Last night’s lineup was a solid, if unspectacular lineup. Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak led the way with a goal and an assist each while Rick Nash found the back of the net as well and Frederik Andersen delivered a stout 35-save victory over the Minnesota Wild. Kevin Shattenkirk and Morgan Rielly chipped in assists as well, but unfortunately Tyler Bozak and Mitch Marner had disappointing showings despite having good games for the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Tampa Bay fade also hurt as they scored five goals in San Jose. Let’s move on from a solid night to tonight’s seven-game slate!
C – Jonathan Toews (CHI) – $6,800 vs. PHI
Interestingly enough seven of the top ten defensive teams in the league are in action tonight, so there are a lot of offenses worth avoiding. While the Flyers are one of those seven teams, ranked 10th with 2.80 goals per game, I like the way Jonathan Toews’ line and the Blackhawks’ offense is set up tonight. Due to their recent struggles on offense, the Blackhawks will reunite Toews with Patrick Kane on the top line for tonight’s game. This could very well kickstart Toews’ offensive game as he has scored just one goal since October 12th, but has taken 31 shots since and scored just once. He is very due and Kane is the perfect player to get him off his schnide.
C – Paul Stastny (STL) – $5,600 vs. ARI
While the Blues will generally be the highest owned team tonight, I am going to go with a contrarian Blues stack against the Coyotes beginning here with Stastny. The Coyotes ranks 30th with four goals against per game this season and 28th with a 75% penalty kill as well. Stastny checks in with four goals, including one on the power play, to go along with eight helpers and 38 shots in 16 games. He skates on the team’s second line with Alex Steen and Vladimir Sobotka as well as the second power play unit where he also skates with Sobotka.
W – Patrick Kane (CHI) – $8,500 vs. PHI
Given the explanation above for Toews you like saw Kane coming here. You know when you think Kane is having a down season with 14 points in 15 games that he is one the top players in the entire NHL. Kane hasn’t scored a goal on his last 15 shots spanning five games but as long as the shots continue he will be on the board imminently. I really believe Kane and Toews playing together tonight will reinvigorate the Blackhawks’ offense against Brian Elliott and his .892 Sv% for the season.
W – Alexander Steen (STL) – $5,400 vs. ARI
The reason for the Steen play tonight if twofold. First, he fits perfectly in a stack with the Stastny line, and second, he plays first unit power play minutes with Vladimir Tarasenko and co. and still forms a mini-stack on that unit with a certain defenseman yet to be named. Steen has six points in ten games this season on 24 shots and logs plenty of ice time thanks to his spot on the top power play unit. He hasn’t scored on his last 14 shots so look for the veteran to get on the board in a favorable matchup tonight.
W – Vladimir Sobotka (STL) – $4,400 vs. ARI
Nice value here with Sobotka who completes our Blues’ forward exposure tonight against the Coyotes. The Russian has had a productive return to the NHL this season with three goals and ten points in 16 games, and although he only has registered 26 shots in those 16 contests you have to like his upside as part of this stack. He skates anywhere between 16 and 19 minutes per night and that should be more than enough ice time to get his name on the scoresheet tonight against the Coyotes.
W – Brandon Saad (CHI) – $6,200 vs. PHI
While Saad has been bumped off the Blackhawks’ top line he still gets sufficient power play time on one of the Blackhawks’ blended power play units. After a white-hot start in his return to Chicago with six goals in as many games, Saad has failed to find twine over his last nine contests which is also a span of 20 shots on goal. He has taken a total of 46 shots in 15 games on the season and is one of the most due players you will find on tonight’s slate.
D – Alex Pietrangelo (STL) – $6,100 vs. ARI
Pietrangelo is a chalk play tonight on the blueline, but I don’t’ mind the play in GPPs thanks to my Blues’ exposure in this lineup. Pietrangelo forms a mini-stack with Steen on the Blues’ lethal top power play unit as he enjoys a Norris Trophy-type season. The veteran blueliner has six goals, two on the power play, nine assists, 54 shots and 28 blocked shots across 16 games on the campaign. He regularly skates over 25 minutes per game and likely sports the highest floor of any rear guard on the slate.
D – Cody Franson (CHI) – $3,500 vs. PHI
While Franson has been a healthy scratch at times this season, head coach Joel Quenneville appears happy with his play as Franson’s role as increased to top pairing minutes with Duncan Keith as well as notable power play time as well. The Blackhawks’ power play units are scrambled at the moment and it’s hard to know who he will skate alongside with the man advantage, but it’s a safe bet it will be at least one of Toews, Kane or Saad. Franson skated more than 22 minutes and fired six shots on goal his last time out, both of which were season highs.
G – Mike Smith (CGY) – $8,400 vs. DET
Smith and the Calgary Flames play host to the Detroit Red Wings tonight in a game I expect will be low scoring all around. While he has received next to no goal support this season (Calgary ranks 30th with 2.40 goals per game), Smith has been solid in the Flames’ crease with a .923 save percentage for the season. As I’ve mentioned previous in these articles, Calgary sports a stout top four defensive group and should become one of the best defensive teams in the NHL over the long haul. Let’s go ahead and roster Smith against the Red Wings and their 2.69 goals per game (23rd).