So far in 2021-22, these two teams project out quite similarly in terms of advanced stats, with both teams coming in slightly below average in xGF% (expected goal rate) but both have also had goaltenders perform above their efficiency marks from last season. The difference here is that Columbus gives up far more quality scoring chances per game —the eighth-most in the league as of the time of writing. Considering how well Braden Holtby ($7,900) is playing, Dallas may only need to capitalize on a couple of those chances here. I like taking them on as small favorites in this spot.
With Nikita Kucherov out you’ll likely see some of the production numbers for the other Tampa Bay first-liners go up in the short term. Point feels like a player who could be looking to shoot the puck a touch more with his winger out. The center has averaged 2.8 shots on net per game through five games this year and faces a Buffalo team that allowed the second-most shots on net per game last season. Getting plus money in this spot makes this a good place to dive in for an over play on a player who should be looking to pick up some of his team's offensive slack in the short term.
Top Line Stack
Tampa Bay Lightning at Buffalo Sabres
Brayden Point ($6,200) - Steven Stamkos ($7,700) - Ondrej Palat ($5,000)
The Lightning have got off to a rough start this season. On top of bringing just a 2-2-1 record into this game, they’ve also lost the services of their best skill player in Nikita Kucherov (IR) for quite some time. The Lightning are deep at wing, though, and we have seen Stamkos re-emerge this year as a viable fantasy stud you can trust. Stamkos is averaging 3.6 shots on goal per game for the season and has already potted four goals. The Lightning would usually try and keep the injury-prone veteran fresh with reduced minutes at this point of the year but with Kucherov out there’s been no limits on his minutes as he’s played over 20 minutes in his past two games.
Pairing him with other Tampa Bay first-liners in this spot feels like a no-brainer. Not only do we have an extremely cheap Point, who should now also see more usage on the power play, but Palat remains in his usual first-line role against a weak Sabres team at just $5,000. Buffalo has beaten some weaker teams in the beginning stages of the new season but they enter play on a two-game losing streak and still feature one of the weakest goaltending duos in the league. This is a great spot for the Tampa power play to find its legs and take out any early-season frustrations on a Buffalo squad that’s likely due for a little regression on special teams. Look for the Lightning first-line to cash in here for fantasy tonight.
Superstar to Target
Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals at Ottawa Senators ($8,700)
Ovechkin and the Capitals have got off to a blazing start in 2021-22 and look likely to challenge for Eastern Conference supremacy again. The winger heads into his sixth game of the year having already scored five times and averaging an elite 5.0 SOG per game. Fading Ovechkin so far this season has brought nothing but pain and this spot against Ottawa, which now has a banged-up starter in Matt Murray (IR), looks all kinds of juicy. Ottawa hasn’t allowed more than three goals against in a game so far this year, but they’re going to be running out a hodgepodge list of goalies in the near future who seem likely to break that trend quickly.
The Senators allowed over a 20% conversion rate on the penalty kill last year and rank just 21st in penalty-kill efficiency through the first couple of weeks. With Auston Matthews ($8,600) starting slow and still potentially hampered by a wrist injury, paying up for Ovechkin on this slate feels like the obvious play, but it’s also likely the correct one. Fading the Capitals’ first-liners tonight likely isn't the greatest idea and starting lineups with Ovechkin will make sure that’s a situation you avoid.
Value on Offense
Roope Hintz, Dallas Stars at Columbus Blue Jackets ($3,900)
As mentioned above, the Stars’ offense is in a good spot tonight to get off the mat against the Blue Jackets. Columbus ranked in the bottom 40% of the league in penalty kill last year and does so again through the first couple of weeks of the new season. Hintz is in the L1 center role for the Stars and even though he’s started the season slow, the fantasy production we’re used to seeing from him should come soon. This is a player who has averaged over 2.3 shots on net over the past 12 months and has a solid CorsiFor rating of 12.95 over that same span (eighth-best at center on tonight’s slate). Hintz is an elite value, and easy to pair with the rest of the Stars' big names.
