After a light Monday night schedule in the NHL, we have a solid nine-game NHL main slate on tap for this Tuesday night.
Let’s dive in and see if we can bank some profits early in the week!
C – Evgeni Malkin (PIT) – $8,000 vs. NYR
The Pittsburgh Penguins get a real nice road matchup tonight as they take on the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden, and they’ll do so without the services of Sidney Crosby who didn’t travel with the team for their games against the Rangers and Devils this week. As a result, expect Malkin to be leaned on heavily in this one tonight and I think there’s a ton upside in this pla as we are starting to see some Malkin-esque production from the long-time Penguins pivot. After getting injured in the team’s second game of the season and missing the following 11 games, Malking has come back and tallied a goal and four helpers in four games – all of which have actually come over the last three contests. He’s also averaged 3.75 shots per game since his return, but has fired at least four shots on goal in three of his four games since his long awaited return to the lineup. The Penguins actually enter this one tonight as the NHL’s highest scoring road team while averaging 4.14 goals per game away from home and will take on a Rangers team that ranks 30th with 3.60 goals against per game at home this season. I expect to see Malkin well over the 20-minute mark tonight and has a ton of multi-point upside as a result.
C – Max Domi (MON) – $6,200 vs. CBJ
The Canadiens offense has been dynamite so far this season and they’ll get a chance to keep that going tonight on home ice against the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Canadiens sit alongside the Bruins and Panthers while averaging 3.53 goals per game on the season while their 3.50 goals per game at home checks in at 13th. The Blue Jackets have struggled in many phases of the game this season and their road defense is included in those struggles while allowing an even four goals per game on the road – good for a share of 27th alongside the San Jose Sharks. Furthermore, the Canadiens will face backup Elvis Merzlikins for this one, a goaltender entering this contest sporting a 3.90 GAA and .882 Sv% in three starts and four appearances on the season with all three of those starts coming on the road. He owns a 4.66 GAA and .860 Sv% in those road starts. Enter Domi who is having a quality follow up year to his career-high 72 points from last season with four goals and 12 points in 17 games this time around. He’s put 39 shots on goal while his 10.3% shooting percentage is dead-smack in line with his 10.4% career mark. He’s getting reps on the top power play unit while maintain a spot in the top-six of the Habs’ balanced offensive attack.
W – Jake Guentzel (PIT) – $7,400 vs. NYR
Keep an eye on the Rangers’ projected lines tonight over at Daily Faceoff as we aren’t quite sure of who will flank Malkin on the team’s top line tonight, but I would think Guentzel gets that opportunity for sure as he is the club’s best winger and should also be leaned on to provide offense in Crosby’s absence. Guentzel has indeed been providing offense this season with eight goals and 14 points in 17 games coming off a 40-goal, 76-point campaign from a season ago. He’s put 56 shots on goal and is thus averaging 3.3 shots per game here early in the season. The number I want to point to for Guentzel is the 21:21 of average ice time he’s seen this season a clean two-minute increase from the 19:21 he averaged last season. He was leaned upon heavily in Malkin’s early-season absence and that will be the case in Crosby’s absence as well, for however long that may be. Like his team, Guentzel has been more productive on the road this season with seven points in as many road games compared to seven points in 10 home contests while he’s still shooting under his career rate despite having eight tallies on the season – a 39-goal pace over a full 82-game season. There’s not much question about whether or not to roster Guentzel alongside Malkin tonight.
W – Alex Galchenyuk (PIT) – $4,800 vs. NYR
Galchenyuk was originally lined up alongside Crosby as per Daily Faceoff, however with Crosby out of the lineup tonight I can see him reuniting with Malkin who he has skated with when he and the Russian center have been healthy this season. Galchenyuk also missed notable time earlier in the season with an injury and has therefore skated in just eight games on the season. In those eight games, the former Coyote and Canadien has just three helpers to his credit and 22 shots on goal in 14:56 of average ice time. If the Penguins are to maintain a balanced attack this season, they’ll need Galchenyuk to find another gear, but to me he’s due for a goal-scoring explosion here at some point. This is a guy that tallied 19 goals on an anemic Coyotes offense last season despite missing 10 games. He has a 30-goal season under his belt from his days with the Canadiens and has scored once in every 8.3 shots in this NHL career. Obviously, with zero goals on 22 shots to this point it’s clear that the former third overall pick is overdue at this point. Again, keep an eye on the line combinations approaching lock, but I want a three-man Penguins power play stack against the Rangers’ 22nd-ranked home penalty kill, and my guess is this is the trio that will afford us that opportunity tonight.
