We head into the second weekend of the NHL season and are starting to get a feel for how some of the offseason changes have affected things this season. After an exciting eight game schedule last night, we’re treated to another busy night as 14 teams will hit the ice this evening. Here are my top cash game picks for tonight’s slate.
Jimmy Howard – Detroit Red Wings – $6,900 – Dollar for Dollar, Jimmy Howard is my top option in net this evening. Howard has only been beaten one time in his first two starts this season and posted a solid 2.34 GAA in 30 starts at Joe Louis Arena last season. He’ll take on a winless Carolina team that scored the 4th fewest goals in the NHL last season and looks like a strong bet to pick up his third win of the season.
Others: Frederik Andersen, Jonathan Quick, Martin Jones, Sergei Bobrovsky
Ryan Johansen – Columbus Blue Jackets – $6,300 – While Mike Babcock is undoubtedly one of the better coaches in the NHL, even he hasn’t been able to fix the mess that is the Toronto Maple Leafs just yet. With Toronto having dropped each of their first three games while allowing 3+ goals in all three matches, I’m quite high on the very dangerous top scoring line of the Blue Jackets that is centered by Ryan Johansen. Johansen picked up a career high 26 goals and 45 assists last season and has picked up at least one point in all four games thus far in the 2015-16 season. He scored a pair of goals and dished out two assists in three meetings against Toronto last season and yet still comes at a very reasonable asking price.
Dylan Larkin – Detroit Red Wings – $3,800 – If you’re looking for a value option at one of your center positions, than Dylan Larkin is your guy. The 23 year-old former first round pick is thriving on a line containing Henrik Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader and is simply too cheap to ignore in a plus matchup against the Hurricanes. Larkin has scored a goal and added three assists through Detroit’s first three games and was a prolific scorer at the University of Michigan last season. He has both the pedigree and opportunity to put up big offensive numbers this season.
Others: Henrik Zetterberg, Ryan Getzlaf, Paul Stastny, Joe Pavelski, Brian Little
Vladimir Tarasenko – St. Louis Blues – $7,300 – He’s expensive, but sometimes you just get what you pay for. The talented 23 year old scored his third goal of the season in last night’s game and has now picked up at least one point in all four games this season. He’s teamed up with Paul Stastny and Alex Steen to form one of the most formidable offensive lines in the league, and they should be a massive match-up problem for the Canucks tonight.
Patrick Marleau – San Jose Sharks – $5,800 – With San Jose putting their undefeated record on the line against the winless Devils, I want some exposure to this Sharks squad tonight. The veteran forward continues to put up big numbers offensively, and can reach value at this price almost on shot volume alone. He’s already netted a pair of goals and added an assists through the first three games and tallied a goal and an assists in two meetings against this New Jersey team last season. With a reasonable $5,800 asking price, he’s an excellent cash game option on the wing.
Others: Corey Perry, Brandon Saad, Justin Abdelkader, Blake Wheeler, Johnny Gaudreau
Dustin Byfuglien – Winnipeg Jets – $5,500 – Don’t let that “D” next to his name fool you; “Big Buff” is a defenseman by title only. Very few other defenders in the league are more offensively aggressive than Byfuglien and it shows in his production as he picked up 28 goals and 27 assists and fired 209 shots on goal last season. Byfuglien thrived at the MTS Centre last season; scoring 16 of his 18 goals in front of the Winnipeg faithful. This should be an up-tempo game with the Calgary Flames solidifying Byfuglien as a top option on the blue-line.
Colton Parayko – St. Louis Blues – $2,600 – Rolling with Byfuglien likely means you’ll need to pair him with a value defenseman, and that’s where Parayko comes into play. The rookie defenseman picked up his first two NHL goals earlier this week, and with Kevin Shattenkirk likely sidelined once again, he should continue to be utilized on the point of the Blues very dangerous power-play. Parayko has a booming slapshot and it just won’t take much for him to easily pay off this bargain price-tag.
Others: Brent Burns, Mike Green, Alex Pietrangelo, Sami Vatanen, Mark Giordano
Best of luck tonight!
JMBWngFn (@JBritt2 on Twitter)