After a full-on off day for Halloween – why not, right? – the NHL is back in action Tuesday night with a hefty 12-game slate that includes some premier matchups, chief among them the first-ever meeting on NHL ice between the league’s last two No. 1 picks, Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews.
Labeled “The Next One” coming out of juniors, McDavid has lived up to the hype, delivering an excellent rookie campaign (when healthy) last season and exploding out of the gate this year with 12 points in nine games, guiding the upstart Oilers to first place in the Pacific Division. And yet Matthews has been nearly as good – he has just two fewer points and has actually taken 14 more shots on net in the same number of games. He’s been held off the scoresheet for three straight games, but something tells me that (just as when Steven Stamkos came to town) Matthews will elevate his game in this one, as he seems to rise to big moments. The Leafs are bad again this year, but they’ll thank their young superstar for that in the long haul.
Let’s jump into the action.
Oilers (PP: 20, PK: 3) at Maple Leafs (PP: 6, PK: 16), 7:30 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Cam Talbot (7-2-0, 2.05, .936), Frederik Andersen (2-2-3, 3.67, .876)
Key Injuries: Brandon Davidson (undisclosed), Matt Hendricks (lower body), Iiro Pakarinen (leg), Matt Hunwick (lower body), Josh Leivo (lower body), Joffrey Lupul (abdomen)
Well, you had to expect to find this game here, right? I already covered the McDavid-Matthews storyline, and I won’t bother you with repetition here. Instead, this: The stunningly defensively committed Oilers are tied for the league’s fourth-best defense, allowing just 2.11 goals per game; Toronto’s in the opposite situation, giving up a 28th-ranked 3.78. Andersen’s been the culprit for much of that, but he’s finally stabilized over his last two starts, notching twin two-goal, 29-save performances against tough competition in the Panthers and Habs. Still, I like the high-flying Oilers to pile up some goals here and the Leafs to score enough on the other end that Talbot’s main value comes from the win.
Owners who have been capitalizing on William Nylander (who actually has a one-point lead on Matthews) should continue to do so. I find Milan Lucic's DFS price attractive too.
Flames (PP: 27, PK: 28) at Blackhawks (PP: 10, PK: 30), 8:30 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Brian Elliott (3-4-0, 2.99, .898), Corey Crawford (3-3-1, 2.44, .919)
Key Injuries: Andrew Desjardins (lower body), Trevor van Riemsdyk (upper body)
Here they are – the league’s two most prolific power-play-goal-allowing teams. Between them, the Flames and ‘Hawks have given up 27 goals on the man advantage – that’s 27 times as many as the Wild (yes, they’ve allowed just one), and it’s more than any three other teams put together. There’s plenty of power-play talent on both sides here, but the Flames haven’t delivered on their promise in those situations yet (4-for-37); look for that to change Tuesday. Johnny Gaudreau remains about as undervalued as you’ll see him, as do Dennis Wideman and T.J. Brodie. This is one of those games where you pay up for the stars (especially Chicago’s) and get a fairly well guaranteed return, but there’s not much in the way of deeply discounted value.
Sharks (PP: 9, PK: 11) at Coyotes (PP: 28, PK: 27), 10:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Martin Jones (5-3-0, 2.15, .916), Louis Domingue (1-5-0, 4.38, .869)
Key Injuries: Mike Smith (lower body), Michael Stone (upper body), Paul Martin (illness)
As long as Mike Smith is out, I’m going after the Coyotes (and their 4.13 goals per game allowed this season) at every opportunity, and the Sharks present a particularly sweet one, as we all know what their offense is capable of delivering. Joe Thornton, Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl – with the San Jose offense off to a slightly cool start, all these guys are undervalued right now. Brent Burns’ high shot volume against a weak goaltender makes him worth the hefty investment; Jones is possibly the day’s safest goalie play.
Not to say we can’t find some positives and values on the Arizona side – chiefly, Max Domi, who’s got a four-game point streak going and would be raising his profile much more rapidly if he played somewhere other than the desert.
Blues (PP: 15, PK: 2) at Rangers (PP: 13, PK: 16), 7:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Jake Allen (4-1-2, 1.83, .923), Henrik Lundqvist (4-3-0, 2.45, .901)
Key Injuries: Josh Jooris (upper body), Robert Bortuzzo (lower body)
Jaden Schwartz’s DFS prices still haven’t adjusted to his talent and role; same goes for Jimmy Vesey on the other side. Kevin Hayes is starting to warm up for the Rangers, but he still needs to shoot more. Chris Kreider’s scheduled to make his return to the lineup, which will cut out the extra ice time J.T. Miller had been seeing recently. This isn’t the night to count on power-play specialist Brandon Pirri, but there’ll be plenty of enticing opportunities to use him in the future.
Stars (PP: 21, PK: 25) at Blue Jackets (PP: 2, PK: 6), 7:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Antti Niemi (2-1-0, 3.86, .893), Sergei Bobrovsky (3-3-1, 2.02, .940)
Key Injuries: Ryan Murray (upper body), Cody Eakin (knee), Ales Hemsky (hip), Mattias Janmark (knee), Patrick Sharp (concussion)
The banged-up Sharks have seen their lineup shaken up in search of working combos, which hasn’t been going great for Jamie Benn (zero points, minus-5 in the last four games). But maybe that prices us into some opportunity Tuesday. Seth Jones and Zach Werenski make for attractive plays on the other end.