W – Joel Armia (MON) – $4,100 vs. CBJ
Skating with Domi on the team’s second line and top power play unit, I’m liking the value upside we can notch here with Armia as he takes on that weak Blue Jackets back end. Armia has actually been a fairly solid offensive contributor over the last few years – especially his first season in Montreal. Last season, Armia tallied 13 goals in just 57 games with the Habs – good for a 19-goal pace over a full season – a real nice number for a player that was probably considered a third-line player at the time. This season, he’s off to a hot start with six goals and 10 points in 15 games to go along with 37 shots on goal. He doesn’t shoot the puck a ton and his 16.2% shooting percentage is miles above his 9.7% career rate, and that number is due for notable regression. However, I do expect Armia to carry a higher shooting percentage this season thanks to his spot alongside Domi while getting superior looks on the Canadiens’ top power play unit where he’s already tallied three goals on the season. Heck, he even has a short-handed tally to his credit in a career-high 16:38 of average ice time this season, so let’s look for the breakout season to continue in a favorable home matchup tonight.
W – Mats Zuccarello (MIN) – $5,900 vs. LA
To be honest, this is probably more than I wanted to pay for Zuccarello – mostly a pass-first winger on a low-scoring Wild offense – however the more I thought about it the less ownership I think he’ll see tonight in a road matchup with the Kings. The Wild enter this one tonight ranked 23rd with 2.71 goals per game on the season and 25th with only 2.25 goals per game on the road. While I don’t believe this is a competitive team and they are probably going to scuffle on offense for the most part this season, I like the fact that the Wild enter this one having scored at least four goals in three straight road games with an average of 4.33 per game during that time. The Kings enter this one ranked dead last with 3.88 goals against per game on the season and 26th with 3.29 goals against per game at home, so they’re certainly one of the more targetable defenses in the NHL. Enter Zuccarello who is having a solid season despite a tough year for the Wild to this point with three goals and seven points in 13 games to go along with 15 shots on goal. Yes, he certainly doesn’t shoot the puck much, but we should almost certainly expect more than the 1.2 shots per game he’s averaging moving forward. Nonetheless, he’s a top-line guy and top power play unit guy up against a struggling defense, so I’ll look for Zuc to get on the board in this one tonight.
D – Shea Weber (MON) – $5,800 vs. CBJ
Completing our three-man Canadiens stack tonight is Weber who will not only form a three-man 5v5 stack with Domi and Armia but also a top-unit power play stack as well. It’s been a wildly productive season for Weber to this point as he still remains productive at 34 years of age and plenty of miles on that body. Weber has tallied five goals and 13 points in 17 games on the season to go along with 46 shots on goal. I mean, this is a guy that doesn’t get the same notoriety as he did earlier in his career with the Nashville Predators and injuries have been a constant in his Canadiens tenure. Still, he tallied 14 goals and 33 points in just 54 games a season ago and is well on his way to a super-productive season again this time around. He’s been a force on the man advantage with two goals and four helpers on a much-improved Canadiens power play from last season as they rank 12th with a 21.4% mark on the man advantage this season. He’s notched three goals over his last two games – two of which came on the power play his last time out against the Los Angeles Kings. He’s perhaps the quietest productive blueliner in the game right now and figures to be a notable part of the offense again here tonight.
D – Matt Dumba (MIN) – $4,000 vs. LA
Another reason I didn’t mind paying up for Zuccarello in this matchup was because Dumba’s price came in so low and we can now grab a top-unit power play stack here at a reasonable overall cost. For me, the price tag doesn’t add up here. Dumba hasn’t set the world on fire with two goals and seven points in 17 games this season. However, he’s also put 37 pucks on goal and has also blocked 21 shots on the season. Let’s be real, this is a player that brings a wealth of cross-category potential to the table and has yet to fully find his stroke after missing almost two-thirds of the season last year and the Wild struggling to score overall this season. This guy scored 12 goals and 22 points in 32 games last season and notched 14 goals and 50 points in 82 games the season prior, so we know this guy is capable of being extremely productive. There’s also the fact that his shooting percentage of 5.4% is a full 3% under his 8.4% career mark for a guy with a bomb of a shot and serious power play upside as he notched six goals and 12 points in 32 games on the man advantage last season. Simply put, I’m loving the value upside we’re getting with the 25-year-old blueliner in this one tonight.
G – Carey Price (MON) – $8,600 vs. CBJ
To me, there’s two goalies on this slate that I would rank higher than the others, one of them of course being Price up against a weak Blue Jackets on home ice. The other is Jordan Binnington at home against the Arizona Coyotes on back-to-back nights riding a hot streak, but I’ll stick with Price who I originally had in this lineup. For the most part, Price has been good this season. He enters this one with a solid 2.71 GAA and .914 Sv% on the season to go along with one shutout across 14 starts. One downside I’m seeing here is that he has struggled at home with a 2.67 GAA and .901 Sv% at home compared to sporting a 2.77 GAA and .926 Sv% on the road, however you have to like his chances in this one. He takes on a Blue Jackets club that ranks 30th with 2.35 goals per game on the season. I do realize they trend up to 12th with 2.88 goals per game on the road, but I’m still digging Price’s safety and win upside with Montreal listed as -170 favorites to win this one on home ice tonight. He’s turned aside 71 of his last 76 shots – good for a .934 Sv% – over his last two games. One of those came on the road against the Flyers but he’s coming off a 31-save outing – and a .939 Sv% – in a win over the Kings at home on Saturday. I like my chances with the former Hart Trophy winner tonight.