NHL Daily Plays: Saturday, February 21st
Happy Saturday Grinders! Hockey Night in Canada will be overshadowed by an outdoor game between the Kings and the Sharks in Levi’s Stadium as part of the NHL Stadium Series. As exciting as these games are each year, they do make things challenging from a DFS perspective, as coaches tend to shorten their team’s shifts in order to acclimate their players to the rugged outdoor conditions. In addition to getting a feel for the surface of the ice, there are a number of other factors to take into consideration like the glare of the lights and wind. In a normal meeting between these two teams, scoring would be expected, but I would caution against loading up on these teams in your cash games, since we really don’t know how the players are going to react until the puck drops. With that said, there are plenty of other great matchups to exploit tonight with nine games as part of the evening slate. Here are my top plays for Saturday, February 21st:
Make sure to check the RotoGrinders Starting Goalies Page to confirm that the goalies listed below are starting prior to puck-drop
Ben Bishop – Tampa Bay Lightning – One of the few established goalies I’ll be using tonight is Bishop, who enters tonight’s game against Vancouver with a 29-10-3 record to go along with a 2.42 GAA and a .912 SV%. His numbers have dipped a bit recently, especially on the road where he has a mediocre .894 SV%, but he does sport a .931 adjusted SV% since the start of January. Bishop looked sharp in his last game against Anaheim and draws a cupcake matchup against a punchless Arizona Coyotes team that ranks 28th in the league in scoring. In addition to his great matchup, Bishop’s price has come down from what we are used to and I expect him to receive plenty of goal support to cruise to an easy victory tonight.
GPP Option: Andrew Hammond (OTT)
Disclaimer: Kris Letang, Erik Karlsson, P.K. Subban, Victor Hedman, Drew Doughty, Brent Burns, and Oliver Ekman-Larsson are elite fantasy defensemen and are always in play.
Dustin Byfuglien – Winnipeg Jets – After bouncing around between defense and wing, an injury to forward Mathieu Perreault has forced Byfuglien back to forward for tonight’s tilt against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Although I prefer Byfuglien playing defense (because he gets more ice time), he has proven a capable fantasy asset at both positions. Byfuglien is always capable of posting monster games and he’s a sucker for the limelight, making him an excellent option to target tonight against a Leafs team he absolutely manhandled in their previous meeting.
Andrei Markov – Montreal Canadiens – If you’re looking to save on defense tonight, consider taking the veteran Andrei Markov, who enters tonight’s matchup with 6 points and 30 SOG over his last 10 games for the Canadiens. Tonight he’ll be taking on a Columbus Blue Jackets team that struggles defensively with a 42% Corsi rating away from home ice. Markov is heavily featured on Montreal’s top power play unit, and is a great way to get cheap exposure to his lethal linemate P.K. Subban, albeit at a fraction of the cost across most of the industry. With little risk of burning you in the +/- department given the matchup, Markov is a safe option to target in both cash games and GPPs tonight.
Top Value Plays: Anton Stralman (TB), Cam Fowler (ANA)
Disclaimer: Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Tyler Johnson, Ryan Getzlaf, Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, and Logan Couture are elite fantasy centers and are always in play.
Steven Stamkos – Tampa Bay Lightning – One of my top plays across the board tonight, “Stammer” has quietly been productive of late; entering tonight’s game with eight points in his last ten game, with goals in three of his last four. Stamkos is also featured on Tampa’s top power play unit and will be up against an Arizona Coyotes team that ranks 27th in the league in penalty kill percentage and surrenders the third-most goals per game this season. With the focus likely being on Tampa’s second line tonight, you can expect Stamkos to fly under the radar on his way to a potentially monster performance.
Jeff Carter – Los Angeles Kings – Reunited with Tyler Toffoli on LA’s 2nd line, “That 70’s Line” which also features new member Dwight King has been the most dominant line in all of hockey of late. Carter is the glue that holds the line together, and with 12 points in his last ten games, including 39 SOG. There appears to be no end in sight for him as the Kings make another trademarked late season run heading into the playoffs. His price has started to rise due to his recent production, but he is one of the few guys I would be willing to take a chance on in an outdoor game tonight, even in cash games.
Top Value Plays: Jori Lehtera (STL), David Desharnais (MTL)
Disclaimer: Corey Perry, Jamie Benn, Phil Kessel, Joe Pavelski, Tyler Toffoli, Alexander Steen, Patrick Marleau, Patric Hornqvist, and Jaden Schwartz are elite fantasy forwards and are always in play.
Vladimir Tarasenko – St. Louis Blues – After netting a pair of goals last night against Boston, the talented Russian superstar Tarasenko now has 56 points in 57 games for the Blues. There appears to be no end in sight for young playmaker, who ranks third in goals (31), sixth in SOG (203), and is fourth in the league with a +27 rating. His price remains reasonable across most of the industry and he should have no problems creating scoring chances with home ice advantage against a Penguins team that enters tonight’s game on a three-game losing streak.
Max Pacioretty – Montreal Canadiens – My constant recommendation of Pacioretty may seem redundant, but he has had some terrific matchups recently, and has ten points in as many games to show for it. The U.S. born Pacioretty boasts some of the most drastic home/road splits this season however; with nearly ¾ of his point totals coming in games he has played at the Bell Centre in Montreal. Because of the high volume of shots he takes each game, Pacioretty is always capable of lighting up the stat sheet and he should have no problems improving upon his production tonight against a Columbus team that is among the worst puck possession teams in the NHL.
Blake Wheeler – Winnipeg Jets – Another former U.S. Olympian that makes the list for me tonight is Blake Wheeler, who has eight points over his last ten games for the Jets. He’ll be licking his chops tonight in a marquee matchup against a Toronto team that has won just one game and is allowing over three goals per game during the month of February. Another reason I like Wheeler tonight is I expect him to be going up against Toronto’s top line at even strength; a line that has an -22 aggregated on-ice scoring chance differential. This bodes well for the big-bodied Wheeler, who should have no problems creating prime scoring opportunities for the Jets in a game I expect them to win handedly.
Andrew Cogliano – Anaheim Ducks – If you’re looking for value at forward tonight, consider taking Andrew Cogliano, who has three goals in as many games for the Ducks skating on the team’s third line at even strength. The NHL’s active “Iron Man” will be starting his 600th straight game tonight against his former team in Edmonton, and will likely draw one of the Oil’s weaker defensive pairings throughout much of this game. With only 19 points in 59 games this season, it may be a stretch recommending a third-liner who doesn’t receive any power play time, but he is active on the team’s penalty kill unit and the speedster could have a few prime short-handed scoring chances against an Edmonton team that turns the puck over far too often for their own good.
Top Value Plays: Patrick Maroon (ANA), Alex Killorn (TB), Dwight King (LA), Teemu Pulkkinen (DET)