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 a fairly quiet Thursday night in the National Hockey League with just seven games on the schedule. The St. Louis Blues are by far the biggest favorite on the board, and they should be your main focus tonight in all formats. Of the 14 teams in action, two of them (Minnesota Wild and the Tampa Bay Lightning) are playing on consecutive nights.
NOTE: Make sure to check the RotoGrinders Starting Goalies Page page prior to game time, to confirm that the goalies listed below are starting.
Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks – We have a number of goalies that should provide you with a win tonight (Jake Allen, Mike Smith and Ryan Miller), but none of them will see the amount of rubber that Corey Crawford will. The Chicago Blackhawks are a poor possession team (third-worst CA/60), which has resulted in them allowing the sixth-most shots against per game (33.9) this season in the National Hockey League. In other words, if the Blackhawks are to win this game tonight (and they certainly can), Crawford will be the reason why, likely posting a monster game in the process. Crawford has been a brick wall for Chicago this year (1.77 GAA, .945 SV%), and we could very well see another dazzling performance tonight in Philadelphia.
Vancouver Canucks Top Line - The matchup is certainly not ideal facing the Anaheim Ducks on the road, but the Ducks are extremely banged up (missing Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler and Patrick Eaves due to injury), and they have really struggled of late, losing four straight games while surrendering 14 goals against along the way. On the flip side of this contest, the Vancouver Canucks’ top line (Sven Baertschi, Bo Horvat and Brock Boeser) is one of the most talented young lines in the National Hockey League, and they have posted some monster games already this season. Making the Canucks even more attractive is their moderate prices industry wide, allowing us to stack them with some of the more expensive lines we like tonight, such as the Edmonton Oilers and the St. Louis Blues. This is more of a contrarian play, but it could definitely pay off in large field tournaments.
Los Angeles Kings Offense - It is not often I look to target players against the Eastern Conference’s best team (11-2-2), but the Tampa Bay Lightning have not been a defensive juggernaut by any means (21st in CA/60, and 19th in SCA/60) and they should be somewhat vulnerable tonight, playing their second game in as many nights and starting back-up goaltender Peter Budaj. Not to mention, the Los Angeles Kings have been the best team in the Western Conference (11-2-2), thanks to Jonathan Quick and their impressive offense (averaging 3.40 goals per game, good for eighth overall in the National Hockey League). Despite losing their best offensive player (Jeff Carter), the Kings are still getting steady production from both of their top two scoring lines and that could very well continue tonight at the Staples Center. Both the Kings’ top line (Alex Iafallo, Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown), and second line (Tanner Pearson, Adrian Kempe and Tyler Toffoli), have multi-goal potential tonight and both lines are inexpensive to stack.
Tampa Bay Lightning’s Top Line - Fading any team on a road back-to-back heading into the Staples Center to play the Los Angeles Kings, certainly makes sense on most nights, but you may want to reconsider that this evening. The Tampa Bay Lightning’s top line (Vladislav Namestnikov, Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov) has been simply unreal this season (recording another huge game last night, registering three goals), and they are a very scary fade, regardless of the matchup. Considering the daunting task at hand and their hefty salaries, the Lightning’s top line should be criminally under-owned tonight in large field tournaments, and they still have the highest ceiling of any line in the National Hockey League.
Oscar Klefbom, Edmonton Oilers - With the St. Louis Blues getting most of the attention tonight, I expect some of the other more expensive offenses (like the Edmonton Oilers) to fly under the radar tonight in large field tournaments. The Devils’ winning record (9-4-1), has masked their awful defensive play (dead last in the National Hockey League in both CA/60 and SCA/60), and I think we see the Oilers exploit that tonight in the Garden State. Making matters worse for the Devils is their undisciplined play (eighth-most minor penalties taken this year), and their penalty kill has been below average. Klefbom continues to play heavy minutes (averaging 23:52 per game) for the Oilers, and he remains their biggest scoring threat from the blue line. Look for the reasonably priced Klefbom and his booming shot from the point to break through on the power play tonight.