One of our three-man stacks hit in a big way last night and hopefully you were able to get into the money with the remainder of the picks as we mostly got production throughout the lineup.
I mentioned in yesterday’s piece that Alex Ovechkin wasn’t going to let the Rocket Richard race get away from him and that was indeed the case last night. Ovechkin buried three goals on five shots, Nicklas Backstrom tallied a pair of helpers and two shots while John Carlson also notched two helpers and two shots and added a block to boot. It was a big-time result for a big-time stack.
The remainder of the lineup wasn’t as potent, but we did see production.
It was actually the right idea to fade the Avalanche big boys last night as they scored four goals and Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog were all held off the scoresheet. In terms of our stack, Nazem Kadri notched an assist and four shots on goal, Andre Burakovsky also notched an assist with two shots and a block, although Sam Girard’s production hurt us as he posted a zero.
We rostered a pair of one-offs as well, one of which produced. Mike Hoffman tallied an assist but just one shot on goal while Jordan Eberle was held off the scoresheet despite putting six shots on goal.
Finally, our goaltender provided the safety I had hoped. The Capitals’ Ilya Samsonov turned aside 32 of 34 Devils shots en route to a 5-2 win over the Devils.
Hopefully Ovi’s outburst was enough to get you near the cash line and the remainder of the players pushed you over the top!
Let’s now turn our attention this three-game Friday slate.
C – Evgeni Malkin (PIT) – $8,300 vs. DET
The Penguins are going to see a lot of ownership tonight as they take on the Red Wings in Detroit, but this is an optimal lineup that can be used in both cash and GPP lineups tonight as we’ll get some high and low-owned players in this lineup. Malkin will surely be one of the high-owned players as he takes on what is the worst overall defense in the NHL as well as the second-worst home defense where the Red Wings rank 30th with 3.58 goals against per game on the season. For their part, the Penguins are an elite offense on the road this season where they have tallied 3.36 goals per game on the season to rank sixth in that category and while their power play is a middle of the pack power play wherever they play, it’s 4 for 11 over their last three games and will certainly be better moving forward with Sidney Crosby back in two. I’ll be using a Malkin-led stack tonight, however, as I want a 5v5 and PP1 stack going tonight, and it’s much easier to do with Malkin given the Penguins’ line combinations. He’s notched 15 goals and 47 points over his 34 games on the season to go along with 118 shots on goal. He was held off the scoresheet last night in Boston, but had seven points over his previous three games, so I’ll look for him to get right back onto the scoresheet tonight.
C – Dylan Larkin (DET) – $6,700 vs. PIT
While the Penguins are the heavy favorites in this one and the Red Wings are the NHL’s worst offense, I’m not ruling out Detroit putting some pucks in behind Matt Murray tonight who will likely get the nod given this will mark the Penguins’ second game in as many nights after taking a 4-1 loss last night in Boston. The Pens’ road defense has slipped into the middle of the pack with 3.09 goals against per game on the road this season, and Murray just hasn’t had a good season. If he gets the nod as I think he will, Murray would bring a 2.91 GAA and .896 Sv% into action tonight to go along with a 3.11 GAA and .875 Sv% across 13 starts on the road. He just hasn’t been any good away from home and allowed three goals on 28 shots (.893 SV%) in his last trip to Detroit back on December 7th. Enter Larkin who isn’t having quite the season he had last season, but that would be tough on this Red Wings offense. He still has 11 goals and 31 points in 47 games this season to go along with 146 shots on goal. His 7.5% shooting percentage is well under his 9.3% mark for his career, so I would expect more goals moving forward from a guy that’s logging big-time minutes with 21:05 per game, on average.
W – Bryan Rust (PIT) – $6,200 vs. DET
Next man up in our three-man Penguins stack is Bryan Rust who is having a massive season for the injury-ravaged Penguins and it stands to wonder where they would be if not for his offensive contributions in what has been a huge breakout season for the gritty winger. Rust has always been an offensive contributor with a valuable 200-foot game that included penalty killing attributes, but he’s never been an offensive leader until this season. The 27-year-old enters this one with 19 goals and 40 points in 33 games on the season, both of which are career-highs already. Rust has dealt with injuries throughout his career – including this season – and has been limited to a career-high of just 72 games in any single season. That said, it’s pretty impressive to crack career-highs in just 33 games but that’s what we’ve seen from him this season. Now, his current 18.3% shooting percentage is miles above his 12.1% career mark, however there are many players that shoot over 18% in a single season and perhaps this is just an outlier season for Rust in that area. Given the fact he’s on Malkin’s right at both 5v5 and on the top power play unit, I think Rust is a must-have in any cash or optimal lineup tonight.
W – Tyler Bertuzzi (DET) – $4,600 vs. PIT
Next man up in our three-man Red Wings stack is Bertuzzi who is also enjoying himself a nice season – albeit to a lesser extent than Rust – thanks to an optimal spot in the lineup that includes time with Dylan Larkin on the team’s top line as well as a spot on the top power play unit. Bertuzzi will enter this one tonight with 16 goals and 34 points in 47 games on the season – excellent numbers for a guy playing on the NHL’s worst offense and numbers that earned him an All-Star not in just his second full season in the NHL. The 24-year-old sports a high 17.8% shooting percentage as well, but it’s actually not ridiculously higher than his high 14.3% career mark. If you watch him play, you’ll notice that a lot of his shots come from in tight – like most power forwards – which is going to lend itself to a higher-than-normal shooting percentage as opposed to guys who shoot off the rush more, like Larkin. Bertuzzi goes to the dirty areas of the ice and he’s easily on pace to smash his career-high of 21 goals set just last season as a result. I think he could go overlooked in the seemingly tough matchup tonight, but I think the Red Wings could surprise to the upside on offense tonight.
