A belated Happy Thanksgiving to all of the US readers out there and I hope you enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving full of turkey, stuffing and football!
The NHL took a day off yesterday given the full NFL slate, but that means were get another solid slate to tackle on this Friday night!
We’ve had a nine-game Monday slate and a 14-game Wednesday slate so far this week, and we will finish the week off with an eight-game main slate after a six-game early slate.
Today belongs to the NHL with 14 games on tap, so let’s make it a profitable Friday heading into the weekend!
C – Sidney Crosby (PIT) – $7,000 vs. BOS
Crosby made his return to the lineup after a brief absence on Tuesday against the Stars and he was front and center in Pittsburgh’s offensive explosion in what ended in a 5-1 Penguins win. Crosby notched a goal and added two assists on three shots on goal to bring his season totals up to nine goals and 22 points in just 17 games this season. Despite their struggles in the standings this season, the Penguins still rank fifth with 3.45 goals per game on the season, however they also rank third with 3.89 goals per game on the road this season. For his part, Crosby has scored six of his nine goals on the road in eight games while adding six helpers in that span as well. Crosby and the Pens take on a Bruins team that as been good defensively this season and has so far held their own despite a multitude of injuries to their blueline, however they have played the Coyotes and Red Wings over their last two games. This Pens offense is a whole new cat and I think Crosby stays white-hot in what I believe will be a high-scoring game tonight.
C – Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson (BOS) – $2,800 vs. PIT
This is a name I didn’t anticipate typing this season. The reason he enters this lineup tonight is because he is projected to skate on the Bruins’ top line tonight in between Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak. At only $2,800, I simply cannot ignore the value upside that the kid brings to the table tonight against a suspect Penguins back end. After all, Forsbacka-Karlsson has tallied a goal in two straight games entering tonight’s contest despite averaging around 10 minutes of ice time in those games. Still, it doesn’t take long to get on the board when you are apart of this line. He isn’t going to see power play time tonight, but again, this price is just way too low for a guy skating on the same line as a couple of the league’s most potent offensive players, so let’s lock in the value here with the relatively unknown Forsbacka-Karlsson tonight.
W – Patric Hornqvist (PIT) – $5,200 vs. BOS
I absolutely love when Hornqvist gets moved up to the Crosby line as we get a couple of high-floor players that skate with each other at both even strength and on the Penguins’ star-studded top power play unit. Hornqvist has been sporting a hot hand of late as he has tallied a whopping four goals and four assists over his last four games and has three multi-point efforts in that span. Hornqvist is also averaging more than three shots per game this season with 66 shots in only 20 games. You knew the goals were going to start coming in bunches for the gritty winger as he has scored at least 21 goals in each of his last five seasons and scored 29 a season ago on 247 shots on goal. He’s a beast on the power play and he’s a perfect lineup for Crosby and I’m excited to use him in this lineup at what I believe to be an extremely reasonable price tonight.
W – Jake Guentzel (PIT) – $4,900 vs. BOS
You can certainly use Kris Letang to complete a three-man Penguins stack tonight, but Guentzel is more cost-efficient and he also skates on the same line as Crosby and Hornqvist at even strength while giving us some exposure to the Penguins’ second power play unit as well. Like his linemates, Guentzel has been productive lately with three points over his last two games which gives him eight goals and 15 points across 20 games for the season. Guentzel is going to be a real good player in this league as he averaged 0.66 points per game over the first year and a half of his career prior to this season. Of course, skating on the top line with Crosby helps, so I will look for the 24-year-old to continue his success tonight against a decimated Bruins defensive group in Boston.
