NHL Daily Plays: Thursday, February 19th
Happy Thursday, fellow NHL DFSers! Following Wednesday’s larger-than-normal 6-game slate, the NHL gives us a typically busy slate on Thursday with seven games from which we may select players for our lineups. A quick glance at the games hints that we have some fairly close matchups with just a few large favorites, so tonight will depend on how accurately you can select your goal scorers from a large slate of tight games and a few high-tempo matchups. The NBA limps back into action tonight with just two games, so for possibly the last time this season, the focus will be on the NHL.
As a public service announcement, in doing a survey of the pricing for these “Daily Plays,” as I am sure you all know, each daily site has the players priced rather differently. As such, some of the recommended bargain plays may not be bargain plays on, for example, Victiv or DraftDay.
Before we dig into today’s daily plays, let’s examine what the current Vegas lines are telling us. Any astute daily fantasy player must be in tune to Vegas lines and over/unders as “they” always know more than we do. Our job is to interpret what these numbers mean so that we can use them in populating a DFS lineup on your favorite site. In looking at the Vegas lines, the heavy favorites are the Flyers (-260 over the Sabres), the Penguins (-220 over the Blue Jackets), the Capitals (-165 over the Jets), and the Canadiens (-165 over the Panthers). Of the fourteen teams in action, only the Canadiens are playing on back-to-back nights. This is good news as most top goaltenders should be in net today. That said, similar to NBA DFS, there will be times when we will make lineup decisions based off of which teams are the most rested.
Good luck! I will online for most of the day to answer questions in the comments section below or on Twitter @TheTonyM.
Make sure to check the RotoGrinders Starting Goalies Page to confirm that the goalies listed below are starting prior to puck-drop
Carey Price – Montreal Canadiens – As of the writing of this piece, the Vegas moneyline for the Canadiens and Panthers game in Montreal is sitting at -165, which makes the Habs the third largest favorite on the evening. With just two more lop-sided favorites according to Vegas and with one of those goalies being Ray Emery, whose defensively-challenged Flyers are hosting the dreadful Sabres, Price will being heavily-owned in cash games despite his Kershawian salary. At $10.2K on FD (and $9.7K on DK), Price is the most expensive netminder (but the fifth-most expensive on DK) despite having one of the best matchups on the night from a pure matchup perspective. The play here has to do with the simple fact that the Canadiens, with their superstar goalie, have one of the best chances of winning on a large slate of tight matchups and, in using up 18.5% of your cap on one player, you need a sense of confidence that your goalie will not only earn the win, but also has a shot at earning the shutout. With five straight wins, Price has only given up a total of five goals during that span and he has averaged 7.64 FDP over the win streak. Simply put, Price is playing the best hockey of any goalie in the NHL right now. Unlike some of the more expensive options tonight, when paying up for Price, you have a sense of security in points, although to hit his value target a win is a must, as the Panthers are averaging the eight-most shots per game in the NHL (31.2 S/GP) and the Canadiens are giving up the ninth-most shots per game (30.3 SA/GP). If you are unwilling to risk this much cap space for your goalie, select one of the cash game targets below, which are listed in the order of my preference.
Other Goalies To Target (Cash Games) – Marc-Andre Fleury, Braden Holtby, Cameron Talbot
Other Goalies To Target (Tournaments) – Ray Emery, Jaroslav Halak
Disclaimer –Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Alexander Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, Jamie Benn and John Tavares carry a high price tag and may also be used as you see fit.
Wayne Simmonds – Philadelphia Flyers – As the largest Vegas favorite on the night, the Flyers are on home ice facing a Buffalo Sabres team that is simply awful. They are dead last in the NHL in goals per game (1.74 G/GP) and shots per game (22.8 S/GP), which is important to monitor, especially on FD, where a “-” deducts a full point from your score and can ruin your night if you target skaters on a team that is prone to giving up goals, such as the Flyers. However, when a team hosts the Sabres, you have to overlook the risks of earning a minus and weight goal-scoring potential higher, especially given that the Sabres are giving up the most goals per game in the league (3.39 GA/GP) as well as the most shots against per game (34.7 SA/GP). In trying to decide which Flyers’ skater to roster, look to Simmonds, who skates with Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek on the team’s first PP unit and with Matt Read and Sean Couturier on the team’s second even strength line. With at least one point in five straight games, Simmonds is the hottest shooter on the team right now and he should figure in at least one power play goal and hit his average of 2.60 shots per game. If his power play linemates can remember how to score, Simmonds will have an even bigger night. At just $6,100 on FD, Simmonds comes at a lower price tag than Voracek and Giroux. Take note that Simmonds is substantially more expensive than Voracek on DK.
