After covering the basics of line matching in yesterday’s article, it’s time to look at tonight’s 7-game slate and the possible opportunities to find an edge.
New York Rangers vs. St. Louis Blues
- – NYR1 (Kreider–Zibanejad–Buchnevich) has mostly matched up 5v5 vs. the top opposition line at home, and got destroyed puck possession wise against Montreal—but STL1 has gotten caved in through three games as well. With Carter Hutton in net, having exposure to that first line that stays together on the power play seems like a good idea, with the possibility to add Kevin Shattenkirk to the mix – Hutton is far below average on medium- and low-danger scoring chances, which means point shots and shots beyond the hash. At $16.8k for NYR1, there’s some good value, and Zibanejad has already fired 15 shots on net through 3 games and has a nice floor built in.
- – A Rick Nash–J.T. Miller mini stack will probably get some good time against the rookie line of the Blues, but looking beyond the first line of the Rangers means losing a lot of power play correlation.
- – From the St. Louis side, the 2nd line with Schwartz–Schenn–Jaskin is the most appealing. They’re crushing 5v5 so far this season, with a Corsi % above 60, and Schenn and Schwartz have been together for 29 scoring chances in only 33 minutes. Starting in the offensive zone close to 60% of the time is another good indicator of their usage.
Carolina Hurricanes vs. Columbus Blue Jackets
- – The Canes have only played one game so far this season, a 5-4 shootout win over Minnesota, so there’s not much info to glean off their season so far. As of now it looks like they’re keeping the lines static from that game, so Aho–Staal–Lindholm, Teravainen–Rask–Williams, and Jeff Skinner relegated to that third line with Derek Ryan.
- – Head coach Bill Peters went power on power in his first game with the Aho line against the first line of the Wild, so expect that to continue tonight. That line is a high event line both for shots for and against, so consider the first line of Columbus as well. The important thing for Aho and company is they shouldn’t have to face off against Dubinsky–Calvert–Anderson, the shutdown line for Columbus.
- – The line that looked the best for Carolina in their opener was the Rask line, but they got some soft competition against Marcus Foligno and Tyler Ennis, outshooting them 7-0 with those two on the ice and picking up a few scoring chances. Rask isn’t much of a point machine, but Teravainen has no qualms with pulling the trigger as often as he can. It looks like Sergei Bobrovsky is going to get the start, but if CBJ ends up using Joonas Korpisalo the second line looks even more appealing at very low ownership.
- – There’s some nice cost savings if using that Columbus first line, with Alexander Wennberg centering the two young guys in Pierre-Luc Dubois and Oliver Bjorkstrand. As a caveat, don’t get married to using the full line because if Carolina gets off to an early lead Torts can easily revert his lines to the way they normally are – Wennberg between Aretmi Panarin and Cam Atkinson – and the only PP1 exposure there is Wennberg.
- – The second line in Columbus is the sexier one, with Panarin and Atkinson, because one of the elite goal-scorers in the league is paired with a very creative Russian, and Nick Foligno around to clear some space. Panarin’s averaged 19 minutes in his first two games and picked up 3 assists when they fed the Islanders, and sticks with his line on the first PP unit. They will presumably match against Ryan, with Carolina using Rask’s line in an offensive role.
Montreal Canadiens vs. Chicago Blackhawks
- – The Saad–Toews line should get MTL1, so avoid using Drouin/ Pacioretty / Gallagher tonight, even after seeing how poorly the Hawks played yesterday and Chicago on a back-to-back. The Toews line is still a dominant possession line.
- – Beyond that first line of Montreal there isn’t much to like, a high-risk/low-owned MTL3 may be in play and able to take advantage of that rough bottom 6 for Chicago. Alex Galchenyuk as a single bullet could be an option because he gets power play time on the first unit, and will spend more time against Chicago’s bottom group at evens.
- – The second line for Chicago should get Tomas Plekanec who’s no slouch defensively; basically, if you expect a lot of power plays in this game – and with a tired team, there should be more CHI penalties than anything else – these lines remain in play, but don’t count on many EV goals on either side.
Nashville Predators vs. Philadelphia Flyers
- – With this being the home opener, there’s no information on how the Preds will line match, but at the end of last season they were keeping the Ryan Johansen line against the opposition’s lesser lines – which means PHI1 should get Calle Jarnkrok or Nick Bonino, and plenty of power play time.
- – Even though he’s not exactly a defensive D-man, Roman Josi is expected to miss this game, which means a lot more minutes to the Subban–Emelin pair along with Mattias Ekholm, and Samuel Girard taking Josi’s spot. That’ll bump PHI up a bit overall, with Emelin having the on-ice awareness of a 2-year-old. It’s also tough to expect a rookie to eat too many minutes and succeed.
