It’s been a few days since we had a lineup released so let’s get back into the swing of things for tonight’s three-game slate. I have my eye on a couple of stacks for tonight’s action, one which should see some high ownership and one that should come in at lower ownership which should make for a nice optimal lineup. Let’s go!
C – Mika Zibanejad (NYR) – $6,700 vs. VGK
Zibanejad could be the highest owned center on the slate tonight, but fading him could be a mistake. As the Rangers’ top center at both even strength on the power play, Zibanejad is seeing almost 19 minutes of average ice time per game, but also 4:11 of which comes on the power play. He’s riding a three-game point streak entering play tonight with two goals, two assists and ten shots on goal during that stretch. Look for Zibanejad to get things going against a Vegas team that has their fourth string goaltender playing on back-to-back nights tonight.
C – Dylan Larkin (DET) – $4,900 vs. ARI
Here is where some differentiation and lower ownership comes about as I am going to use the Red Wings’ youthful second line against the Coyotes tonight. Arizona won their first game of the season last night, but will face a rested Wings’ team tonight while Scott Wedgewood will also start his second game in as many nights, so I believe the Red Wings offense is in a good spot here. Besides, Arizona yields 4.25 goals per game (31st) and their penalty kill sits at a putrid 66.7%, also worst in the league. Larkin is off to a nice start with ten points in 12 games to begin the season.
W – Rick Nash (NYR) – $5,300 vs. VGK
I have used Nash several times already this season without much luck, but this guy is just so due for an offensive breakout I can’t fade him tonight against Vegas. Nash has recorded 44 shots in just 12 games this season, but has just two tallies to show for it. Among 20 forwards with at least 40 shots on goal, Nash’s 4.5% shooting percentage is the lowest of them all. He gets a Vegas team tonight that, as mentioned, is now on their fourth string goaltender, and also a team that played last night while surrendering six goal to the Islanders on the road.
W – Anthony Mantha (DET) – $5,300 vs. ARI
It’s players like Mantha that have Red Wings’ fans not overly upset about the prospects of a losing season. Mantha offers plenty of goal scoring ability and already has nine points and 30 shots on goal across 12 games this season. The second year forward scored 17 goals in 60 games as a rookie last season, which is a 23-goal pace over a full season, an excellent mark for a freshman. He scored 50 or more goals in his last two seasons of junior hockey and looks well on his way to a productive NHL career.
W – Andreas Athanasiou (DET) – $4,600 vs. ARI
After a long contract holdout Anthanasiou is back in Detroit and will suit up for his third game of the season tonight. He has already notched his first goal of the season and has fired five shots on goal across those two games. Although he skated around 11 and a half minutes in his first game and just over 15 minutes (including overtime) in his second game, Athanasiou will see his ice time increase as the season progresses while receiving some second unit power play time next to Larkin as well.
D – Kevin Shattenkirk (NYR) – $5,200 vs. VGK
With the Golden Knights looking very vulnerable on the back end, let’s roster arguably the top offensive defenseman on the slate. Shattenkirk is off to a real nice start with his hometown Rangers as he has recorded nine points, 20 shots and 18 blocks across 12 games this season. He leads all Rangers with 4:20 average ice time on the power play and would be in for a very fruitful night should that group do some damage against Maxime Lagace and co.
D – Ryan Suter (MIN) – $5,100 vs. WPG
Suter is a one off player in this lineup, but with the minutes he logs I am more than willing to snatch him up on home ice tonight against the Jets. Suter enters play tonight averaging 25:55 of ice time per game, the sixth highest figure in the NHL. He has recorded six points, 19 shots and 18 blocks across nine games on the season and his first unit power play minutes could come up big tonight against a Jets’ penalty kill that ranks 23rd at 77.8% on the season.
G – Henrik Lundqvist (NYR) – $7,400 vs. VGK
Lundqvist is a risky play considering the Rangers haven’t been good defensively and he has been shaky himself, but for the price combined with his win upside I am on board tonight. King Henrik has just two wins and an even .900 save percentage through nine appearances on the season. Vegas is scoring 3.70 goals per game to rank fourth overall, but they also carry a -42 shot attempt differential (25th) at five-on-five and a 12.6% shooting percentage which is 2nd highest in the league despite ranking 29th with just 29.4 shots per game. Look for the Rangers to win this game and perhaps Vegas’ fortunate luck so far will start to fade tonight on Broadway.
UTIL – Mats Zuccarello (NYR) – $5,500 vs. VGK
Last man up in this lineup completes the four-man Rangers stack tonight in Manhattan. Zuccarello hasn’t been shooting the puck much with just 18 shots in 12 games, but he does have eight points and leads all Rangers’ forwards with 19:23 average ice time per game. Zuccarello will skate on the team’s second line with Rick Nash and it appears he’s been moved to the second power play unit, but we have therefore casted a wide net on the Rangers depth chart tonight and I believe that could be a productive method considering their offensive upside this evening.