After a couple days off let’s get back to the drawing board in what is a clean slate for the month of February!
The shortened months begins with a five-game slate on this Monday evening, so let’s roll out an optimal lineup that can be used in cash, GPP or head-to-head formats!
FanDuel NHL DFS Picks – February 1, 2021
C – Mika Zibanejad (NYR) – $6,900 vs. PIT
We’re getting Zibanejad at a sub-$7K price here given his slow start to the season, a start that’s seen him notch just a goal and two points in eight game so far.
How long do you think this guy will be kept quiet? The answer is not long. Despite scoring just once so far, he’s still put 27 shots on goal so far this season, and owns a measly 3.7% shooting rate as a result. He posted an unsustainable 19.7% mark last season, but also a 12.7% mark in each of his two previous seasons, a number that also so happens to be his career shooting rate.
So, it would appear there is some serious growth to be had simply from a shooting percentage standpoint, and this matchup with the Penguins is a nice opportunity to get things turned around.
Not only do the Penguins rank 29th in goals against per game at 3.78 and 24th on the penalty kill at 74.2%, they’re also without four of their top six defensemen for this one in Kris Letang, Marcus Pettersson, Brian Dumoulin and Michael Matheson. Fellow d-man Juuso Riikola is also out for this one.
So, it’s an absolutely decimated Penguins back end and one that saw the Rangers score four times in their meeting on Saturday. It’s time for Zibanejad to kick this into high gear, and this matchup is about as good as it gets at the moment.
C – Elias Lindholm (CGY) – $5,800 vs. WPG
Lost in their fine start to the season is the fact the Winnipeg Jets remain one of the weaker defensive teams in the league, only this time Connor Hellebuyck hasn’t been able to bail them out at the same rate he did last season en route to a Vezina Trophy.
The Jets will enter this one ranked 24th in overall defense and 25th on the penalty kill. At 5v5, they also rank 23rd in scoring chances against/60, 26th in high-danger chances against/60 and 23rd in terms of expected goals against/60, as per Natural Stat Trick.
Those uninspiring advanced metrics are actually better than they were last season, but even the eye test tells you that this is indeed a soft back end behind Josh Morrissey and Neal Pionk at the top. The Dylan DeMelo addition helps, but it’s just not enough at the moment.
For their part, it hasn’t been a great start for the Flames as they sit 18th in overall offense, but also eighth with a quality 29.4% clip on the power play at the moment.
Lindholm is off to a hot start, notching two goals and eight points in seven games and has notched a goal and six points on the power play so far. He’s been lined up on his natural right side and his catch-and-shoot from that angle is an awfully dangerous look for a player of his ilk.
He’s also skating monstrous minutes as a center this year at 21:39 per game so far this season, but I like his chance of getting to a weak Jets back end tonight regardless of ice time.
W – Alexis Lafreniere (NYR) – $4,200 vs. PIT
One of the early storylines from around the NHL is the slow start we’ve witnessed from the 2020 No. 1 overall pick as Alexis Lafreniere has just one goal and 14 shots in eight games so far despite getting top-six minutes. Unfortunately, he was unable to build off his OT winner on Thursday in Buffalo as he was once again held off the scoresheet on Saturday in this matchup.
— Rangers on MSG+ Tonight (@RangersMSGN) January 29, 2021
Still, with Zibanejad set for a goal-scoring tear and Lafreniere lined up to his left at 5v5 at this small price, it’s almost a no-brainer for me to get him into this lineup, even over the much hotter Pavel Buchnevich on the other side.
The former Rimouski Oceanic star notched 112 points in just 52 QMJHL games last season and notched 10 points in five games at the World Juniors en route to a gold medal and tournament MVP honors.
With Lafreniere, we’ll get second unit power play exposure and with the Rangers scuffling in that department as well I like the buy-low opportunity at hand here.
Add it up and Lafreniere appears to be one of the top value plays on this slate against an undermanned Penguins blueline.
W – Artemi Panarin (NYR) – $7,800 vs. PIT
Usually I would stick to 5v5 and PP1 stacks if I’m entering cash games, but getting exposure to Panarin seems like an awfully good idea given the matchup on tap.
