NHL Breakdown 2/14/17
The NHL has a 7-game slate tonight with only the Arizona Coyotes playing on a back-to-back. The home teams are all sizable favorites and you can expect a lot of offense, with all but one game having a Vegas total of 5.5 or greater. This should make for a great night for tournaments as ownership should be more spread out than usual. I will break down my favorite spots to look for offense tonight and try to help narrow down your options.
Dallas Stars at Winnipeg Jets
This is by far my favorite game on the night to target for DFS. It has the largest Vegas total of the slate at 6.0, but I think even that is on the low end. Both teams look to be attempting to catch up to the Colorado Avalanche for worst defensive team in the league. Over the last month of play, the Jets have given up 3+ goals against in all 15 games, while the Stars have given up 3+ goals in all but one game. With a floor of 6 goals, you can see why I think the expected total is low. Since January 1st (about 20 games or a quarter of the season), the Stars have been giving up 9.8 even strength scoring chances against per game, which is by far the worst total in the league. That’s not their only weakness either, as the Stars have the worst PK in the league and have given up 10 PPGs against over their last 10 games.
The Jets are my preferred target in this game as they have won 3 out of 4 meetings against the Stars this season, including both games in Winnipeg by a combined score of 12-3. After losing 4 games in a row, coach Paul Maurice has juggled the lines to spark the team. Bryan Little has been moved back to the top line to center Blake Wheeler and Nikolaj Ehlers. These are three of the best possession players on the team and should make for a powerful top line with a lot of offensive potential. I’m not sure if the trio will stick together on the PP, but I still really like them as one of my top stacks tonight, given how many scoring chances the Stars are giving up at even strength. I think there is a good chance that this line will be popular tonight, so if you are looking for lower ownership, Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine make for great tournament pivots on the second line. Laine has and incredible 5 goals and 4 assists in 4 games against the Stars this season and leads the team in PP goals, while Scheifele leads the team in scoring and notched 2 goals against the Stars in their last game.
On the Dallas side, their PP has been their best source of offense lately, with 10 PPGs for over their last 10 games. They have also been drawing a lot of penalties and are averaging 4.5 PP opportunities per game over that span. The Jets have the 27th-ranked PK in the league so PP mini stacks are my favorite option for the Stars. Jamie Benn and Patrick Eaves skate together at even strength and on the top PP, and make for a great stack with defenseman John Klingberg who also skates on the top unit. Eaves is tied for first in the league with 11 PPGs this season, while Benn is tied for second with 10. Center Radek Faksa has been bumped up to play with Tyler Seguin at even strength, but most notably has also been promoted to the top PP unit for the last two games. Faksa has a PP assist in both games since the promotion and is one of the top low-priced options available tonight. You can use him as a one-off option or stack him with Seguin and Klingberg in GPPs.
New York Islanders at Toronto Maple Leafs
These two teams met last week in Brooklyn and the Islanders came away with a thrilling 6-5 OT victory. I don’t expect another 11-goal outburst, but I think there is a great chance we will see some goals tonight. The Islanders offense has improved lately, as they are averaging 3.5 goals for per game over the 12 games since Doug Weight took over as coach. The Leafs have also been struggling defensively over the past month, as they are giving up the 2nd-most scoring chances against and have the 2nd-most expected goals against at even strength since Jan 1st (per Corsica.Hockey). Goaltender Freddy Andersen is just 1-2-2 with a 4.65 GAA and .864 SV% since the All-Star break.
The Islanders have a poor road record this season, but I like them as an underdog tonight for DFS purposes. The Isles have outscored the Leafs 11-6 in two meetings this season and are 6-2 in their last 8 games in Toronto. The Leafs held superstar John Tavares off the scoresheet in their last meeting, but Tavares was still able to notch 5 shots on goal and even hit a couple posts. Tavares and linemates Anders Lee and Josh Bailey are the top option once again when stacking the Islanders as they are 1-2-3 in team scoring. Tavares has made up for a slow start to the season with 19 points in his last 16 games, and Anders Lee leads the team with 21 goals. I expect this line to get a lot of attention from the Leafs as well as the DFS community. Last game the Leafs sold out to stop Tavares, which really opened things up for the second line of Brock Nelson and Ryan Strome. I expect the Leafs to take the same approach here, which really makes me like a mini stack of Nelson and Strome as a salary relief option in GPPs. The duo each has 8 points over their last 10 games and will likely face the weaker depth lines of the Leafs at even strength.
Buffalo Sabres at Ottawa Senators
The Sabres have been struggling on the road this season with a 10-13-6 record, while the Sens have been a strong team at home with a 16-8-6 record. The Sens received a huge boost last game when goaltender Craig Anderson returned from a lengthy personal absence and promptly posted a shutout against the Islanders. The Sabres have had success against the Sens this season, going 3-0-1 in 4 games, but Anderson makes the Sens a much better team and I like them in this matchup against a Sabres team that has shown a lot of holes lately. For starters, the Sabres have been giving up almost 40 (!) shots per game over their last 10. They have given up the most even strength shot attempts per game since January 1st, and have the 2nd-worst PK in the league. The barrage of shots allowed gives their goalies a lot of upside in GPPs, but more importantly, it gives the opposing offense a lot of upside.
The Sens have juggled their lines lately, with Kyle Turris centering Mike Hoffman and Zack Smith on the top line. This is great news for Hoffman, who has inexplicably been buried on the third line for most of the season. Hoffman leads the team in shots and shot attempts and has the most upside of anyone on the Sens offense. He also leads the team in PPGs with 9, and looks to be in a much better spot with a center that can get him the puck in shooting areas. Hoffman is my top one-off play from this game, but I also like stacking him with Turris and defenseman Erik Karlsson, as they all play together on the top PP unit.