NHL Breakdown – 12/01/16
The NHL is back tonight with a 12-game slate and there are lots of big DFS contests across the industry. The Penguins, Islanders and Kings are playing on back to back nights. The Capitals and Penguins are the chalk offenses tonight so I will break down those games in depth and then will briefly touch on a few other spots I would like to target on offense for lower ownership.
Dallas Stars at Pittsburgh Penguins
This game is one of my favorite to target tonight for DFS as both teams are top 5 in the league in pace of play and both are loaded with offensive talent. The Pens are heavy favorites at home in this one despite being on a back-to-back with travel. However, they did have 3 days off prior to yesterday’s game against the Islanders so I’m not as worried as usual. The Stars meanwhile are playing their 3rd game in 4 nights on long road trip and have gone 0-2 so far. Both teams have been terrible defensively this season with the Stars allowing the most goals against per game in the league and the Pens allowing the 3rd most shots on goal. Both teams also have terrible penalty killing units with the Pens ranked 27th and the Stars ranked 28th in the league. The Stars also take the 2nd most penalty minutes in the league so there should be plenty of opportunities for the Penguins power-play.
Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist and Kris Letang all make for strong cash game plays on the Penguins side as they see the most ice time at even strength and also play on the top PP unit. All three will likely be highly owned in tournaments despite the back-to-back situation. The Crosby line is usually matched with opposing teams’ top lines which is the Tyler Seguin-Jamie Benn duo for the Stars. Both of these lines are strong possession-wise so I don’t love the even strength matchup for either (not to mention the fact that they are all very expensive in DFS). The better matchup for the Penguins is the 3rd line of Phil Kessel, Nick Bonino and Carl Hagelin, who will go up against the depth lines of the Stars, which are pretty bad defensively. The HBK line has not been as strong this season as they were during the 2nd half of last season, but I like them as a low owned GPP play in a great matchup.
On the Stars side, Seguin and Benn are always in play for their massive upside but I prefer looking towards the 2nd line of Jason Spezza, Patrick Eaves and Patrick Sharp in GPPs. They will most likely go up against the Evgeni Malkin line at even strength, which has given up a lot of shot attempts against this season. Spezza and Eaves play together on the top PP unit for the Stars so I don’t mind them as a mini stack either. They can be paired with rookie defenseman Julius Honka who mans the point on that top PP unit and is a great play in either format for his cheap price and high shot volume.
New York Islanders at Washington Capitals
The Washington Capitals are the biggest favorites on the board tonight taking on an Islanders team that is playing on a back-to-back and their 3rd game in 4 nights. The Caps are well rested after having 4 days off and are looking to make up for an awful performance last game in Toronto. They were not sharp in that one and should play much better at home tonight. The Islanders have been horrible on road this season with a 1-6-1 record as the visitor. It hasn’t been announced yet, but the Isles will most likely turn to Jaroslav Halak in net tonight after Thomas Greiss got the start last night. Halak has performed much worse than Greiss this season with a low .903 SV% so the matchup is even better for the Caps. The Isles are in the bottom 3rd of the league in all defensive categories and give up the 2nd most shot attempts at even strength. This is great for the Caps shooters as they should be able to rack up a ton of shot attempts tonight. It also gives value to the Isles defensemen as they should have plenty of opportunities for shot blocks tonight. The Caps have changed their lines around a little, stacking Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom together on the top line joined by Marcus Johansson. This is line is one of the top stacks of the night and will likely be very chalky in GPPs. I love any of the three in cash games with Ovechkin and Backstrom as my favorite options as they play on the top PP unit. I think having some exposure to 2nd liners Evgeny Kuznetsov and Andrei Burakovsky is a decent way to get lower ownership in GPPs as they should go up against the Islanders weaker depth lines. Jon Carlson is a strong option on defense tonight as he gets to run the point on the Caps top PP unit.
The Caps are in the top 3rd in the league at both shots allowed and goals against, so this is a great spot for Braden Holtby to get the win and he is my top cash game goalie of the night.
Philadelphia Flyers at Ottawa Senators
With the news that Senators goalie Craig Anderson is taking leave of absense from the team to be with his sick wife, I think this game has a great chance to go over the 5.0 Vegas total. Mike Condon will be in net tonight, and aside from his strong debut with the Sens, he has not been great in his career. Sens give up the 5th most even strength shot attempts in the league and Anderson has been bailing them out. The Flyers are near the top of the league in almost every offensive category including having the league’s second best power-play, so I think there is a lot of upside for them here. Claude Giroux and Jacub Voracek will likely go up against the Pageau line of the Sens, which has not been the most difficult spot at even strength. The 2nd line of Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds and Travis Konecny will most likely go up against the Turris line, which has not been a difficult matchup either. What I really like in GPPs are PP mini stacks for the Flyers, with Giroux-Voracek-Gostisbehere and Simmonds-Schenn-Gostisbehere as my favorite options.
The matchup is also good for the Sens, as the Flyers have given up the 2nd most goals in the league. The Flyers have actually been a great possession team this season until Sean Couturier got injured a few games ago, but they have suffered defensively since. The Flyers depth lines have been the weakest link defensively so the matchup is great for the Hoffman-Brassard-Stone line as they will like go up against the Nick Cousins line on the Flyers. They make for a solid GPP stack tonight.
Goaltending has been their major issue for the Flyers, but Steve Mason has really turned his game around and played much better lately. He is coming off 45 save win against Boston last game and has some GPP appeal here as he is likely to face a lot of shots.
Edmonton Oilers at Winnipeg Jets
The Oilers won the first meeting between the two clubs in Winnipeg early in the season, but I really like the Jets in this game as they are finally starting to get healthy and have played great at home since that loss. The Oilers won that game 3-0 but it was the depth lines that did the damage as Blake Wheeler was able to neutralize the Connor McDavid line in that one. Now that two-way center Bryan Little is back from injury, Wheeler should have even more help this time around. The Jets are also welcoming back Tobias Enstrom and Mathieu Perrault to the lineup so that should help shore up their defensive game.
The Oilers have stacked up their top line, bringing up Leon Draisaitl to join McDavid and Milan Lucic. This trio has been very strong possession-wise when they have played together this season and have also had success together on the power-play. The PP is their best bet for offense tonight as the Jets still take a lot of penalties, but I am not that excited about their even strength matchup. As a result, I will have a hard time paying up for McDavid tonight, but Draisaitl and Lucic are reasonably priced and you can get exposure through them.
On the Jets side, I love the top line of Mark Scheifele, Nikolaj Ehlers and Patrick Laine once again. With Little back in the lineup, they will be freed up to go against the depth lines of the Oilers tonight. And with Draisaitl off the 3rd line for the Oilers, that will make the even strength matchup that much better for them.