Another weekend of NHL hockey is in the books as we look forward to a clean slate for the upcoming week.
As per usual, we get a rather light Monday slate to open the week, with four games on tap, but also some matchups that I want to take advantage of.
Let’s get into tonight’s picks while we look to get the week started on the right note!
C – Mika Zibanejad (NYR) – $7,000 vs. VAN
The Rangers may not be the most potent offense in the league, however they get a nice matchup tonight on home ice against the Canucks. Vancouver has been a fairly weak defense wherever they play this season, however for tonight’s purposes, they rank 22nd with 3.36 goals against per game on the road. New York ranks near the bottom of the league in overall offense and home offense, but there’s been nothing wrong with Zibanejad’s output as the 25-year-old has scored seven goals and notched 15 points across 17 games for the season while firing a whopping 66 shots on goal over that span as well. He’s loggin 20:30 of ice time per game on the year, minutes that includes first line center duties and top unit power play duties as well. He will enter tonight’s game with a hot hand as he is riding a four-game point streak at the moment with two goals and three assists over that stretch. Given the large shot total, I am liking the floor and the ceiling at the young pivot brings into this one tonight.
C – Tyler Seguin (DAL) – $7,200 vs. CLS
Sergei Bobrovsky and the Blue Jackets have improved defensively as of late, but I can’t help but to like Seguin’s upside tonight, especially on a short slate. With Seguin, we get another high-floor player as he has tacked up 78 shots in just 17 games on the season with 17 points in that time. What I like most about the 40-goal scorer from last year is that he has points in back-to-back games after tallying just four assists in his previous 11 contests. Seguin also went 12 straight games without a goal before scoring last Thursday against the Sharks. He followed that up with another goal on Saturday against the Predators as well. Players of Seguin’s caliber simply aren’t going to be kept quiet for long, and if they are, it usually means there is going to be an offensive explosion on the other side of the drought. I think he is in for some productive games this week and I feel very comfortable with the Stars’ top center tonight at home where he’s recorded 14 of his 17 points this season.
W – Mats Zuccarello (NYR) – $5,400 vs. VAN
Zuccarello missed the Rangers’ last two games to deal with a groin injury, but with his status listed as day-to-day it stands to reason that he could make it back into the lineup tonight against the Canucks. He too has been rather consistent despite an overall weak Rangers offense as he will bring three goals and 10 points across 15 games into tonight’s action. Zuccarello makes for a perfect linemate for Zibanejad as he is much more of a passer than a shooter, which gives Zibanejad the opportunity to rack up the shots on goal like we have seen so far this season. The Norwegian winger is skating alongside the Swedish centerman in all situations including that top power play unit which has helped him average 19:23 per game for the campaign. He’s pointless over his last three prior to the two-game injury, so let’s look for Zuccarello to get back on the scoresheet should he make it into the lineup tonight.
W – Devin Shore (DAL) – $4,100 vs. CLS
The Stars have split up the duo of Seguin and Jamie Benn at times this season and it appears they will do so again heading into tonight’s matchup against the Blue Jackets, giving Shore a prime spot in the lineup next to Seguin on the top line. Shore is off to a real nice start to his season as he’s scored five goals and added six assists for 11 points in 17 games, putting him well on pace to fly past his previous career high of 33 points set in the 2016-17 season. Don’t expect a lot of shots from the winger as he’s averaging just one per game in the early going, but there’s another spot where I like Shore’s upside and that is on the Stars’ top power play unit. Dallas has one of the top home power plays in the league as their 33.3% mark is tied with Ottawa for fourth league-wide while Columbus ranks 25th with a 75% penalty kill on the road. I like the value upside here to be sure.
W – Nick Schmaltz (CHI) – $3,400 vs. CAR
So long as Schmaltz continues to skate on the same line as Patrick Kane at both even strength and on the top power play unit, I am going to like his value at this price tag. The former first-round pick has two goals and eight points in 16 games on the season, although there is plenty of room for that goal total to run as his 8.3% shooting percentage this season is well under his 13.9% mark for his career. He is averaging 17:31 of ice time per game this season while 2:53 of that is coming on the man advantage. The Hurricanes don’t allow many shots, however they still rank 21st with three goals against per game at home while the .878 save percentage they’ve received from their goaltending at home ranks 29th. Given the very unreliable goaltending in Carolina, I am certainly comfortable in my efforts to extract value out of Schmaltz tonight.
D – Neal Pionk (NYR) $5,000 vs. VAN
We are going to roster a pair of young and talented blueliners to complete a couple stacks tonight beginning here with Pionk. He showed he was NHL-ready last season when he notched 14 points in his 28 games with the big club, and he’s continued that success into this season with nine points through 15 games. He’s taken over as the top offensive defenseman on this team as Pionk will be the lone blueliner on the top power play unit, a group that also contains the aforementioned Zibanejad and Zuccarello. He’s been good in that spot with a goal and five assists on the man advantage this season while averaging 2:01 on that group, a number that I believe will continue to climb moving forward. He’s not cheap, but I like this Rangers trio tonight on home ice against what I believe to be a suspect Canucks back end.
D – Miro Heiskanen (DAL) – $5,100 vs. CLS
Heiskanen is going to be the biggest beneficiary of the John Klingberg injury in terms of increased opportunity on this Stars club. He has taken over Klingberg’s role as the lone defenseman on the Stars’ top power play unit where he completes a three-man stack tonight. The 19-year-old Finn has tallied two goals and seven points in 17 games this season, but the important thing to note is that he has three points over his last four games and recently skated more than 29 minutes in Saturday’s overtime loss to Nashville. He has two goals and three assists over his last nine games and will continue to log big minutes in the Klingberg absence. His price increase over the last few games as went from $3,900 to $5,100, so I’m not the only one who sees the upside in this player. He’s still not cheap, however, but I believe in this trip of Stars players tonight on home ice.
G – Henrik Lundqvist (NYR) – $7,900 vs. VAN
One of the sneakier stats I found on this slate tonight is that the Rangers actually rank eighth in the league with just 2.38 goals against per game at home this season, so given the fact I think they are going to score some goals tonight I will give the nod to Henrik Lundqvist in goal. The Rangers are also -130 favorites in this one, giving him an edge in win upside as well. Like his team, King Henrik has some favorable home/road splits for this one tonight as he enters play with a 3.10 GAA and .908 Sv% on the road in six starts, but also a stout 2.27 GAA and a .932 Sv% at Madison Square Garden in seven starts. The Rangers also give up the fifth-most shots per game at home with 34.3, meaning the opportunity to rack up the saves should be there tonight. At a solid price, I have no problem with running with the 13-year veteran in this matchup tonight.
UTIL – Artem Anisimov (CHI) – $4,300 vs. CAR
Another player that has seen his price increase notably of late is Anisimov who should once again skate on the second line next to Kane and Schmaltz tonight. Anisimov also gives us to exposure to the second power play unit while Schmaltz resides on the top group. He’s been a fairly consistent producer in his NHL career as Anisimov as he’s scored at least 20 goals in his last four full seasons where he skated in at least 64 games. He’s only got two goals this season, but also nine points while we should see an increase in his 9.1% shooting percentage considering his 13.1% career mark. As far as bang for your buck goes, I think this Blackhawks mini-stack can do some damage, especially with the exposure they give us to one of the top producers in the league this season in Kane.