Every Tuesday and Thursday I will be providing my recommended player picks for your daily fantasy hockey lineups. The goal is to help you to the top of the leaderboards in FanDuel and DraftKings tournament play.
We have ourselves a rare split slate today in the National Hockey League on this holiday Friday. I will briefly break down the early slate, before moving on to the main slate. The New York Rangers and the Columbus Blue Jackets are your biggest favorites, and with everyone having Thanksgiving off, we do not have any teams playing on consecutive nights.
PIT @ BOS - With Evgeni Malkin out, and Sidney Crosby in a major slump, the Pittsburgh Penguins offense is certainly not a must play in any format. However, we know it is a just a matter of time before Crosby and his linemates roll out a big game, making them a great contrarian play in GPPs. Defensemen Kris Letang and Justin Schultz are also in play, depending on your budget. The Boston Bruins are not an offense I target often, but the Penguins are a defensive disaster, and the Bruins’ top line should be able to take advantage. If Torey Krug remains out of the lineup, both Charlie McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk make solid value options on the blue line.
Goalie Thoughts - Matt Murray has GPP appeal, but I would fade both goalies in cash.
COL @ MIN - The Colorado Avalanche have been lights out at the Pepsi Center (7-1-1), but they have not been quite as good on the road, posting a 4-7 record, while allowing the fifth-most goals against per game in the National Hockey League. The Avs continue to struggle with their possession game (28th in CA/60 and 21st in HDCA/60), and I think we see the Minnesota Wild dominate this game from puck drop. Both of the Wild’s top two lines are in play, as are defensemen Jared Spurgeon and Ryan Suter, who see a ton of ice time together at both even strength and on the top power play unit.
Top Plays – Mikael Granlund
Goalie Thoughts - Devan Dubnyk is elite and he is once again the top option in goal today in any format.
NYI @ PHI - The Islanders and Flyers head to the city of Brotherly Love tonight to play game number two of a home-and-home series. Game number one went to the New York Islanders in overtime Wednesday night, with John Tavares and company leading the way in a 4-3 win. With neither team being all that deep offensively or great defensively, we can expect a similar game tonight with lots of goals, and with their top lines doing most of the damage. If you are looking to go contrarian, you could dip down to the Islanders’ second line.
Goalie Thoughts - The goalies in this game are an easy fade in cash, but they are cheap, so even though it is risky there is some merit to using them in tournament play. Good luck guessing which one wins.
WPG @ ANA - The Anaheim Ducks are a banged-up team and they are struggling with their defensive game, which certainly puts the Winnipeg Jets’ offense in play. The Jets have two very capable scoring lines and this is a sneaky good spot for them tonight at the Honda Center. On the flip side, the Ducks’ top line has looked good recently, and they are also in play against a Winnipeg squad that is below average defensively and refuses to play disciplined hockey.
Goalie Thoughts - I cannot trust either in cash, but both netminders have the ability to steal a game, making them GPP worthy.
TB @ WSH - The Tampa Bay Lightning keep on rolling with their top line looking unstoppable, and I doubt the Washington Capitals and their suspect defense keep them off the scoreboard tonight. The Capitals have one of the worst defensive units in hockey, which has resulted in a plethora of scoring chances against, which is never a good thing when you are facing the Bolts’ deadly offense. At the other end of the ice, the Capitals have not been the offensive juggernaut we are used to seeing, and with the Lighting playing a strong possession game with solid defense, Ovechkin and the boys are best reserved for GPPs.
Value Plays - Alex Killorn
Goalie Thoughts - We have two very good goaltenders in this contest, but I am not big on either one tonight with both teams being able to score. Braden Holtby is playable in tournaments on DK with his low salary, but they are both easy fades on FanDuel with their expensive price tags.
SJ @ VGK - The Vegas Golden Knights are not playing well in their own zone (sitting in the bottom-third of the National Hockey League in most defensive statistics), and even though they can score, the problem is that the San Jose Sharks are not known for giving up scoring chances or many goals against. The Sharks have also had a real hard time scoring, so they may not be able to take advantage of the Golden Knights’ defensive inefficiencies. In other words, this may be a game we can fade in all formats, and it is certainly not a game we need exposure to in cash games.
Top Plays – None
NOTE: Make sure to check the RotoGrinders Starting Goalies Page page prior to game time, to confirm that the goalies listed below are starting.
Frederik Andersen, Toronto Maple Leafs - When it comes to rostering a goalie in tournaments, ideally you want three things: 35-plus save potential, win upside and an inexpensive price tag, and Frederik Andersen checks all of those boxes. The Toronto Maple Leafs continue to allow a ton of shots against and Andersen continues to stand on his head, stopping 33 or more shots in five of his last six games. On top of that, the Carolina Hurricanes fire over 35 shots on goal per game but are below average in goals per game, which is the perfect situation for yet another monster game from Andersen this evening.
Carolina Hurricanes - There is no doubt the Toronto Maple Leafs are one of the best teams in the National Hockey League, but their high-event and open style of play creates plenty of chances for their opposition. The Maple Leafs continue to allow a surplus of shots and scoring chances against, relying on Frederik Andersen to bail them out time and time again. The Carolina Hurricanes made good on their opportunities the last time these teams faced each other (6-3 Carolina win), and we good see the Hurricanes light the lamp several more times this evening. If you are looking to stack a line, the Canes’ top line (Sebastian Aho, Jordan Staal and Teuvo Teravainen) has the most appeal, with sniper Jeff Skinner making for a nice contrarian play as a one off.
Detroit Red Wings Offense - The New York Rangers remain one of the National Hockey League’s weaker defensive teams. The Rangers lack of possession game (25th in CA/60) has led to them allowing the fifth-most scoring chances against and the most high-danger scoring chances. The Detroit Red Wings are a top-10 offense, and we should have no problems picking on goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who has struggled all season long. Both of the Detroit Red Wings’ top two scoring lines have multi-goal potential tonight and I doubt we see much traffic on them in large field tournaments.
Marco Scandella, Buffalo Sabres - If you are looking for a value defenseman with upside, Marco Scandella fits the bill. With Rasmus Ristolainen out due to injury, Scandella is playing a ton of minutes at both even strength and on the Buffalo Sabres’ top power play unit. The Edmonton Oilers are a struggling hockey club, allowing the fifth-most goals against per game this month, and their special teams play is a big reason why. The Oilers undisciplined play (bottom-third in penalty minutes per game), and weak penalty kill (20th ranked PK) are the reason we are looking at the Sabres’ inexpensive defenseman tonight. If Ristolainen makes a surprise return, feel free to fire him up over Scandella, since he has multi-point upside and he will be heavily under-owned.