Well folks, that was a rough one.
In one of our very worst lineups of the season, we didn’t receive a single point from our lineup. That’s right, not one of our skaters got on the scoresheet.
John Tavares and Mitch Marner were non-factors in Tavares’ return to the Maple Leafs’ lineup while Trevor Moore was held pointless as well. I actually subbed Moore out for Nic Petan as Petan was promoted to the Tavares line for last night’s contests. I Tweet out these updates so give me a follow @BKemp17 if you want to get these adjustments prior to lock.
The Winnipeg Jets couldn’t get much offense going at all against a terrible road defensive team as they managed just one goal in a 2-1 loss to the Devils. That Jets offense is struggling in a bad way at home right now.
The Kings managed just one goal against one of the league’s worst defensive home teams in Toronto last night, and Drew Doughty and Tyler Toffoli were held off the scoresheet.
Finally, our lone bright spot came in the goaltending spot. I mistakenly wrote Semyon Varlamov’s name in the heading, but my write up was about Thomas Greiss who was confirmed as last night’s starter as I was writing my article. Greiss turned aside 27 of 28 Senators shots en route to an easy win – the 10th straight for the white-hot Islanders.
It was one of my worst lineups of all-time, however, and there’s nowhere to go but up on tonight’s tiny two-game slate.
C – Dylan Larkin (DET) – $6,600 vs. NYR
It’s a battle of a couple of defensively-inept teams tonight on Broadway as the Detroit Red Wings take on the New York Rangers. The Red Wings have struggled mightily on the back end – especially on the road – but the Rangers are also struggling defensively as well as they’ve allowed 3.50 goals per game this season – good for 26th league wide – while their 3.75 goals against per game at home is tied with the Devils and these Red Wings for the worst mark in the NHL. Getting the nod in goal for New York tonight will be Henrik Lundqvist after youngster Alexandar Georgiev was roughed up by the Ottawa Senators on Monday. Lundqvist has been shaky to the tune of a 3.58 GAA and .906 SV% this season in six starts after posting a career-worst 3.07 GAA and .907 Sv% a season ago. Enter Larkin who will bring a real high floor into this one tonight as he’s notched four goals and 12 points in 16 games this season to go along with a whopping 50 shots on gonal. His 8% shooting percentage on the season still sits below his 9.5% career mark while he’s loggin almost 21 minutes per game. This remains a thin Rangers blueline and Larkin’s speed is his biggest asset. I’ll look for him to take advantage of this Rangers back end and bring that high floor – and ceiling – into this one tonight.
C – Brayden Schenn (STL) – $6,500 vs. EDM
The Oilers are the favorites in this one tonight as they’ve been good at home this season and the Blues are playing their second game in as many nights after squeaking out a 2-1 overtime win over the Canucks last night in Vancouver, but for GPP purposes I’ll go back to the Blues and Brayden Schenn who is their top-line center at even strength and on the team’s top power play unit. With Vladimir Tarasenko out, I suppose you could call either Schenn or Ryan O’Reilly’s line the top line, however Schenn has been doing notable damage in his spot this season and I’ll take that and run in this one tonight. He enters this contest with 10 goals on the season to go along with five helpers for 15 points to go along with 33 shots on goal. For sure his 30.3% shooting percentage early in the season is due for notable regression, however I also believe there is regression to be had on the 2.12 GAA and .931 Sv% Oilers netminder Mike Smith has on the season, so something has to give in this one tonight. I’ll look for Schenn to stay hot despite a dip in his shooting percentage en route as the Blues seem like a decent bet to upset the Oilers as road dogs tonight.
W – Anthony Mantha (DET) – $6,600 vs. NYR
With Larkin comes Mantha as the duo skates together on the Rangers’ top line as well as their top power play unit. It’s been a productive start to the season for Mantha who has seemingly been on the cusp of a breakout but has yet to fully deliver on his prospect promise after lighting up the junior ranks in the QMJHL. Last season was his best from a statistical standpoint as he notched 25 goals and 48 points on the season – the former a career-high and the latter tying a previous career-high from the prior season. However, that production came in just 60 games – production that would put him on a 34-goal, 66-point season over a full 82 games. This season, he’s already tallied nine goals and 14 points across 16 games on a whopping 61 shots on goal. Normally, the nine goals this early in the season would come along with an unsustainably high shooting percentage, but Mantha is shooting the puck so much that his shooting percentage is a rather normal 14.8% and only 2% above his career 12.8% mark. He’s interestingly shot at 12.6% two years in a row now, but with the increased maturity and skill level, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Mantha maintain this rate of shooting in what is shaping up to be a career-year for the 25-year-old.
W – Andreas Athanasiou (DET) – $4,500 vs. NYR
This here is a little GPP differentiation as the usual suspect in this spot would be Tyler Bertuzzi who is off to a fast start alongside Larkin and Mantha on the team’s top line and top power play unit, forming a three-man stack in both situations. However, with Bertuzzi shooting unsustainably high at the moment, I’ll turn my attention to Athanasiou who is due for positive regression in the goal-scoring department. We’re also widening out exposure beyond the top line and top power play unit as we get exposure to the top two lines and both power play units with the addition of Athanasiou. The 25-year-old scored the first goal of his season on Monday against the Predators, however with just one goal on 31 shots this season he is shooting at a minuscule 3.2% here in the early going. That mark is more than 9% below his career average of 12.5%. After scoring 30 goals on 216 shots a season ago, we should expect some notable positive regression from the speedster in this one. Like Larkin, I am liking the fact that Athanasiou can use his speed to burn a thin Rangers blueline while giving us exposure to the secondary Red Wings offense that should go under-owned in this one tonight.
