Thursday’s National Hockey League schedule is a busy slate with nine games and Monkey Knife Fight has contests for all of them to add to the excitement.
There are a few games with marquee appeal.
While the Philadelphia Flyers are returning to action, at home against the New York Rangers, they are also left with the challenge of icing a depleted lineup due to Covid-19 protocols.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have not looked great in splitting a couple of games against their provincial rivals, the Ottawa Senators, so they will try again in a third straight matchup.
The New York Islanders have won five of the past six games and travel to Pittsburgh to take on a Penguins team that has just two regulation wins in 14 games this season. The Penguins are 7-6-1 but that record looks deceptive.
On the other hand, the Boston Bruins look like a powerhouse squad, owning a 10-2-2 record, and their only two regulation losses have both come against the Islanders. Boston is at home against a New Jersey Devils squad that had a long Covid break but has scrambled its way to a 5-3-2 record.
Here are some Star Shootout angles to consider for Thursday’s NHL action on Monkey Knife Fight.
Although the rookie netminder has had some ups and downs on his way to a .906 save percentage while getting a heavier than expected workload he is averaging 29.4 saves per 60 minutes. The issue is whether tonight’s opposition, the Buffalo Sabres, is capable of generating enough shots for Vanecek to earn at least 26 saves, a threshold he has crossed nine times in a dozen starts this season.
The Sabres are averaging 29.5 shots per 60 minutes this season but, in their first two games out of a Covid-19 hiatus, they managed a paltry 41 shots in two losses to the Islanders. The Sabres are missing some bodies on defense and maybe that is causing problems generating an attack but before those games against the Islanders there was not much indication that the Sabres would have trouble getting shots to the net.
Mackenzie Blackwood MORE THAN 30.5 SAVES
Blackwood has only played in four games thanks to Covid issues, first for himself then for the Devils as a team, but he has been great in those four games, stopping 94.8% of the shots that he has faced, averaging 35.0 saves per 60 minutes of action. He faces a Boston Bruins team that is averaging 30.9 shots on goal per 60 minutes, which doesn’t sound like a recipe for Blackwood earning 31 saves, but that is above average shot generation so they will probably be able to get pucks to the net against the Devils.
Filip Forsberg MORE THAN 5.5 FANTASY POINTS
There have been some ebbs and flows to Forsberg’s game this season, with some big nights followed by quiet stretches, but he does have 14 points in 15 games and is averaging 4.1 shots on goal per game so if he can get on the scoreboard at all against Columbus, that should push him over the top.
Alex Ovechkin MORE THAN 4.5 SHOTS + BLOCKS
This recommendation is going against this season’s numbers a little bit. Ovechkin has recorded at least five shots plus blocks in four of 10 games this season and the Buffalo Sabres have been slightly better than average in terms of shots allowed (29.0 per 60 minutes). However, the Capitals have been missing a lot of significant offensive players for chunks of this season already – Ovechkin included – and they are a healthier roster right now so it seems more reasonable for Ovechkin to have a big shooting night against the Sabres.
David Pastrnak +0.5 fantasy points vs. Alex Ovechkin
While it might be reasonable to expect Ovechkin to generate shots against Buffalo, the same holds true for Pastrnak against New Jersey. This season, Ovechkin holds a slight edge in average shots per game (3.9 to 3.7) and Ovechkin has 13 points in 10 games, compared to Pastrnak’s 10 points in seven games. Close enough to prefer Pastrnak getting an extra half fantasy point.
Patrice Bergeron -0.5 fantasy points vs. Jack Eichel
This is as much about opposition as it is the production of the players involved, though Bergeron holds an edge there, too. In 14 games, the Bruins captain has 18 points and 52 shots on goal, whereas Eichel has 11 points and 42 shots on goal in 12 games. But, with Bergeron facing New Jersey and Eichel going up against Washington, that should give Bergeron a more solid advantage.