It’s crunch-time for the NHL with lots of Playoff races still to be decided over the last two weeks of the season. Things will get started tonight with a solid eight-game slate with some top-tier talents and teams on the ice. Let’s take a look at some of the top and bargain buys for today’s slate of games.
Steve Mason – PHI vs WPG – $7,700 – Mason has hunkered down for the Flyers and backstopped them into the Wild Card race with his stellar play as of late with the absence of Michael Neuvirth. He had some struggles earlier this season which has led to his inflated stat line, but he has turned things around in a hurry for Philly. In his last 10 games Mason has posted a 1.98 GAA, a .930 SV% and a 6-2-2 record jumping Philly into a tie with Detroit for the final Wild Card slot. In those 10 games Mase has allowed more than two goals against only three times and is riding a four-game streak of two goals against or less, stopping 121 of 128 shots faced in that span. He faces the Jets tonight in a home matchup in a game the Flyers must get points in, and with his level of play recently, and playing a non-playoff team, Mason is one of my top goalies of the night.
“Hotlby is finishing up what could be an historic season for a goaltender . . .”
Braden Holtby – WAS vs CLS – $8,500 – With Philipp Grubauer getting the start over the weekend against the Blues, expect Holtby back in the net tonight against the Blue Jackets. Hotlby is finishing up what could be an historic season for a goaltender, currently on-pace to break Martin Brodeur’s single-season win mark of 48 which was set in the 2006-2007 season. Holtby sits with 45 on the season with 8 games remaining. He has somewhat hit a wall over the last month or so, but bounced back recently and has posted a 2.21 GAA in his last 10 games. He will likely be the Vezina winner this season, though there are some solid goalies making some late season runs. Holtby leads the Caps against the Blue Jackets tonight, and on the season, he’s 2-1-0 against Columbus.
Mike Smith – ARI vs CGY – $7,200 – Smith has been a wall for the Coyotes since he made his return from injury two weeks ago. He hadn’t suited up for Arizona since early December but has been sterling in his five starts back so far. In those games he’s 4-1-0 with a shutout, two-one goal games and has stopped 165 of the 171 shots faced which equates to a .965 SV%. He is as hot as any goalie playing, especially tonight, and comes at a bargain price compared to other top goalies with a very favorable matchup against a Flames team that has managed only five goals total over their last three games played.
Others to Consider: Jonathan Quick ($8,300), Ben Bishop ($8,100), Pekka Rinne ($8,200), Petr Mrazek ($7,900)
Roman Josi – NSH vs COL – $7,100 – Josi has stepped his production back up lately and has nine points in his last seven games, thanks in-part to three multi-point outings. Josi is coming off one of his best outings of the year with a three assist game against the Blue Jackets in which he added a blocked shot and four shots on goal for an 8.5 fantasy point night. He did all this while playing one of his lowest minute games of the season, seeing only 18.2 TOI. He is now up to 56 points on the season, which has tied defensive-mate Shea Weber’s team record for most points in a season by a defenseman, and his first assist in the game set the new franchise record for assists by a d-man as well. The Preds have a solid matchup tonight, and with as hot as Josi and Weber have been, this could turn into a high-scoring affair for Nashville and their top blueliners.
Shayne Gostisbehere – PHI vs WPG – $6,300 – It’s impressive to see where Ghost as gotten to this season, and the future is bright for him. He should be a finalist for the Calder Trophy for Rookie of the Year posting 41 points in 56 games as a rookie defenseman. His 41 points are sixth among rookies league-wide this season, and he has been one of the most important pieces that has pushed the Flyers into Wild Card contention. Gostisbehere has assists in back-to-back games, with eight SOG as well, and has 6 points in his last 10 games overall. The Flyers have a very favorable matchup tonight against the lowly Jets in a game they must get points in, and Gostisbehere seems to be heating up again after a four-game scoring drought.
“His 41 points are sixth among rookies league-wide this season . . .”
Andrej Sekera – EDM vs ANH – $4,700 – Despite a tough matchup tonight against the Ducks, Sekera is a solid mid-level buy tonight for those not wanting to spend big on some of the top-tier defensemen. Riding a three-game point streak, and with points in four of his last six overall, Sekera is now up to 30 points and 24 assists on the year in his first season with Edmonton. He has done some damage against the Ducks this season with two assists and seven SOG in four games against Anaheim so far.