W – David Pastrnak (BOS) – $7,600 vs. PIT
If you want to save some money you can go with Marchand in this spot, but Pastrnak has been the far superior fantasy asset this season. He’s scored 17 goals already in just 21 games on the campaign which puts him on top of the league leaders in that category, two goals clear of Alex Ovechkin and Jeff Skinner. Pastrnak has scuffled lately by his standards as he’s gone without a goal over his last three games, however he also scored six goals in five games prior to this stretch, so it’s understandable to see him cool off for a few games. This Penguins defense ranks 24th overall with 3.25 goals against per game, and while that number drops all the way to 2.56 per game on the road (3rd), I believe that number is going to be on the rise moving forward as this defensive group is simply not good enough to sustain such a number. Pastrnak has 11 goals and 15 points in nine home games this season, so let’s lock him in alongside the super-valuable Forsbacka-Karlsson tonight on that top line.
D – Torey Krug (BOS) – $4,900 vs. PIT
We have completed our second three-man stack of the lineup with Krug as we have big-time exposure to this game tonight, one I expect to see plenty of offense from. He’s skated in only 10 games so far this season, but Krug is still without a goal despite taking 23 shots on those 10 games, but he also has six assists as well, five of which have come on the top power play unit where he will form a mini-stack with Pastrnak. It’s also worth noting that Krug has five of those points at home across four games compared to just one points in six road contests. He’s coming off a career-year that saw him post 14 goals (ties a career high) with 45 assists (career high) for 59 points in 76 games. Krug has also reached 200 shots in three of the last four years and was on pace for 200-plus with 197 last year, but also missed six games due to injury. I think it’s a quality price we are getting Krug at tonight in this matchup against the Penguins.
D – Mikhail Sergachev (TB) – $4,000 vs. CHI
I wanted to get some Sharks exposure in this lineup but didn’t like my options in this price range so I will move to the high-octane Lightning as they take on the Blackhawks on home ice tonight. Let’s start by mentioning that the Lightning rank second in home offense with 4.18 goals per game on the season. Let’s follow that up by noting that the Blackhawks rank 27th in road defense with 3.91 goals against per game away from the United Center. Sergachev doesn’t see much ice, but he’s productive nonetheless with seven points in 22 games. His production is off a little bit from notching 40 points in 79 games as a rookie last year despite logging just 15:22 of ice time per game. That number has climbed more than two minutes to 17:32 per game. I also like the fact that five of his seven points have come at home in 11 games with only two road points in 11 games away from home. He’s the lone defenseman on the Lighting second power play unit where he will form a mini-stack with our utility player tonight.
G – Martin Jones (SJ) – $8,300 vs. VAN
I am going with the most expensive goaltender on the slate tonight, but given the fact that the Sharks are listed as massive -280 favorites in this one at home, I am feeling confident with the relative safety that Jones provides. That’s not to say that Jones has been good this season as his 3.01 GAA and .891 Sv% are poor numbers, but the Canucks rank 18th in road offense and have lost seven games in a row entering this one tonight and have averaged only 2.29 goals per game in that stretch. Jones should also get plenty of goal support from his Sharks teammates as the Canucks rank 24th in road defense this season. I don’t like how he has played so far this season, but the odds are in his favor to notch a win tonight while he should be able to contain a weak Canucks offense that has been among the league’s worst over the last couple of weeks.
UTIL – Tyler Johnson (TB) – $5,300 vs. CHI
We complete our lineup with Johnson who forms a mini-stack tonight alongside Sergachev against the visiting Blackhawks. Johnson is enjoying a solid campaign with seven goals and seven assists for 14 points in 21 games this season. He has notched a goal and four helpers on the power play where he will indeed form that mini-stack with Sergachev on the second unit. Like Sergachev, Johnson has been much more productive at home as he’s scored five goals and added f0ur assists for nine points in 10 home games compared to two goals and five points in 11 road contests on the campaign. He doesn’t shoot the puck a ton with just 41 shots in those 21 games, but I am leaning more on the fact that Johnson and the Lightning are a dynamite offense at home while the Blackhawks are one of the league’s worst road defense with a road penalty kill that is tied for 26th in the league, interestingly with the Lightning. I feel confident in this mid-priced mini-stack tonight.