We have a couple of bad defensive teams going up against each other here. Both Philly and Vancouver allowed over 3.2 goals per game last season and the Canucks have allowed the most quality scoring chances since the beginning of last season. The Flyers’ big additions this season were Martin Jones in net (.896 save percentage last year) and Rasmus Ristolainen, who is a career -163 (although he’s also out for tonight). The goals should flow here, as they did in many games last night, and the low 6.0 total on this is certainly worth an over.
Hughes is averaging 2.57 SOG over the last 12 months, so right off the bat, we seem to be getting good odds to take the over on a player who is outperforming his over/under in a significant sample. The Blackhawks also make for a nice target for this prop on skaters as they have led the league in shots against per game the last two seasons and allowed 36.0 SOG in their opener against COL. Target the nice odds on Hughes’ SOG total here.
Top Line Stack
Philadelphia Flyers Power Play vs. Vancouver Canucks
Sean Couturier ($7,100) - Travis Konecny ($5,900) - Keith Yandle ($2,900)
As mentioned above, we should expect some fireworks from this Flyers-Canucks game as both rate out as terrible defensive teams. For stacking purposes, I will side with the big line from the Flyers, who are solid -154 favorites and have a large 3.4 implied goal total as a team (compared to 2.7 for the Canucks). Sean Couturier rates out as one of the best plays on this slate regardless of stacking as he’s averaging 2.73 SOG over the last year and is somewhat underpriced compared to prices we’ve seen on him in the past.
Stacking him with first-line winger Travis Konecny is the preferred option in terms of correlation. Konecny has a strong CorsiFor rating (which in a nutshell measures all shots towards an opponents’ net) and ranks out with the eighth-best PP goals per game mark on this slate at wing. Konecny and Couturier will skate together at even strength and on the PP1 for Philly, but we can also save money by attacking the Canucks’ penalty-kill, which has already allowed one goal on just two penalty-kills in game one. Keith Yandle should see his playing time go up in game one for Philly with their injuries on the blueline and he’s already slated to tend the point on the Flyers’ top power-play. Yandle’s sub-$3K salary makes him an instant value then and he’s averaging 0.31 PP assists over the last 12 months as well. This stack is cost-effective and should have a good chance of piling up some points against a weak opponent.
Superstar to Target
Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks at New Jersey Devils ($7,500)
It’s easy to overthink things on short slates where ownership can get sky high on certain players. That said, we have a clear stud in Patrick Kane, who is playing the Devils. The Devils ranked at the bottom of the league in penalty-kill efficiency last season and also allowed the fifth-most goals. The Blackhawks march into this game as small underdogs but still have a strong 2.9 implied puck total. Kane leads all wingers on the slate in terms of SOG per game at 3.42 and PP assists per game at 0.89. Despite all that, he’s priced well under $8K on this slate, where he does rate out as the most expensive skater. Using Kane won’t be contrarian, but you can stack him with other expensive Blackhawks like Alex DeBrincat ($6,600) or Seth Jones ($6,400) to really load up on Chicago, should we get a big night from their star. Regardless of how you’re constructing your lineup, Kane is the clear star to pay up for on this short Friday slate.
Value on Offense
Alex Chiasson, Vancouver Canucks at Philadelphia Flyers ($4,000)
The Canucks brought in Alex Chiasson over the offseason and the veteran has impressed enough to get a first-line pairing right out of the gate. Playing alongside Elias Pettersson ($6,700) at both even strength and on the PP1 gives him massive value just on that basis alone. Chiasson is a streaky scorer and certainly isn’t afraid to go missing from the scoresheet for long stretches but skated over 14 minutes in his Canucks debut (against his old team the Oilers) and recorded a healthy five SOG in that game. The Flyers’ terrible penalty-kill means his goal expectation goes up by a decent chunk tonight and he makes for a solid upside value target as a result.
Pavel Zacha, New Jersey Devils vs. Chicago Blackhawks ($5,000)
Zacha had a nice 2020-21 season for the Devils as he recorded 17 goals in 50 games and comes in averaging a healthy 2.02 SOG over the last year. Zacha’s production last season was impressive from the view that he suffered through playing with such a thin center group. However, the Devils have Nico Hischier ($6,400) back in the fold for 2021-22 and Zacha should be playing alongside him to start the season. Zacha will also be featured on the PP1 unit, which makes him a great stacking target tonight as well. The cheap Devils forwards are all in a great spot, but Zacha tops the list given his form from last season for me.
Jonathan Bernier, New Jersey Devils vs. Chicago Blackhawks ($7,800)
In terms of actual studs, this slate doesn’t offer much appeal at goalie tonight. We have backups in play and just outright bad goalie tandems on worse defensive teams. One situation I don’t hate targeting is in New Jersey, where Jonathan Bernier is going to get the start due to Mackenzie Blackwood’s injury status. Bernier had a decent bounce-back campaign last season on a bad Detroit squad as his .914 save percentage from 2020-21 was slightly above his career average. The Devils figure to be a little better defensively too as they have a healthy group of forwards to start the season and have acquired a true workhorse on the backend in Dougie Hamilton ($6,700). The Devils are small -128 favorites as of writing, making this sub-$8K salary look pretty attractive as well. You’re really not going to feel great about rostering any of tonight’s starters, but the Devils’ revamped roster could get Bernier off to a good start and he makes for a solid target on this short slate.
Value on Defense
Kevin Shattenkirk, Anaheim Ducks vs. Minnesota Wild ($4,000)
Shattenkirk remains a big part of the Ducks’ defense, which remains one of the thinnest in the league. In game one for the Ducks, he skated just 18 minutes on the third pairing but remains a part of their power-play rotation. Shattenkirk delivers in the fantasy department too despite not playing huge minutes as he’s averaged over 1.0 blocked shots per game and over 1.5 SOG per game over the last 12 months. The Ducks have a few cheap defensemen worth looking at but none of them offer the multiple category production that Shattenkirk does right now. The Ducks’ offense may actually be improved this season too, so taking Anaheim defensemen with a little offensive skill at this price level could pay off more frequently this season.
Dougie Hamilton, New Jersey Devils vs. Chicago Blackhawks ($6,700)
All things considered, we have to love the spot for the Devils’ power play tonight. The Blackhawks featured the fourth-worst penalty kill in the league last season and will be starting Kevin Lankinen ($7,600) in net, who suffered through a terrible end to last season where he posted save percentages of under .900 in five of his last six games. Dougie Hamilton’s salary is below where we saw him priced for much of last season and we can expect heavy usage from the newly minted Devil right out of the gate. He’s also easy to stack with sub-$6K players like Jack Hughes ($5,900) and Pavel Zacha ($5,000), who will also be joining him on the PP1 tonight. The Devils’ top unit is a great one to target against a Blackhawks team that look like they’ll be great opponents yet again this season.
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