This article is part of our DraftKings NHL series.
Wednesday's 7:30 PM Eastern time NHL slate features just two games, with the Red Wings visiting the Senators and Penguins traveling to Tampa Bay. Below, you'll find an overview of the matchups and suggested options for crafting an effective lineup.
The Red Wings and Senators look like two of the league's worst teams, while the Penguins and Lightning are expected to be among the best. Detroit and Pittsburgh are both finishing back-to-backs, while the home teams are well rested. With sloppy defense in the first game and high-end offensive skill in the second, both games offer plenty of enticing value plays.
Andrei Vasilevskiy ($8,000) is easily the best of the four goalies playing from an ability standpoint, having taken home the Vezina Trophy as the league's top netminder last season. He was roughed up by Colorado for six goals in his last start, but the 25-year-old Russian has won four of six to start the season and should benefit from facing a Penguins team that's far from 100 percent due to injuries and fatigue.
Jonathan Bernier ($7,500) is expected to start for Detroit with Jimmy Howard having played Tuesday against the Canucks. This pick is more about the matchup than the goaltender — Bernier's 2-2-0 with a 3.03 GAA and .905 save percentage, while the Senators own the league's second-worst offense at 2.13 goals per game and are converting a league-low 4.0 percent of power-play opportunities.
Vladislav Namestnikov ($5,000) has been Ottawa's best player since coming over in an early-season trade with the Rangers. He has four goals and six points through six games in Canada's capital, and the Russian winger's role on the second line and top power-play unit puts him in position to keep accumulating points.
Andreas Athanasiou ($4,300) is off to a slow start, but he potted 30 goals last season and is especially dangerous against poor defensive teams that leave too much open ice for Detroit's speedster. A Senators team that's allowing 3.50 goals per game fits that description to a T.
Nikita Kucherov ($7,500) may have been moved off the top line for now, but he's still on the No. 1 power-play unit, and 48 of his 128 points last season came with the extra man. Don't be surprised to see the temporary demotion light a fire under Kucherov, especially since he's still playing at a point-per-game pace through eight despite being held off the scoresheet in the last two.
Dominik Simon ($3,700) is by far the cheapest member of Pittsburgh's top line and has points in four of his past five games. He's a strong value play as a stand-alone option or as part of a contrarian Penguins stack.
FORWARD LINE STACKS
Red Wings at Senators
This line has been the offense for Detroit so far, as each member has at least seven points while no other Red Wing has more than four. Larkin posted 73 points in 76 appearances last season, so his 2-5-7 line through nine games is sustainable. Mantha's enjoying a breakout season at age 25 after consecutive 48-point campaigns — his seven goals, 11 points and 41 shots all lead the team. Bertuzzi completes this youthful trio of 25-and-unders, and he's playing at a point-per-game pace with three goals and six assists. Don't expect the 1-6-1 Senators to have an answer to this line.
Lightning vs. Penguins
These lines likely won't stick for long, but the Lightning have opted to split up their top players between three different lines for the time being in order to juice the offense. As a result, this trio currently represents Tampa Bay's first line, and it's the only line that features multiple members of the Lightning's top power-play unit (Stamkos and Johnson). Stamkos topped the 90-point mark for the fourth time last season and is on pace to do so again with a 4-5-9 line through eight games. Johnson enjoyed his second career 29-goal campaign last year and sports a 2-2-4 line in 2019-20. Joseph's a speedster who should benefit from skating on a line with two excellent passers. He's amassed two goals and an assist in a bottom-six role and is coming off a 13-goal rookie campaign.
Senators vs. Red Wings
The Senators may not be any good, but neither are the Red Wings, who fell to 3-6-0 with Tuesday's loss to Vancouver. Ottawa's top line should provide some offense in this one without burning a hole in your wallet. Pageau owns a 2-3-5 line through eight games, and while he's never scored more than 43 points in a season, he's also spent the vast majority of his career in a bottom-six role and is now skating big minutes as his team's No. 1 center. Tkachuk is the most talented forward on the team, and the 20-year-old power forward has two goals and an assist so far after posting a 22-23-45 line in 71 games as a rookie. Brown is tied with Namestnikov for the team lead with six points — all assists.
Thomas Chabot ($6,200) is the face of Ottawa's franchise and a rare bright spot for the team. The 22-year-old blueliner scored 55 points in 70 games last season and has five points through eight contests in 2019-20. He'll be arguably the best player on the ice at all times in this game.
Kevin Shattenkirk ($5,100) is back with a vengeance after being bought out by the Rangers in the offseason. Tampa's shrewd signing already has four goals and three assists with his new club. While he's unlikely to maintain this prolific scoring pace all season, Shattenkirk's certainly capable of continuing to contribute with regularity considering he has six 40-point seasons under his belt.
Dennis Cholowski ($3,500) is one of three Detroit blueliners with four points, but he's the cheapest of the group and has compiled his points in one fewer game.