NHL Breakdown – 3/23/17
The NHL has a massive 12-game slate tonight with the Blue Jackets, Leafs, and Oilers all playing on back-to-backs. There are several heavy favorites on the board, but they are all within the -180 to -220 range so I expect ownership to be quite spread out, especially considering the size of the slate. I also expect it to be a very high scoring night in DFS as there are several juicy matchups from an offensive perspective. With so many viable options on the board, the slate really lends itself to a multi-entry strategy in tournaments. If you are only able to play 1 or 2 lineups, then I would strongly recommend sticking to single-entry and 3-max GPPs tonight. Another point to consider is that since the cash line is expected to be higher than usual tonight, you want to make sure to target stacks with 3+ goal potential and individual players with hat-trick upside. This will be a tricky slate to narrow down your options, but I will go over a few of my favorite spots to find these high upside plays.
Tampa Bay Lightning at Boston Bruins
If you are planning to play a small number of lineups tonight, the Bruins have one of the highest projected team totals tonight and represent one of the safer places to look for offense. They will be one of the chalkier options, but given the size of the slate, I am not as concerned as usual about ownership. The Lighting have given up 5 goals against in 3 straight games, including an embarrassing home loss to the Coyotes in a must-win home game 2 nights ago. The top line of Kucherov, Point, and Palat has been excellent offensively, but they have also been getting abused on the defensive end. In their last two games, the Lightning trio have given up 4 goals to the top line of the Capitals (including a hat-trick for TJ Oshie), and 3 goals to the inexperienced top line of the Coyotes. Things won’t get any easier for them tonight as they will be matched up against one of the top possession lines in the league of Bergeron, Marchand, and Backes. If we’re talking about players with multi-point and hat-trick upside, look no further than Brad Marchand, who is 3rd in the league in scoring, is coming off a hat-trick last week, and has multiple 5-point games this season. The Kucherov line is giving up almost 10 even strength scoring chances per 60 minutes, while the team as a whole is taking the 3rd-most penalties in the league. Marchand would be my top cash game play for the Bruins, but the entire Bergeron line makes for a great stacking option in GPPs.
Dallas Stars at Chicago Blackhawks
The Hawks have the highest projected team total tonight and everything I said about the Bruins ownership applies to them as well. The Stars are one of the worst road teams in the league and have the worst penalty kill and goaltending tandem. The Hawks PP is the top target in this game and there are multiple combinations that can be considered. Kane-Panarin is the clear top option for upside, as they stay together at even strength and on the top PP unit, but Toews-Panik is another great choice for lower ownership and a cheaper price tag as they also play on that top PP unit. Kane and Toews already have multiple hat-tricks this season and are facing the team with the 2nd-most goals against per game in the league, making them the strongest cash plays for the Hawks. Defenseman Duncan Keith is more of an assist-heavy player from the back end, rather than a shooter, but as the quarterback of the top PP unit, he has multi-point upside and is a strong play in GPPs. Even strength linemates Ryan Hartman and John Hayden can be added to the stacks as well if you are in need of salary relief. Hartman had 2 goals last game with Kane and Panarin, while Hayden has registered 3 points in his last 3 games with Toews and Panik. Each are considerably underpriced given their current opportunity.
Winnipeg Jets at LA Kings
The Jets are always a great team to target, both for and against, as they have one of the best offenses and worst defenses in the league. The Jets are giving up almost 60 even strength shot attempts per game and 10.5 even strength scoring chances per game (2nd worst in the league) over the last month of play. They also have the 28th-ranked PK and are taking the 5th most penalties in the league. On offense, the Jets are generating 11 scoring chances for per game over the last month, which ranks 3rd in the league. The Kings have not been scoring a lot lately, but they are generating a ton of even strength shot attempts, with 66 per game over the last month. They will be taking on goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, who has struggled with a .889 SV% over his last 10 games, so I like their chances of putting the puck in the net if they can keep up the shot volume. The Kings PP is the top target tonight, and especially forwards Jeff Carter, Anze Kopitar, and Tyler Toffoli. Unfortunately, they all play on separate even strength lines, but a PP stack could be a creative way to differentiate your lineups tonight.
The Jets top line of Scheifele, Wheeler, and Perreault are coming off a multi-point performance against the Flyers and will still be low owned tonight in a difficult perceived matchup. The Kings have struggled lately, losing 4 of their last 5, and have been mixing up the lines each game in order to get something going. They no longer have a dominant shutdown line, and the Scheifele line has had very impressive even strength numbers, so I am not worried about the matchup. The Scheifele line is generating 65 even strength shot attempts and 11.5 even strength scoring chances per 60 minutes this season. The trio also stays together on the top PP unit, so I like them as a full line stack in large field GPPs tonight.
Edmonton Oilers at Colorado Avalanche
The Oilers are playing on a road back-to-back, which may cause them to go overlooked among the other heavy favorites, but they are in a terrific spot against the lowly Avalanche. The Avs are by far the worst team in the league and will be starting backup goalie Jeremy Smith tonight. Smith has an ugly .890 SV% in 6 starts this season, which makes him a great choice to pick on tonight. The clear choice for the Oilers tonight is the league’s leading scorer, Connor McDavid, and linemates Leon Draisaitl and Patrick Maroon. The trio is averaging almost 60 even strength shot attempts and 12 scoring chances per 60 minutes this season, and should be able to dominate whichever line the Avs throw at them tonight. The Oilers also have a major special teams advantage, as they have the 3rd-ranked PP and will be facing the 24th-ranked PK of the Avs. Oscar Klefbom makes for a strong play on defense tonight as he mans the point on the top PP unit.