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There are 11 games on tonight’s slate; the Islanders, Senators, Maple Leafs, Canadiens and Panthers are all skating in the second half of a back-to-back. The biggest storyline on tonight’s slate is that John Tavares will face his former team for the first time since leaving via free agency in controversial fashion. It is mentioned in the article, but one thing of note heading into tonight’s slate is that Dallas management/ownership called out Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin pretty harshly about their play this year, which could serve as motivation in their home game against Detroit.
WSH @ OTT – 7:00pm EST
NYI @ TOR – 7:00pm EST
MTL @ TBL – 7:00pm EST
BOS @ BUF – 7:00pm EST
PHI @ FLA – 7:00pm EST
NYR @ NSH – 8:00pm EST
DET @ DAL – 8:00pm EST
PIT @ STL – 8:00pm EST
CHI @ COL – 9:00pm EST
ARI @ ANA – 10:00pm EST
VAN @ CGY – 10:00pm EST
LAST NIGHT’S RESULTS: Last night’s main line did not cash, mainly because of Robin Lehner’s ownership rate. That was ironic considering he didn’t start, but he ended up with the win and 20 fantasy points, which was ultimately the difference between cashing and not. Still, it was a tough night for several players in the line. One player who had a strong night, however, was John Tavares, who scored two goals and earned 34.1 FP. However, Aleksander Barkov managed just one assist and 11.7 FP. Mike Hoffman tallied two assists for 22.9 FP, while Cam Atkinson was held to five shots for 8 FP. Columbus scored just one goal, so that kept Oliver Bjorkstrand off the scoresheet as well. Morgan Rielly had a disappointing game, though his 49% ownership rate was the reason he was in the lineup to begin with. Seth Jones and Zach Werenski each recorded points, while Ryan Pulock was held to two shots and two blocks. Jeff Petry finished the night with an assist and 12.8 FP. Roberto Luongo had an awful game, giving up four goals on just 27 shots; again, his ownership rate softened the blow, but he still performed very poorly (though Antti Niemi gave up his three goals, as usual). Garret Sparks was the play of the night, but he hasn’t been a safe play this season so he had very low ownership in cash contests.
Top Plays: Steven Stamkos ($8,500), John Tavares ($8,000), Jack Eichel ($8,000), Brayden Point ($7,600)
Steven Stamkos has been on fire in recent games and draws a favorable matchup at home against a Canadiens team that played last night and that will be without goalie Carey Price. It’s unfortunate that Antti Niemi might not start tonight since he always gives up at least three goals, but Montreal will be down to a third-string goalie at best if he does not start, which leaves the door open for Stamkos as well as Brayden Point. Stamkos skates on Tampa Bay’s top line and top power-play unit but also saw many shifts with Nikita Kucherov the other night against the Flyers. He has goals in five straight games and in seven out of his last eight games, collecting 12 goals and 17 points in that stretch. Stamkos is averaging 17 fantasy points per game. Point, on the other hand, skates on the Lightning’s second line and first power-play unit; Tampa’s second line has been better than its first, so Point makes for a strong option for $900 less than Stammer. He has points in five straight and in eight out of his last nine games (two goals, 12 points).
John Tavares will face his former team for the first time since he unceremoniously left via free agency over the summer. Tavares spent nine seasons with the Islanders after being selected as the first overall pick in 2009. It is sure to be an emotional game for him, though it won’t compare to returning to New York. That being said, Tavares is in the midst of a hot streak. He has points in six straight games and has earned at least eight fantasy points in 15 straight. He has seven goals and 11 points during his current point streak, earning 34.1, 26.4, 25.6, 30.9, 23.2 and 16.8 fantasy points in his last six games, respectively; he skates on the Maple Leafs’ first line and first power-play unit and is averaging 19 fantasy points per game.
Jack Eichel continues to be a strong fantasy play. Though he’ll have to face Patrice Bergeron in tonight’s contest, he has been on a roll and always has the potential for a big night. He scored four points in Boston in mid-December, though Jaroslav Halak shut out the Sabres in Buffalo earlier this year. Still, Eichel has been very reliable of late. He has 10 goals and 17 points in his last 10 games, recording at least a point in nine of those contests. He skates on Buffalo’s first line and first power-play unit and is averaging 19.8 fantasy points per game. However, given the size of the slate, he should have lower ownership than other elite options.
A few strong plays at lower price points include Dylan Larkin ($6,600), Kevin Hayes ($5,800) and Bo Horvat ($5,700), who has been a strong floor play with at least eight fantasy points in 10 straight games. Larkin has points in 12 straight games, recording six goals and 15 points in that stretch. He skates on Detroit’s first line and first power-play unit and is averaging 16.4 fantasy points per game. Hayes has a difficult matchup on the road in Nashville (though Pekka Rinne has lost four in a row) but enters tonight’s game riding an eight-game point streak during which he has scored five goals and 15 points. He skates on the Rangers’ second line and first power-play unit and has earned 18.1, 11.2, 28, 17.2, 27.7, 29, 32 and 19.6 fantasy points in his last eight games, respectively.
