There are five games on tap tonight in the NHL, and guess what!?! FanDuel put them all on the same slate!!! (What a concept!). The Chicago Blackhawks are the only team skating in the second half of a back-to-back; they will return home to take on the visiting Flames after handing the Penguins a 5-3 loss last night in Pittsburgh. Teams skating in the front half of a back-to-back include St. Louis, Philadelphia, Minnesota, Montreal and San Jose. As a reminder, always check to make sure your goalie is confirmed before lock; it’s also a good habit to check more than one site since there have been some errors in recent contests, which is a very frustrating way to miss the cash line.
LAST NIGHT’S RESULTS: Last night was a big night for everyone in the FTA+ chat room (speaking of which, you should join us!). Almost all of the top plays highlighted in yesterday’s post as well as the options discussed among subs and analysts in chat had strong games, and Derek’s DK line was pure fire. The list is too long to discuss in full, but some players that had strong performances include Tyler Seguin (14.9 FP), Dylan Larkin (11.2 FP), Matt Duchene (20 FP), Jonathan Toews (31.2 FP), Derek Stepan (16 FP), Alex Galchenyuk (30.3 FP), Alex Ovechkin (14.4 FP), Alexander Radulov (18.9 FP), Conor Garland (37.3 FP), Mark Stone (11.2 FP), Dominik Simon (11.2 FP), Kyle Connor (15.2 FP), Kris Letang (20.8 FP), Dougie Hamilton (16.8 FP), Oliver Ekman-Larsson (8.5 FP), Erik Gustafsson (10.1 FP), Josh Morrissey (31.6 FP), Michal Kempny (15.2 FP) and Jakob Chychrun (16 FP). Three players who had particularly impressive games were Galchenyuk (one goal, two assists, three shots), Garland (two goals, seven shots) and Morrissey (one goal, one assist, five shots). Plus, Ovechkin actually got his stick on Kempny’s shot in the third period, so had the goal been awarded properly, Ovechkin would have made a much bigger contribution. Olli Maatta had a terrible game, though his $3,800 price tag made it a relative non-issue. Putting him aside, despite all of the solid performances from all the other skaters, the goalie I discussed in chat was Casey DeSmith once it was determined that Matt Murray would not be starting. Since lock was so unusually early given the slate construction, that didn’t leave much time to make drastic changes to recommended cash lines. While I used Darcy Kuemper and Jimmy Howard in many lines, I decided to go with DeSmith in a few rather than making any major tweaks to the rest of those lines. Eventually I switched from DeSmith to John Gibson prior to the 8:00pm EST lock, but neither goalie performed well, giving up four goals in losses to the Blackhawks and Oilers, respectively. Fortunately, it wasn’t a factor as far as cashing, but it did affect the final standings for those two lines.
STL @ PHI – 7:00pm EST
NSH @ TOR – 7:00pm EST
MIN @ MTL – 7:30pm EST
CGY @ CHI – 8:30pm EST
LAK @ SJS – 10:30pm EST
Most people will continue to talk about Auston Matthews ($8,500) and John Tavares ($8,100), but there’s not much use delving into recent stats and debating which, if either, is worthwhile on tonight’s slate. Instead, I’ll talk about an alternative that might be of interest (just know that TOR could be chalky, which is always a danger in FanDuel cash contests).
Another player worth exploring is St. Louis’ Ryan O’Reilly ($6,500), who has points in five straight games. In fact, he has collected three goals and six points as well as 14 shots and one block during his current five-game point streak. O’Reilly skates on the Blues’ top line and top power-play unit and has had success against the Flyers throughout his career; he scored three goals and four points on nine shots in three games against Philly last season and managed four assists in three games against the Flyers the year before. He has averaged just over a point-per-game pace against the Flyers throughout his career, though the fact that this game will not take place in St. Louis could be a slight issue. That’s because O’Reilly has been significantly better on home ice (27 points in 24 games) than on the road (11 points in 15 games) this season. But while the Flyers are hungry for a win, O’Reilly is playing very well and could be eager to help goaltender Jordan Binnington pick up a win in his first career NHL start. The fact that Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier have been reunited means that O’Reilly could have a tough matchup, which would then leave more room for former Flyer Brayden Schenn ($5,500) to strike. Schenn certainly has the revenge narrative but has been very inconsistent this year. He’s still skating with Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz at even strength and has been moved up to the team’s top power-play unit with Tyler Bozak out of action tonight, so he’s an interesting option as well.
