We have a solid five-game NHL main slate to tackle on this Monday evening.
Let’s get our week started on the right note and bank some profits early on!
C – Mathew Barzal (NYI) – $6,400 vs. NYR
It’s the battle of New York tonight on Broadway as the Rangers and Islanders get together while these games rarely fail to amaze from an entertainment perspective. While the Rangers are the higher-scoring team, the Islanders are a far superior defensive team and the Rangers make things difficult on their goaltenders more often than not. The Rangers will enter this one ranked 24th with 3.18 goals against per game at home this season, however they also rank last with 34.8 shots against per game at home where they sports some horrendous possession numbers. The Islanders don’t sport the best possession metrics either, however there’s little doubt their structure is far superior to the Rangers’. Enter Barzal who has tallied 17 goals and 37 points on the season across 43 games with 104 shots on goal during that time. I’m not thrilled that his splits favor the home side, however I do like the fact that he’s coming off a goal and an assist effort in a loss to the Bruins on Saturday after registering just one assist over his previous four games. There’s going to be some goals scored tonight at the Garden, so look for Barzal to be in on that action for the road side in this one.
C – Ryan O’Reilly (STL) – $6,300 vs ANH
There’s an argument that could be made about the Blues having the best matchup on the slate as they welcome the lowly Anaheim Ducks to town. Despite not being a very good team, I’ve always been weary of stacking against the Ducks as I believe John Gibson is one of the best goaltenders in the NHL, but we also have to the consider the numbers and the fact that Gibson isn’t having his best season. Like the Rangers, the Ducks rarely make it easy on Gibson as they are being outshot on a regular basis, but the truth is Gibson hasn’t been himself for the most part this season as he’ll enter this one – assuming he starts – sporting a 3.37 GAA and .895 Sv% on the road with a 4-11-2 record in 17 outings. As a team, the Ducks enter this one ranked 27th with 3.55 goals against per game on the road and own an .888 Sv% on the road as well, so we have something to work with here. O’Reilly has been used in these lineups a few times of late, and it’s worked out as he’s tallied six assists over his last five games, although he’s interestingly failed to record a shot in each of his last three. Nonetheless, he’s notched eight goals and 40 points in 46 games this season and is a member of the team’s top power play unit, so look for the Blues to blast the Ducks tonight and O’Reilly to be heavily involved.
W – Anthony Beauvillier (NYI) – $4,100 vs. NYR
He wasn’t included in this lineup as a value play but rather as part of my low-cost three-man Islanders stack, but there is indeed a ton of value upside in this player tongiht. Of course, I went through the Rangers above and just how favorable matchups are for road teams to generate offense against this team, not only at home but wherever you play the Rangers. Now, the Islanders aren’t exactly the highest-octane road offense in the league as their 2.52 goals per game away from home checks in at 22nd league wide and their 28.7 shots per game on the road ranks 26th. Still, when it comes to this top line and the skill sets involved, I like the upside a ton. Beauvillier has been good this season as he’s tallied 10 goals and 23 points in 43 games with 80 shots in that span. He’s off his career-high goals pace of 21 set in the 2017-18 season, however he’s also on pace for 44 points this season which would indeed by a career-high over the 36 he tallied in that same 2017-18 campaign. Like Barzal, his road production hasn’t been nearly as good as his numbers at home, but unlike Barzal, he’s cold entering this one with just one assist over his 11 games, hence the small price. Nonetheless, the Rangers have snapped plenty of opponents’ cold streaks this season, and I can see it happening again here.
W – David Perron (STL) – $6,600 vs. ANH
Perron is heading to the NHL All-Star game later in the month, and he deserves every bit of it as he’s been a beast for the Blues this season. The 31-year-old veteran has seen his career revived in recent years, but he’s on pace to blow past career-highs in just about every offensive category here in the 2019-20 season. He’s tallied 20 goals and 46 points in as many games this season to go along with 110 shots on goal. If he can stay healthy and play in all 82 regular-season games, Perron is on pace to end the season with 36 goals, 82 points and 196 shots on goal which would see him sail past his career-highs of 28 goals and 66 points, although he did fire 220 shots on goal one season in Edmonton. Nonetheless, he and O’Reilly have teamed up for plenty of offense on what is labeled as the Blues’ second line, but it’s been their best line if you ask me. Of course, he’s a big factor on the team’s top power play unit where he’s tallied six goals and 22 points already this season and will take on a Ducks penalty kill that ranks 25th with a 76.4% mark on the season. Add it up and this duo has a ton of potential against a struggling Ducks road defense and PK.