Jason Spezza – Dallas Stars – As -120 ML favorites on home ice with an over/under of 5.5 goals, the Stars host a San Jose Sharks team that is not playing good hockey as they have lost two in a row and seven of their last ten games. During their current losing streak, the Sharks have given up an average of five goals against per game. On the other hand, the Stars are coming off a stunning 4-1 victory in St. Louis in which Spezza, its first line and first power play unit center, recorded three assists. The Dallas first line has not missed a beat since losing superstar center, Tyler Seguin, to a knee injury three games ago. In two full games in his stead, Spezza has two goals (one in that Panthers game), three assists, a +4 and 9 SOG. As the team, the Stars are averaging the 10th-most shots per game in the NHL (30.9 S/GP) as well as the fourth-most goals per game (3.10 G/GP) and they should put up at least four goals against the Sharks, who have given up an average of 4.8 goals per game over their last five losses and the Stars’ first line of Jamie Benn, Spezza and Erik Cole should lead the charge.
Nicklas Backstrom – Washington Capitals – As the third-heaviest favorite on the day in a game that Vegas expects to hit the over of 5.0 goals, the Capitals are back on home ice after a four-game West Coast (and Pittsburgh) road trip and are riding a two-game win streak in which they scored an average of four regulation goals per game. The Capitals’ first line center and first power play unit center, who skates with Alex Ovechkin and Andre Burakovsky (on the 1st line) as well as with Marcus Johansson and Troy Brower (on the PP) will lead the NHL’s fourth-best power play unit against a Jets team that has given up a total of six shorthanded goals in their last three games. As a skater who logs over twenty minutes of ice time per game has recorded a total of three assists over his current two-game point streak and should connect with Ovechkin, who has scored at least once in three straight games, on at least one goal. At a $1.4K discount (on FD) to his linemate, roster Backstrom tonight to get exposure to a top PP unit that will exploit a vulnerable PK unit.
Other Forwards To Target (Cash Games) – Rick Nash, Patric Hornqvist, Martin St. Louis, Chris Kunitz, Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski
Other Forwards To Target (Tournaments) – Brayden Schenn, Filip Forsberg, Craig Smith, Tomas Plekanec, Marcus Johansson
Disclaimer: Kris Letang, Brent Burns, Dustin Byfuglien and Shea Weber are elite fantasy defensemen and can be used with confidence.
Travis Hamonic – New York Islanders – Surprisingly, Hamonic’s price tag has remained stagnant at just $4,400 on FD (and $4,200 on DK) over the last week despite recording three assists, 11 PIMs, 5 SOG and a +6 rating for an average of 4.19 FDP during the four games since last Thursday. While the Predators have Pekka Rinne back in net and the team has ripped off six straight wins, the one pressure point that the Islanders will look to exploit tonight is the Preds’ vulnerability to opposing defensemen. In fact, Nashville has given up at least one point to opposing D-men in three straight games and in seven of their last eight games, including goals to offensive-minded defensemen who play similar styles of hockey as Hamonic. While the Predators have a league average penalty kill unit, look for the Islanders to take advantage of the matchup for its D-men, which should allow Hamonic to register at least one point tonight.
Mike Green – Washington Capitals – In Washington, D.C. this evening, the Caps are hosting a Jets team that is just 4-4-2 in their last ten games and they struggled in a win on home ice over the Oilers three nights ago where they gave up four goals to a team that also managed to score two power play goals. Contrast that to the Caps who own the NHL’s fourth-best power play (23.08% conversion rate) and will attack the Jets’ PK unit that has given up two shorthanded goals in each of their last three games. Green, who plays the point on the Capitals’ top power play unit next to Alexander Ovechkin, should have no trouble continuing his two-game point streak. As just the 17th-most expensive D-man tonight, lock in Green who should serve as a primary puck distributor on the PP (with Ovechkin shooting the puck) as well as on even strength against the Jets, who have given up the seventh-most goals to opposing teams’ defensemen.
Other Defensemen To Target (Cash Games) – Trevor Daley, John Klingberg, Roman Josi, Mark Streit
Other Defensemen To Target (Tournaments) – John Carlson, Ryan McDonagh, P.K. Subban, Simon Despres