Hello everyone! Tonight we have an 11 game slate to cover with you, so I’ll be going over top plays, guy plays (aka at first glance), and goalies. I’m going to still use data from last year as the sample sizes from this season but I am also going to incorporate more data from this year since many teams have played at least seven games (with the exception of a few due to COVID.)
WPG1 – Connor/Scheifele/Wheeler – I of course don’t have to tell you how bad the Vancouver Canucks are defensively, and having Thatcher Demko starting in goal doesn’t exactly help their chances. If you incorporate last season’s numbers when reviewing Peg1, the line definitely generates a healthy amount of attempts at 5v5. Although they have looked better in their last few games, this VAN1 has been atrocious defensively this season, and it’s my guess that WPG1 will be matched up against them a fair amount of the time tonight. The Canucks this year have allowed the most attempts at 5v5 and own the league’s highest xGA (count) at 20.44. Add in Demko having a HDSV% of 76.9% and it spells disaster. Given they have one of the highest implied totals on the slate, I do expect to see a fairly decent amount of ownership on the Jets top line this evening. The top line also gets full PP correlation, so pairing with Morrissey makes the most sense against a Vancouver team that has allowed the second most goals in the league this year on the PK and has the most penalty minutes taken of any team in the NHL so far this year.
TB1 – Palat/Point/Stamkos – The Bolts are at home tonight facing off against the Predators, who many of you know were absolutely routed by the Dallas Stars 7-0 in the Stars’ first game of the season. As much as I love Josi and Ellis, this Nashville team just isn’t’ the same as they have been in years past on both sides of the puck. In the two games the Lightning have played at home this year they’ve rolled out their top line against the opposition’s secondary unit, which means that Duchene and company will get the luxury of trying to slow these three down. Pulling in numbers including last year, TB owns a 67.69 CF60 on top of the 3.46 xGF60, and even though it’s a 73 minute 5v5 sample size, those numbers are absolutely lethal. Using Hedman on the blueline makes the most sense as it gives full TBPP1 correlation, and the Preds are tied with the Canucks for most GA on the PK this season. That doesn’t bode well for a team that has the 10th lowest amount of the time on the PK of all teams in the league. It’s going to cost you a pretty penny to get all four of these guys together, but there are depth lines you can consider to make it happen.
FLA1 – Verhaeghe/Barkov/Duclair– I personally am not incredibly partial to the Panther’s top line this evening, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t a good play. Detroit is just an absolutely miserable team defensively, evidenced by them being the sixth and fifth worst team in the league in GA and xGF% at 18 and 44.5% respectively. It is tricky though as only Barkov gets top PP minutes, while Duke and Verhaeghe see PP2 time, but the 5v5 matchup is hard to pass up as there isn’t anything on the Wings’ blueline that would keep me up at night. Even though Ekblad and Yandle are both PP1, I would suggest going for the latter as $6200 Ekblad is hard for me to stomach.
At First Glance
VAN1 – Boeser/Pettersson/Miller – EP40 definitely didn’t start off the season the way that he, or any Canucks fans for that matter, wanted to. That said, in his last couple games he looks like he has his touch back as he has generated 14 iCF with 2 goals and 2 assists. Many of you know that squaring off against Winnipeg isn’t something that I will ever back away from, Hellebuyck in net or not. Regardless of if they are facing WPG1 at 5v5, the numbers on the defensive side of the puck for the top line of the Jets don’t indicate that they are sound at keeping the puck out of their zone, owning a 2.63 xGA60 and 13.29 HDCA60 going back to last year. My preference on D would be Hughes at $5700 who will QB the top PP.
