codi Cedi, Danny DeKeyser, Brian Campbell, Nikita Nikitin
Good luck tonight. Hit me up on Twitter @JBritt2 anytime!