W – Jaden Schwartz (STL) – $5,700 vs. EDM
Next man up in our three-man Blues stack is Schwartz who will skate alongside Schenn at even strength as well as on the top power play unit for this road matchup tonight. While the Oilers have been one of the better defensive teams in the NHL on the road this season, they have actually struggled in preventing goals on home ice as their 3.29 goals against per game at Rogers Place ties them with the L.A. Kings for 25th in the NHL at the moment while they’ve been out-shot by an average of 2.6 shots per game at home as well. The Oilers also rank 18th in home penalty kill. On the flip side, the Blues rank 11th in both goals per game on the road (3.13) and road power play percentage (20.8%). Finally, while Smith owns a dominant 1.31 GAA and .957 Sv% at home on the season, he owns a brutal 4.21 GAA and .872 Sv% in three home starts. As a result, it’s not difficult to imagine the Blues getting it done on offense in this one. Enter Schwartz who has tallied two goals and 12 points in 16 games on 33 shots. The positive regression train continues here with Schwartz shooting at just 6.1% this season, a full 6% under his 12.1% clip. That mark is for sure going to escalate as we move forward and it appears this is a sneaky-good matchup for this to take place tonight.
W – Artemi Panarin (NYR) – $7,700 vs. NYR
Despite the Red Wings sporting a brutal defense and an even worse road defense this season, I am going to go on a limb and say they keep this Rangers offense at bay in this one tonight. However, with the way this lineup is shaking out, I could afford Panarin and it’s probably best to get his high ceiling into this lineup as he is certainly capable of single-handedly getting the Rangers on the scoresheet in this matchup. After all, he’s a point-per-game guy again this season with six goals and 12 points in as many games to go along with 36 shots in that time – good for exactly three shots per game. Panarin is carrying a hot hand into this one as well as he’s notched two goals and four helpers over a five-game point streak entering this contest while he’s logging a ton of ice time with at least 20:18 skated in three of his last four. I’m not concerned with regression from his 16.7% career shooting percentage – especially in this matchup – as it’s just 2.4% above his career 14.3% mark. With Mika Zibanejad sidelined, the Rangers’ offense runs through Panarin and I’ll look for him to give this lineup a solid foundation in favorable home matchup tonight.
D – Alex Pietrangelo (STL) – $6,100 vs. EDM
Completing our three-man Blues stack tonight is Pietrangelo who will form an even-strength and top power play unit stack alongside Schenn and Schwartz for this matchup tongiht against an Oilers team that has quietly been weak defensively at home – something that’s fallen by the wayside due to their hot start to the season. Speaking of hot starts, that’s precisely what Pietrangelo has done himself this season as he’s notched five goals and 11 points in 16 games on the season to go along with 45 shots on goal. Sure, his 11.1% shooting percentage is certainly due to regress as the season moves along, but I can’t help but like this group tonight against a goaltender in Mike whose best work has certainly not come at home. Pietrangelo also carries a hot hand into this matchup as he’s notched on goal and four helpers over his last five games and is also logging a ton of ice time with at least 24:23 in four of his last five games and as much as 26:38 in that span – although that game was an overtime game against the Red Wings. I’m not going to overthink this one and simply use Pietrangelo to complement my two Blues forwards above in all offensive situations tonight.
D – Dennis Cholowski (DET) – $3,800 vs. NYR
That’s right, it’s a four-man Red Wings stack tonight against the Rangers in New York. A four-man stack won’t be totally rare on a two-game slate, but with Athanasiou in this group rather than Bertuzzi, I believe we indeed some have some differentiation on the field who will likely be rostering Bertuzzi and making this a four-man stack at even strength and on the Red Wings’ top power play unit. I do, however, want Cholowski to form a three-man to power play unit stack with Larkin and Mantha as the Rangers are tied for 23rd with a 78.6% penalty kill at home this season and while I realize the Red Wings have been anemic on the power play with an 8.7% clip on the road this season, I can’t help but see some positive regression in that number and this appears to be a matchup where that can kick in. For his part, Cholowski has tallied a goal and four points in 13 games this season on 22 shots on goal. The 21-year-old defenseman notched a healthy seven goals and 16 points in 52 games a season ago – numbers that put him on pace for 11 goals and 25 points, certainly quality numbers for a 20-year-old defenseman in a full 82-game season. That said, if we are targeting the Rangers penalty kill, Cholowski appears to be a must-have as he has scored his lone goal as well as two of his three helpers on the man advantage this season. There’s some quality value upside here.
G – Jake Allen (STL) – $7,400 vs. EDM
With the Blues listed as +134 underdogs in this one and the Oilers scoring 3.57 goals per game at home this season, Allen certainly qualifies for a GPP play on this slate, however I’m having a tough time finding a goalie I like on this small slate so why not go with Allen and his valuable price behind what is still a quality Blues defensive group in front of him. For the season, the Blues are tied with Vegas for 13th with 2.88 goals per game while they slip just a bit to 17th with 3.25 goals against per game on the road. However, they did shut down a quality Canucks offense in last night’s contest and while shutting down the likes of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl in a back-to-back will be difficult, I’m willing to roll the dice on it on a slate that is severely lacking safety and defense. Now, it’s been a tough go for Allen this season. Tonight will mark just his fourth start on the season and he’s posted ugly results to this point with a 3.72 GAA and .855 Sv% in three starts. However, keep in mind those numbers are actually better than Mike Smith’s numbers at home this season in the same amount of starts. With a career 2.55 GAA and .911 Sv%, I expect Allen to get back on the right track soon and why not tonight as a low-cost GPP option between the pipes.