BOS3 – Frederic/Coyle/Smith – I don’t normally write up a third line on a large slate, and I was really hoping that BOS wasn’t going to have altered their lines but I do have some interest in a Coyle/Smith mini stack. I’m not overly keen on Frederic so leave him off if you want or keep him for salary, but I highly doubt he sees much ice time even with the PP2 exposure. I like these guys because Washington isn’t a great defensive team and even with Orlov and Ovi back, the latter two haven’t played in over 10 days. Even if you factor in Carlson, I don’t think that he’s going to spend a ton of time at 5v5 against the Boston depth. The reason I’m so interested in this line is because Smith has 20 shots on goal this year and 31 iCF at all strengths this season, and I think he has been playing fairly well so far this year. It’s definitely a risky play but even with Pastrnak being back, I can see the Bruins limiting his ice time to some extent which means that guys in the middle of the lineup should see a little bump in ice time. At the very least they should see more consistent time with what they have been getting so far. Jakub Zboril does intrigue me somewhat because he’s on the BOSPP2 unit and he has averaged 19 minutes per game so far this year for $2700.
EDM1 – Nugent-Hopkins/McDavid/Puljajarvi – The new look Edmonton top line has looked good so far in their first couple of games, and as I’ve mentioned before I don’t think that the Leafs became a better team this offseason. Last game McDavid went up against TOR2 and did absolute damage. In the game as a whole the Oilers’ top line had a 66.74% xGF%, and Toronto as a whole has the third highest xGA (count) this year at 16.39 at 5v5 play. Furthermore, they’ve also allowed the second most HDCA (count) at 80 attempts in 9 games. McDavid has been stellar this year at creating chances from the high-danger area, but let’s be honest he could score from the other end of the ice. I’m going to continue going to Darnell Nurse as the d-man to pair since he’s getting the EDMPP1 exposure with McDavid and RNH.
STL2 – Schwartz/Schenn/Kyrou – The Blues second line so far this season has looked good, especially Jordan Kyrou. I’m not normally running out to sign up to stack against John Gibson in net, but the price of this line coming in at $13.7K can give you some salary relief to fit in some high priced lines like WPG, TB1, etc. Despite his success, Kyrou remains low priced at $3800 and he has the most iHDCF at 5v5 of all Blues players this year, with Schenn and Schwartz coming in at third and fourth respectively. Even more interesting, all three players are one, two and, three for St. Louis in ixG (count) and I would imagine they spend time seeing the Ducks secondary unit centered by Henrique. In their last game against Vegas STL2 put up a 71.37% xG%, yes you read that right, against Vegas. The play here is interesting to me due to their matchup, but more so because of their price and upside. My defenseman of interest here would be Colton Parayko at $4800 who played with the schenn line a fair amount last game at 5v5.
Jacob Markstrom – So Montreal has been rolling so far this year in the North division, which has been by far and away the most fun division to watch. My interest here is because as good as they have been playing, Montreal last year was known as a team that would shoot the puck a fair amount but would have trouble scoring. Now that hasn’t 100% been the case this year, but at $7200 in front of a defensive core that isn’t terrible, I think there is merit to taking Markstrom in net for his price.
Casey DeSmith – Coming in at $7300 is Casey DeSmith who will tend the twine against the Rangers tonight. By no means do I consider the Penguins a good defensive team, but my interest has peaked because the Rangers lines are jumbled around. Right now they have ALF on the top line with Ziba and Buch, which I do think is a good line, but their second line has Colin Blackwell playing RW with Panarin and Strome. Unfortunately, Kredier has been demoted to the third line. It’s my opinion that when teams make adjustments like that it can take them a game or two to get going, if they ever do. If the Penguins are going to allow some shots tonight then DeSmith could prove to be a good value in net as I don’t think the Rangers put up a ton of goals tonight. If the Rags get their original lines back together then I won’t be having any DeSmith.
Jaroslav Halak – This is intriguing because Boston goalies are usually in the high $7K and above price range, but Halak is only $7500 tonight against Washington. Backstrom is going to have his hands full trying to defend BOS1, and much like the Rangers, the Caps lines are blendered. Ovi will be skating on the LW with Oshie at center and I just don’t feel like that WSH2 line screams offense. I certainly don’t think their third or fourth line is going to be intimidating to the Bruins, and I can most certainly see Boston coming out with the win tonight.