Also consider: Nathan MacKinnon ($8,600), Patrice Bergeron ($7,800), Tyler Seguin ($7,600), Sean Monahan ($7,400), Elias Pettersson ($6,300), Mathew Barzal ($5,700), Ryan Johansen ($5,700), Jared McCann ($4,000), Anthony Cirelli ($3,800), Cedric Paquette ($3,400), Henrik Borgstrom ($3,300), Frederik Gauthier ($3,000)
Top Plays: Nikita Kucherov ($9,000), Johnny Gaudreau ($8,300), Sam Reinhart ($6,200), Tyler Johnson ($5,900), Elias Lindholm ($5,900)
My favorite play on the slate is Nikita Kucherov, who has nine points in his last two games. He also happens to have points in nine straight and in 19 out of his last 20 games. Talk about consistency. Kucherov skates on Tampa Bay’s second line and first power-play unit but also got some shifts with Steven Stamkos at even strength the other night. Tampa’s power play is pretty lethal, and Kucherov can pile up the points whenever he’s on the ice. He is averaging 20 fantasy points per game but has earned 46.1, 49.3, 22.4, 28, 18.9 and 23.7 fantasy points in his last six games, respectively. He is sure to be a popular play regardless of the size of the slate, especially given the Lightning’s matchup. Linemate Tyler Johnson is also worth considering. Johnson has three goals and four points in his last two games but skates on Tampa Bay’s second power-play unit.
Johnny Gaudreau has also been red-hot in recent games and is now fifth in the NHL in points with 51 thanks to his hat trick the other night against Winnipeg. Gaudreau skates on Calgary’s first line and first power-play unit and is averaging 18.2 fantasy points per game. He has seven goals and 12 points in his last seven games. Elias Lindholm skates with Gaudreau at even strength and on the power play but has a more favorable price tag of just $5,900. Lindholm has points in three straight games and in four out of his last five, recording one goal and seven points in that stretch. He is averaging 15.2 fantasy points per game this season.
As usual, Sam Reinhart is a strong option on tonight’s slate. Though Jaroslav Halak shut out the Sabres in Buffalo earlier this season, the Sabres have been scoring in bunches of late, and Reinhart is a consistent producer. His price has gone up but he remains a reliable choice, especially if you want exposure to Buffalo’s first line and first power-play unit. He has points in 13 out of his last 14 games, collecting five goals and 21 points in that stretch. When these teams met in Boston a few weeks ago, Reinhart tallied three assists and came away with 27.2 fantasy points. He doesn’t always provide the highest ceiling, but his mid-range price tag and consistent floor make him a sensible pick in cash contests.
If you’re looking for a value option, consider Conor Garland ($3,300), who quietly has points in three straight games with two goals and an assist as well as five shots. He has earned 11.7, 15.2 and 13.6 fantasy points in his last three games, respectively. Though he skates on the Coyotes’ fourth line, he plays on the team’s second power-play unit. Though Arizona doesn’t score a lot of goals, it’s possible Anaheim’s John Gibson will be out of commission tonight, which at least gives the Coyotes a better matchup. Richard Panik ($3,500) is another Coyotes forward that might be worth a look, especially since he gets top-six minutes and plays on the ‘Yotes’ top power-play unit.
Additional options at all price points are listed below. Some of them, such as Alex Ovechkin ($8,900), Patrick Kane ($8,200) and Mitch Marner ($7,900), are expensive options that might split ownership, and Viktor Arvidsson ($6,500) could be an intriguing play since the Rangers have been struggling on the road.
Also, as mentioned in the intro, both Jamie Benn ($7,200) and center Tyler Seguin have been called out by Stars management/ownership in a blunt manner, so they could be motivated tonight against the visiting Red Wings.
Also consider: Alex Ovechkin ($8,900), Patrick Kane ($8,200), Mitch Marner ($7,900), Jeff Skinner ($7,500), Claude Giroux ($7,300), Jamie Benn ($7,200), Gabriel Landeskog ($7,000), Viktor Arvidsson ($6,500), Mike Hoffman ($6,200), Alex DeBrincat ($6,000), Bryan Rust ($5,600), Dylan Strome ($4,900), Alex Killorn ($4,700), Brandon Saad ($4,700), Ondrej Kase ($4,400), Andrew Shaw ($4,000), Andreas Johnsson ($3,800), Robert Thomas ($3,300)
Top Plays: Morgan Rielly ($6,700), Rasmus Ristolainen ($5,500), Erik Gustafsson ($4,300), Jakob Chychrun ($3,500)
This group of highlighted defensemen was chosen partly to offer some salary flexibility since the forwards are quite expensive on tonight’s slate. Morgan Rielly is being included because of his recent production and his popularity, though his ownership might be lower tonight. I likely will not play him at $6,700, but he continues to be a strong play. Though he managed just 4.8 fantasy points last night, Rielly had points in five straight games before that, recording three goals and 11 points in that stretch. He skates on Toronto’s top power-play unit and is averaging 17.4 fantasy points per game.
