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 leader boards in FanDuel and DraftKings tournament play.
We have yet another big Thursday night slate in the National Hockey League this evening with 11 games on tap. The Tampa Bay Lightning, Vegas Golden Knights and the San Jose Sharks are your biggest favorites, and we have two teams (Montreal Canadiens and the Vancouver Canucks) 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.
Craig Anderson, Ottawa Senators - There are a lot of offenses to like tonight on this 11-game slate, and most of them are expensive to own, so finding an inexpensive goaltender with win upside is likely the route I will be taking more often than not this evening, which brings me to Craig Anderson. Sure, the Senators are a difficult team to trust, but they are a decent sized favorite tonight on home ice, and the Buffalo Sabres not only struggle to win games (17-30-10), they also lack offensive punch (30th overall in the National Hockey League in goals per game), and that should continue with Jack Eichel remaining out of the lineup. Like most of the Senators, Anderson has struggled to find his game this year, but I do think he wins tonight, and with his low price tag industry wide, he is worth the roll of the dice in GPPs.
Pittsburgh Penguins Offense - The matchup for the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight is not as juicy as it was on Tuesday night when the Ottawa Senators were in town, but it is still a plus one, especially with the way the Penguins have been scoring goals of late. On the season, Pittsburgh sits second overall in the National Hockey League in goals per game on home ice (3.66), and the Penguins happen to be first overall when it comes to goals per game in 2018, thanks to them averaging a ridiculous 4.33 goals per game in six February contests. Two nights ago using Sidney Crosby as a one-off was the right approach, and that may be the way to go again tonight, with coach Mike Sullivan constantly mixing up Crosby’s less talented wingers throughout the game. With that being said, Crosby and company (Zach Aston-Reese and Conor Sheary) are much cheaper to stack these days and you will likely get this line heavily under-owned in large field tournaments. With Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel also split up on lines two and three, we are very likely to see a low ownership across the board for the Penguins tonight, making all three lines somewhat contrarian. You could also stack any two of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin or Phil Kessel along with offensive defenseman Kris Letang as a power play stack, once again differentiating your lineup from others.
Ottawa Senators Number One Line - The Ottawa Senators have certainly struggled to score goals this season (ranking 25th overall in the National Hockey League in goals per game), but with a plus matchup on home ice, I am intrigued by their inexpensive, yet potentially explosive top line featuring Mike Hoffman, Matt Duchene and Marian Gaborik. Hoffman and Duchene have big time potential when playing together at both even strength on the Senators’ top power play unit, and with this line being inexpensive to stack, we can add the offensively gifted Erik Karlsson to the mix. I know it is hard to trust Ottawa, but if you are looking for a cheap, low owned stack, that has multi-goal potential, you have found one.
New York Islanders Second Line - The New York Rangers are another team we should be attacking this evening at the Barclays Center. The Rangers sit 29th overall in CA/60, HDCA/60 and SCA/60, and they are no longer trying to win this season. The New York Islanders are an offensive juggernaut (averaging 3.29 goals per game), especially on home ice (averaging 3.52 goals per game) and I expect their top line to draw a lot of attention tonight, but their second line has similar upside and they will not be nearly as popular. So if you are looking to avoid the chalk, the Islanders’ second line has massive potential tonight in this plus matchup on home ice, but they will come with a lot less ownership in large fields tournaments.
Rasmus Ristolainen, Buffalo Sabres - As much as I think the Ottawa Senators win tonight, this is still one of the worst defensive teams in hockey (31st in CA/60, 22nd in HDCA/60 and 27th in SCA/60), and they just traded away defenseman Dion Phaneuf, so we can definitely pick on them tonight at the Canadian Tire Centre. The problem with attacking the Senators tonight is that we are targeting the Buffalo Sabres offense, which has been awful all season long (sitting 30th overall in the National Hockey League in goals per game), and now they are without their best offensive player. So perhaps jumping on Rasmus Ristolainen is the best way to get exposure to the Sabres’ offense. The 23-year-old Finn logs huge minutes (averaging over 26 minutes of ice per game) at both even strength, and as the Sabres’ power play quarterback, he checks all the offensive boxes on a nightly basis. I should also note that Ottawa owns the league’s 29th ranked penalty kill, giving Ristolainen multi-point potential on the power play alone this evening, and we are unlikely to see much traffic on him tonight in GPPs.