Last night’s lineup didn’t produce as hoped. The Penguins were inexplicably held in check by the league’s worst defense, while Marc-Andre Fleury played just one period, although he did notch a win despite that. It also didn’t help that our three-man Oilers stack produced a combined for just one assist despite Edmonton putting up seven goals on the Hurricanes. Even when you’re right, you can be wrong in this gig. Dylan Larkin had a massive night with 2 goals, an assist and eight shots on goal, but he was pretty much the lone bright spot in the lineup. Let’s get things going on tonight’s light four-game slate.
C – Evgeni Malkin (PIT) – $9,200 vs. MON
Malkin was held pointless for just the third time in his last 16 games in last night’s loss, so I am looking for a big rebound effort from the Russian tonight against the Canadiens on home ice. The Penguins are the league’s third highest scoring team at home with 3.60 goals per game while the Canadiens are the league’s worst road defense at 3.56 goals against per game. Malkin is a high floor play tonight thanks to his 40 goals and 89 points on the season while he has also chipped in 34 power play points, with the latter two stats checking in at fourth and his 40 goals ranking third league-wide.
C – Derek Stepan (ARI) – $6,200 vs. BUF
Arizona and Buffalo is a matchup of two of the weakest defenses in the league, so we will get some exposure to both sides of this matchup beginning with Stepan. He’s having a quality season despite the Coyotes’ weak offense as he’s notched 35 assists while throwing 190 pucks on goal as well. He is having a tough season in terms of puck luck as he’s scored just 12 goals on those 190 shots, good for a 6.3% shooting percentage that is well under his 10.1% career mark. Let’s look for that number to trend towards his career norm tonight.
W – Patric Hornqvist (PIT) – $6,500 vs. MON
Hornqvist, like his linemate Malkin, is a high-floor play as well tonight against the Habs. He’s scored 22 goals for the season, 12 of which have come on the power play. His floor is increased by his 214 shots on goal while he’s averaging well over five shots per game over his last 11 contests. Hornqvist has socred five goals over his last eight games and figures to be in for some more power play production tonight considering the Penguins own the league’s fourth best home power play while the Canadiens sport the league’s worst road penalty kill.
W – Clayton Keller (ARI) – $5,900 vs. BUF
Keller was the leading candidate for the Calder Trophy for rookie of the year early in the season, but despite falling out of the race, he is still having a fantastic year, especially consider the team he plays on. Keller has reached 20 goals for the season while adding 33 assists for 53 points across 72 games played. The youngster has also taken 178 shots on goal while six of those 20 goals have come on the Coyotes’ man advantage that interestingly ranks fifth on the road at a real nice 22% clip.
W – Richard Panik (ARI) – $3,900 vs. BUF
We have completed our three-man Coyotes stack which should see fairly low ownership tonight in Buffalo. Panik has the lowest floor of the trio thanks to just nine goals on 122 shots this season, but he has a goal and an assist over his last two games. He forms a three-man 5v5 and PP1 stack with Stepan and Keller tonight as this group should be able to get some looks against the Sabres and their 27th-ranked home defense tonight.
W – Kyle Okposo (BUF) – $5,500 vs. ARI
Our Sabres exposure begins here with Okposo who will flank Jack Eichel at 5v5 while also seeing second unit power play minutes as well. His season has been injury-shortened as tonight will mark his second game back from a concussion suffered on March 8th in Ottawa. He’s scored 11 goals and added 27 assists on the season, but considering the Coyotes rank 26th in terms of road defense, I like Okposo’s upside tonight skating alongside one of the top players on the slate in Eichel.
D – Kris Letang (PIT) – $6,400 vs. MON
Check off another three-man stack in this lineup with the addition of Letang. He was one of the best Penguins on the ice last night, albeit he was held without a point. He did produce four shots on goal to reach 200 for the season while throwing in his 99th block as well in his 70th game of the campaign. His real value comes as the power play quarterback on a lethal Pens’ man advantage where he’s scored three of his six goals for the season while he enters play with 44 points in those 70 contests.
D – Brendan Guhle (BUF) – $3,500 vs. ARI
We have a mini-stack going with Guhle and Okposo tonight. The duo will skate together on the Sabres’ second power play unit which is a nice spot to be at low ownership. Guhle doesn’t have a great NHL resume so far with just one point in nine games, but he does have 17 shots in that span as well. The 20-year-old notched eight goals and 24 points in 47 AHL games prior to his call up, so look for Guhle to get a nice look tonight as the Sabres’ brass will want to see what he can do heading into next season.
G – Casey DeSmith (PIT) – $7,700 vs. MON
Not only are the Canadiens the worst road defense, but their road offense is also dead last at a measly 2.17 goals per game. Therefore, DeSmith makes for a fine play at a very attractive price. He’s been a little bit hit-and-miss in his NHL action this season, but he brings a solid 2.59 GAA and a .914 Sv% into play tonight across nine starts and 14 appearances. That said, he owns a sparkling 1.95 GAA and a .929 Sv% across four home starts and five appearances. Considering the goal support he should get tonight, this looks like an awesome matchup for the 26-year-old tonight.