NHL Breakdown – 1/10/17

The NHL has a 7-game slate tonight with only the Dallas Stars playing on back-to-back nights. The Blackhawks and Predators are heavy favorites tonight, but the Vegas lines are very close for the other games. I will break down my favorite spots to look for offense tonight and try to help narrow down your options.

Philadelphia Flyers at Buffalo Sabres

The Flyers have struggled lately, losing 8 of their last 10 games, on the heels of a 10-game winning streak. They have had a top-3 power-play for most of the season, but even that has suffered of late, with only 3 goals on their last 32 chances over the last 12 games. The Flyers PP has a great opportunity to get back on track in this game against the Sabres and their league-worst penalty kill. The Sabres have played better since two-way center Ryan O’Reilly returned from injury, going 2-0-1 in those games, but the PK has still given up 5 goals in the last 7 games (3 against the Flyers in the first meeting this season). Both teams have been mixing up their lines lately with players in and out of the lineup due to injuries, so there is a lot uncertainty in what we will see during the game. With Sean Couturier back in the lineup, the Flyers split up Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek for a couple games. When that failed to generate offense, the Flyers put them back together in the third period of last game. Giroux has only scored one goal in his last 13 games and is likely to see a lot of O’Reilly at even strength so I am probably not going to have a lot of exposure to him tonight. Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn remain together on the second line, which should see the more favorable matchups at even strength. They have played much better lately and are my preferred targets on the Flyers as they also skate together on the top PP unit. Schenn has 3 goals and 3 assists in his last 6 games and Simmonds is third in the league with 8 PP goals. Defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere hasn’t performed as well as he did during his rookie season, but his shot volume has gone up recently and he gets a great matchup here as the point man on the top PP unit. I don’t mind using him as part of a PP stack with Simmonds and Schenn in GPPs.

The Sabres look to have reunited O’Reilly and winger Kyle Okposo on what I would consider the team’s top line. O’Reilly has 4 points, 4 shots on goal and 3 blocks since his return, while Okposo leads the team in scoring and has been very consistent this season. The duo gets a favorable even strength matchup against Giroux, who is a -8 over his last 11 games. They also stay together on the top PP unit which has been the Sabres’ main source of offense this season. They can be paired with defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen who joins them on the top PP unit and has 7 shots and 7 blocks in the two games that O’Reilly has been back. All three skaters are incredibly cheap on DK (about $1000 cheaper than FD each) and they are one of my top stacks there tonight.

Detroit Red Wings at Chicago Blackhawks

The Hawks’ offense gets a juicy home matchup against a Red Wings team that is playing without several key defensemen due to injuries. The Wings are likely to start goaltender Petr Mrazek, who has an .895 SV% this season and has given up 3+ goals in 7 of his last 8 games. This is an ideal spot for superstar Patrick Kane who has been heating up lately with 7 points in his last 3 games. Kane is one of my top cash plays of the night and is an excellent value on DK, where he is $1,200 cheaper than on FD. The top line of Kane, Artemi Panarin, and Artem Anisimov is going to be the highest owned stack of the night, but they will be a very difficult fade for me in tournaments given the matchup. Defenseman Duncan Keith has been very consistent lately with a goal and 10 assists in his last 12 games, and is averaging just over 2 shots on goal per game this season. Keith is an assist machine, which scores slightly better on FD, but his price is very reasonable on DK to make up for it.

As one of the two big favorites on the slate, Hawks goalie Corey Crawford is one of the top cash game options in net tonight. However, I do still have some interest in the Red Wings offense for GPPs. Despite leading the Western Conference in points, the Hawks have had their issues defensively this season. Over the past month, the Hawks have been giving up the second most scoring chances per game at 5-on-5. Despite struggling on the defensive end, the Wings have scored 3+ goals in 6 of their last 7 games and have performed much better on the road this season. Top line winger Anthony Mantha has 7 goals in his last 8 games and 9 of his team-leading 11 goals have come on the road this season. Mantha is a solid GPP play tonight, but will likely see a lot of the Jonathan Toews/Marian Hossa shutdown line at even strength. Instead, I prefer looking to the recently formed second line of Thomas Vanek, Frans Nielsen, and Andreas Athanasiou, who have combined for 5 even strength goals in the last two games. The trio offers excellent salary relief and should have a decent chance at exploiting Chicago’s defensive issues.

Dallas Stars at Anaheim Ducks

This game has a lot of uncertainty as far as lineups go, which makes it more of a GPP target for me. The Stars have been without captain Jamie Benn for the past few games due to injury, but he has been skating and has a chance to return to the lineup tonight. The Ducks have also been missing their captain, Ryan Getzlaf, but he also skated today and has a chance to return tonight. If either player is in the lineup tonight it should have a big impact on the outcome, but unfortunately both are game time decisions and this is the latest game on the slate. At this point in the day, we should work under the assumption that both will remain out, but it is a situation to monitor closer to lock.

The Stars earned a high-scoring victory over the Kings last night by outworking them and pressuring them into turnovers. The Stars have played better on the road lately, but they are still giving up a lot of goals in part due to bad goaltending and a penalty kill that has given up 2 goals in each of their last 4 games. This is a great spot for the Ducks to capitalize on offense as they are 7-1-1 in their last 9 home games. Their PP has struggled in the 3 games that Getzlaf has missed, but I think you can still target them if Getzlaf remains out based on how good the matchup is. Ryan Kesler would be my top option in this game as he leads the team in scoring and has been the Ducks’ most consistent player this season. He’s likely to play the shutdown role against the Tyler Seguin line at even strength, but that line plays high event hockey, and he should still see a lot of time on the PP. Rickard Rakell and Corey Perry have not played great lately, but they both see PP time and should get the favorable even strength matchups. They are more of a tournament play, as they have lacked consistency, but they are incredibly talented and have a ton of upside.