Night two of this NHL season brings us five games on the slate and plenty of questions. Alexander Ovechkin is a game-time decision, Nathan MacKinnon is in the COVID-19 protocol and Nicklas Backstrom is opening the season on long term injured reserve, Austin Mathews isn’t ready to return, so there’s going to be plenty of opportunities for other players to step up. We’ll discuss the two games I believe are going to offer the best fantasy game environments tonight.
Montreal Canadiens @ Toronto Maple Leafs
Even with Austin Matthews out I still like the Toronto Maple Leafs game against the Montreal Canadiens to have plenty of scoring tonight. The game total is set at 6 and I expect the teams to hit that and probably go over that. Toronto ranked third last year with 833 scoring chances for (SCF) and fourth in high danger scoring chances (HDF) with 206. They were also ranked first in expected goals (xGF) with 137.9, this team is loaded with offensive talent and threats to score up and down their lineup. In addition to Matthews being out Mitch Marner is also day to day making it difficult to get a full handle on exactly what the Maple Leafs will do with their forwards so I plan to target the Leafs defensemen starting with Morgan Reilly ($6,100 DK, $6,100 FD). Reilly is priced the exact same on both sites so I expect him to come with higher ownership on FanDuel with their looser salary cap, but he’s a solid play on both sites. Entering a contract year, averaging .53 points per game and a secure role on the Leafs top defensive pair and their top power play unit, expect Reilly to be involved in most of the Leafs scoring chances regardless of who the forwards are. After Reilly there’s Jake Muzzin ($5,500 DK, $4,300 FD) a consistent defenseman who plays in all situations with underrated offensive ability who’s criminally underpriced on FanDuel but is also a nice value on DK too. Muzzin lead all Leafs defensemen in shots on goal last year (103) and blocked shots (94) offering an excellent floor/ceiling combo.
The Canadiens proved last year in the playoffs that they can hang with any team in this league and their stats back that up. Ranking sixth in SCF last year (752) and coming in third in HDF with 216. Montreal will be able to hold up their end of the bargain in what could be the highest scoring game on the slate tonight. Montreal actually has a negative actual goals vs expected goals differential (axDIFF) meaning that they were actually under achieving when it came to their scoring last year, this team could reach another level offensively this season. Despite being banged up this offseason I still like Cole Caufield ($4,900 DK, $5,600 FD) to build on his strong season and playoffs last year. He’s going to get increased opportunities this year playing on the top line and the top power play unit, priced fairly on both sites should keep his ownership at reasonable levels keeping him in play for both cash and tournament lineups. While Toronto is banged up on the forward front Montreal is missing key members of their defensive corps Shea Weber and Joel Edmundson leaving all kinds of ice time for Jeff Petry ($5,600 DK, $5,100 FD). Petry already played big minutes at even strength and the power play but he now he has those roles all to himself, I expect Petry to lead the Canadiens in total ice time and power play ice time tonight providing lots of opportunities for points.
Vancouver Canucks @ Edmonton Oilers
Last year the Vancouver Canucks were one of the best teams to target from a fantasy perspective, they had plenty of their own talented and skilled players to drive play and create scoring chances and also played such a loose defensive game that even the most anemic offenses could find success against them. The Canucks have almost equal SCF 658 as SCA 698 as well as exactly the same amount of HDF and HDA with 177 each. They’ll be without Brock Boeser, Brandon Sutter and Tyler Motte but that shouldn’t affect their own offensive firepower much and probably will make it a little more difficult for them to defend their own net. With so many players out for tonight’s slate and being underpriced on both sites Elias Pettersson ($6,500 DK, $7,000 FD) presents one of the best value plays with one of the highest ceilings tonight. Pettersson is a dynamic playmaker who will center the top line and be a focal point of the top power play unit, despite getting hurt last year he managed to average nearly a point per game with 21 points in 26 games expect that to continue tonight. Another young gun on this Canucks team that will make his presence know is defenseman Quinn Hughes ($4,800 DK, $6,300 FD). Hughes is underpriced on Draftkings making him a great value and probably a better cash game play then tournaments because of the ownership he’s likely to command. Hughes is on the verge of ascending to the elite tier of defensemen in the league, he plays a strong all around game, always is near the team lead in ice time and quarterbacks one of the most dangerous power plays in the league.
The Edmonton Oilers are today’s NHL version of the Peyton Manning era Indianapolis Colts, put up a ton of stats and numbers in the regular season then fall apart in the playoffs. They, like the Canucks, have the talent and offensive skill to drive play for themselves and play a system that opens up opportunities for their opponents. Leading the league in SCA with 818 and coming in third with 223 HDA last year, the Oilers always provided fantasy players with exciting fantasy scoring environments. Jesse Puljujarvi ($4,400 DK, $4,200 FD) is blessed with the opportunity to play with both Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl as well as having a role on the second power play unit. Puljujarvi is simply priced too cheaply considering the scoring potential he has playing with two of the greatest players on the planet on one of the best offensive teams in the league. Tyson Barrie ($5,900 DK, $5,900 FD) returns to resume his role of being the point man for one of the best power plays in the NHL. Putting up 40 assists and 48 points in 56 games last year Barrie remains one of the best offensive of defenseman out there and averages over 20 minutes a night. Priced $400 more than Darnell Nurse on FanDuel Barrie is an excellent tournament play and should come in very low owned.