Like some nights in the past this season we have had the right idea and just couldn’t come up with the right players. We had a combined five players from the Penguins and Bruins who combined to score ten goals. Problem was a lot of bottom-six guys did the scoring which left our lineup on the outside looking in. Tage Thompson connected for an assist on four shots at low ownership and Ben Bishop took the loss despite allowing only two goals. Let’s rebound on tonight’s tiny two-game slate.
C – Dylan Larkin (DET) – $6,600 vs. OTT
The priciest center on the slate gets a fine matchup tonight as the Red Wings take on the lowly Senators. Ottawa’s collapse has been epic, but it’s also been fueled by a lack of defense as Ottawa yields 3.32 goals per game, good for 29th overall. Larkin has just six goals on the season, but has also tallied 26 helpers and has fired 103 shots on goal as well. His speed and creativity should bode well against a weak Senators back end tonight.
C – Mika Zibanejad (NYR) – $6,300 vs. CHI
Didn’t have to slide too far down the board to grab Zibanejad as the third highest priced center tonight. He and his Ranger teammates host the Blackhawks tonight who will be giving 32-year-old rookie Jeff Glass his third straight start in goal. Glass was good in his debut, but yielded four goals to the Flames on on New Year’s Eve. Zibanejad is the undisputed number one center for a Rangers team that ranks seventh with 3.10 goals per game, a number that creeps up to 3.17 on home ice.
W – Andreas Athanasiou (DET) – $3,900 vs. OTT
After holding out for a contract extension to begin the season, Athanasiou hasn’t exactly lit the league on fire, but has posted a respectable 13 points in 28 games. The speedy winger is more than capable of a breakout game at any point, however, and tonight is a nice opportunity for such a game alongside Larkin. The duo also skates together on the Red Wings’ second power play unit, a group that actually ranks 12th with a 20.2% clip with the man advantage.
W – Tyler Bertuzzi (DET) – $3,400 vs. OTT
While Bertuzzi doesn’t skate with the aforementioned Red Wings at even strength, he does complete a three-man power play stack with them. Bertuzzi instead skates at 5v5 with Henrik Zetterberg on the Wings’ top line. Since being recalled from the minors, the 22-year-old has tallied three assists in five games with nine shots and four blocks. He is coming off a two-assist, three-shot effort against the Penguins on New Year’s Eve.
W – J.T. Miller (NYR) – $5,800 vs. CHI
Despite bouncing around all over the lineup and playing both center and wing, Miller has managed to tally 27 points in 39 games for the season. He scored the OT winner and added an assist in the Winter Classic on New Year’s Day and will skate alongside Zibanejad on the top line tonight and will center the top power play unit as well, with Zibanejad sliding onto the point with the man advantage. Miller’s OT winner was his third power play goal of the season and he could be in for a fourth against the Blackhawks’ 19th ranked penalty kill.
W – Mark Stone (OTT) – $6,900 vs. DET
The Senators’ offense has slid all the way back to 28th with just 2.62 goals per game, but that is in no way Stone’s fault. The talented winger has 15 goals and 34 points in 37 games this season. He also has nine points over his last nine games. Amazingly, zero of his 15 goals have come on the power play, so Stone is likely due to connect with the man advantage at some point. He is up against a Red Wings’ defense that ranks 23rd with 3.00 goals against per game at home.
D – Erik Karlsson (OTT) – $6,900 vs. DET
Karlsson isn’t having the same Norris-type season that we are used to, but 25 points in 32 games isn’t exactly a poor showing either. Just three of those 25 points are goals, but the idea is for him and Stone to connect for offense and I’m not too worried about who gets the goal. He also has 92 shots and 46 blocks for the season. Look for him to handle the puck plenty tonight in what should be a fast paced contest.
D – Kevin Shattenkirk (NYR) – $5,500 vs. CHI
After going five straight games without a point, Shattenkirk assisted on Miller’s Winter Classic OT winner and thus snapped the skid. He remains one of the elite offensive defenseman in the game, but his production has slowed some after a nice start to the season. Still, he has recorded 23 points in 39 games with two of his five goals coming on the power play. He also has 83 shots and 55 blocks and should be in for some production tonight as perhaps a point streak has already started.
G – Henrik Lundqvist (NYR) – $8,900 vs. CHI
King Henrik was excellent in the New Year’s Day triumph over the Sabres, yielding two goals while making 31 saves for the 3-2 OT win. He has been phenomenal after a tough start, recording a save percentage of .900 of better in 11 straight contests. He posted a .927 Sv% in November and followed that up with a .936 mark in December. He will take on a Blackhawks offense that struggles on the road with just 2.52 goals per game (23rd).