Tonight’s slate offers us eight games to play with, unusually large for a Monday night. I’ve tried to identify some of the safer investments you could make in GPP contests tonight, though they all certainly make for strong cash plays as well. Good luck!
Anze Kopitar ($6,900)
The Kings draw one of the cushier matchups on tonight’s slate as they play host to the Canucks, who are fresh off a 1-0 home loss to the Coyotes last night. It’s the fourth meeting between the two teams this year, with Kopitar registering two goals and one assist in the first three games, and it should be more of the same from him tonight.
He and the rest of the Kings’ top line will most likely match up against that of the Canucks, currently consisting of Brendan Leipsic, Bo Horvat, and Nikolay Goldobin. The three of them have barely played together since Leipsic’s arrival in Vancouver, but Horvat and Leipsic do have a somewhat sizeable sample to go off of. In 72 minutes at 5v5 together, they’ve registered just a 44.58 SF% and are surrendering over 30 scoring chances per 60. Those defensive numbers line up nicely with the production rates of the Kings’ top line, as they’ve posted a 54.46 SF% and average 29 scoring chances for per 60.
Tanner Pearson has recently supplanted Alex Iafallo as the Kings’ first line left-winger, which bodes well for Kopitar’s production. Iafallo’s 24 points (9G/15A) in 66 games is underwhelming, especially when you consider the fact he’s spent a whopping 77.2% of his 5v5 minutes alongside Kopitar. Swapping in the more-proven Pearson certainly raises the ceiling for Kopitar in tonight’s matchup. As a bit of an added bonus, starter Jakob Markstrom played for the Canucks last night, which means the lesser Anders Nilsson will get the call against Kopitar and the Kings tonight.
Artemi Panarin ($7,200)
Panarin is red-hot coming into tonight’s run-in with the Habs. In his past four games, he’s put up seven points (3G/4A) and 17 shots on goal, and tonight’s matchup offers him a great chance to keep it rolling. Led by Panarin, the Blue Jackets’ top line has been dominant at 5v5 this season, registering a 57.14 CF% and averaging 38 scoring chances per 60.
Head Coach John Tortorella isn’t what you would call a strict line-matcher, but he does like to pin his top line against a mix of the opponent’s top-six. While the combination of Paul Byron and Brendan Gallagher pose a reasonable defensive-threat, Panarin and company should roll over the Habs’ second line of Andrew Shaw, Alex Galchenyuk, and Artturi Lehkonen, who surrender about 33 scoring chances per 60.
Where Panarin and the Blue Jackets have really struggled this year is with the man advantage, converting on just 14.5% of their powerplay opportunities, good for dead-last in the league. Tonight that weakness should be somewhat mitigated by the lackluster penalty kill of the Canadiens, who have succeeded in killing just 76.3% of their infractions this year, the fourth-worst PK percentage in the league. Panarin makes for a very strong one-off play in GPP and cash tournaments alike, and if you’re looking for a full stack, the entire Blue Jackets’ top line is a prime target tonight.
Drew Doughty ($5,400)
Doughty has played over half of his 5v5 minutes this season with Kopitar and the Kings’ top line, so much of what I said about Kopitar’s matchup can be applied to Doughty as well. While he should see some time against the Sedins and the Canucks’ more reliable second line, he will more than likely spend the majority of his ice-time matched up against Horvat and company.
Doughty has seen his usage rise of late as the Kings continue to make a strong push for the playoffs. He’s skated over 24 minutes in three straight contests, registering nine shots on goal in that time. That steady of a floor for a defenceman is hard to come by in DFS, especially one that’s priced at sub-$5,500. On his own, he’s one of the safest bets you could make tonight, and also makes a great addition to a stack of either of the Kings’ top two lines.