Another center that could have low ownership that’s worth mentioning is Minnesota’s Charlie Coyle ($5,600), who has points in four straight games (two goals, six points) skating on the team’s second line and second power-play unit.
Also consider: John Tavares ($8,100), Sean Monahan ($7,900), Logan Couture ($7,400), Jonathan Toews ($6,700), Jordan Weal ($3,500)
Other than perhaps Nikita Kucherov, no one has been hotter than Johnny Hockey, a.k.a. Johnny Gaudreau ($8,800). Gaudreau skates on Calgary’s first line and first power-play unit and has 16 goals and 36 points in his last 20 games. Gaudreau has scored five goals and 11 points in just his last four games, and he tallied two assists and five shots for 24.5 fantasy points when Calgary was in Chicago in early December. He is averaging 19.4 fantasy points per game and is on pace for 118 points this season. Chicago’s Colin Delia has been stingy in four games this season, but Gaudreau has basically been breathing fire.
Another top play on tonight’s slate is Minnesota’s Zach Parise ($7,300), who enters tonight’s game against Montreal riding a five-game point streak during which he has recorded four goals and nine points as well as 23 shots and four blocks. He has earned 29.6, 29.6, 21.6, 22.4 and 28 fantasy points in his last five games, respectively, and he’s managed at least eight fantasy points in 21 out of his last 25 games. Parise is averaging 16.5 fantasy points per game this season with 38 points in 39 games. He has averaged nearly 4.1 shots+blocks per game, offering a steady floor even when he is unable to find the scoresheet. He may not match the 33.8 fantasy points he earned against the Habs when they were in Minnesota Dec. 11, but Parise is still in a good spot in tonight’s matchup.
You will also need to look for some value on tonight’s slate. One winger that offers strong value is San Jose’s Lukas Radil ($3,300), who has goals in three straight games entering tonight’s contest. He skates on the Sharks’ first line with Logan Couture and Timo Meier, though he does not see time on the power play. That being said, Radil has benefited from his favorable spot in the lineup, and his price tag makes him an affordable option on one of the two teams with the highest implied totals on the slate.
Another option is Andreas Johnsson ($3,600), especially if you want some exposure to Toronto but don’t want to pay up for the big guns. Johnson is coming off a strong performance in which he scored a goal and an assist for 24.8 fantasy points. He skates on the team’s second line with Auston Matthews and William Nylander and also gets time on the second power-play unit. He has points in three out of his last six games, so there’s a good chance he’ll come up empty; however, he could see some solid ownership in cash contests once again tonight.
That being said, there’s someone on the other side of that matchup that could be in a great spot tonight: Calle Jarnkrok ($3,500). Assuming Filip Forsberg does not return to Nashville’s lineup for tonight’s game, Jarnkrok is set to replace Ryan Hartman on the team’s top line with Viktor Arvidsson and Ryan Johnasen, and he’s also supposed to skate on the top power-play unit. Getting exposure to the first line and first power-play unit for just $3,500 is a great bargain, especially for a player who has assists in back-to-back games. UPDATE: With Filip Forsberg likely returning, Jarnkrok will drop down to center Kevin Fiala and Craig Smith on the second line and second power-play unit.
If you want to take more of a risk but save even more money, consider Rocco Grimaldi ($3,200), who somehow has points in four straight games. Grimaldi skates on the Predators’ fourth line and does not see time on either power-play unit but still has two goals and five points throughout his current four-game point streak.
Luke Kunin ($3,400) skates with Charlie Coyle and Zach Parise on Minnesota’s second line. While he doesn’t get time on the power play, he has three assists in his last two games, earning 17.6 and 12.8 fantasy points, respectively.
Lastly, perhaps the best deal on the table is Joel Armia ($3,000), who has been moved to Montreal’s top line to skate with Jonathan Drouin and Max Domi. Armia will remain on the Canadiens’ top power-play unit, offering tremendous value for his $3,000 price tag.
