I took a stab at last night’s showdown slate, but it was a rather eventful game to say the least as the Florida Panthers knocked off the New York Rangers by a 3-0 count with two of the goals coming as empty-netters.
There is a ton of matinee action going down today which has left us with a six-game main slate this evening.
Let’s see if we can make this a profitable Saturday night!
C – Evgeny Kuznetsov (WAS) – $6,000 vs. FLA
The Washington Capitals get the top matchup on the slate tonight as they will welcome the Florida Panthers to town, a team that enters this one ranked 28th with 3.81 goals against per game on the road this season. Add in the fact that the Capitals enter this one ranked 11th with 3.24 goals per game at home to go along with the league’s sixth-ranked home power play at 24.8%. Kuznetsov is white-hot entering this one as he is coming off a two-goal, three-point effort in Thursday’s win over the Avalanche, his second straight multi-point effort while he’s tallied 10 points over his last six games. Kuznetsov skates as the team’s second line center, but he also has a spot on the team’s top power play unit. He has found some nice chemistry with Jakub Vrana on that second line as well and I expect the duo to get plenty of looks in a super-favorable home matchup this evening.
C – Logan Couture (SJ) – $5,800 vs. EDM
Couture carries some real solid value upside into his matchup tonight with the Edmonton Oilers at a sub-$6K price. Couture’s Sharks enter this one tonight ranked second with 3.48 goals per game on the road after scoring five in their win over the Flames on Thursday in Calgary. Tonight, the Sharks get another favorable road matchup against an Edmonton Oilers team that enters play ranked 28th with 3.26 goals against per game at home, just one spot ahead of the 29th-ranked Flames. It was the Tomas Hertl/Evander Kane duo that did the damage on Thursday, however I expect Couture’s top line to get back in on the action in this one tonight. He’ll enter play with 20 goals and 49 points in 55 games this season to go along with 131 shots on goal. It’s not like Couture is cold as he has tallied four goals and three helpers over his last seven games. As the team’s top line center at even strength and on the top power play unit, I’m liking the upside Couture brings to the table in this one.
W – Jakub Vrana (WAS) – $4,500 vs. FLA
Vrana is really coming into his own this season as he is blowing past previous career-highs, albeit this is just his second full season in the NHL. Still, Vrana has tallied 16 goals and 32 points in 54 games this season, both of which are already career-highs just 54 games into the season. Vrana notched an assist in Thursday’s win, giving him his sixth point over his last six games. All six points have also come on home ice where the Capitals will be for this one tonight. His recent production as been a perk of playing with a white-hot Kuznetsov on the second line at even strength while Vrana gives us exposure to both of the Capitals’ power play unit as he will skate on the second group where he’s notched a pair of points this season. After scoring four goals on Thursday, I am look for the Caps’ offense to click in this one and put up plenty of goals with the second line getting involved at very reasonable prices.
W – Joe Pavelski (SJ) – $6,200 vs. EDM
It’s been a career resurrection of sorts for the 34-year old Pavelski as he enters this one with 29 goals in 55 games, on pace for 43 goals this season which would give him a new career-high. The 29 he has scored to this point has already blown pass the 22 he scored last season and ties him with the 29 he scored across 81 games to seasons ago. Pavelski played much of last season at center, but he is clearly a more productive player on the wing where he is skating to the right of Couture on the top line as well as on the top power play unit. Pavelski was also held pointless in the Sharks’ rout of the Flames on Thursday, but he tallied three goals and seven assists over his previous five games. He has 143 shots on goal this season, but has averaged 3.8 shots on goal over his last five games. The Oilers are a poor home defense and own the league’s 19th-ranked home penalty kill so I will look for the sniper to get back on the scoresheet tonight.
W – Timo Meier (SJ) – $5,700 vs. EDM
Like Vrana, Meier is taking that big step forward in his second full season in the NHL as he is blossoming into a star player which has landed him a spot on the team’s top line alongside Couture and Pavelski. After scoring 21 goals in 81 games as a 21-year-old last season, Meier has already potted 19 goals and 47 points in 52 games this season. Those 47 points have already surged past his 36-point season from a year ago. Meier also loves to shoot the puck as he’s racked up 168 shots on the season after firing 210 shots on goal last season. His goal-scoring has slowed dramatically after a white-hot start as he’s scored just once since December 13th. However, he’s consistently picking up assists with five of those over his last six games. Skating on the top line will keep Meier productive while this is a nice matchup to get out of that goal-scoring slump tonight in Edmonton.
D – John Carlson (WAS) – $6,100 vs. FLA
I wanted to get some solid exposure to the Capitals’ top power play unit so I have rostered Carlson in the three-man stack rather than Tom Wilson who skates with the Kuznetsov/Vrana duo on the second line. Carlson and Kuznetsov will now form a mini-stack on the power play while this is a three-man stack at even strength. Carlson has picked up right where he left off from his breakout season last year as he’s notched eight goals and 49 points in 53 games this season to go along with 126 shots on goal and a whopping 111 blocked shots to boot. Such production makes Carlson one of the top cross-category producers from the blueline in all of fantasy hockey. His spot as the lone defenseman on the top power play unit has him skating more than 25 minutes per night and that type of ice time will surely give Carlson ample opportunity to get on the scoresheet tonight.
D – Aaron Ekblad (FLA) – $4,200 vs. WAS
While I expect plenty of offense from Washington, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Panthers get a few goals this evening as Florida ranks 14th in road offense while Braden Holtby hasn’t been as reliable as we are used to seeing in goal for Washington. Nonetheless, I am feeling a high-scoring affair in this one and I want a couple slice of the Panthers at low ownership and low prices tonight, beginning here with Ekblad. Ekblad’s production from the back end is rock-solid as he’s produced between 36-39 points in his three healthy NHL seasons to this point while he is on pace to go so again this season. He’s also one of the NHL’s top goal-scoring defenseman as he’s notched at least 10 goals every season of his career, including this year as he’s notched 10 goals and 23 points in 52 games on 121 shots. It’s hard to believe he’s still just 23, but for tonight I am looking for him to give us some value from the back end.
G – Marc-Andre Fleury (VGK) – $8,100 vs. CLS
I’m not seeing a ton of trustworthy netminders on this slate tonight so I will roll with Marc-Andre Fleury on home ice where the Golden Knights rank first in the league with just 2.13 goals against per game. Fleury hasn’t produced the same dominant season he did last year, but he’s still posted a 2.48 GAA and a .912 Sv% across a league-high 48 starts. However, at home, Fleury has gone 15-6-3 with a 2.17 GAA and a .924 Sv% across 24 starts. He’s also posted a .921 Sv% across three February starts to this point. The Blue Jackets have a solid offense, but I trust the league’s best home defense to once again keep the road team at bay. The Golden Knights are -165 favorites to win this one tonight, so let’s look for the win and shutout upside to rear its head in this tonight.
UTIL – Derick Brassard (FLA) – $3,300 vs. WAS
We will complete this lineup with the back end of a Panthers mini-stack as Brassard and Ekblad team up for tonight’s matchup in Washington. The newly-acquired Brassard has been productive with his new club with two points in three games with the Panthers after notching only 15 points in 40 games with the Penguins prior to being traded. Brassard might yet be traded by Florida, so they have moved him to the top line alongside Aleksander Barkov in order to showcase him and in hopes that he produces to build up his trade value. I am also hoping Brassard can produce on that top line as he did with an assist against the Penguins on Thursday while skating 19:14 in that game. I believe there’s plenty of value to be unlocked with Brassard in this one, hopefully along with Ekblad as they skate together on the team’s second power play unit on top of their even strength time spent together.