January 5 brings us the first Saturday main slate of 2019. A seven-game main slate is slightly smaller than your typical Saturday night of games, but it’s still a decent size nonetheless. Tampa Bay has not lost in regulation since November 27, a span of 16 games—they’ll be taking on the Sharks in The Golden State on Saturday. Here, Nikita Kucherov will look to continue his superhuman capabilities against a strong Sharks squad that has went 6-2-2 in their last 10. Like the Tampa Bay Lightning, the New York Islanders have also been hot, and they’ll be staking their 5-game winning streak when they face off against the Blues at the Enterprise Center Saturday night. Only two of the 14 teams in action in Saturday’s main slate will be playing on the second night of back-to-backs: the Nashville Predators and Columbus Blue Jackets. 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 – Mathew Barzal (DK $6,900, FD $6,800)
Mathew Barzal has been the third best forward in the NHL over the last two weeks on DraftKings and FanDuel in terms of fantasy points per game. Many figured the 16th overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft would see some regression this season with team defenses focusing on him now instead of John Tavares, but this has not been the case. Barzal has put up just under a point per game in his sophomore year in the NHL, a pace that is almost the exact same as last season’s. The righty has seven goals in just his last four games. Barzal’s power-play unit saw over 85% of the Islanders’ total power play time in their most recent game. The Blues, the Islanders’ opponent on Saturday, have been a bottom third team on the kill at home this season, and they have also been shorthanded more times than 20 other NHL teams. Barry Trotz’s boys may occupy a playoff spot by the end of the night if they can increase their current winning streak to six games. Barzal should be a factor if this assignment comes to fruition.
W – Nikita Kucherov (DK $7,900, FD $9,200)
If you live anywhere other than under a rock, it will come as no surprise to see that Kucherov has been the best forward on both DraftKings and FanDuel over the past two weeks. Before I go any further, take a minute and go through Kucherov’s game log for this season. I guarantee you will be awestruck. Anyway, the Russian superstar has failed to record a point a grand total of zero times in his last twelve games. He’s scored a goal in eight of his last nine games. He’s had at least two points in each of his last seven games. At least two points in each of his last seven games wasn’t good enough for him though so he decided to put up two 4-point games and one 5-point game in his last five games. Kuch is the Art Ross Trophy favourite midway through the 2018-19 NHL season.
W – Leon Draisaitl (DK $6,200, FD $7,200)
Leon Draisaitl has been the sixth-best forward in the NHL over the last two weeks in fantasy points per game on both of the major Daily Fantasy Sports platforms. The 223-pound German has goals in five straight games, and he has established multiple-point games in four straight. Draisaitl has been playing alongside Connor McDavid, which is always a great bonus. Without McDavid this season at 5v5, Draisaitl and his linemates have averaged 2.23 goals per 60 minutes. How has Draisaitl done when paired with McDavid you might ask? With Connor McDavid this season at 5v5, Draisaitl and his linemates have averaged 4.19 goals per 60 minutes. There is no denying what playing with one of the world’s best can do for a player. Draisaitl will look to make it goals in six straight when the Oilers take on the last-place Los Angeles Kings on Saturday.
D – Brent Burns (DK $6,300, FD $7,500)
Brent Burns has been the best defensemen on both DraftKings and FanDuel over the last two weeks. His three individual highest TOI totals this season have all came in the last six games where he’s exceeded 29 minutes of ice time three times including 29:13 minutes in his last game. He’s recorded over two points per game in his last four games. He’s also been firing the puck significantly more than any other Shark during this time period. Burnzie has taken 37 shot attempts since Christmas—no other Shark has shot the puck over 20 times. Brent Burns is back doing Brent Burns things.
D – Zach Werenski (DK $5,000, FD $5,400)
Heading into Friday night, Zach Werenski was the fourth-best defensemen in the NHL in terms of average fantasy points per game over the last couple of weeks. Werenski also picked up an apple on Bjorkstand’s top shelf goal last night. The 21-year-old defenseman has points in six straight games now. Luongo, the probable starter against the Blue Jackets on Saturday, has given up less than three goals in a game only twice in his last 10 games. Him and James Reimer have simply not been good enough this season as evidenced by their very poor GAA and Sv%. Zach Werenski struggled mightily at times at the beginning of the season but has since regained some confidence in the eyes of bench boss John Tortorella. The University of Michigan product will look to make it seven straight games with at least a point against Luongo and company on Saturday night.
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