The Rangers record certainly doesn’t look great, but this is a team who likely deserves to be better than 4-5-3 right now. New York has the fourth-best goal differential in their division, it ranks middle of the road in xGF% and it has given up the 12th-fewest scoring chances in the league. They also enter this game versus the Bruins having lost in regulation just once in their last six games. They don’t deserve to be this big of underdogs and make for a good bet tonight.
Zibanejad enters this game with just three points and one goal through 12 games. However, the Rangers center had scored 71 goals through his last 139 regular season games entering this year, so this slump can’t last much longer. His seasonal 2.6% shooting average is now exactly 10% under his career mark. Taking a shot with the plus money odds that he finds the back of the net tonight isn’t a poor idea if you’re looking at player props.
Top Line Stacks
New York Rangers vs. Boston Bruins
Mika Zibanejad ($5,300) – Chris Kreider ($4,600) – Pavel Buchnevich ($4,800)
I already mentioned above why I like targeting Zibanejad for a little positive regression here, and at these prices I think stacking the Rangers’ entire top line has some potential. The Bruins defense is still a little banged up with Matt Grzelcyk out, and they’ve now allowed three or more goals in three of their last five games. There’s no doubt Boston is playing great hockey right now, but the Rangers come in playing well, too, as they have just one regulation loss in their last six games. All three of the Rangers top line pieces shoot the puck, as all three men average well over 2.0 SOG per game while averaging over 17 minutes of ice per game.
The upside we saw from this trio last season — when the Rangers were fifth in goals scored per game as a team — is still lurking behind the shadows. If the goals start to go in this line can produce at an elite level again. Plus, at these prices, on this short a slate, pivoting to them, or mixing this trio in with the Bruins studs, is a play I like, as most may look elsewhere given the Bruins defensive prowess.
Superstar to Target
Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins at New York Rangers ($7,900)
There’s no doubt that the main offensive cog for the Bruins remains David Pastrnak ($9,000), who has now registered five goals and eight points in his five games back. Still, with just six SOG and one assist over his last two games, there could be a bit of fatigue setting in for the winger who started his season late and may still be getting back into top condition. His return has also helped Marchand’s production, though, as the controversial but effective winger comes in with six points and four goals over his last five games. The extra space that Pastrnak affords a speedy winger like Marchand is invaluable and with his price under 8K on this slate — and $1,100 cheaper than Pastrnak — if you have to choose between the two I don’t mind taking the discount and building around Marchand at all. Stacking the Bruins first line is obviously an option, too, but if you’re looking to avoid that chalky play, just taking the best value of the three seems like the right move.
Value on Offense
Clayton Keller, Arizona Coyotes vs. St. Louis Blues ($4,300)
Keller is always on my radar as a potential value play as the Arizona winger isn’t afraid to shoot the puck and brings true 15-plus DKFP upside on a nightly basis. This season, he’s also been afforded a little more opportunity with the departure of Taylor Hall and he comes into this game averaging 2.4 SOG. He has also now scored PP goals against the Blues in each of the teams’ last two meetings against each other. Considering the top-six and PP1 role Keller possesses — and the fact the Blues come in with the third-worst penalty-kill in the league — Keller offers elite value again in this spot.
Kaapo Kakko, New York Rangers at Boston Bruins ($2,600)
If you need a min-price punt play, Kakko looks like a solid target. The Rangers second-overall selection from the 2019 Draft can sometimes be forgotten about given his slow start in the NHL, and the fact the team was able to grab the highly touted Alexis Lafreniere ($3,000) this year with the first pick. However, right now it’s Kakko who is getting the minutes in the top-six of the Rangers’ lines and he comes in having averaged 18 minutes of ice time over his last two games. The points will eventually come for him skating alongside the likes of Artemi Panarin ($6,000; lower body), and with the kind of skill he brings, he embodies the kind of upside you want to target for a punt play of this nature.
Igor Shesterkin, New York Rangers vs. Boston Bruins ($7,200)
Shesterkin has really picked up his play of late. The Rangers goalie has now stopped 89 of the last 94 shots he’s faced and enters this game with a season long .916 save percentage, which is great considering the poor start he endured. The Bruins are a tough opponent, but as we discovered last season, the upside in these spots with Shesterkin can be amazing when he’s on, as the Rangers are a team that will give up shots in bunches at times. I mentioned above why I like the Rangers as a possible underdog to target tonight and part of that reasoning stems from Shesterkin, who also makes for a great GPP target.
Darcy Kuemper, Arizona Coyotes vs. St. Louis Blues ($7,600)
The Coyotes come in having handed the Blues three-straight losses and they’re playing some surprisingly good hockey. Arizona ranks fifth in penalty-kill effectiveness and is also facing a struggling Blues offense that ranks fourth-worst in power-play percentage. Kuemper’s certainly done his part of late, too, as he’s stopped 64 of the last 68 shots he’s faced. Plus, he likely won’t be a popular target here given the Coyotes are underdogs and most people will be expecting a Blues bounce-back. As of late, Kuemper’s been the best goalie on this slate, so I like him as a GPP target as well.
Value on Defense
Jacob Trouba, New York Rangers vs. Boston Bruins ($3,900)
Trouba comes into this game averaging over 22.4 minutes per game, and playing on the top pairing for the Rangers, which is enough to get him on our radar at this kind of price. The former Jet is only two years removed from a season where he scored 50 points and is still seeing consistent power-play time for the Rangers. The two points in 12 games doesn’t say much for his fantasy potential right now, but there is definitely a little more offensive upside than his current record stat sheet indicates. He’s also contributing in other ways as he comes in averaging 2.5 blocked shots per game on the season. He gives you a cheap way to get exposure to the Rangers power-play on this small slate and makes for a good value play even if you’re not stacking that full unit.
Jakob Chychrun, Arizona Coyotes vs. St. Louis Blues ($5,000)
Chychrun has taken a nice step forward this year on the Coyotes stacked back-end, as he comes into this game with 10 points in 12 games and with three power-play points over the Coyotes’ last two meetings against the Blues. I mentioned the Blues woes above and part of their issues so far this year have come on special teams where they now rank as the team with the third-worst penalty-kill in the league. Chychrun is really doing everything for fantasy purposes, as he’s also averaging a healthy 1.7 blocked shots per night and 2.5 SOG, so he brings true double-bonus potential whenever he plays. In this matchup, with the Blues being such a poor defensive club right now, Chychrun’s seems like a no-brainer and someone to stack easily with some of Arizona’s cheap PP1 forwards.
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