After a couple of days away I am back to tackle tonight’s three-game NHL slate. With such a small slate some differentiation is a must, so let’s go ahead and label tonight’s lineup as a GPP play for this Halloween night!
C – Mark Scheifele (WPG) – $7,600 vs. MIN
For some reason I don’t see Scheifele getting the same recognition around the league as many of the NHL’s top stars, but this is a guy who just continues to produce. Scheifele enters play tonight with four goals and 11 points through ten games this season and frequently crosses the 20-minute threshold for the Jets. He is unquestionably their top pivot on a line that has caught fire lately, culminating in Blake Wheeler’s hat trick against the Penguins on Sunday night. In the past targeting the Wild was risky, but this season they have yielded three goals per game, their 33.4 shots against per game ranks 23rd and backup goaltender Alex Stalock gets the nod tonight.
C – Dylan Larkin (DET) – $5,400 vs. ARI
Here is where some differentiation comes about as I am going to use the Red Wings’ youthful second line against the Coyotes tonight. Arizona won their first game of the season last night, but will face a rested Wings’ team tonight while Scott Wedgewood will also start his second game in as many nights, so I believe the Red Wings offense is in a good spot here. Besides, Arizona yields 4.25 goals per game (31st) and their penalty kill sits at a putrid 66.7%, also worst in the league. Larkin is off to a nice start with ten points in 12 games to begin the season.
W – Blake Wheeler (WPG) – $7,400 vs. MIN
Wheeler is another player that fails to be recognized as a top winger in the game, but he showed on Sunday his scoring ability. Wheeler potted a hat trick in less than five minutes Sunday against the Penguins and now has four goals, 12 points and 35 shots across ten games on the season. Wheeler averages 20:37 of ice time per game and has fired a whopping 20 shots on goal across his last four games, so let’s ride the hot stick of the American winger tonight.
W – Andreas Athanasiou (DET) – $3,600 vs. ARI
After a long contract holdout Anthanasiou is back in Detroit and will suit up for his third game of the season tonight. He has already notched his first goal of the season and has fired five shots on goal across those two games. Although he skated around 11 and a half minutes in his first game and just over 15 minutes (including overtime) in his second game, Athanasiou will see his ice time increase as the season progresses while receiving some second unit power play time next to Larkin as well.
W – Anthony Mantha (DET) – $4,600 vs. ARI
It’s players like Mantha that have Red Wings’ fans not overly upset about the prospects of a losing season. Mantha offers plenty of goal scoring ability and already has nine points and 30 shots on goal across 12 games this season. The second year forward scored 17 goals in 60 games as a rookie last season, which is a 23-goal pace over a full season, an excellent mark for a freshman. He scored 50 or more goals in his last two seasons of junior hockey and looks well on his way to a productive NHL career.
W – Rick Nash (NYR) – $6,200 vs. VGK
Can’t completely forget about the Rangers tonight. I have used Nash several times already this season without much luck, but this guy is just so due for an offensive breakout I can’t fade him tonight against Vegas. Nash has recorded 44 shots in just 12 games this season, but has just two tallies to show for it. Among 20 forwards with at least 40 shots on goal, Nash’s 4.5% shooting percentage is the lowest of them all. He gets a Vegas team tonight that is now on their fourth string goaltender, and also a team that played last night while surrendering six goal to the Islanders on the road.
D – Kevin Shattenkirk (NYR) – $5,800 vs. VGK
With the Golden Knights looking very vulnerable on the back end, let’s roster arguably the top offensive defenseman on the slate. Shattenkirk is off to a real nice start with his hometown Rangers as he has recorded nine points, 20 shots and 18 blocks across 12 games this season. He leads all Rangers with 4:20 average ice time on the power play and would be in for a very fruitful night should that group do some damage against Maxime Lagace and co.
D – Dustin Byfuglien (WPG) – $6,100 vs. MIN
Byfuglien has missed a couple of games this season due to injury but he has still racked up six assists and 20 shots on goal across eight games on the campaign. He plays in all situations on the Jets’ blueline which has him averaging a couple ticks shy of 24 minutes per game. He is another player that is due for a goal any time now as he hasn’t managed to register a tally despite averaging more than two shots per game. Look for tonight to be that night where Byfuglien can get in the goal column against the Wild.
G – Jimmy Howard (DET) – $8,000 vs. ARI
There don’t appear to be any safe options on the goaltender board tonight so I will roll with Howard who is enjoying a quality season for the Red Wings. Howard enters play tonight sporting a very nice .929 save percentage on the season and will face of the league’s weaker offenses tonight. The Coyotes rank 25th with 2.50 goals per game on the season while their power play sits in the middle of the pack at 18.2%. The Red Wings rank 14th with 2.92 goals against on the season and they are actually giving up 34.8 shots per game, the second most in the league. A lot of shots and a win could be a very nice concoction for the veteran Howard tonight on home ice.