W – Johnny Gaudreau (CGY) – $7,400 vs. MON
Once again, the Flames are rolling right now, having won five in a row with 3.40 goals per game during that time and will take on one of the NHL’s coldest teams in a Montreal squad that has just one win to their credit over their last nine. The Canadiens sport some of the most reversed numbers in the league as they have been brutal defensively on home ice where they’ve gone just 8-11-4 on the season. The Habs enter this one ranked 27th with 4.26 goals against per game at home this season despite allowing just 29 shots per game. That must mean the goaltending has been disappointing at home, and yes that’s been the case. Carey Price would enter this one sporting a 3.08 GAA and .889 Sv% on home ice this season where he’s gone just 7-10-2 in 19 starts. The Flames also got three pucks past Price on just 27 shots in their matchup in Calgary earlier this season. Enter Gaudreau who has been reunited with Sean Monahan on the teams’ top line and has notched 13 goals and 38 points in 47 games on 130 shots. It’s not the production we’re used to considering he tallied 99 points just last season, however he does have three goals and seven points over his last five games, so at least he’s entering this one with a hot hand against a struggling home defense.
W – Mikael Backlund (CGY) – $4,900 vs. MON
Completing my Flames mini-stack tonight is Backlund who is actually skating with Gaudreau and Monahan on the team’s top line as he’s been moved to the wing and essentially switched spots with Elias Lindholm who is now skating down the middle on the second line. Backlund has been a consistent NHL producer for the most part throughout his career , although he’s struggled a bit this season with just six goals and 21 points in 47 games – a 37-point pace that would be the lowest over a full season since the 2010-11 season, his first full season in the NHL. That said, Backlund is shooting at just a 6.5% clip this season and well under his 8.9% career mark. I would probably expect that number to increase as the season moves along, but we should consider that he also shot that exact same 6.5% mark just two seasons ago in all 82 games. Nonetheless, interim head coach Geoff Ward is probably trying to get him going given the move to the top line with the team’s best offensive weapons. He does have a goal and four points over his last five games and has skated at least 18:13 in four of those five games, so with the increased opportunity and production of late, I think Backlund is a nice under-the-radar look tonight.
D – Devin Toews (NYI) – $3,600 vs. NYR
Completing my three-man Islanders stack is Toews who forms a 5v5 and top power play unit stack with Barzal and Beauvillier. After entering the scene for 48 games last season and tallying a healthy 18 points in that time, Toews has been on about that same pace this time around a she’s notched 15 points in 43 games this season, not a bad number considering he’s seen a dip in shooting percentage and is still averaging under 20 minutes per game on that Islanders blueline. That said, with Adam Pelech out for the season on the Islanders’ back end, Toews has seen a big increase in ice time of late, skating at least 23:24 in three of his last five games and more than 20 minutes in four of those five games. He’s also posted two assists over his last three games after going 10 straight games without reaching the scoresheet. Toews has also been shooting the puck more of late, averaging 3.2 shots per game over his last five which is a notable increase over his 1.9 shots-per-game average on the season. Against a Rangers team that yields plenty of shots, we can likely expect his increase to continue in that department tonight while providing some value by hitting the scoresheet as well.
D – Alex Pietrangelo (STL) – $6,500 vs. ANH
Completing my three-man Blues stack is Pietrangelo who is certainly one of the very best cross-category producers among defensemen in the NHL. It’s been another monster season for the UFA-to-be as he’ll enter this one tonight with 12 goals and 37 points in 46 games. The shooting percentage that sits at 8.3% is well over his 6.1% career mark, but he is shooting the puck a ton this season with 145 shots on the season – the third-highest mark among defensemen and the two guys ahead of him (Dougie Hamilton and Roman Josi) are also shooting well over 8% on the season, so I’m not expecting much of a drop at this point and 20 goals is very much in reach for the blueliner. Keep in mind that Pietrangelo has also blocked 54 shots as well, so we are talking about a guy who can have a big night even when it doesn’t get on the scoresheet. That said, I’d be surprised if he wasn’t able to do so tonight against this Ducks defense, one that has struggled on the road and one that has allowed at least four goals in seven of their last 10 games and in five of their last six.
G – Jordan Binnington (STL) – $8,700 vs. ANH
In terms of the goaltending situation on this slate, Binnington is far-and-away the top option for me. Most of the other matchups either feature a big offense or a game that could be close, but I think the Blues should be able to handle the Ducks with authority in this one tonight and Binnington has a ton of win upside – and even significant shutout upside – against the Ducks and their 30th-ranked 2.27 goals per game on the road this season. Furthermore, the Blues are listed as heavy -220 favorites on the moneyline tonight, with the next-heaviest favorite being the Capitals at -140, so the win upside with Binnington appears to be far superior to any other netminder on this slate. He may not rack up a ton of saves with the Ducks averaging under 30 shots per game on the road and the Blues ranking fifth with just 28.6 shots allowed per game at home, but safety is what I am going with tonight. Binnington enters this one sporting a 2.47 GAA and .917 Sv% on the season with a 22-7-4 record, but he’s been brilliant at home with a 2.11 GAA and .926 Sv% to go along with a 15-3-3 record, so there’s little reason to be fading the best goaltender on this slate.