Each week, DFR breaks down the Saturday NHL matchups with top picks, sleepers, and everything you need to draft the perfect lineup. Resident NHL guru @pete_elias takes a look at all the games on tap and helps you build your daily fantasy hockey lineup.
Ottawa Senators @ Philadelphia Flyers
This year, Ottawa has lost their top offensive playmaker, their top defenseman who also contributes mightily to the offense, and their starting goalie. And yet, here they sit at 12-6-3, with a 6-3-1 record in their last 10, all the while playing stout D. Their kryptonite has been playing on the road though, and they’re playing in always hostile Philadelphia against a Flyers team that has done well there and has put up the 4th most goals in the league this year. The Sens come back down to earth in this one.
Puck Play #1 –The only benefit of looking at this Ottawa roster for production is that it will come at a dollar-menu discount. C Kyle Turris amd RW Jakob Silfverburg aren’t going to jump off the stat sheet right now, but they’ve got talent in their young legs and at least find themselves shooting a healthy amount. Look here only if you’re strapped for cash and need one more player to fill your lineup.
Puck Play #2 – Notoriously dangerous to bank on good Philly goaltending, I still really like cosmic-weirdo Ilya Bryzgalov here to put up a nice save % and the W. I’m also looking at multiple Flyers for this one. Center Claude Giroux is downright scary right now and is a must play for me. LW Brayden Schenn and RW Jakub Voracek were two guys I loved last week and they didn’t disappoint. Like them here again (Schenn more), as well as RW Wayne Simmonds to maybe light the lamp and give you some nice penalty minutes too. Also getting D Kimmo Timonen into my lineup as well.
Tampa Bay Lightning @ Boston Bruins
The Jekyll and Hyde Lightning come into Boston with a serious case of multiple personality disorder. They’re scoring more than anyone, but find themselves only truly scary at home and wildly unreliable on the road. It’s a tall task for anyone to slow down their firepower, but the defensive stalwarts in Boston who have given up the 2nd lowest amount of goals come through at home here. If the game is in Tampa, it’s a much tougher call.
Puck Play #1 – We’ve all said it here at DFR: Steven Stamkos is a LeBron James–level of a player when it comes to production. I’ll never say “you’re stupid for playing him” but in today’s game, it may be a rare occurrence of using what you’d normally spend on him to look at spreading it around a little bit.
Puck Play #2 – The main reason being is goalie Tuukka Rask. Arguably the best in the league right now, he picked up the win AT Tampa while only allowing two goals about a week ago. I see similar results, probably only letting in one. Center Patrice Bergeron has five points in his last five games and is fantastic in the +/- category. I also think the giant Czech Zdeno Chara lets loose one of his patented screamers from the blue line to add to his goal tally.
New Jersey Devils @ Buffalo Sabres
Tough game to call here with a lot of question marks. The Sabres are a team in turmoil but have won a couple in a row now. The Devils, playing without Marty Brodeur, have lost three straight and don’t look like the team they were last year or at the beginning of this season. It’s a toss-up, and I’m not relying on solid fantasy plays here from either side.
Puck Play #1 – A lot of talent for NJ, but picking one here is just like picking out of a hat. A rare stay away from this team.
Puck Play #2 – Again, not relying on Sabres either, but Devils goalie Johan Hedberg is 0-4 in his last 4 starts while letting in 17 goals. Could see youngsters Cody Hodgson and Tyler Ennis find the net for cheap here.
Washington Capitals @ Winnipeg Jets
Washington has improved lately, but not a whole lot, and is still garbage on the road. Winnipeg is looking like a sneaky and dangerous team right now, winning four out of five and climbing to second in the division. I like them to win again here too.
Puck Play #1 – Dueling centermen Mike Ribeiro and Nicklas Backstrom can help your assist totals here, but it’s hard to really say which Capital is going to score. Besides his hat trick a few games ago, Ovechkin is a shell of his former self.
Puck Play #2 – Fun Fact: LW Andrew Ladd leads all NHL captains with 12 goals on the year, including two and an assist his last game out. He’s playing some nice hockey lately, but I’m really looking at young pup Evander Kane. He’s had some consistency issues in the past, but has pure talent and ten points in his last nine games.
Florida Panthers @ Carolina Hurricanes
Both teams have been inconsistent this year as a whole, so in this case, talent wins out. That means Carolina takes care of business at home, especially while Florida has been struggling to find any decent goalie play.
Puck Play #1 – Don’t trust anyone from Florida today.
Puck Play #2 – Eric Staal is a guy that’s tough not to get in your lineup most nights, including this one. RW Alexander Semin is a guy I’m targeting though. Former high pick for the Capitals, he’s finding some better legs right now in his new uniform, playing two-way hockey and getting time for the power play. His assists are there, and so are the shots, so the goals are coming too.
Pittsburgh Penguins @ Montreal Canadiens
Game of the week from a fan’s perspective, brutal to predict from a fantasy perspective. 26 wins between the two teams, the Penguins can score with the best of them and Montreal is top-5 in goals against, and Pittsburgh is as good on the road as Montreal is at home. Just sit back and enjoy this one.
Puck Play #1 – Sidney Crosby is like Stamkos before – if you can afford him, put him in your lineup. Today’s no different. Also look at LW Chris Kunitz too, who had 17 points in ten February games.
Puck Play #2 – LW Max Pacioretty is a sparkplug and can put in a goal or two in the blink of an eye, especially lately. He’s a bit of a feast or famine player, but he should still get your attention. Thin for reliable blue line options today, defenceman P.K. Subban should still be put into your roster as well.
Anaheim Ducks @ Phoenix Coyotes
Anaheim has turned the corner and looks like a serious cup-contender at the moment, while the Coyotes have all of a sudden found themselves at the bottom of their division. That being said, Phoenix can take advantage of the Ducks playing a late game in Minnesota the night before and sneak away with a W here.
Puck Play #1 – Ryan Getzlaf is on a tear right now, and even with a game last night I’m looking his way for production. He still showed up on the scoresheet on the 2nd day the last time he played a back-to-back too.
Puck Play #2 – Mikkel Boedker plays on a team that doesn’t score a lot, but he was a #8 draft pick for a reason. He’s got five points in his last five games, is cheaper than most fantasy heavyweights, and can take advantage of a tired Ducks team. Looking at D Keith Yandle to get me a goal or assist too.
Los Angeles Kings @ Vancouver Canucks
The defending champions are officially back after their slow start. The Kings have won five in row while outscoring their opponents, 17-6. Meanwhile, the Canucks have given up 12 in their last two. I don’t see them giving up eight like they did two games ago, but the recent trends of both teams will continue here.
Puck Play #1 – Goalie Jonathan Quick will be expensive, but he’s worth it. Three wins in a row and he’s looking like the stud he was last year. Also, get Anze Kopitar in your lineups now. He may be ugly as sin, but he’s as good at hockey as he is bad at being handsome. He’s got eight points in his last four games and is toying with opposing teams at the moment. He edges Giroux for my pick of the day.
Puck Play #2 - The Sedin twins can always garner looks, but it’s a coin flip as to which one to go with right now, and I don’t like the matchup.
Nashville Predators @ San Jose Sharks
This is a game where goals go to die. Second to last and third to last in goals scored, respectively, the Sharks are also 4th in goals against and the Preds are only eight goals behind that total. There’s plenty of goalie options I’ve provided, but that’s the only thing I’m looking at in this one. Can’t pick who will give you the W, but stalwarts Pekka Rinne and Antti Niemi are the only fantasy players to consider at this moment.