NHL Breakdown – 11/17/16
Tonight we have a 10 game slate with only Arizona playing on a back-to-back. The league has been hit hard by injuries over the past few days leaving a few teams without their top offensive options tonight as well as several others as game time decisions. 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.
Colorado Avalanche at Dallas Stars
For whatever reason, the Avalanche have absolutely owned the Stars over the past few seasons going 8-1-1 over their last 10 matchups including a 6-5 victory at home earlier this year. The Stars were large favorites in the majority of those games, just as they are again tonight. The Avs have played a relatively low event style of hockey this year, which is a departure from their wide open style of play over the previous few seasons. However, tonight they will be without one of their best two-way players in Gabriel Landeskog, which should open things up for the Dallas offense.
The Stars have been hammered by injuries so far this season but appear to finally be getting some pieces back. Jason Spezza recently returned from injury and it looks as though Cody Eakin has a chance to return to the Stars lineup tonight. With the potential of returning players it makes it difficult to predict the line combinations for the Stars so make sure to look out for any related news throughout the day. Over the past few games the 2nd line of Tyler Seguin, Patrick Eaves and Antoine Roussel have been the most productive on offense so I prefer them if stacking the Stars. All three have been skating on the top PP unit in recent games and the Avs have been towards the bottom of the league in time spent shorthanded this season. Eaves and Roussel are very cheap and offer great exposure to the expensive Seguin. Jamie Benn has seen his price drop on DraftKings and I like him as a one off play or as part of a PP stack with Seguin until we know more about his even strength linemates.
Matt Duchene is also questionable to return tonight for the Avs. If he is in the lineup tonight then that is a huge boost to the Colorado offense against a Dallas team that gives up way too many shot attempts and has one of the worst penalty killing units in the league. As it currently stands, I have some interest in Nathan MacKinnon as a one off play, but if Duchene returns and they are paired together then my interest and exposure will go way up. Both are highly skilled and generate a ton of shots and should be able to take advantage of the Stars’ terrible goaltending tandem.
Winnipeg Jets at Philadelphia Flyers
The Flyers are sizable favorites in this game despite losing 4 of their last 5 games while the Jets have won 4 of 5 against solid competition. The Flyers have a very potent offense as they take the most shots on goal per game and are 4th in goals scored per game. They also boast the league’s 2nd best power-play. On the other end of the ice they are giving up the most goals per game in the league despite only giving up the 4th least shots on goal per game. Goaltending has been a major issue for them so far this season. Starter Steve Mason has an awful .884 SV% on the season and has cost the team a few games with his terrible play. Things won’t get any easier for him tonight as they welcome two of the league’s leading scorers in Mark Scheifele and Patrick Laine who have been excelling in even the most difficult of matchups. Shutting the duo down will be the main focus for the Flyers tonight but it’s uncertain which line they will use for that task. In previous home games the Flyers have been using their top line of Claudue Giroux, Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn to go up against the top lines of the opposition. That trio is one of the best in the league at generating shot opportunities but also one of the worst in allowing them. That makes for an excellent matchup for the Scheifele line and I will be heavily exposed to them tonight. Scheifele and Laine are joined by Nikolaj Ehlers at even strength and on the top PP unit so I love a full stack there. There is a possibility that the Flyers stick the Sean Couturier line on Scheifele, so I think having some exposure to Blake Wheeler on the Jets’ 2nd line makes for a sneaky under-owned play in GPPs.
Florida Panthers at Toronto Maple Leafs
Games involving the Leafs have been some of the most profitable targets from a DFS perspective on a nightly basis. Their high event style leads to them generating a ton of offense and allowing a ton of opportunities against. This matchup is a clash of styles as the Panthers tend to really limit shot opportunities against. Coming off a huge offensive outing against the Predators, I think the Bozak line will be the most popular play in this one but I think it’s a great time to fade them. The Leafs have shown very clear matchup splits at home this season with the Kadri line facing the opposing top line and the Bozak line facing the 2nd line. Florida’s 2nd line of Vincent Trochek, Reilly Smith and Jussi Jokinen have been one of the best possession lines in the league over the past couple of seasons and I think they should be able to dominate this matchup. I love using them as a stack in GPPs as I expect most of the Florida ownership to be on the top line. On the Leafs’ side, I think Auston Matthews and William Nylander have the best even strength matchup against the Panthers’ weaker depth lines. Matthews has been cold lately but is still generating a ton of shots every game and the goals will follow. He is still highly owned on Fanduel on a nightly basis due to his low salary so I think he is a better value there. However, I think he makes for a better GPP play on DK where his salary is very high, which has kept his ownership down.
With all the low Vegas totals tonight I think there are a ton of reasonable options for goalie selection tonight.
Jon Gibson is likely to get the start tonight for the Anaheim Ducks in a home matchup against the New Jersey Devils. The Ducks are the largest favorite tonight against a Devils team that just lost their best offensive player, Taylor Hall, to a multi week injury. If Gibson is starting then I love him as a cash play tonight at a reasonable price.
The Sharks at Blues game is a great spot to look for goaltending. The Sharks have had a very difficult time scoring lately while the Blues might be without top offensive options Vladimir Tarasenko and Alex Steen. I like both Martin Jones and Jake Allen in this one for GPPs, but if either Tarasenko or Steen plays then Allen is my preferred option here. He has also performed much better at home along with the rest of the team so I like him even if the duo is out.
The Buffalo Sabres have now taken over for the Canucks as the lowest scoring team in the league this season which makes Tampa Bay goalie Ben Bishop a strong play in any format. The Sabres have been bad at home this season and might be without leading scorer Ryan O’Reilly once again. The Lightning have lost superstar Steven Stamkos to a long term injury but they do welcome back Jonathan Drouin tonight so the offense shouldn’t suffer as much as many would think. They should be able to put up enough goal support for Bishop to get the win.
Pekka Rinne will be returning to the crease tonight after missing a game due to injury. He faces a Senators team that has been one of the lowest scoring teams in the league and is without sniper Mike Hoffman tonight. Rinne has played quite well lately and I think this is a great matchup for him.