NHL Breakdown 02/28/2017
The NHL has a massive 12-game slate tonight with the Canadiens, Wild and Kings playing on the 2nd half of a back-to-back and the Jets and Wings coming off their bye week. It’s also worth noting that the trade deadline is tomorrow afternoon, so there is a strong possibility that some players in action tonight could get moved before the games. Make sure you stay tuned for the latest lineup news throughout the day. With so many games tonight it can be difficult to narrow down your options, so I will break down my top games to target for offense.
Arizona Coyotes vs Boston Bruins
The Bruins are the largest favorites on the board tonight at -350, which makes them an excellent place to look for cash games. The Coyotes are last in the league in even strength shot attempts and scoring chances allowed per game and just traded away their best two-way center in Martin Hanzal. They replaced him on the top line with Peter Holland, who is giving up over 70 even strength shot attempts per 60 minutes and over 10 even strength scoring chances per 60 minutes this season. The Bruins lead the league in even strength shot attempts for per game and boast one of the best two-way centers in the game in Patrice Bergeron. Bergeron has picked up his play after a slow start to the season and should absolutely dominate the matchup with Holland at even strength. Bergeron has 17 points over his last 14 games, while winger Brad Marchand has 10 goals in his last 12 games. Bergeron and Marchand are two of the top cash game plays on the night due to their high shot output and excellent matchup. Defenseman Torey Krug also enters the conversation for cash games, as he mans the point on the top PP unit for the Bruins which is in a great spot. The Bruins PP has been heating up lately with 11 PPGs over their last 10 games, while the Coyotes have the league’s 26th-ranked PK. Krug shoots the puck at a high volume and has 10 points over his last 10 games.
Bergeron/Marchand/Krug make for an excellent stack due to their PP connection, but I expect this to be one of the highest owned stacks on the night, so you might want to get a little more creative in GPPs. If you want to use them in GPPs, I would suggest looking for low owned options to pair them with. The other alternative is to look further down the Bruins lineup for cheaper options that are in equally favorable spots. David Pastrnak, David Krejci, Ryan Spooner and Frank Vatrano are some of the Bruins I will have exposure to as pivots to the top line in GPPs. Pastrnak and Krejci play together on the 2nd line and make for a fine stack, but Pastrnak can also be paired with the Bergeron/Marchand combo to differentiate, as he plays with them on the top PP unit and spent half of the last game with them at even strength (something that most will not notice). Spooner and Vatrano are the most interesting to me here, as they play on the 3rd line and will carry very little ownership. Both are cheap and will have the benefit of getting exclusively offensive-zone starts on home ice. Spooner gets to play on the top PP unit and have exposure to Bergeron, Marchand and Pastrnak for half the price, while Vatrano gets time on the 2nd unit and has been firing 3 shots on goal per game over his last 10.
Nashville Predators at Buffalo Sabres
The Preds offense has been on fire lately with 41 goals scored over their last 10 games and 4+ goals scored in 8 of those. They get an excellent matchup against a Sabres team that is giving up the most shots on goal per game in the league and will be turning to 3rd-string goalie Linus Ullmark for his first start of the season. The Sabres have the 29th-ranked PK in the league while the Preds have scored 11 PPGs over their last 10 games. Filip Forsberg has been the big story for the Preds, with 8 goals over his last 4 games, but Viktor Arvidsson and Roman Josi have also been producing incredible numbers lately. Arvidsson has 8G and 4A over his last 10 games, while Josi has 6G and 8A over his last 10. Josi also has an impressive 33 shots on goal and 21 blocks over that span, which give one of the best floors for cash games. All three make for excellent cash plays as they are still relatively cheap on DK despite the hot streaks. I do expect them to be highly owned in GPPs for the same reason, and they should rival the Bergeron line for highest owned stack of the night. Much like the Bruins, I think you can consider going further down the lineup for lower owned GPP plays in equally favorable spots. The 3rd line of James Neal, Calle Jarnkrok, and Colin Wilson all get to see time on the PP against the Sabres’ terrible PK, while also avoiding playing against shutdown center Ryan O’Reilly at even strength. Defensemen PK Subban and Ryan Ellis have been productive at a lower cost than Josi, and each get to play on the 2nd PP unit. The Preds offense has been able to sustain scoring from all three defensemen on multiple occasions this season.
With everybody jumping on the Preds’ offense tonight, I think the Sabres could go overlooked in GPPs. What’s lost in the recent offensive outburst is that the Preds have also been struggling defensively. They have given up 38 goals against over their last 10 games and 3+ goals in 7 of those. Evander Kane and Jack Eichel are my favorite options on the Sabres as Kane has 7G over his last 10 games with 34 shots on goal, while Eichel has 2G and 11A over his last 10 games with 37 shots on goal. Sam Reinhart has also been performing well lately, but it looks like he was bumped down to the 3rd line in practise today, which hurts his value.
Pittsburgh Penguins at Dallas Stars
This game has the highest Vegas total on the night at 6.0 and should be one of the top targets for offense. Each team plays at a high pace at even strength and struggles on the PK. The Stars have the worst PK in the league and have been giving up the 2nd-most even strength scoring chances against over the last month of play. This makes the Pens the top target in this game on paper, as they lead the league in goal for per game while the Stars have given up the 2nd-most per game. The Pens are dealing with some injuries and the lines have been changing constantly lately, so I would focus mainly on the top PP unit. Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel, Patric Hornqvist, and Justin Schultz are all excellent plays and I would try to get as many in my lineups as I can afford. Hornqvist would be my least favorite of these options as was skating on the 3rd line last game away from Crosby and Malkin. Jake Guentzel has looked good skating with Crosby lately and makes for a great bargain option if you are looking to stack in GPPs.
The Dallas side is also in play for GPPs as the Pens still give up a lot of even strength shot attempts and scoring chances and have the 20th-ranked PK in the league. The Stars are another team that has been changing their lines constantly, so I would also focus mainly on their PP, which has scored 13 PPGs over their last 15 games. Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn are always the top options for offense on the Stars, but Patrick Sharp, Jiri Hudler and Esa Lindell also join them on the top PP unit and make for solid secondary options. Lindell is still incredibly cheap given his opportunity and makes for an excellent bargain play in either format. Seguin has 50 shots on goal over his last 10 games, so he would be my preferred option over Benn if you had to choose between the two.