Apologies for not getting a piece out for yesterday’s return to NHL DFS, but we are back today to tackle tonight’s small three-game slate. Let’s get to it!
C – Auston Matthews (TOR) – $7,800 vs. NYI
The Maple Leafs are in a very nice spot tonight against the visiting Islanders. Not only are the Islanders the NHLs’ worst defense and worst road defense at 3.63 goals against per game, but they will be playing the back end of back-to-back games after losing on home ice last night. The Maple Leafs should also see backup Thomas Greiss who is having a brutal season and sports a 4.25 GAA on the road. Matthews enters play tonight with 22 goals in 41 games and is hot at the moment with three goals and four points over his last four contests. He should have some fun tonight against the NHL’s worst defensive team.
C – Dylan Larkin (DET) – $6,400 vs. SJ
At first you may think the Red Wings are in a terrible spot against one of the NHL’s top defense, but at second glance the Sharks have been brutal on the back end lately. They went from a top two defense to now checking in at 13th. They have yielded 16 goals over their last three and at least four goals in six of their last ten. Larkin enters play tonight having a real solid season with 38 points in 48 games on 117 shots. He centers the second line, second power play unit and sees just shy of 20 minutes per game.
W – William Nylander (TOR) – $6,200 vs. NYI
Riding shotgun to Matthews tonight at both 5v5 and on the man advantage will be William Nylander. Like Matthews, Nylander has four points over his last four games and should give the Islanders’ weak defense fits with his speed and skill. The night for this duo could get real good should the Islanders get into penalty trouble. New York sports the league’s 30th-ranked penalty kill and their brutal 69.5% road penalty kill also checks in at 30th league-wide.
W – Tyler Bertuzzi (DET) – $3,500 vs. SJ
Bertuzzi brings with him plenty of value upside in his matchup against the visiting Sharks. He enters play tonight with nine points in 15 NHL games this season after tallying 14 points in 16 AHL games prior to his call up. Bertuzzi skates alongside Larkin on the Red Wings’ second line as well as their second power play unit. He’s up to almost 16 minutes of ice time per night so let’s get the cost savings and value tonight with Bertuzzi.
W – Andreas Athanasiou (DET) – $4,800 vs. SJ
Our three-man Red Wings stack is complete here with the addition of Athanasiou. It doesn’t appear he will skate with Larkin and Bertuzzi on the Red Wings second power play, but he will skate on the top unit with Henrik Zetterberg, giving us exposure to both groups. Nonetheless, the speedster forms a three-man stack at 5v5 with the aforementioned teammates so let’s look for a big night for the Red Wings’ second line.
W – Alex Ovechkin (WAS) – $8,800 vs. PHI
I had the available funds, so let’s go ahead and grab a nice high floor by using the league’s leading goal scorer. Ovechkin enters play tonight with 30 goals in 49 games on 208 shots. Nine of his 30 goals have come on the power play where he will form a mini-stack in this lineup alongside John Carlson on the blueline. The Flyers were cooled off by yielding five goals to the Lightning prior to the break so perhaps their lack of defense continues tonight in a tough road matchup against Ovechkin’s Capitals.
D – John Carlson (WAS) – $5,700 vs. PHI
The money fit perfectly to get Carlson into this lineup. He is easily the Capitals most reliable defenseman and we can see that clearly by looking at his average ice time of 26:07 which is the fifth highest mark in the league. He has also racked up 38 points in 49 games, the third highest mark among NHL defenseman. This duo is set to be a highly owned duo, but with the Red Wings exposure this is more of an optimal lineup and not one filled with chalk.
D – Nikita Zaitsev (TOR) – $4,200 vs. NYI
Zaitsev makes his return to the Maple Leafs’ lineup tonight after sitting out since December 15th thanks to a foot injury. With Morgan Rielly still sidelined, it looks like Zaitsev will man the point on the power play group that also contains Nylander and Matthews. He has just ten points in 34 games this season, but has also blocked 94 shots. With his role on the power play, Zaitsev has a better opportunity to increase production than he was seeing prior to going down with an injury.
G – Petr Mrazek (DET) – $7,600 vs. SJ
Braden Holtby is tonight’s cash play in goal, but for this lineup I am pumped to roll with Mrazek. He has been white-hot in goal lately, giving up just four goals over his last four starts. Furthermore, three of those came in the same game, so he’s had two shutouts and a one-goal game to account for three of his last four starts. The Sharks’ offense is cold right now and are missing first line center Joe Thornton as well. Let’s go with Mrazek and his value upside on home ice against San Jose.