Igor Shesterkin, New York Rangers vs. Calgary Flames ($8,000)
The Rangers are at home tonight against the Flames, a team that has averaged less than 3.0 goals per game over the past year and a half of play. The Flames are averaging over 30.0 shots on net though and Shesterkin seems very likely to see 30-plus shots faced once again. His team has allowed 32 or more shots on goal against in two of his past three games, so the saves bonus may even be in reach. Shesterkin is also playing well, which may be the biggest bonus here as he’s posted an elite .953 through four starts already. With the Rangers set as -140 favorites on DraftKings Sportsbook, Shesterkin sets up as a great play at $8,000 against a weak opponent.
Braden Holtby, Dallas Stars at Columbus Blue Jackets ($7,900)
Holtby continues to carry the Stars through the first two weeks of the season as he’s now posted a .950 save percentage and stopped 43 of 45 shots faced in his last outing, a 3-2 victory over L.A. The Stars enter this game with the Blue Jackets as small -130 favorites and Holtby could finally get some decent goal support against an underwhelming Blue Jackets defense. Columbus has been averaging 32.5 shots on net per game (fourth-most in the league), so the upside looks great if nothing else. Holtby’s play will likely regress a little eventually, but for now, you should continue riding him in spots like this against non-elite offenses.
Value on Defense
Miro Heiskanen, Dallas Stars at Columbus Blue Jackets ($4,800)
Like many of the Dallas Stars on this slate, Heiskanen looks vastly underpriced. While he often shares power-play duties with the likes of John Klingberg ($4,600), Heiskanen is an elite fantasy producer in every other way. The third-year player is averaging 4.8 shots on goal + blocked shots per game so far this year and his long-term form projects even better in that area. His real attraction though is the offensive upside he brings —two goals, four assists on the year—and a match-up with the Blue Jackets is a great one for fantasy purposes as they’ve allowed the sixth-most shots against and eighth-most scoring chances against. At under $5,000, Heiskanen is one of the best values out there at any position tonight.
Sean Walker, Los Angeles Kings at St. Louis Blues ($4,100)
With the injury to Drew Doughty, L.A. has had to turn to its depth defensemen to fill the void. Walker has stepped up well so far and has played over 20 minutes per game over his last three starts, including a 25-plus minute effort a couple of days ago against the Stars. He’s getting some power-play exposure now as well and has assists in his last two games. Walker’s main attraction is price and opportunity, though, as he’s averaging an elite 5.4 blocked shots + shots on goal per game in 2021-22. That rate alone makes him a great option at barely over $4K in price here and a matchup with the now run and gun Blues isn’t terrible for his point potential.
Tony DeAngelo, Carolina Hurricanes vs. Toronto Maple Leafs ($4,400)
This certainly feels like a slate where you can save money at defense and when you go looking for a potential power-play specialist you can stack with first-liners tonight, DeAngelo is a player who sticks out. So far the experiment with DeAngelo in Carolina has worked as the team has maintained its elite power-play status (37.5% conversion rate) in 2021-22 with him working the point. DeAngelo is getting most of the PP1 exposure for the Hurricanes and heads into this game having already picked up four power-play assists. He’s very point-dependent fantasy play, as he’s not playing a ton at regular strength, but if you’re stacking the first-unit forwards from Carolina — or just want an affordable upside play on defense — DeAngelo remains a good option. The Leafs are struggling in facets right now as well.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is wavegoodbye) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.
If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, crisis counseling and referral services can be accessed by calling 1-800-GAMBLER (1-800-426-2537) (IL).
Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER (IN/MI/NJ/PA/WV/WY), 1-800-522-4700 (CO/NH), 1-800-BETS OFF (IA), 1-888-532-3500 (VA), 1-800-NEXT STEP (AZ), call/text TN REDLINE 1-800-889-9789 (TN), or 888-789-7777/visit ccpg.org/chat. (CT).
21+ (18+ NH/WY). AZ/CO/CT/IL/IN/IA/MI/NH/NJ/PA/TN/VA/WV/WY only. Eligibility restrictions apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for full terms and conditions.