NHL Breakdown – 11/15/16
Tonight we have a massive 13 game slate with only the Tampa Bay Lightning playing on a back-to-back. There have been a few unexpected lineup developments after the morning skates, which add a level of uncertainty about a number of tonight’s games. I will break down what I feel are the key games to target tonight for offense and try to find a way to handle these unique situations.
Nashville Predators at Toronto Maple Leafs
The Leafs play the highest event style in hockey and it makes sense to target their games on a nightly basis. They are slight underdogs tonight against the visiting Nashville Predators although I expect the line to move in the Leafs’ favor closer to game time as it was recently announced that starting goaltender Pekka Rinne will miss the game due to injury. The Leafs will instead face backup Marek Mazanec who has given up 7 goals on 36 shots in his two appearances this season. I think both offenses are great targets in this one as the Leafs give up the 2nd most shot attempts at even strength and the Preds are not too far behind.
On the Preds’ side, I think the majority of the ownership will be on the top line of Ryan Johansen, James Neal and Victor Arvidsson but I don’t love their matchup at even strength as they will most likely face the Nazim Kadri line for most of the night. In GPPs I think it makes sense to look at the Preds’ 2nd and 3rd lines as they should get the better even strength matchups. Filip Forsberg and Mike Fisher are my favorite targets there as they will likely matchup against the Leafs’ 2nd line which is weaker defensively, plus they will see time on the top PP unit. I prefer using them on DraftKings where they are much cheaper. Roman Josi is my favorite blue line target in this one as he gets to man the top PP unit.
For the Leafs, you can make a strong case for anyone seeing power-play time as the Predators give up the third most unblocked shot attempts on the penalty kill. The 2nd line of James van Reimsdyk, Mitch Marner and Tyler Bozak have been the most consistent offensive group for the Leafs this year and all skate together on the power-play. They are still priced very cheap on DK so I prefer them there. The duo of Auston Matthews and William Nylander have been somewhat quiet as of late but they do carry elite offensive upside and should have a great chance to get back on track against the Predators weak PK unit. They are still overpriced on DK so I prefer using them on FanDuel. Defenseman Morgan Rielly is a strong option at his price now that he is seeing PP time.
Buffalo Sabres at St. Louis Blues
The low scoring Buffalo Sabres head into St. Louis tonight and will likely be without their best two-way player Ryan O’Reilly who has missed time lately due to injury. He did not practise today but make sure to check in on his availability closer to game time. If he is out then I really like Blues goalie Jake Allen tonight as a cash play despite his poor showing the last time out. The Blues are the biggest favorite on the board so the win should be as close to a lock as you can get.
On the offensive side I love the Blues power-play in this one as the Sabres are giving up the most unblocked shot attempts on the penalty kill and that should get worse if O’Reilly is out. Sniper Vladimir Tarasenko is my top forward play in this one as he has the most upside on the team and I like him in any format. Unfortunately linemates Robby Fabbri and Jori Lehtera do not join him on the top PP unit which makes me less likely to want to stack them together. Another option is to pair Tarasenko with Kevin Shattenkirk who mans the point on that top PP unit. He is reasonably priced on all sites and is in a great spot. I also really like the top line of Paul Stastny, Alex Steen and Jaden Schwartz who all skate together at even strength and on that top PP unit. Plus they are all much cheaper than Tarasenko and can help you fit in some other high priced studs.
Washington Capitals at Columbus Blue Jackets
This is a great matchup for the Capitals as the Blue Jackets have been overachieving at both ends of the ice for most of the season. Defensively the Blue Jackets are bottom 5 in the league in shots against per game, shot attempts against at even strength and unblocked shot attempts allowed on the penalty kill. This is a recipe for disaster against a team with top offensive talent like the Capitals. Unfortunately the Caps have been playing around with their line combinations lately which make them a difficult target from a stacking perspective. This is a fantastic matchup for superstar Alex Ovechkin but right now he is slotted to play with defensive grinder Jay Beagle and the underachieving Brett Connolly. Now this is hockey and things could change in warmups or early in the game but this uncertainty makes it difficult for me to want to pay up for Ovi in cash games. I think he does make for a great tournament option however, as people might shy away from that situation. I like the idea of pairing him with defenseman Jon Carlson who joins him on the top PP unit. The other option that I like from the Capitals is stacking the 2nd line of Nicklas Backstrom, TJ Oshie and Marcus Johansson who all play together at even strength and on the top PP unit.
Ottawa Senators at Philadelphia Flyers
The Flyers should have the advantage at even strength in this game as the Sens have been one of the worst teams in the league from a possession standpoint. However the major difference between these two teams to start the season has been goaltending. Craig Anderson has stood on his head for the Sens while Steve Mason has been awful for the Flyers which explains the noticeable split in goals against. I like the Flyers side in this one for cash games as they are sizable favorites at home tonight and should have the advantage in shot opportunities. The top line of Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn are the best bet for offense here. They skate together at even strength and on the powerplay. If you are tight on salary, Schenn is the best way to get exposure to the line as he is priced very low on all sites.
Given the Flyers weak goaltending, I think it makes a lot of sense to look at the Sens in tournaments. My favorite line to use is the 2nd line of Derick Brassard, Mike Hoffman and Mark Stone who all join the top PP unit. Defenseman Erik Karlsson has not had as strong of an offensive season as we are used to from him, but this is a great matchup and I think he will go under-owned tonight. I will make sure to have exposure to him in GPPs.