Wednesday’s games bring us some pivotal matchups as the opening play-ins approach crunch time. The Coyotes and Predators will be meeting for the third time today and on back-to-back days for the first time in the series. The Coyotes took Game 1, 4-3, but Nashville beat Arizona handily 4-2 in Game 2. Both Pittsburgh vs. Montreal and Edmonton vs. Chicago are tied at 1-1 with big Game 3s on deck today as well. The round-robin format returns today as Dallas is up against Colorado and the Lightning will meet the Bruins.
As for injuries, there’s only a couple to report. Steven Stamkos will again be out for the Lightning. While he does seem to be practicing in some capacity, Tampa clearly doesn’t want to rush him back for the round-robin format. Nick Schmaltz ($3,200-questionable) didn’t play in Game 2 against Nashville and looks highly questionable for Game 3, although no official word has been given, as of writing, on his status.
Set your lineups here: NHL $60K Twine [$10K to 1st]
Top Line Stacks
EDM at CHI
Leon Draisaitl ($7,700)– Kailer Yamamoto ($4,600) – Tyler Ennis ($3,900)
The Oilers tied the series on the back of a Connor McDavid ($8,700) hat trick and now move into a pivotal Game 3 with the Blackhawks on Wednesday. The Oilers may certainly make it through Chicago off McDavid’s heroics alone but I’d be shocked if we don’t see potential league MVP Leon Draisaitl respond with a big game of his own before this series is over. Draisaitl put up a big fat goose-egg in Game 2, getting zero SOG and no DKFP but had seven points in three games against Chicago in the regular season. Given how badly the Hawks have been burned by McDavid thus far, a defensive adjustment should take place in Game 3 and potentially open things up for Draisaitl who is $300 cheaper on DK than he was in Game 1.
Tyler Ennis also looks set to remain a part of this line, as he was moved up after Game 1. The versatile forward should provide some good support for rookie Kailer Yamamoto and comes cheap on DK at under $4K in salary. Yamamoto has struggled thus far in the series but had some monster games playing alongside Draisaitl in the regular season, including a 17.4 DKFP effort against Chicago right before the stoppage. With McDavid and his linemates set to be popular recency bias targets here, going with the Oilers’ second line could provide some lower ownership and big returns in GPPs today.
Superstar to Target
Evgeni Malkin ($6,700), PIT at MTL
Malkin enters Game 3 of the Penguins’ series against Montreal with zero points. It hasn’t been for lack of effort though as the Pittsburgh center has now accumulated 15 SOG through two games. That kind of production has made him a decent enough fantasy producer in the first two games of this series already but it really does feel like more is coming. Montreal has been hanging on due to some great goaltending as the Canadiens surrendered an ugly 37 shots against in the last game. Carey Price ($7,400) can be a scary opponent for forwards when he gets in this kind of zone but considering how badly Montreal has been outplayed everywhere else it does feel like the dam will be broken soon. Still well under $7K in price and easily stackable with linemate Jason Zucker ($4,900) — who he’ll likely see power-play time with — Malkin sets up as a perfect upper-tier value to build lineups around today.
Value on Offense
Derek Stepan ($3,500), ARZ vs. NAS
As noted above, the Coyotes have been dealing with some injuries up front, mainly to Nick Schmaltz ($3,200), who looks questionable to play in Game 3 on Wednesday. Stepan has been the main beneficiary and played over 18 minutes in Game 1 — more than first-line center Christian Dvorak ($4,400) — and now has two assists through two games. Stepan isn’t a high-volume shooter but considering the increase in ice-time and the matchup here against a bottom-tier defensive team like Nashville, he looks like great value for Game 3 of this series at well under $4K in price.
Mikael Granlund ($4,200), NAS vs. ARZ
Granlund’s another top-six forward from the same series who has been seeing quality ice-time thus far. He played over 18 minutes in Game 1, recording three blocked shots and three SOG which made him a decent fantasy play despite not producing any points. The points should come soon though for Granlund, who plays alongside a decent offensive player in Matt Duchene ($4,400) and produced 30 points and 17 goals of his own in 64 games during the regular season. Considering Arizona has now allowed seven goals through two games, targeting the value plays in the top six for Nashville seems to make sense for DFS purposes going forward.
Matt Murray ($8,000), PIT vs. MTL
Murray had a great bounce-back game for Pittsburgh in Game 2, holding a one-goal lead for much of the contest. He was up and down for most of the regular season but enters this slate in a great spot considering the Penguins have outshot the Canadians, 78-62, so far in this series. While he seems unlikely to get you the save bonus, a shutout is certainly on the table with the Canadians’ offense lagging so badly. The Penguins are the biggest favorites on this slate, as of writing, at -167 right now and while other goalies might present better upside Murray looks like a fine pay-up option who could provide a big game if the Canadians can’t break through for a few more scoring chances in Game 3.
Mikko Koskinen ($7,600), EDM vs. CHI
Koskinen didn’t have the best fantasy performance in Game 2 of the Oilers’ series with Chicago but he was proficient enough to get the win and made some big saves along the way. His numbers look better when you look at the bigger picture too, as he’s now stopped 41 of 45 shots faced, giving him a decent enough .911 save percentage over two games. With the series tightening and Koskinen now clearly the No. 1 goalie for Edmonton, don’t be shocked if the streaky goalie comes through with a big performance for the Oilers, who are -139 favorites as of writing, in Game 3. For a goalie who has hit 26 or more DKFP in three of his past six appearances, Koskinen looks like great value for Wednesday’s slates.
Value on Defense
John Marino ($3,600), PIT at MTL
Marino has been a steady presence in the Penguins’ top four so far in Pittsburgh’s series with the Canadians, playing over 22 minutes in each of the past two games. The ice time has already led to good fantasy production as the versatile defenseman recorded six SOG in Game 2 and remains a part of the Penguins’ second-line power play as well. At this price point, Marino doesn’t necessarily need to get you a point to pay off but could certainly do so considering he recorded 26 in 58 games this year. He also remains cheaper than teammate Justin Schultz ($3,700), who might carry a touch more offensive flair but has been playing well under 20 mins a game thus far. Marino’s a nice value on a team that could pile up some goals as Pittsburgh looks to break away from a far weaker opponent today.
Oscar Klefbom ($6,200), EDM vs. CHI
Klefbom has yet to produce a ceiling-type game in the play-ins, although he did record two assists in the Oilers’ Game 1 loss. With the series approaching a pivotal Game 3 though and the Swede now with two games under his belt, it wouldn’t be shocking to see his ice time go way up today. He led the league in blocked shots in the regular season but has only recorded two so far in this series and none in the last game. There’s likely to be some positive regression in that area soon for Klefbom and considering how hot the Oilers’ offense has been of late, his potential for another multi-point night here is also significant. He may not be as consistent a point producer as the top-two options on defense today, but his ceiling remains just as high, making him a nice target at just over $6K.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson ($4,100), ARZ vs. NAS
It’s pretty clear through two games that the Coyotes plan to ride the team’s veteran defensemen as much as possible. Ekman-Larsson played over 24 mins in his first game of the play-in and seems like a candidate to play even more in today’s Game 3 with the series now tied 1-1. Nashville carried a bottom-five penalty kill in the regular season and allowed a power-play goal in Game 1, where Larsson also scored a goal and recorded three SOG. While the Coyotes’ offense can be pretty hit or miss. the price point here makes him a near must target for anyone looking for good value on defense. The matchup also makes Ekman-Larsson a great stacking target with Taylor Hall ($6,300) and the rest of the Coyotes’ PP1 for anyone looking to load up on Arizona skaters here.
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