I prefer Rasmus Ristolainen, as usual. Ristolainen provides a very safe floor and has upside for a reasonable $5,500 price tag. He skates on Buffalo’s top power-play unit and has points in four straight games, scoring a goal and four points while recording 12 shots and two blocks in that time. He has earned at least eight fantasy points in 18 straight games, though he doesn’t often provide massive point totals.
One less expensive option is Erik Gustafsson, who skates on the top power-play unit for the streaking Blackhawks. Chicago has won four out of its last five games, including a 2-1 victory over the Avalanche last week. While Colorado has been volatile this season, Semyon Varlamov hasn’t been sharp in recent games, giving up 21 goals in his last five contests. Gustafsson has points in seven out of his last eight games and has earned 21.3, 3.2, 9.6, 18.9, 25.3, 8, 21.6 and 17.6 fantasy points in those games, respectively.
Perhaps my favorite rearguard on the slate is Jakob Chychrun, though that’s mainly because he came through for me the other night with a huge value performance. Chychrun skates on Arizona’s second power-play unit and picked up 20.5 fantasy points the other night. He has points in back-to-back games and in three out of his last four games, recording 20.5, 17.6, 8 and 16.5 fantasy points in his last four games, respectively. He comes with a minimum price tag, making him a solid value play once again tonight.
Also consider: Roman Josi ($6,400), Mark Giordano ($6,200), Keith Yandle ($5,600), Jake Gardiner ($4,900), Rasmus Dahlin ($4,700), Aaron Ekblad ($4,600), Alex Edler ($4,600), Jeff Petry ($4,600), Ryan Pulock ($4,400), Mattias Ekholm ($4,300), Olli Maatta ($4,200), Mike Matheson ($3,900), Michal Kempny ($3,900), Vince Dunn ($3,900), Chris Tanev ($3,700)
Top Plays: Frederik Andersen ($9,400), Andrei Vasilevskiy ($9,000), David Rittich ($7,800), Pheonix Copley ($7,500)
Note: These recommendations could change drastically later today depending on confirmations and other relevant factors (this post was written last night), so goalies will be discussed in chat closer to lock.
Frederik Andersen and the Maple Leafs are heavy favorites at home against the visiting Islanders. Both teams played last night, but tonight will be an emotional game for John Tavares, who will be extremely eager to win. Andersen has won three games in a row, and while he hasn’t been perfect, he’s been on the road a lot lately, which could explain his lapse in play. It’s possible he won’t face a ton of shots, which could limit his production, but he could be a worthwhile (albeit expensive) target given the odds.
One goalie who could have legitimate ownership is Andrei Vasilevskiy. While Vasi is coming off a rough performance in which he gave up five goals, he made some spectacular saves and should face plenty of shots tonight against Montreal. He and the Lightning are heavy favorites, however, especially without Carey Price in the crease. Tampa Bay should be able to provide the necessary goal support to help Vasilevskiy get the win, though his point totals haven’t been great lately since he’s been giving up a lot of goals.
One cheaper option is Calgary’s David Rittich. Rittich has gone 4-1-1 in his last six starts, and Calgary is favored tonight at home against the visiting Canucks. Vancouver is a tricky team that often pulls off an unforeseen upset, but the Flames have played well in recent games and seem to be on the rise.
If Pheonix Copley gets the nod for Washington, he could be the chalk option on the slate given his price tag and the fact that he recorded a shutout against the Senators in Ottawa just a few games ago. He picked up 48 fantasy points in that winning effort, and many will assume he’ll do the same tonight. Ottawa is often an overlooked threat in DFS, so I rarely like to go against them; plus, with Matt Niskanen out of commission for Washington, the already-thin defense will be even thinner tonight, which won’t give Copley much support. However, it may make sense to target the price tag and chalk factor and hope that he has a decent game. That certainly doesn’t always work out, but it’s one way to go about it if you’re unsure about the goalie.
Also consider: Matt Murray ($8,600), Carter Hutton ($7,800), Adin Hill ($7,600), James Reimer ($7,200)
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Featured image credit: Scott Audette-NHLI via Getty Images