Lightning (PP: 11, PK: 5) at Islanders (PP: 26, PK: 12), 7:30 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Ben Bishop (3-3-0, 3.69, .880), Jaroslav Halak (2-3-0, 3.04, .901)
Key Injuries: Mikhail Grabovski (concussion), Ryan Pulock (lower body)
A rematch of a 2015-16 playoff series the Islanders lost in five games, this one features two goalies looking to regain their footing amidst slow starts, but two offenses that know how to put the biscuit in the basket. I love how much Johnny Boychuk’s been shooting for the Isles, while Andrew Ladd (zero goals, one assist, 21 shots) is overdue to put one in the net. Similarly, Jonathan Drouin (two goals on 30 shots) deserves better results than what his efforts have yielded so far.
Hurricanes (PP: 5, PK: 10) at Senators (PP: 22, PK: 20), 7:30 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Eddie Lack (1-1-1, 4.00, .857), Craig Anderson (5-1-0, 2.46, .921)
Key Injuries: Ryan Murphy (lower body), Andrew Hammond (lower body), Clarke MacArthur (concussion)
Victor Rask makes for a spectacular play in both season-long (where he’s a lineup fixture) and daily, as his pricing is lagging behind the reality of his stardom. Kyle Turris and Mike Hoffman make for appetizing plays on the Ottawa end. Dion Phaneuf has been doing everything but scoring (20 shots, 15 PIM, 21 hits, 21 blocks – and only one point).
Bruins (PP: 30, PK: 9) at Panthers (PP: 19, PK: 25), 7:30 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Tuukka Rask (4-0-0, 1.26, .958), Roberto Luongo (3-3-0, 2.33, .910)
Key Injuries: David Backes (elbow), Anton Khudobin (upper body), Kevan Miller (hand), David Pastrnak (suspension), Frank Vatrano (foot), Nick Bjugstad (hand), Jonathan Huberdeau (lower body), Jussi Jokinen (knee)
The Bruins’ power play has been stunningly bad after finishing seventh in the league last year, but with much of its personnel intact, I still believe. However, with no Backes or Pastrnak in this one, the edge goes to a Panthers squad that’s been solid despite its own high-profile injuries. Aaron Ekblad’s rough start (one point in nine games) continues to trouble fantasy owners, but stay patient.
Sabres (PP: 6, PK: 7) at Wild (PP: 24, PK: 1), 8:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Robin Lehner (2-2-1, 2.61, .913), Devan Dubnyk (5-1-1, 1.43, .952)
Key Injuries: Jack Eichel (ankle), Evander Kane (ribs), Zac Dalpe (knee), Erik Haula (lower body), Zach Parise (foot), Marco Scandella (knee), Chris Stewart (illness)
The Wild have a strong advantage in most phases of the game here, and even though Minnesota’s power-play capabilities are lacking, the Sabres have no problems giving up goals at even strength. Charlie Coyle’s really been coming along for Minnesota, and Eric Staal has been surprisingly good. We’re still looking for Rasmus Ristolainen to score his first goal this season, but his seven assists have kept fantasy owners happy.
Capitals (PP: 18, PK: 21) at Jets (PP: 25, PK: 19), 8:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Braden Holtby (3-2-1, 2.15, .917), Connor Hellebuyck (2-2-0, 2.55, .919)
Key Injuries: Bryan Little (lower body), Tyler Myers (lower body), Drew Stafford (upper body)
Incredibly, DFS pricing has yet to catch up with the ascent of Patrik Laine; continue taking advantage. Hellebuyck is also in an interesting spot here – he probably won’t be used much in daily leagues due to his opponent’s reputation, but he’s an against-the-grain pick who could reward owners for a low investment against a Caps team off to an uncharacteristically slow start offensively.
Predators (PP: 1, PK: 29) at Avalanche (PP: 6, PK: 22), 9:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Pekka Rinne (1-4-1, 3.21, .906), Semyon Varlamov (2-3-0, 2.82, .909)
Key Injuries: Fedor Tyutin (groin), Anthony Bitetto (upper body), Miikka Salomaki (hand)
The Nashville defense has been a sieve and the goaltending (i.e., Rinne) deserves its share of blame too. Right now, it looks like the Preds got the short end of the Shea Weber-P.K. Subban deal – not that Subban’s necessarily been bad, but he is tied for the worst rating on the team at minus-7.
Ducks (PP: 17, PK: 13) at Kings (PP: 22, PK: 23), 10:30 p.m.
Expected Goalies: John Gibson (3-3-2, 2.55, .907), Peter Budaj (4-2-0, 1.99, .916)
Key Injuries: Jonathan Bernier (upper body), Simon Despres (head), Hampus Lindholm (personal), Rickard Rakell (abdomen), Nate Thompson (Achilles), Andy Andreoff (lower body), Marian Gaborik (foot), Brayden McNabb (upper body), Teddy Purcell (illness), Jonathan Quick (groin), Jeff Zatkoff (lower body)
Will this be the night that the surprisingly effective run of Peter Budaj comes to an end? That depends which Anaheim team shows up – the one that bombed the Preds for six goals last week or the one that got shut out by Columbus just two days later. Rakell is on his way back for the Ducks after resolving his visa issue (although his precise return date remains unclear), but Lindholm probably won’t be back for another week after finally ending his holdout this past Thursday.
Damon Severson, D, NJ – Yes, the Devils’ offense is, to coin a phrase, bad. That doesn’t mean there isn’t fantasy value to be found in it, though – there are still goals to be scored and assists to be dished, as evidenced by Severson, who’s operated at a point-per-game pace over the last six contests (with four of those points on the power play). He remains criminally under-owned, however, a victim of anti-Devils bias. All the opportunity’s there for the 22-year-old to roar past last season’s 21 points; I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get about 35, with 15 of those on the man advantage. Think you can find room for that in your fantasy lineup?