After 12 games to choose from last night, we get back to a small three-game slate today, as it looks like the Heritage Classic, which starts at 3pm, is not in today’s contests on FanDuel. There’s been a lot shuffling as of late, and that is expected early in the season as teams with slow starts tend to get a little impatient where chemistry is concerned. And then there are some that are doing well and, for no reason, just switch it up. I am sure the head coaches have their reasons, but my philosophy is, if it’s not broke don’t fix it. That is the case with the Vancouver Canucks, as they went into Los Angeles last night without a loss, and seemingly out of nowhere, head coach Willie Desjardins thought it a bright idea to put the struggling Sven Baerstchi on the top line with Henrik and Daniel Sedin. Vancouver has been trying to get a winger for the Sedin’s for years. Alexander Burrows seemed to fit the bill a few seasons ago, and now it looks like newcomer Loui Eriksson couldn’t get it going on the top line. My point is, there are a lot of teams switching up the lines without giving the players the benefit of “quality game time ice time.” That’s just my two cents, and it’s something to monitor moving forward. Let’s get down to the business.
Antti Raanta – New York Rangers – ($8,100) – After a tough win last night in Washington, I’d look for Henrik Lundqvist to get the night off here against an Arizona team that has lost all three of their games on their current six-game road trip. Tonight should be no different, as the Rangers should feel like there is a lot more room on the ice tonight than there was last night against a strong defensive Capitals team. Even if Lundqvist is named the starter, he is only $800 more, so the only thing that would do would be to knock Raanta out of the value play goalie of the night. FanDuel has been on top of the goalie pricing so far this year, making it much more difficult to find those “easy goalie plays,” but Raanta is a solid play on Sunday.
Top Goalie Play-of-the-Night: John Gibson- Anaheim Ducks- $8,400
Brandon Sutter – Vancouver Canucks – ($4,500) – On a small slate like today, sometimes we have to look at things a bit differently. I have already listed John Gibson as the top goalie of the night, so why in the world would I want to take a shooter against him? For one, if Gibson and the Ducks have a total meltdown maybe, just maybe, having a guy like Sutter who has five points in five games could save your cash games if in fact your opponent has Gibson or another losing goalie. Sutter has the luxury of playing on the team’s second line while apparently getting a promotion to the top line power play with Henrik and Daniel Sedin. The Ducks will probably have their best defensive unit shadowing the top line, so it makes sense to use Sutter as a one-off in either cash games or GPP play tonight. He is my value center of the night.
Top Center Play-of-the-Night: Ryan Getzlaf – Anaheim Ducks - $7,600
Mid-Tier Center Play-of-the-Night: Mika Zibanejad – New York Rangers - $6,000
Josh Bailey – New York Islanders - $4,200 – Usually in these articles, I like to “feature” the value play of the day. The reason for this is that if I go on about say, Corey Perry, chances are you already know he’s the top play of the day, whereas if I list Bailey just as the value play of the day, you might be asking yourself “Why does he like him?” This way, there is no gray area as to why that is. I like Bailey tonight because the Minnesota Wild just played a game last night, and Bailey gives you easy exposure to John Tavares and the Islanders top line on home ice tonight. Remember, the home team gets to put their lines on the ice last, so matching up Tavares and crew shouldn’t be a problem tonight. Bailey does have a goal and assist in the first three home games, so grabbing some cheap points at a cheap price is not totally out of the question on a three-game slate.
Mats Zuccarello – New York Rangers - $5,700 – Zuccarello is actually your mid-tier play of the day, as the two top plays will be listed below. I like the Rangers winger for some of the same reasons I like the New York goaltender tonight. Arizona is smack dab in the middle of a brutal six-game road trip, so getting some exposure to the top line on home ice is always a good idea against bad teams. In the Rangers’ three home games so far, “Zooks” has tallied two goals and two assists, and that’s good enough for me tonight.
Cam Fowler – Anaheim Ducks - $4,500 – Okay, you got me: I like the Ducks tonight. After five road games to start the season, the Anaheim faithful will finally get a chance to see their beloved Ducks play a game on home ice. Vancouver has started out well but could be in a bit of trouble tonight, as this will be their sixth game in nine days. Look for the Canucks to take a lot of “lazy penalties,” giving the Anaheim power play a few opportunities. Fowler fits the bill here, as he gets top minutes with the man advantage and has tallied two goals and two assists in the first five games.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson – Arizona Coyotes - $6,400 - This seems like old times, as the Coyotes yet again have trouble putting the biscuit in the basket. Max Domi and Anthony Duclair are apparently off doing their best “Harry Houdini act” while Jordan Martinook and Brad Richardson lead the team in scoring and when that happens there’s trouble. Although Ekman-Larsson has only two points on the young season, he does average almost 27 minutes of ice time on a nightly basis while getting a lot of time on the team’s top power play unit. The Rangers have given up a goal while being short-handed in three of their last four games, which makes OEL a sneaky play on a three game slate.
Top Defensman Play-of-the-Night: Ryan McDonagh- New York Rangers - $5,100