Today’s NHL Sunday Slate Breakdown goes over Sunday’s two (2) game slate that locks at 3:00 PM ET/12:00 PM PT.
With so many moving pieces today, please be sure to keep an eye on late news by looking at our NHL Team Beat Writers lists on Twitter by clicking here.
Washington Capitals at Pittsburgh Penguins (-125)
It always seems like an adventure when the Caps and Pens face each other. Since they’ve always played in the same division, we’ve gotten a good idea of how their games tend to go. These two teams have faced each other a total of six times over the last two years, and the scores have been 5-3, 4-3, 5-3, 5-2, 4-3, and on 1/19/2021, it was 5-4. It would be extremely surprising to me if this game ends up being low scoring, but I suppose anything can happen.
Honestly, right now, it’d be surprising if either of these two teams ever played a game that was low scoring. Both teams have struggled with poor goaltending (though, the Penguins are the nut worst), and I don’t really see that changing any time soon. If you’re picking a goalie, my lean is Casey DeSmith if he starts. Tristan Jarry has been worse than all goalies not named Marcus Hogberg this season (I’m not counting the guys who have only appeared in 1 or 2 games). UPDATE: Jarry is indeed starting. That bodes well for the Capitals.
For the Penguins, their best line is, by-far, their top line which now features Sidney Crosby centering Jake Guentzel and Bryan Rust. They’ve really needed to step up considering they’ve gotten a pretty crummy performance from Evgeni Malkin this season. I’m sure he’ll step up eventually, but I don’t see that happening any time soon. The interesting thing is they’ve actually gotten a lot from their depth lines, namely, anything associated with Teddy Blueger, though Blueger rarely does anything that’s going to win a GPP tournament, but he’s trusted enough to be on the ice at the end of games (potential empty-net opportunities). Regardless, we’re talking about a 2-game slate or showdown, so creativity is going to be a must.
For the Capitals, Ovechkin is still a beast and shooting the puck like a mad man. The Caps have not played since last Sunday, but last Sunday was also when he put together two goals and two assists in a losing effort against the Flyers. It’ll be an interesting clash between PIT1 and WSH1, which will likely face each other at least half the time at 5v5, especially because they are both on their A-games. Nicklas Backstrom is playing some of the best hockey in his career and they’ve been on point since being reunited with Tom Wilson. The big question mark here is going to be Evgeny Kuznetsov. He has been out for nearly a month due to COVID-protocol, and it isn’t a lock for him to be in the lineup today, either. The same goes for Justin Schultz, who is more of a question mark due to the injury he suffered against the Islanders a few weeks back.
Top GPP Plays: Sidney Crosby, Bryan Rust, Jake Guentzel, Kris Letang, Evgeni Malkin (only play if doing MME), Teddy Blueger, Zach Aston-Reese, Pierre-Oliver Joseph, Mike Matheson, Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Tom Wilson, John Carlson, Carl Hagelin. Garnet Hathaway
Favorite Showdown CAPT Options: Sidney Crosby, Bryan Rust, Jake Guentzel, Alex Ovechkin, Tom Wilson
Colorado Avalanche vs. Vegas Golden Knights (-120)
This game features a lot of unknowns, and that’s mainly because the Avalanche haven’t played a game in 12 days. I fully expect them to be rusty, but these guys are all professional athletes, so you never know.
At the time of this writing, the Golden Knights are only -120 favorites, which is amazing to me. I do think the Golden Knights have a bit of an edge considering the circumstances. They’ve gotten good production from their top line throughout the season, but their second line has been lacking in the scoring department. In general, they tend to be pretty over owned in most tournaments given the type of production we’re seeing, but today might be one of the better times to get a little exposure to them. William Karlsson might end up being the safest of the three players from the 2nd line. If you want to go with the VGK1 chalk, it’s very possible that it’s going to be good chalk. Definitely check on the status of Shea Theodore. I doubt he plays, but if he does play, it’ll be interesting to still keep your exposures to Pietrangelo and Martinez, because there doesn’t appear to be a lack of production when all three d-men are in the lineup.
UPDATE: Theodore is still out of the lineup.
For the Avalanche, I plan on being a bit underweight. I fully expect their chances of winning to still be heavily dependent on their top line featuring Nathan MacKinnon (who should be in the lineup), and possibly their second line featuring Nazem Kadri (and likely Brandon Saad/Andre Burakovsky).
UPDATE: Like an idiot, I didn’t catch that Landeskog hasn’t been removed from the COVID list along with Jost and Makar. It’s going to be absolute HELL trying to figure out lines for this game because the Avs just aren’t one of those teams that have beatwriters following the team closely. Bank on MacKinnon/Rantanen together with another random player. Could be just about any winger on the roster given what we’ve seen the last few years, though, I would imagine Nischushkin has an edge.
Top GPP Plays: Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, Chandler Stephenson, Jonathan Marchessault, William Karlsson, Alec Martinez, Alex Pietrangelo, Cody Glass, Alex Tuch, Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen,
Gabriel Landeskog, Nazem Kadri, Brandon Saad, Cale Makar, Devon Toews, Bowen Byram
Favorite Showdown CAPT Options: VGK Goalie, Max Pacioretty, Mark Stone, William Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault, Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, Nazem Kadri
- Marc-Andre Fleury, Golden Knights
- Tristan Jarry, Penguins
- Vitek Vanecek. Capitals
- Philipp Grubauer, Avalanche (big upside though)