Others to Consider: Brent Burns ($8,400), Oliver Ekman-Larsson ($6,000), Mark Giordano ($7,400), Shea Weber ($6,700), John Carlson ($5,600), Mike Green ($5,000), Cam Fowler ($4,700), Jason Garrison ($3,100)
Steven Stamkos, C – TB vs TOR – $7,600 – I wrote about Stamkos on Friday for his game with the Islanders, and he potted a goal and followed that up with another marker on Saturday against the Panthers with 11 SOG in those two games. That’s points in five straight for Stammer, and he has goals in four of the five. Overall he has found the scoresheet in six of his last seven games with seven goals, three assists and is averaging almost four SOG per game with 27 shots in those seven outings. He only has a single goal against the Maple Leafs this season but is almost a point-per-game player at home on the year with 35 points in 38 games.
Pavel Datsyuk, C – DET vs BUF – $6,300 – Datsyuk still has it and keeps proving that he can be one of the better playmakers in the game. The 37-year old centerman is riding a nine-point outburst in his last 10 games to jump up into the team lead for the Red Wings in points with 45, despite playing almost 20 games less than most of his teammates, good for a .75 point-per-game scoring average. He has assists in three straight games, points in four straight and has put up at least a point in seven of his last 10 games. The Red Wings are entrenched in a tough fight for the final Wild Card spot with the Flyers at the moment, making their game with Buffalo incredibly important tonight. This season against the Sabres, Datsyuk has been solid with two points and ten SOG in four games. Lean on the wily vet tonight in your lineups.
Sean Couturier, C – PHI vs WPG – $4,300 – The Flyers are 6-2-2 in their last 10 games, and along with Mason and Gostisbehere, Couturier has been one of the unsung heroes for Philly in that span. He missed a lot of time this season, matching Datsyuk with only 59 games played on the season. He is not the offensive player that Datsyuk is, but had he played all season at the same level, Couturier easily would have shattered his career-best season. He still should set a new career-high in points, sitting at 35 to date and needing only five points in his last eight games to hit the 40-point mark and set a new high. He has been fantastic for Philly lately with 9 points in his last 10 games and only being held from scoring twice in that span. He is currently riding a four-game point streak heading into tonight’s favorable matchup with Winnipeg.
“He’s starting to show a lot of confidence with his offensive game”
James Neal, RW – NSH vs COL – $6,400 – Neal has seen his season turn around offensively since the January trade that brought Ryan Johansen to Nashville, and he has picked up the slack as of late since Filip Forsberg slowed down offensively after his February outburst. Neal has ridden an eight-goal, 12-point outburst in his last 10 games to third on the team in points with 51, and with his goal against the Blue Jackets on Saturday, notched his second-career 30-goal season. Neal has points in five of his last six outings, and four of those five games have been of the multi-point variety. His 33 SOG in his last 10 have pushed his team-leading total to 238 on the season, his best shot output since his 40-goal season when he posted over 300 SOG. He is doing it all for the Preds as of late and should easily be in your lineups tonight, especially in such a favorable scoring matchup.
Sam Reinhart, RW – BUF @ DET – $4,600 – Playing most of the year with fellow rookie sensation Jack Eichel, Reinhart has Sabres fans drooling about the potential that the young duo has flashed this year. Both have broken the 20-goal barrier in their first full season, with Reinhart second on the team with 21 markers. Despite the struggles of the Sabres, Reinhart has been a point-per-game player as of late with 10 points in as many games. He has not been shy about shooting with 27 SOG in that span, well up from his season average of 2.05 SOG/G. He’s starting to show a lot of confidence with his offensive game, and with the Sabres out of the playoffs, they are letting their kids play and develop. Reinhart faces the Red Wings tonight, and in three games against Detroit on the year, he has a goal and an assist and comes in as a solid mid-level value at only $4,600.
Others to Consider: Alex Ovechkin ($8,600), Connor McDavid ($7,300), Blake Wheeler ($7,000), Ryan Getzlaf ($6,800), Filip Forsberg ($6,900), Jeff Carter ($6,300), Nicklas Backstrom ($6,200), Jordan Eberle ($5,900), Tyler Toffoli ($5,700), Ondrej Palat ($5,100), Mikkel Boedker ($4,900), Rickard Rakell ($4,900), Nikolaj Ehlers ($4,300), Joel Ward ($4,200), Patrick Maroon ($3,800)
Make sure to check out the Cheat Sheet and NHL Line Stacks posts today and as always for any DFS Hockey questions or comments this season, find me on Twitter at: @JHarding_Hockey