This article is part of our DraftKings NHL series.
It's a busy Saturday night in the NHL, but that's not terribly new. There are 12 games taking place starting at 7:00 p.m. EDT or later (and two games starting at 3:00 p.m. EDT for those who want to get a little afternoon action in). A whopping six of those contests involve two teams playing the second night of a back-to-back. That's significant, especially for selecting your goalies. Additionally, the Lightning are playing the second day of a back-to-back, but against a rested Panthers team. However, don't get too excited about the Panthers. Tampa Bay has saved Andrei Vasilevskiy (.928 save percentage) for this matchup, since it has playoff seeding implications.
Cam Talbot, MIN vs. ANA ($8,500): Anaheim and Detroit are way down at the bottom of the league in goals per game, with the former having scored only 2.20 goals per game. This is the second leg of a back-to-back, which means the Ducks are having to play on the road in Minnesota for the second time in as many days. Talbot got saved for this start, and while he's scuffled recently he still has a .918 save percentage and this is a great matchup to get right in.
Semyon Varlamov, NYI vs. NJD ($8,300): Varlamov is sporting an impressive 2.02 GAA and .930 save percentage. If he's in net for this one, he'll be facing a Devils team that has managed a mere 2.63 goals and 28.9 shots on net per contest. I say "if" because the Islanders are locked into a playoff spot and this is an easy matchup. They could easily start Ilya Sorokin (2.22 GAA, .917 save percentage), and I would be happy to have him in my lineup as well.
Mike Smith, EDM vs. VAN ($8,300): Don't fret too much about the fact the Oilers just allowed six goals to these same Canucks. Mikko Koskinen was largely responsible for that. When Smith hopped in he made 21 saves on 23 shots. The 39-year-old has a 2.26 GAA and .925 save percentage, and he hasn't fallen off like many expected. Smith has an 1.69 GAA and .943 save percentage over his last 10 outings.
Elvis Merzlikins, CLM vs. DET ($8,000): I just mentioned Detroit, who is tied for last in the league in goals per contest with a mere 2.20. Joonas Korpisalo is out the rest of the season, leaving Merzlikins to shoulder most of the load. While he has a 2.77 GAA, that's with him having a .916 save percentage, which is pretty solid. Plus, over his last eight appearances he has a .938 save percentage.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, EDM vs. VAN ($5,900): It's all about the power play in Edmonton, and Nugent-Hopkins is a big part of that. He's averaged a robust 4:20 per game with the extra man and has tallied 19 power-play points in 48 contests. I also like the fact RNH has put 128 shots on net in that time. The Canucks have allowed 33.3 shots on goal per game, not to mention a 3.29 GAA.
Conor Garland, ARI at SAN ($5,400): Garland has returned from a brief injury respite with three points in two games. His shooting percentage dropped out on him this year, but the 25-year-old still has 38 points in 48 contests. Martin Jones is in line for the start Saturday, and his 3.28 GAA and .896 save percentage could lend itself to some regression toward the mean for Garland's shooting percentage.
Anthony Mantha, WAS vs. PHI ($5,000): Since joining the Capitals, Mantha has started a whopping 71.4 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone, second highest on the team. While his scoring has slowed down, he's stayed plenty active with 19 shots on goal in his last six games. Getting to play at home against the Flyers team with the highest GAA in the NHL the second time in as many days could help get Mantha revved up offensively again.
Mats Zuccarello, MIN vs. ANA ($4,800): Zuccarello has been a solid secondary option offensively for a suddenly-dynamic Wild team with 33 points in 40 games. Getting to spend some time on a line with Kirill Kaprizov certainly helps. You know what also helps? The fact that soon-to-be-retired goalie Ryan Miller is scheduled to start this game. Miller was once one of the league's best goaltenders, but the 40-year-old has a 3.49 GAA and .885 save percentage this season.
LINE STACKS TO CONSIDER
The Devils don't just have a 3.33 GAA. They also have the league's worst penalty kill. I'm going with the Islanders' second line for a couple reasons. While Mathew Barzal is the clear top forward option on this team, he's recently been tasked with getting two former New Jersey players, Travis Zajac and Kyle Palmieri, going before the playoffs. I don't trust Zajac and Palmieri, and these three New York forwards all get power-play time as well. Nelson isn't going to score 25 goals for the third-straight season, but he has 16 goals in 54 games and has four points in his last five contests. Bailey doesn't score many goals, but he has 26 assists in 52 contests, including six in his last five. Beauvillier, meanwhile, has been red hot. He's tallied seven goals and four assists in his last nine games, and he's put 32 shots on net in that time as well.
Sometimes you just want to put all your eggs in one basket. That's definitely what will happen if you spend this much salary on Winnipeg's top line. I'm all for it, though. The Senators have a 3.36 GAA and have given up 32.1 shots on net per contest. This is also a line truly laden with talent. Scheifele may be the most-underrated center in the NHL. With 56 points in 52 games he's on pace to average at least a point per game for the fifth-straight season. Connor may be on a six-game pointless streak but I can see him ending that here. The 24-year-old has 22 goals in 52 games and has had at least 31 goals in each of his last three seasons. Since returning from injury Wheeler has seven points in seven games, and on the season he has 15 power-play points in 46 contests.
Shea Theodore, VGK vs. STL ($6,900): The Blues have a bottom-five penalty kill and Theodore has 15 points with the extra man. How could this matchup get more intriguing? Jordan Binnington started Friday, which means Ville Husso likely starting Saturday. The Finn has a 3.46 GAA and .885 save percentage.
Devon Toews, COL at LOS ($5,400): I figured I'd try and save a little salary by eschewing Cale Makar and going with his pairing partner Toews. He had something of a slight breakout with the Islanders last season with 28 points in 68 games, but he has 26 in 49 games this year. Of course, it helps that Toews has averaged 24:44 in ice time, more than four minutes more than last season. The Kings and Avalanche are playing the second game of a back-to-back, and with Jonathan Quick banged up the goaltending situation for the Kings is bleaker than normal, and it's been pretty bleak since Cal Petersen fell off in performance. We may see 31-year-old journeyman Troy Grosenick in this one.
Alex Goligoski, ARI at SAN ($4,800): I've recently taken to looking toward defenseman from the Coyotes other than Jakob Chychrun, who I rode heavily early this season. Goligoski is Chychrun's partner on Arizona's top pairing, and more and more he's been seeing power-play time as well. In fact, over his last 16 games he's averaged 1:59 with the extra man, and all seven of his power-play points have come in that time. Goligoski is hot, while Martin Jones is not. The German goalie has a 3.90 GAA and .871 save percentage in his last 10 contests.
Dmitry Orlov, WAS vs. PHI ($4,400): Orlov has started 58.7 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone, highest among Washington defensemen. He's tallied eight goals in 48 games this season, and he's also notched 11 points in his last 13 games. As I mentioned before, the Flyers have the highest GAA in the NHL, and they are on the road for the second leg of a back-to-back as well.