We enter the second day of the NHL bubble with the round-robin portion kicking off today, along with the rest of the play-in series getting started. If you’re not familiar with the round-robin format, the top-4 teams in each conference (East and West) will all play each other once (so teams will all play three games apiece) to determine where they are seeded after the play-ins finish and the real playoff’s begin. The Flyers-Bruins and Blues-Avalanche kick things off in that regard tonight.
As for the best of five play-ins, the Leafs host the Blue Jackets tonight, while the Preds host the Coyotes and the Canucks host the Wild. The Maple Leafs are sitting around -180 favorites as of writing and will be playing in their home city for the duration of the tournament. Vancouver and Minnesota are one of the closest series in terms of odds, with the Canucks sitting around -120 favorites.
Top Line Stacks
VAN vs. MIN
Elias Pettersson ($6,200) – Tyler Toffoli ($5,900) – J.T. Miller ($6,100)
Prior to the break, the Canucks’ top-line was starting to click. Both Toffoli— who Vancouver acquired at the trade deadline — and Miller had 19 or more DKFP in four of their last 10 games. The Canucks had also moved up into fourth in power-play efficiency. In a tightly contested series between two teams who were only separated by one point when the season was halted, this unit could easily be the difference-maker for the Canucks.
Minnesota showcased the seventh-worst penalty-kill in the regular season and will be in tough against one of the best power plays in the league here. For DFS purposes, both Toffoli and Miller should be viewed as great upside options on the wings, with Toffoli perhaps being the best value of the three. The former King has now hit the DK-SOG bonus four times in his past 10 games and didn’t take long to become a consistent DFS performer. You could also add in Quinn Hughes ($4,600) on defense here if you want to mix and match the Canucks PP1 today.
Superstar to Target
Auston Matthews ($8,100), TOR vs. CBJ
The second day action has a few teams with better defensive ratings attached to it and four games with O/U of 5.5. The one game with a bigger puck total though is Toronto vs. Columbus, which is currently set at 6, and given the Leafs enter as -150 favorites you would expect some of Toronto’s top players to produce with a bunch of fantasy goodness. Prior to the stoppage, Matthews had become a near-must target in DFS whenever he was on the slate, producing less than four SOG just once in his prior 10 games and never failing to play less than 20 mins. That kind of consistency alone makes his $8K salary seem extremely palatable and the fact that Toronto will be facing a goalie with little playoff experience in either Joonas Korpisalo ($6,900) or Elvis Merzlikins ($6,900) only adds to the narrative here that Matthews should be in for some monster nights in this series. Given the slate, paying up for the Maple Leafs’ stud makes sense and pairing him with linemate William Nylander ($6,300) should also be considered for GPPs.
Value on Offense
Clayton Keller ($4,100), ARZ at NAS
Keller looks set to begin the play-ins on the Coyotes’ third-line, but his real value comes from being included on the Coyotes’ PP1 unit. The winger has collected 15 of his 44 points this season on the PP and will be going up against a Nashville squad who really struggled on special teams this season. The Preds featured the third-worst penalty kill in the league in the regular season and should make all of the Coyotes’ top PP1 regulars good targets tonight. Keller might be the most attractive for DFS purposes though as he is averaging over 2.5 SOG per game as well as over 16 mins of ice per game and remains extremely affordable at just over $4K in salary.
Alexandre Texier ($2,500), CBJ at TOR
Texier looks like an intriguing min-price target here for Game 1 of this series. The second-year player missed a bunch of time due to a stress fracture in his back, but returns healthy for this series and looks set to at least start the series in the Blue Jackets’ top six. While he may not get a ton of ice time or even much power-play exposure, at this price you don’t really need him to do a whole lot to pay off. He’ll be in a good spot to acquire some points in this series though as the Leafs allowed the sixth-most goals against per game in the regular season. He’s also an easy stacking target with Oliver Bjorkstrand ($6,500), who looks set to start with on Sunday.
Jacob Markstrom ($8,000), VAN vs. MIN
The Canucks enter this series as -122 favorites (as of writing) and Game 1 as -108 co-favorites. Even though Game 1 is essentially a pick-em, Markstrom presents as a good pay-up candidate based on his regular-season numbers where he posted a .918 save percentage and averaged 16.2 DKFP per game. Vancouver grades out as a great fantasy team for a highly-skilled goalie like Markstrom as the Canucks allow the fourth-most SOG, giving him a chance to hit the DK-SOG bonus on almost any night — a feat he’s achieved four times in his past 10 games. He’s a solid pay-up candidate for Sunday’s big slate and any showdown lineups as well.
Darcy Kuemper ($7,300), ARZ at NAS
Kuemper missed part of the season for Arizona but returned prior to the stoppage and showcased some solid form. The netminder has been a big key to the success of the Coyotes in 2020, posting a .923 save percentage and a 16.6 DKFP average this season. The Coyotes enter this game as +114 underdogs (as of writing) but Arizona is going up against a Nashville squad who attempts the fifth-most SOG per game yet carries the seventh-worst power play in the league. At this price, taking on the underdog goalie here makes sense as Nashville’s high shot volume and inability to finish make this a great upside spot for Kuemper.
Value on Defense
Jakob Chychrun ($3,900), ARZ at NAS
Chychrun solidified himself as a top-four defenseman for the Coyotes prior to the stoppage and was a surprisingly good DFS target once he did. The American averaged over 22 mins of ice per game and 3.3 SOG per game over his last 10 starts, making him a great value target most nights when he was priced below $5K. His price here seems like an absolute gift now that it’s drifted under $4K and the matchup against the Predators makes it even better. While he’ll cede power-play time to both Oliver Ekman-Larsson ($4,200) and Alex Goligoski ($3,500), Chychrun’s shot volume and offensive production simply make him a better upside target here against the Predators and Nashville’s bottom-three penalty kill. This is a great spot a player who should get lots of run in the play-ins and has one of the best matchups on the board tonight.
Zach Werenski ($6,800), CBJ at TOR
If the Blue Jackets are planning to keep this series close they’ll need to capitalize on the power play and the Maple Leafs’ weakness on special teams, where they feature the 11th-worst penalty kill in the league. Werenski is one of the Columbus players who should benefit the most from this matchup as his prowess on the power play is certainly among the best for defensemen. Seventh in the league in power-play goals at his position, Werenski’s also sixth in SOG at his position and has the highest shot percentage in the league among D-men. The Blue Jackets’ power play was arguably the weakest part of the team in the regular season, but in this matchup against the Maple Leafs it could certainly come to life and Werenski would certainly benefit if it did. He’s a great upside target for Game 1 here.
Tyson Barrie ($5,000), TOR vs. CBJ
On the flip-side of the Maple Leafs-Blue Jackets game is Barrie, who comes in much cheaper than Werenski but also holds a lot of value given his role on the Leafs’ PP1. While he doesn’t shoot nearly as much or as effectively as Werenski, 12 of Barrie’s 39 points this year have come on the man advantage. Even against a decent Blue Jackets penalty kill, this is still a match-up we should be targeting given all the talent the Leafs have up front. Barrie’s a good cost-effective defense target and a nice way to go about stacking the Leafs’ PP1 in the game with the highest puck total on the slate.
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