The date is January 19, 2019. We are over halfway through the NHL regular season, and the New York Islanders are in first place in the Metropolitan Division. Astonishing, isn’t it? Who would have predicted this outcome after John Tavares bolted from Long Island last July? I am amazed at the impact Barry Trotz has had on this team. The run-and-gun Islanders of 2017-18 that had the most goals against of any National Hockey League team are all but a distant memory now.
Moving from the past to the present, we have a nine-game main slate (games starting at 7 pm ET) on our agenda. Two of the best teams in the NHL kick things off when the San Jose Sharks host the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Shark Tank. Saturday night concludes with a Battle of Alberta where two of the league’s top four point scorers in Johnny Gaudreau and Connor McDavid go head-to-head. A third of the teams in action tonight will be playing on a back-to-back: the Senators, Canadiens, Panthers, Blue Jackets, Flames, and Penguins. Keep this in mind when you’re making your lineups today. Now, let’s take a look at some players who have been red hot as of late and can be used in your lineups tonight.
C – Sean Couturier (DK $5,200, FD $6,500)
Sean Couturier is the second best center in Saturday’s main slate when we look at average fantasy points per game over the last couple of weeks on DraftKings and FanDuel. Couturier has been motoring along recently with a five-game point streak that has seen him obtain nine points. Couts recorded his first career regular season NHL hat trick (he’s had two NHL playoff hat tricks) in his most recent game. Couturier continues to log heavy minutes, as he’s played less than 20 minutes in a game only twice in his last 22 games. Couturier and the Flyers’ five-forward power play unit will look to do some damage against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday. The Habs have been one of the worst teams in the league at preventing scoring chances and shots on goal while down a man since Christmas. The Habs have also taken more minor penalties than any other NHL team this season. The Philadelphia Flyers will look to become only the 15th team in NHL history to pot a hat trick in three consecutive games on Saturday night—perhaps Mr. Couturier can help out with this cause.
W – Jake Guentzel (DK $6,300, FD $7,600)
Out of all the forwards playing in Saturday’s main slate, only one forward has had a better last two weeks in terms of average fantasy points per game than Jake Guentzel. Heading into Friday night, the 24-year-old Stanley Cup champion has netted five goals in his last three games, including a hat trick last Saturday against the Los Angeles Kings. In seven January games, he’s racked up ten total points and has only failed to record at least a point in one of those games. Guentzel’s current line has been a formidable combo so far this season for bench boss Mike Sullivan. At 5v5, Guentzel, Sidney Crosby, and Bryan Rust have been on the ice for 17 goals for and only five goals against—a goals-for percentage of 77.27%. All current, underlying metrics for this forward line are in this line’s favour from an offensive standpoint. Guentzel along with his linemates will look to continue this season’s success in the Sin City on Saturday night.
W – Johnny Gaudreau (DK $7,700, FD $8,900)
As of Friday afternoon, Johnny Gaudreau is the number two forward in terms of average fantasy points per game on both major DFS sites over the last two weeks. Where do I even begin with this guy? Johnny Hockey has been unstoppable. Gaudreau is currently riding a nine-game point streak. He has points in 12 of his last 13 games. He has 12 goals in his last 11 games. He’s averaging over two points per game over his last nine games with 20 points in that duration of time. Only one player in the NHL is currently ahead of him in the Art Ross Trophy Race: Nikita Kucherov. The 2014 Hobey Baker Award winner and his 165-pound frame continue to emphasize how much of a steal getting him at 104th overall in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft really was. The Edmonton Oilers will have the daunting task of entering Johnny Gaudreau’s world and trying to shut it down in the Battle of Alberta on Saturday night.
D – Mattias Ekholm (DK $5,200, FD $5,500)
Mattias Ekholm has been the fourth-best defensemen in the NHL in terms of average fantasy points-per-game on DraftKings and FanDuel over the past two weeks. Ekholm has been extremely consistent as of late recording 14 points in his last 11 games. Ekholm’s defensive prowess has always been noted, as The Hockey News awarded him the 2018 Rod Langway Award, which is the publication’s award for the best defensive defenseman. The 6-4 Swedish defenseman wants the world to know he has some offensive talent too, however. In his first five full seasons in the National Hockey League, Ekholm had points-per-game totals of 0.15, 0.23, 0.43, 0.24, and 0.42. Ekholm is currently sitting at 0.75 PPG in the 2018-19 NHL campaign. He also has more points this season in 48 games than he has had in any full season in the past. Ekholm will look to continue his offensive display against the Florida Panthers on Saturday.
D – Jacob Trouba (DK $5,300, FD $4,700)
Jacob Trouba has been a top ten NHL defensemen over the past two weeks in terms of average fantasy points-per-game on both DraftKings and FanDuel. The Winnipeg Jets’ first rounder has recorded eight points in his last nine games. Trouba has been working on the lethal top power-play unit that the Jets possess over the last six games. That helps his cause because the Jets have the third best PP% in the league this season. Trouba’s value increases significantly when he gets a look on the number one unit. The Winnipeg Jets will be facing goaltender Ben Bishop on Saturday, a goalie that has been great this season. Despite Bishop’s solid 0.921 SV% and even more impressive 1.000 Sv% when shorthanded this season, his overall numbers have declined in the month of January. Trouba will try to guide the Jets to five wins in a row when they play the 6’7” giant and the rest of the Dallas Stars in Texas on Saturday night.
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