W – Robby Fabbri (DET) – $3,700 vs. PIT
Completing this three-man Red Wings stack already is Fabbri who will skate on the team’s top line with Larkin and Bertuzzi for this one tonight. Of course, Fabbri has dealt with some serious injuries that stalled his production at the NHL level, including a pair of major knee injuries that had him on the outside looking in with the Blues. After playing in nine games with the Blues this season, he was respectfully dealt to the Red Wings by Blues GM Doug Armstrong in order to give the player a fresh start, and he’s been excellent in red and white since the deal in a much-increased opportunity on the depth chart. After scoring just one goal in nine games with the Blues in just 9:42 of ice time per game prior to the deal, Fabbri has tallied 10 goals and 22 points in 30 games with the Red Wings in a whopping 17:24 of average ice time, almost double what he was seeing with the first-place Blues. Fabbri has been particularly dangerous on the power play where he’s scored five of his 10 Red Wings goals, and Detroit actually has a decent power play at home with a 20% clip on the season, which is actually slightly ahead of the Penguins’ mark of 19.8% at home and well ahead of the Penguins mark on the road. There’s certainly value to be had with Fabbri at this price.
W – Andrei Svechnikov (CAR) – $5,700 vs. ANH
The Ducks and Hurricanes get together tonight in Carolina in a matchup that features two teams that played last night, but this one is shaping up beautifully for the home side as the will duck John Gibson who earned the upset win last night in Nashville with a 33-save performance and instead likely get backup Ryan Miller for this one. Miller enters this one sporting a 3.20 GAA and ..899 Sv% on the season to go along with a 4-5-2 record while he’s posted a brutal 3.60 GAA and .883 Sv% across five starts and six appearances on the road. As a team, the Ducks enter this one tied for 24th with 3.50 goals against per game on the road while Svechnikov’s Hurricanes sport the NHL’s eight-ranked home offense where they’ve scored 3.48 goals per game on the season and where their power play sits seventh with a 24.3% mark on the season. After a quality rookie season in which he tallied 20 goals and 37 points as an 18-year-old after being taken second overall in the 2018 draft, Svechnikov has already surpassed that points total with 42 points on the season and is approaching his goal total with 18 on the season in just 47 games while he’s put 127 pucks on goal. On the team’s top line and top power play unit, look for Svechnikov to light the lamp in this one tonight.
D – Kris Letang (PIT) – $6,400 vs. DET
I mean, what can you say about Kris Letang? Well, he’s having a pretty standard Kris Letang-type season, to be honest. The veteran defenseman has dealt with injuries this season – nothing new – while he’s been seriously productive when healthy, also nothing new. He’s been limited to 39 games on the season, however when he’s been healthy he’s been one of the top cross-category producing NHL defensemen the league has to offer. In his 39 games, Letang has tallied 10 goals and 19 helpers for 29 points to go along with 116 shots on goal and another 58 blocked shots to boot. Now, he’s been a little cold of late as Letang has points in just two of his eight January games to this point with only three assists in that time. He hasn’t scored a goal over his last nine games, but that’s to be expected as his shooting percentage has made its way down to a reasonable level of 8.6%. That said, if there’s an opportunity to get back into the goal column, this would be it. The dude has logged at least 26:06 worth of ice time in each of the last three games and 27:50 in last night’s game. He was held pointless, but something tells me a multi-point game is on the way to full bust out of the January drought.
D – Jake Gardiner (CAR) – $3,900 vs. ANH
Completing this Hurricanes mini-stack is Gardiner who could see an increased role tonight on the Hurricanes blueline, or at least an increased role on the power play. Dougie Hamilton went down awkwardly on his leg in last night’s loss in Columbus, leaving the game and not returning in what looked like a gruesome and dangerous injury. While we don’t know the severity yet, I’d be surprised if Hamilton was good to go tonight given how cringe-worthy the fall looked. As a result, it could very well mean that Gardiner moves from the team’s second power play unit to the top group where Svechnikov and his 15 power play points resides. Gardiner hasn’t had a great season in his first year in Raleigh, and brings a rather low floor to the table with three goals and 13 points on just 59 shots in 47 games. The low shot total is nothing new, but this guy is a former 52-point guy from just two seasons ago in Toronto, although his 16:14 of average ice time this season in Carolina is well under the 22:32 he skated that season in Toronto. Nonetheless, if Gardiner can be moved up to the top power play unit for this one against the NHL’s 25th-ranked road penalty kill at 75.7%, his value upside gets cranked up a couple notches to be sure.
G – Andre Vasilevskiy (TB) – $9,300 vs. WPG
The Lighting are another team playing their second game in as many nights tonight after they took a close 3-2 loss last night in Minnesota, however that was Curtis McElhinney taking the L in that one and Andre Vasilevskiy is set for the starting nod tonight in Winnipeg. Unlike past seasons, this Jets team has scuffled to score on home ice where they rank 25th with just 2.74 goals per game on the season. Their power play is still ranked 10th with a 22.4% mark, but that factor could be mitigated by the Lightning and their 10th-ranked road penalty kill at 80.7%. Nonetheless, this simply has more to do with Vasilevskiy than anything. After a less than stellar 2019 portion to this season, last season’s Vezina Trophy winner has been absolutely on fire of late, posting an unbelievable 1.15 GAA and .961 Sv% with two shutouts over six January starts. His two shutouts have come over his last three starts. We knew he would find a groove at some point coming off a 2.80 GAA and .906 Sv% month of December, and it’s safe to say he’s found said groove. With a 2.32 GAA and .924 Sv% on the season, a 10-4-1 record on the road and the Lightning favored to win this one at -135 on the moneyline, I don’t mind paying up for the scorching-hot netminder tonight.