NHL Breakdown – 3/21/17
The NHL has a massive 11-game slate tonight with the Bruins, Sabres, Wings, Coyotes, and Sharks all playing on back-to-backs. The Lightning, Penguins, and Blackhawks are all heavy favorites and their top lines should be quite popular DFS plays tonight. Those teams are obviously in great spots, but I will go over a few other matchups that I am looking at to differentiate tonight.
Philadelphia Flyers at Winnipeg Jets
This game is tied with the Pens/Sabres game for the largest projected score with a 6.0 Vegas total, but I find this one more appealing in a number of ways for GPPS tonight. The ownership should be lower in this game and the goaltenders much worse. Over the last month of play, the Jets are giving up the most even strength scoring chances and 4th-most even strength shot attempts per 60 minutes in the league. Their PK has dropped to 29th in the league and the team is taking the 26th-most penalties per game, which makes this a terrific spot for the Flyers top PP unit. Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds are the top plays for the Flyers tonight as they are skating on the top line and top PP unit and are leading the team in PP points and PP goals respectively. Brayden Schenn is a sneakier secondary option up front as he plays on the third line, but joins Giroux and Simmonds on the top PP unit and is tied with Simmonds for the team lead with 14 PPGs. He takes more shots on the PP than Giroux and Simmonds and will get to skate against the weaker defensive pairings for the Jets at even strength. Defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere is always a solid play against teams with bad PK units, but I prefer using Ivan Provorov in both formats tonight now that he joins the top PP unit. Provorov is cheaper than Gostisbehere, plays more minutes, and should be lower owned.
The Jets are also a solid play tonight as they are generating the 3rd-most even strength scoring chances per game over the last month and the Flyers are in the bottom 3rd of the league in even strength shot attempts and scoring chances allowed per game over that time frame. The Flyers have not been giving up a lot of shots on goal, but the goaltending has been weak and their PK unit has yielded 9 PPGs against over their last 7 games. The Jets have been giving up a ton of goals lately, but they have also been scoring at a high rate as they have scored 4+ goals in 7 of their last 10 games. Each of the top two lines are strong stacking options tonight as they stay together at even strength and on the top PP unit. My assumption is that the Scheifele/Wheeler/Perreault line will play against the Giroux line for most of the game, while the Little/Laine/Ehlers line will skate against the Filppula line. This has me leaning slightly more towards the Little line as the Filppula line has been the weaker possession line lately for the Flyers. Defensemen Dustin Byfuglien and Josh Morrissey are solid options tonight as they should see a ton of ice time on a depleted back end for the Jets, and each man one of the PP units.
St. Louis Blues at Colorado Avalanche
The Blues will likely be somewhat chalky tonight, but it’s hard to argue against targeting them as they are taking on an Avalanche team that had mailed it in for the season a long time ago. The Blues on the other hand, have been making a strong push for the playoffs with 7 wins over their last 8 games. The defense has been excellent and the shot volume and scoring has increased lately. The top line of Stastny/Schwartz/Tarasenko have led the way and are a strong stacking option once again tonight. The trio stays together on the top PP unit, which is 3rd in the league, and is facing an Avalanche PK that is 25th in the league. The Avs are also taking the 20th-most penalties in the league so the Blues should have plenty of opportunities on the man advantage tonight. Defenseman Alex Pietrangelo is also a solid play tonight as he has taken over as the quarterback on the top PP unit after Kevin Shattenkirk was traded away.
Carolina Hurricanes at Florida Panthers
This game should go mostly over looked on an 11-game slate with several heavy favorites, but I think it makes for a decent target in GPPs. Both teams are out of playoff contention which brings motivation into question, but I think that can lead to a high scoring game for both sides. The Hurricanes have been much worse on the road this season, as they only have 9 wins and are giving up 0.6 more goals per game away from home. The Panthers have won 7 of the last 8 games in the series, but they have lost 10 of their last 13 games overall and will be turning to backup netminder Reto Berra for his first start of the season. Jeff Skinner has been on fire for the Hurricanes as he has 6 goals on a 7-game point streak and is 8th in the league with 11.64 shots on goal per 60 minutes. That solid floor makes him the top option for the Hurricanes tonight in both formats. The top line of Staal/Aho/Teravainen can also be considered as a stacking option in GPPs as they have dominant even strength possession numbers and stay together on the top PP unit.
Vincent Trocheck hasn’t scored since the last meeting against the Hurricanes 10 games ago, but his line with Reilly Smith and Jussi Jokinen is my preferred stacking option on the Panthers, as they are likely to avoid the Staal line at even strength. Trocheck leads the Panthers in scoring this season and is 2nd on the team in shots on goal. Defenseman Aaron Ekblad, who will return to the lineup tonight, leads the team in shots on goal with 223, and is 15th overall in the whole league in that category. He makes for a terrific option tonight that is likely to go under the radar.