The Rangers are coming into this game off two terrible losses in Canada where they were outscored 12-5 by both Alberta teams. They return home today and should be hungry to get back on the ice considering how their road trip ended. They take on a Panthers squad that is banged up and may be without the trio of Sergei Bobrovsky ($7,400; upper body), Aleksander Barkov ($6,100; lower body) and Sam Bennett (out; upper body). If Bobrovsky suits up he will serve as a backup to Spencer Knight ($7,600). New York has the edge in goal with Igor Shesterkin ($7,800), who still has a .930 save percentage even after getting shelled in his last outing, and remains as slight underdogs here, even though they’re at home. Take the Rangers against a depleted Panthers squad.
The Maple Leafs are at home today against the Kings. The team has scored four or more times now in three of its last four games and takes on a Kings squad that is playing well but is also very banged up on the backend. Michael Bunting ($4,100) is averaging over 15 minutes of ice time per game in a top-six role alongside Auston Matthews ($8,900) and has averaged 0.5 points per game thus far this season. Considering his production rate so far and role, we’re getting great odds just to have him show up with a point tonight in a matchup with a team that may be due for some defensive regression soon.
Top Line Stack
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. L.A. Kings
John Tavares ($6,800) — Mitchell Marner ($7,500) — Alex Kerfoot ($3,100)
As mentioned above, the Kings are a team that may be playing slightly above their actual talent level at the moment. They’re without two of their top defenders yet have been able to scratch out four wins in a row. Most of those wins came against poor teams though, so putting too much emphasis on that win streak is likely a mistake. The Leafs' top-six are all in great spots tonight and when we’re deciding who to stack, it’s likely best to just stick with the hot hand/trio.
Tavares and Marner have been lightning in a bottle since being reunited and come into this matchup with 14 points between them in their past three games. The matchup here couldn't be sweeter either as both players are main cogs on the Leafs’ power play, which is starting to pick up the pace after a slow start and take on a Kings penalty kill which is the fifth-worst in the league.
I again like going Alex Kerfoot here for the value we’re getting. Kerfoot has skated over 17 minutes in two of his past four games and has four points over his past four contests as well. Marner and Tavares are the main prizes, but using Kerfoot along with them gives us the best of both worlds as we bring down the cost of our stack but also get great exposure to a lethal power play against one of the worst penalty kills in the league.
Superstar to Target
Mika Zibanejad, New York Rangers vs. Florida Panthers ($7,600)
As mentioned above, the Rangers got completely shut out in their last start so their top players should be in a foul mood here. Zibanejad had been picking up the pace a little before that outing in Calgary and scored three times against Edmonton and Vancouver in the prior two games. Long-term, he ranks out second in DKFP per game, goals per game and shots per game at center on this slate.
The Panthers have started great but aren’t without flaws. They’ve relied on hot goaltending at points this year and have allowed 32.5 shots on net per game to this point. With a few players out, attacking them here with the Rangers’ top center makes sense to me and Zibanejad should be a good leverage option in GPPs too, with the cheap Spencer Knight ($7,600) grabbing some ownership.
Value on Offense
Michael Bunting, Toronto Maple Leafs vs. L.A. Kings ($4,100)
This is mostly just repeating what I stated above, but Bunting is playing in a top-six role for the Leafs and will get the odd power-play shift as well. He’s been quiet for a bit, but as we saw in his time with the Coyotes last year, this is a player capable of busting out for a goal and three-plus shots on net against weak opponents. Realistically, anytime you have a winger under $5K in price and playing consistent minutes alongside the aforementioned Matthews you should be interested and Bunting actually has some offensive flair to his game. He’s an easy way to get more Leafs exposure today.
Daniel Sprong, Washington Capitals vs. Buffalo Sabres ($2,500)
The Capitals are another team on this slate who are remarkably banged up right now and without three top-six forwards. That’s meant players like Sprong have been forced to step up and play more minutes. Sprong has played over 16 minutes in each of his past two games while playing on the second line with Lars Eller ($2,900). He’s been productive for the Capitals in spots, too, and potted 13 goals in just 42 games last year. With a flailing Sabres team on tap, targeting the min-priced Sprong is a great way to maintain roster flexibility.
Igor Shesterkin, New York Rangers vs. Florida Panthers ($7,800)
The Rangers enter as slight home underdogs against the Panthers, who will not be starting their best netminder in Bobrovsky, and possibly could be without their best skater too in Barkov, who is a game-time decision. The fact the Rangers aren’t favorites today, at home, is almost a little disrespectful, especially considering they’re likely to be starting one of the league's best goalies.
As noted above, Shesterkin got shelled his last time out but maintains a .930 save percentage on the year. The Rangers have allowed an average of 33.5 shots against over his past five starts, which really only adds to his fantasy upside in a spot like this. He’s likely a bit undervalued and is going up against a Panthers team that looks vulnerable. Paying down saves you cash and likely gets you lower ownership on a player who has led his position in points on multiple slates already this year.
Value on Defense
Matt Roy, Los Angeles Kings at Toronto Maple Leafs ($4,300)
The Kings are without two of their top defenders still in Drew Doughty and Sean Walker, so Roy has had to step up and play big minutes. The 26-year-old has averaged over 22 minutes of ice time over his past eight games and has now picked up a power-play assist in two of his past four games. The main appeal here though is volume as Roy is averaging 3.9 blocked shots + shots on goal per game on the season and also brings us solid power-play exposure for a team that has shown good offensive capabilities over their past few starts. He’s a solid value if you’re looking for cheap plays on defense today.
Radko Gudas, Florida Panthers at New York Rangers ($3,000)
Even if we expect the Panthers’ offense to be a bit lackluster today, Gudas still makes for a good punt option if we want a near-min-priced roster option on defense. He’s playing in the second pairing and is averaging 4.1 blocked shots + shots on goal for the season, which rates him up among the top names in this category for the slate in long-term form. Gudas has topped 20 points in a season three times and his shot rate, which is great for his salary, suggests a goal is likely to come sooner rather than later. He’s a great punt today on defense.
John Carlson, Washington Capitals vs. Buffalo Sabres ($6,200)
The Capitals have a 3.8 implied goal total tonight, which is the highest on the slate by far, so we’ll definitely be wanting some exposure to their offense. As much as I like the Rangers’ Adam Fox ($7,100) — he has 17.0 or more DKFP in four of his past five games — Carlson has been nearly as good of late and is nearly $1K cheaper. Carlson has points in four straight games and is averaging right around 4.0 blocked shots + shots on goal per game for the year.
Over his past two games, though, he’s averaged over 6.0 in this same category and takes on a Sabres team that has allowed four goals against in each of their past three games. Carlson is a good pay-up option on defense and a great way to begin any Capitals power-play stacks you’re making on this slate.
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