The Avalanche return to action here for the first time since Feb. 2 following a COVID-19 hiatus. Colorado obviously has a rest advantage, although rust could be a factor. Still, this team is now 5-1 against Vegas in their past six games against the Golden Knights and they come in playing solid hockey with the best penalty kill in the league. Ultimately, these are two elite teams, so taking the plus-money here on Colorado, which has the rest advantage and has had a big advantage over Vegas in the past two seasons, seems like the best play here.
Letang hasn’t had a great start to his season offensively but he’s still one of the more active defensemen with his shot. So far he has more SOG than either Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin, yet we’re being offered bigger odds on the DK Sportsbook to take the over 2.5 SOG for Letang than his centers. The Caps have allowed 3.19 (the seventh-most in the league) and make for a good opponent to chase the over here at good odds.
Top Line Stacks
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Washington Capitals
Sidney Crosby ($5,900) – Jake Guentzel ($5,500) – Bryan Rust ($5,800)
We have two games on our Sunday slate but only one of them has an O/U of 6.5. The Capitals now sit fifth in goals allowed on the year and, as mentioned above, have also been allowing a ton of SOG every night. In their past four games, teams opposing Washington are averaging 4.75 goals, so targeting one of the top-two lines for Pittsburgh tonight makes a ton of sense. From a value perspective, you’re likely getting a little better deal going after Crosby’s line. The Pens’ captain has been the better fantasy play of the Pens’ two elite centers by far this year and comes in with 10 points in 12 games.
The real appeal here though is in the wingers who benefit from Crosby’s playmaking ability. Rust is averaging right around 4.0 SOG per game and has hit the SOG bonus four times in his past eight starts, a stretch that includes an 11-shot performance a couple of weeks ago. This line is also one of the best correlated we have on this slate given they’ll play together at regular strength and on the PP1 for the most part. Given Washington’s struggles defensively in 2021, there’s no better stacking value on the slate.
Superstar to Target
Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals at Pittsburgh Penguins ($7,800)
Ovechkin and the Caps enter this game having not played since Feb. 7 due to a COVID-19 game cancellation. Prior to that, though, he’d been heating up and enters this game with seven points in his past four games. It’s pretty much business as usual for Ovechkin, who is maintaining his same usual high SOG percentage (averaging 4.0 per game) while anchoring the Caps’ power play and offense with multiple-point games (he has four in eight games already).
The Penguins have been terrible defensively in 2021, as they sit third-to-last in penalty kill percentage and have now given up the third-most goals per game as well. Ovechkin is simply underpriced here given the matchup and the fact he’s shown no signs of a slowdown. Even if he’s a chalky play, there’s no reason to get fancy here. Look for other ways to differentiate on this slate and anchor with Ovechkin.
Value on Offense
Jakub Vrana, Washington Capitals at Pittsburgh Penguins ($4,300)
Vrana has been in a bit of a slump lately, as he comes into this game with just two assists in his past five games. The winger is a streaky scorer and is still averaging 7.8 DKFP on the season, despite his slow down. This is a good spot to buy low, though, as Vrana is still playing big minutes in the Caps’ top six (he played over 19 minutes in his last game) and sees regular time on the Caps’ PP1 unit. Considering the matchup here against the Penguins, who are allowing goals at an alarming rate, he’s a solid way to increase exposure to this game and correlates well with almost any of the Caps’ big-name players given his power-play involvement.
Cody Glass, Vegas Golden Knights vs. Colorado Avalanche ($3,500)
Glass should be getting a little more PP1 exposure in the short-term with the injury to Shea Theodore. The center typically plays a bottom-six role for the Golden Knights but is used on special teams and has filled Theodore’s void on the PP1 of late, producing a power-play assist in his last outing against San Jose. The forward has been a good producer, regardless of where he’s slotted, as he now has six points in seven games and has exceeded 11.0 DKFP in three of his past six outings. Until Theodore comes back, keep targeting him as a value/punt play for lineups.
Philipp Grubauer, Colorado Avalanche at Vegas Golden Knights ($6,900)
As mentioned above, the Avalanche come into this game off a big rest due to COVID, so we’ll almost certainly see Grubauer in net here, who has been the Avs' best goalie by far this season. He enters this game with a .934 save percentage and has only allowed two goals in his past three starts. The matchup here is tough against Vegas, which ranks second in expected goal rate and the goalie on the other side, Marc Andre Fleury ($8,200), has also played well. Still, the value we’re getting on Grubauer seems a little absurd given how well he’s played and the fact that Colorado is just +100 underdogs as of writing. Vegas hasn’t really had to play any tough opponents yet this year so Grubauer looks undervalued here and makes for a good GPP target.
Value on Defense
Justin Schultz, Washington Capitals at Pittsburgh Penguins ($3,600)
You may not need to go this deep at defense today given the salaries we have and the fact we only have a two-game slate, but if you need value at defense then Schultz definitely sticks out. The offensively-talented defenseman enters this game with six points in his past three games for the Capitals and is finding his groove as a power-play setup man again, as three of those six points have come on the power play. He’s not likely to replace John Carlson ($6,200) on the PP1 soon, but if you can’t pay up for Carlson or are fading the Washington PP1 here, Schultz is a good pivot option today and a great value for the foreseeable future as well.
John Carlson, Washington Capitals at Pittsburgh Penguins ($6,200)
You definitely want to target the Pittsburgh-Washington game as much as possible on this slate and if you’re looking to go heavy on the Caps’ power-play then using Carlson with Ovechkin or Vrana (both mentioned above) is a good way to start. The D-man has picked up right where he left off the past two seasons, with 11 points in 12 games and remains one of the best all-around producers in fantasy as he’s also averaging 2.7 SOG and 1.6 blocked shots so far on the year. There’s not much else to say here. The Penguins’ penalty kill stinks, so loading up on the Washington PP1 unit is appropriate. If they’re successful, Carlson should benefit.
Kris Letang, Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Washington Capitals ($4,600)
I mentioned Letang above as a good bet to hit his over for SOG in this spot, and if I like him there I kind of have to like him as a DFS play at well under $5K today. The Capitals not only allow a lot of SOG, but their penalty kill is also struggling this season as they’re down to 13th in penalty-kill efficiency after being ranked sixth in the same stat last year. Letang remains goalless on the season but is still playing big minutes on the power play and overall, plus he comes in with two assists in his past two games. Ultimately, we should expect a little positive goal-scoring regression soon from the player who scored 15 goals in 61 games last year, and taking a shot on him at this price today is definitely recommended.
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