The NHL bubble continues on Thursday with one team on the verge of facing elimination in the play-ins and two other series looking to break 1-1 deadlocks. The Jets have endured some bad luck in this shortened season with both Mark Scheifele ($5,600) and Patrick Laine ($5,700) missing game three. Both men are highly questionable for a pivotal game four where the Flames can eliminate the Jets with a win. Vancouver and Toronto were both the favorites in their series and bounced back from tough opening series loses to tie their respective series 1-1. Jake Muzzin (out) and Tyler Toffoli ($5,800-questionable) are two of the biggest injuries impacting those series.
The round-robin format has WAS vs. PHI and VGK vs. STL going tonight. Max Pacioretty ($7,500-questionable) and John Carlson ($6,800-questionable) are the two biggest names to watch for in terms of starting lineups there.
Top Line Stacks
MIN vs. VAN
Eric Staal ($4,900) – Kevin Fiala ($7,200) – Jared Spurgeon ($5,400)
The Wild’s offense has looked in-tune for most of the series, scoring three goals in each of the first two games. While they didn’t strike on the power play in game two the Wild, they did land two PP goals in game one and are 2/10 in the series now on the PP. Vancouver only featured the 16th best penalty kill in the league during the regular season so I like targeting the big guns for Minnesota here.
Kevin Fiala has been a powerhouse over his last 20 games or so and has brought his regular season momentum into the bubble. The winger’s up to 11 SOG through two games with three goals. While his price has shot up on DraftKings, the Canucks allow a ton of shots on net (4th most in the league) and right now its feels like Fiala is capable of a slate breaking game every night in this matchup. Rounding him out with two other members of the Wild PP1 makes sense. Staal has started the series well (four points in two games) and hasn’t seen much of a price increase here while Spurgeon is a nice upside target on defense at under 6k. The Wild power play QB went off for 36.2 DKFP in game one and is capable of matching that total any night against the defensively challenged Canucks.
Superstar to Target
Johnny Gaudreau ($6,000), CAL at WPG
The Flames’ offense kicked things into high gear in their last game, scoring six goals in a lopsided win. Calgary’s power play has been hot, going 5/14 thus far in the series and that’s great news for Gaudreau who is one of their best offensive catalysts. While he went through some regression this season, points wise, the Flames’ forward was looking perky at times prior to the break and has already scored twice in this play-in. Despite a couple of solid games, Gaudreau’s price has yet to come up much, so he really rates out as a big value right now considering he seems likely to see big minutes in this elimination game. At this price, pairing him with either Sean Monahan ($5,300) or Elias Lindholm ($5,200) makes sense, although Gaudreau clearly possesses the best upside of the three as he shoots the puck at a much higher rate. Winnipeg’s not been able to hold the Flames to under 30 SOG in this series yet and that trend seems unlikely to change here, especially with the Jets dealing with injuries. Building around Gaudreau and the Flames’ top 6 at this salary makes a lot of sense on this slate.
Value on Offense
Mikael Backlund ($4,800), CAL at WPG
If you don’t want to pay up for the Flames’ first line today, you can certainly target their second line for some value. Backlund really caught fire for Calgary down the stretch, collecting 13 points over his last 10 games, where he also averaged a stout 3.4 SOG/game. Given Winnipeg’s depth issues at forward right now, it’s plausible he continues to flourish in game four, having already recorded three points in the series and 10 SOG in his last two games. If you want super value, then pairing him with winger Andrew Mangiapane ($3,700) makes sense as well. The two combined for four points last game and figure to get better match ups at even strength than the Flames’ first line.
Tanner Pearson ($4,400), VAN at MIN
Pearson is coming off a year where he potted 22 goals. The winger only has one shot on net in this series thus far, but that was a goal and he’s been playing on a line with Bo Horvat ($5,800), who was one of the Canucks’ most effective players in game two. Despite a slow start for Pearson and the Canucks, this is still a great matchup for their top offensive players as the Wild don’t have a dominant goalie and had the seventh-worst penalty kill during the regular season. You can pair Pearson with Horvat or simply play him on his own as he’s in a great position nightly to threaten for a goal and due for some positive regression in terms of SOG.
Brian Elliott ($7,300), PHI vs. WAS
There doesn’t seems like a ton of great options to choose from in net, especially when the most expensive goalie on the slate is a backup in Cam Talbot ($8,300). Elliott looks set to start in net for the Flyers in their second game of the round robin and could be an interesting way to save at the position. Philadelphia has played good defensive hockey all season and will be getting a veteran Washington squad today, who could be without one of their best offensive weapons in John Carlson ($6,800-questionable). Elliott’s yearly numbers don’t look so hot but he posted 15 or more DKFP six times in his last 10 starts and could get a disinterested Capitals squad to pile up points against here.
Alex Stalock ($7,300), MIN vs. VAN
Stalock has started both games for the Wild in this series. He was excellent in game one, stopping 28 shots for a shutout, but regressed hard in game two as the Canucks’ top offensive players got to him for four goals. He’s not guaranteed to get the start in net today but seems like he should. He’s recorded a .918 save percentage over his last 10 starts and the Wild have gone 7-3 in front of him over that span. Considering Vancouver may be without Tyler Toffoli (questionable) here again—and the way Minnesota’s offense has been scoring—whoever starts in net for the Wild tonight should have a great shot at a big game and make for a nice GPP target.
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Value on Defense
Erik Gustafsson ($3,700), CAL at WPG
I’ve talked at length about the Flames’ offense being good targets on today’s slate and Gustafsson is another great way to get exposure. The former Blackhawk came over at the trade deadline and is taking on a lot of special teams work on the power play. As I mentioned above, the Flames’ power play has been working well in this series with Gustafsson already picking up a couple of assists. Given his effectiveness, you should see the Swede continue to work in this role against the Jets tonight. He’s averaging two SOG in the series and already has two assists making him an excellent play and stacking partner for the Flames’ top six forwards.
Alec Martinez ($4,200), VGK at STL
Martinez played over 21 minutes for the Golden Knights in game one of the round robin format and figures to be a pivotal figure on their defense as they progress through the bubble. While Shea Theordore ($6,100) has the better pure upside from a fantasy standpoint in a game against the Blues here, targeting some value with Martinez is likely the better play. He’s averaged three blocked shots a game over his last 10 starts and is taking on an expanded role with the Knights since coming over form LA. He’ll also give you some power play exposure which is nice, especially given the Knights have a top 10 power play unit.
Morgan Rielly ($5,500), TOR at CBJ
Rielly has played big minutes for the Leafs in their first two games and stands to be the benefactor of some big fantasy games once their offense really gets rolling. The offensive-minded defenseman played over 24 minutes in the must-win game two for Toronto, where he picked up his first goal of the series. While he was often overshadowed this year by Tyson Barrie ($5,100), who was added over the summer, it’s clear the Leafs will be riding Rielly a little more in the playoffs. Despite a down year offensively, he still averaged over 2.5 SOG per game this season and remains extremely affordable considering how explosive the Leafs can be. He’s a good pairing with any of the Leafs’ top six as he’s bound to get some power play time even if cedes some of that work to the aforementioned Barrie.
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