Man, what a disappointing night last night. The Senators managed to play their worst game of the year and failed the score on a weak Canucks defensive group while the Stars just didn’t attack the winless Coyotes like I thought they would. I should have had more Flyers’ exposure, and I used $1,400 of leftover salary to move from Shayne Gostisbehere to Erik Karlsson, a move that backfired as Gostisbehere scored his first goal of the season. Let’s forget about last night and move on to a small three-game Wednesday slate.
C – Jeff Carter (LA) – $7,100 vs. MON
The Kings are off to a nice start, but it hasn’t been the Jeff Carter line doing the damage like it was all of last season. Carter has just three assists in five games, but the silver lining lies in his 13 shots on goal. Carter shoots the puck plenty, throwing 250 pucks on goal last season and has even hit the 300-mark three times in his career, albeit many years ago in Philadelphia. Nonetheless, the Kings are on home ice tonight against a Canadiens team playing on back-to-backs nights, which means Carey Price will give way to backup Al Montoya for this matchup. Carter looks like a nice play tonight.
C – Paul Stastny (STL) – $5,000 vs. CHI
Another team off to a nice start is the St. Louis Blues who will play an important Central Division contest tonight against the rival Blackhawks in St. Louis. Stastny has the comfy job of centering superstar Vladimir Tarasenko at both even strength and on the power play, a spot that has led to two goals, four assists and 13 shots through six games. The Blackhawks have been good too, but they also rank 25th with 295 shot attempts against at 5 on 5 and have yielded 36.5 shots against per game, tied for the most in the league. Keep in mind this is the thinnest defensive group the Blackhawks have iced in years, and I expect the Blues to take advantage of that tonight.
W – Vladimir Tarasenko (STL) – $8,000 vs. CHI
Of course Tarasenko makes his way into this lineup tonight. Unsurprisingly, the Russian sniper has come out of the gates hot with four goals, two assists and 15 shots on goal through six games. I actually expect Tarasenko to pick up the shots on goal as he ranked 6th with 286 shots on goal last season. He also buried 39 goals last year and tallied 31 points with the man advantage. Tarasenko and the Blues should be in for plenty of shots tonight and will certainly test Corey Crawford in the process.
W – Tyler Toffoli (LA) – $5,800 vs. MON
Speaking of shooting, here is a guy that like his linemate Carter, has thrown plenty of pucks on net this season. Toffoli has recorded 19 shots through only five games this season and has three points over his last two games. Unfortunately the duo doesn’t play together on the power play, but Toffoli has already managed a power play goal this season on the second grouping. The Kings have averaged 3.20 goals per game early in the season and have a great opportunity to keep the offense going tonight on home ice.
W – William Nylander (TOR) – $6,600 vs. DET
After winning 2-0 in Washington last night, the high-octane Leafs’ offense welcomes the Red Wings to the Air Canada Centre in Toronto tonight. While he was held off the scoresheet in last night’s game, Nylander was flying and his chemistry with Auston Matthews is simply lethal. Nylander enters play tonight with a goal and four assists on the season, but also has taken 20 shots on goal through six games. The Wings have been decent defensively, but they will be in tough against a high-flying Leafs’ offense tonight.
W – Samuel Blais (STL) – $3,100 vs. CHI
Blais has just one NHL game under his belt this season, but he skated over 17 minutes on the team’s second line with Brayden Schenn and Jaden Schwartz. Blais will see a similar role tonight after scoring three goals and adding an assist in just two AHL games this season. Blais should also see some second unit power play minutes and could provide big time value at a near-minimum price tonight.
D – Drew Doughty (LA) – $5,600 vs. MON
Doughty has indeed gotten in on the scoring fun for the Kings in the early going as he has five points over his last three games. However, with Doughty we get excellent cross-category contributions as he has also taken 15 shots on goal and blocked 10 across five games this season. He is also the quarterback of the team’s top power play unit, a group that actually ranked 5th with a 23.4% clip with the man advantage on home ice last year and has upped that figure to an even 25% on home ice so far this season.
D – Jake Gardiner (TOR) – $4,400 vs. DET
Gardiner doesn’t provide the same high-shot totals that usually frequent these lineups, but he is the Maple Leafs’ top offense defenseman and is also the lone defenseman on the power play unit that also features Matthews and Nylander. Gardner has three points, six shots and seven blocks across six games this season, but he is also a low-cost defenseman who gets plenty of offensive opportunities as well. This is a guy who tallied 43 points a season ago and has thrived under Mike Babcock the last two seasons.
G – Jonathan Quick (LA) – $9,200 vs. MON
The last few lineups I have paid down at goaltender, but I will pay up tonight and grab who I believe is the safest option at the position tonight. Quick is off to a sparkling start with a .943 save percentage through four games and already has a shutout to his credit as well. Year after year the Kings are a stout defensive team as they ranked 6th with just 2.45 goals against per game last season and their 95% penalty kill this season ranks first. As expected, the Canadiens are struggling to score goals with just 1.50 per game this season, good for dead last in the league. Lock in quick at the goalie position tonight.