Also consider: Joe Pavelski ($7,900), Claude Giroux ($7,200), Viktor Arvidsson ($7,100), Elias Lindholm ($7,000), Filip Forsberg ($7,000), Evander Kane ($6,600), Tomas Tatar ($6,500), Tomas Hertl ($5,800), Craig Smith ($5,500), Timo Meier ($5,300), Kevin Fiala ($4,900), Dylan Strome ($4,900), Travis Konecny ($4,800), Jason Zucker ($4,300), Dominik Kahun ($3,900), Colton Sissons ($3,600), Oscar Lindblom ($3,100)
Brent Burns ($7,600) is a lock for me on tonight’s slate. He has points in five straight games, recording three goals and 12 points as well as 26 shots and 10 blocks in that stretch. He and the Sharks have a favorable matchup tonight against the visiting Kings. Burns picked up an assist, four shots and two blocks for 17.6 fantasy points when these teams met Dec. 22, but he could be due for a much bigger point total given his recent production. He is now back on San Jose’s top power-play unit, which will go head-to-head with one of the worst penalty kills in the NHL (74.8 percent). Burns has averaged 4.8 shots+blocks per game this season and has 40 points in 43 games while averaging 17.4 fantasy points per game.
Teammate Erik Karlsson ($7,400) has been very productive lately as well and offers a slight $200 discount. Karlsson skates on the top power-play unit as well and has points in 12 straight games, collecting one goal and 19 points as well as 47 shots and 20 blocks in that stretch. He is averaging 14.6 fantasy points per game.
Jared Spurgeon ($5,100) has three goals and five points in his last two games, earning 33.6 and 37.8 fantasy points, respectively; he skates on the Wild’s second power-play unit. Noah Hanifin ($4,400), who skates on Calgary’s second power-play unit, has two assists in back-to-back games, earning 19.2 and 16 fantasy points, respectively.
Mattias Ekholm ($4,500) skates on Nashville’s second power-play unit and has points in back-to-back games and in four out of his last five games, scoring one goal and six points in that stretch. Ekholm has earned 24.8, 17.6, 8, 20.8, 13.3 and 14.4 fantasy points in his last six games, respectively.
Also consider: Roman Josi ($6,400), Jeff Petry ($5,000), Erik Gustafsson ($4,800), Jake Muzzin ($4,500), Colton Parayko ($4,200), Jordie Benn ($3,800), Travis Sanheim ($3,800), Vince Dunn ($3,600), Tim Heed ($3,500)
The goalie options on tonight’s slate are pretty frightening. In fact, this is probably what many DFS’ers look like as they realize who they’re going to start in cash tonight.
However, at some point you are just going to have to make a choice and roll with it. There really isn’t a goalie that feels great tonight. Two with “strong” matchups are Martin Jones ($8,200) and David Rittich ($7,900). Even though they’re playing two teams near the bottom of the standings, neither matchups feels safe, which is probably a statement on the parity in the league this season. Plus, Jones has been awful for much of the year.
Even though Rittich has been solid and the Flames are rolling, the Blackhawks are on a roll of their own. Colin Delia ($8,000) is 3-0-1 in four games this season, so even though he’ll face Johnny Gadureau and Co., it wouldn’t be surprising to see Chicago win this game.
If you want to look at cheaper options, some will consider Carter Hart ($7,300). But starting a Philadelphia netminder is never a good feeling, especially when the Flyers have lost six in a row and have a hideous-looking man advantage. On the other side of that matchup is Jordan Binnington ($7,000), who will make his first NHL start in front of a lackluster and inconsistent Blues squad.
Michael Hutchinson ($7,500) was a popular play the other night against Vancouver but has a much tougher meeting against the visiting Predators tonight. The Minnesota vs. Montreal game features two goalies capable of putting up strong performances in Devan Dubnyk ($8,600) and Carey Price ($8,700) but who have both put up too many duds this season to be truly trusted.
At the end of the day, it will probably come down to the team you think has the best shot of winning, as well as the price tag you can accommodate in order to ice a lineup you feel confident about. At this time in the day it is too early to make a final call, so this is something that will have to be addressed in chat closer to lock.
Join us in the FTA+ DFS NHL discord chat room to discuss tonight’s slate and lineups.
Featured image credit: Jeff Chiu-AP Photo