This week’s heavy NHL schedule continues this evening as tonight’s nine-game slate just barely edges out the surprising eight-game slate from a night ago. Keep in mind that due to the winter storm in the northeastern United States there could be more cancellations tonight on top of the already-postponed Devils/Jets game. Let’s go!
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C – Anze Kopitar (LA) – $5,200
Kopitar’s nine goals leave plenty to be desired for a first line center, however few pivots have a favorable matchup as large as his this evening. The Kings welcome the Arizona Coyotes to town who will be playing their second game in as many nights tonight. Arizona is dead-last with 3.63 goals against per game on the road while their 75% mark on the penalty kill away from home ranks 28th. The Kings on the other hand boast a 23.5% clip with the man advantage on home ice, good for fifth league-wide. That mark is also tops among all home teams on tonight’s slate. Kopitar averages over 20 minutes of ice time per game which should give him ample opportunity to cash in tonight against a poor Coyotes defense.
C – Mark Letestu (EDM) – $3,600
A value play, Letestu is also part of a top power play unit that has a very appetizing matchup at home against the Stars. Dallas is tied with Arizona for the worst goals against per game on the road with that 3.63 figure while their road penalty kill is dead last at 72.6%. He is the Oilers’ fourth line center, but that spot on the top power play unit with exposure to Connor McDavid is certainly worthwhile at this price. He also averages over 13 minutes of ice time per game, a rather large amount for a fourth line center.
W – Leon Draisaitl (EDM) – $5,900
Oilers exposure tonight is a must and I love Draisaitl’s chances for success this evening. He skates alongside McDavid at both 5v5 and on the power play, a spot that has helped him rack up 23 goals and 56 points on the season. He is averaging over 19 minutes of ice time per game on home ice while skating over 20 minutes in six of his last ten contests. The reasoning for Draisaitl remains the same as Letestu as a powerful Oilers offense could have some fun tonight against one of the two worst road defenses in the entire league.
W – Ryan Dzingel (OTT) – $3,800
The Senators have had their lineup shaken up with the returns of Kyle Turris and Bobby Ryan tonight and it appears Dzingel will skate on the top line alongside Turris and Zack Smith this evening. His role will also include power play time on the team’s second unit, also alongside Turris and Smith. After playing just 30 games a year ago, Dzingel has certainly held his own this season with 13 goals and 30 points across 67 games. Dzingel snapped a ten-game goalless drought with his tally in Colorado on Saturday, however he has still recorded 16 shots over his last name games and should see improvement on his 4% shooting percentage from the month of February moving forward.
W – Patrick Marleau (SJ) – $5,700
I continue to target poor penalty killing teams and that continues here with Marleau as he takes on the Sabres tonight at home. Buffalo is in the mix with Arizona and Dallas in terms of road penalty killing as their 73.1% mark is wedged in between the two at 29th in the league. Marleau is part of that top San Jose power play group with the Sharks’ top offensive players, a spot that could help him build on his 23 goals and 165 shots on the season. He is still a well above-average scorer despite his age and could be a factor tonight against a poor Sabres road team.
D – Drew Doughty (LA) – $5,100
As the quarterback of that top Kings’ power play unit Doughty is a must-have this evening. I mentioned the Kings score on 23.5% of their chances with the man advantage at home, and Doughty has scored 16 of his 38 points on that power play. He also is second in the NHL in average ice time behind only Dustin Byfuglien with his 27:16 figure. Doughty is once again having a strong season for the Kings with 152 shots and 92 blocks to go along with those 38 points in 68 games this season.
D – Shea Weber (MTL) – $5,500
Another solid play on the back end tonight is going to be Montreal’s number one defenseman Shea Weber. The veteran blueline is having a monster season the Canadiens’ blueline with 38 points in 69 games to go along with 157 shots this season. He has also blocked 142 shots while averaging a sky-high 25:14 of ice time per game. He will go up against the Blackhawks tonight on home ice where Montreal has averaged an even three goals per game. He is the lone defenseman on top Canadiens’ power play unit and could see some opportunities against the 27th-ranked Blackhawks penalty kill tonight.
G – Ben Bishop (LA) – $8,400
Bishop is the most expensive goalie on the board tonight, however I just couldn’t resist his chances against the Coyotes at home. The Kings give up just 2.58 goals per game at home while the Coyotes score just 2.27 per game on the road. Arizona is also playing on back-to-back nights after scoring just one goal on home ice against the NHL’s worst defense in the form of the Colorado Avalanche last night. Bishop figures to get at least a win tonight against the NHL’s 27th-ranked offense this evening.
UTIL – Nicklas Backstrom (WAS) – $6,800
This pick might be one to keep an eye on in terms of a possible cancellation due to the weather. However, I am rolling with Backstrom for now as he appears to have been reunited with Alex Ovechkin after skating on separate lines recently. Backstrom is an absolute beast on home ice with 42 points in 34 games at the Verizon Center this season. Washington’s offense has gone fairly cold lately and that may scare people off, especially against a solid defensive team like the Wild. That said, Minnesota has surrendered four goals in three straight games and at least four in six of their last ten. Backstrom isn’t a sneaky play often, but tonight could be different.