- – Nashville has gotten waxed their first two games defensively, allowing 31 shots to a Bergeron-less Bruins team and 34 to Pittsburgh. Both Juuse Saros and Pekka Rinne have looked very beatable, and expected starter Rinne has been atrocious on high-danger chances. Claude Giroux’s line usually takes their shots from the perimeter around the circles which isn’t ideal, but still consider using at least Giroux and Jakub Voracek because they’re playing with Wayne Simmonds on the power play and have a good match at evens.
- – The reason Simmonds is so attractive is that the bulk of his scoring chances are high danger, because of the net front role he plays, so he’ll have a good opportunity to get the puck in the net. There are a couple different options to use on Philly: either a power play stack with Simmonds and the good pair from PHI1, a single bullet of Simmonds, or maybe just pair Simmonds with Shayne Gostisbehere.
- – There’s not a lot appealing about Nashville tonight: they moved Craig Smith up to the first line and made a second line of Forsberg-Jarnkrok-Fiala, so there’s cost savings on both lines, but minimal power play correlation. Philly gives up a lot of shots – Andrew MacDonald still plays for them, for some reason – so look at Brian Elliott to get lots of cupcake saves, especially without Josi in the lineup for Nashville.
Dallas Stars vs. Detroit Red Wings
- With Petr Mrazek starting, it’s hard not to load up on Dallas tonight. They took it to Vegas in their first game even though they couldn’t get more than one goal past Marc-Andre Fleury, but Tyler Seguin already has 19(!!!) shots on goal through two games, and played 19 minutes against Vegas and 23 against St Louis. He’s expensive at $7,000 and using him with Jamie Benn and Alexander Radulov costs an arm and a leg, but with a good punt D-man like Nate Schmidt, it’s not that bad of a spot.
- Radulov and Seguin have been on the ice together for 23 minutes at even strength and have averaged a shot for per minute, and have 16 scoring chances, crushing the puck possession battle. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Ken Hitchcock try to get that first line out against the first line of the Red Wings, who have been less than good to open the season. That line got out-chanced 7-2 against Ottawa, and 6-4 against the Wild, so against an actual potent scoring line they’ll be in a rough spot.
- On the Red Wings side, Martin Frk is only $4,400 and playing Dallas is always a good spot for a goal scorer. Ben Bishop had a poor 2nd half of last year and although he looked good against Vegas before getting hurt, he’s bad from that outside (medium danger) zone that Frk loves to shoot his heavy wrister from. The Mantha–Larkin-Frk has been the best thing about the Wings this early in the season, and offers a good cost savings – a game stack could be in play. The only other interesting Red Wing blueliner is Mike Green for that power play correlation with the DET2s.
Vancouver Canucks vs. Ottawa Senators
- With Mike Hoffman sick and on the third line and no Erik Karlsson again, expect a low-event hockey game in Vancouver. Dion Phaneuf as a cheap-ish D-man pops out as a value as he QBs the first power play.
- Thomas Chabot is playing this game paired with Mark Borowiecki, which should get wrecked at even strength. Chabot is playing the right side (his off-side) and looked very rough defensively in the pre-season playing that way. Borowiecki is just not an NHL defenseman in the first place, so whoever sees them the most should have a field game for the Canucks. Expect that to be the Bo Horvat line, with Sven Baertschi and Loui Eriksson.
Vegas Golden Knights vs. Arizona Coyotes
- If there are any takeaways from the first two Vegas games, it’s that James Neal and Flower are the co-MVPs of the league. Vegas gives up a load of shots, which’ll always make Fleury a GPP play, but they’ll be in tough against an Arizona team that’s already played them once and has made a few tweaks to the lineup.
- The one guy on the Knights who stands out is Schmidt on D at only $3,400; he’s eating minutes (played 25 against Arizona), he shoots and blocks at a good clip (6.0DK points on average through his first two games), and sees a bunch of PP time. Arizona should be peppering Vegas with shot attempts, which bodes well for a player not afraid to block shots.
- On the Arizona side, Domi–Stepan–Keller is a stud line and stays together on the power play, and they picked up 6 scoring chances the other day. Against the Ducks they managed 10 including 3 high-danger chances, so that should continue tonight. Expect them to face the Cody Eakin line.
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Adam is a Daily Fantasy player from Ottawa that plays every sport, with a focus on hockey followed by PGA. He started writing hockey full-time in the 2016 season, and playing DFS full time in September 2017.