He won’t skate with Zibanejad and Lafreniere on the top line, but he’ll skate on the second line while teaming up with Zibanejad on the team’s top power play unit.
It hasn’t been a slow start for the 2020 Hart Trophy finalists as Panarin has notched four goals and nine points in eight games so far with 23 shots on goal. He’s also recorded two goals and five points on the power play so far. He’s yet to go two straight games without a point and has a goal, three points and eight shots on goal over his last two games.
All this on the heels of a 95-point season in just 69 games last year. He’s been an advanced stat darling throughout his NHL career, even with the low-scoring Blue Jackets in previous seasons. Given the team’s slow start his advanced numbers are down — but still very good — as the Rangers spend far more time in the offensive zone than they do in their own end when he’s on the ice.
For now, we’ll dial in on the matchup as the Rangers should be able to have their way with a battered Penguins back end in this one tonight.
D – Rasmus Andersson (CGY) – $4,700 vs. WPG
He’s the lone defenseman on the team’s top power play unit, so Andersson is a lay up for me in this three-man Flames stack tonight in Winnipeg.
Not only that, but the guy is off to white-hot offensive start, partly due to that lethal Flames power play so far. The 24-year-old has tallied two goals and five points in seven games with 14 shots and another 14 blocked shots as well. Now there’s some rock-solid, cross-category contributions and we’re getting it at more than a reasonable price here.
Andersson has notched one goal and three of his five points on the power play.
He’s reached the scoresheet in five of seven games this season, and even when he was held pointless in Montreal on Saturday, he managed five blocks and a shot on goal to provide a solid floor. That’s certainly the type of player the Flames believed they were getting when they signed him to a six-year extension in January of 2020 as he grows into a top-pair blueliner.
The 2015 second-rounder appears to be in a fine spot tonight as his consistent productivity should continue in this one.
D – Roman Josi (NSH) – $6,500 vs. TB
The Lightning have been a solid defensive team on the surface this season and the Preds’ offensive has largely struggled, but I don’t mind some exposure to Nashville, even if Josi sees some ownership in this one.
That’s because I see regression written all over this Lightning back end. They’ll be fine in the long run, but for now they rank first in goals against/60 at 5v5 this season, but 17th in expected goals against/60. Their 1.27 actual mark is well under their 2.14 expected mark. They also rank 18th in scoring chances against/60, and while they lead the NHL with a .955 Sv% at 5v5 this season, that is an unsustainable figure for sure as last year’s leader was the Boston Bruins at .934.
So, the Lightning are going to start given up more goals at 5v5 and they already rank just 19th with a 77.3% penalty kill on the season.
That bodes well for Josi who only has a goal and three points on the season, but also 30 shots on goal. His tiny 3.3% shooting rate is well under his 6.2% career mark and he’s never finished below 5.2% in nine career seasons prior to this one.
He’s simply one of the higher-floor defensemen in the NHL and I’ll look for him to lead the way for this Predators team in a sneaky-good matchup tonight in Tampa.
UTIL – Matthew Tkachuk (CGY) – $5,800 vs. WPG
Tkachuk will skate with Lindholm at 5v5, but he’s also an important part of that excellent Flames power play where he comes in much cheaper than the likes of Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan.
The 23-year-old menace has enjoyed a solid start to the season, notching three goals and five points in seven games to go along with 28 shots on goal. He’s also notched a pair of goals and four points on the man advantage.
While the Flames have largely scuffled to score goals at even strength this season, it would be beneficial if that turned around tonight. I noted that the Jets have struggled mightily in preventing chances at 5v5 this season, if Lindholm and Tkachuk can keep the Flames’ production onto their line at even strength, it would in turn keep the Monahan/Gaudreau duo at bay.
There’s no denying Tkachuk is a big power play producer, however. Twenty six of his 81 goals over the last three seasons have come on the power play and two of his three so far this season as well. His assists on Saturday in Montreal came on the man advantage as well, and it’s also his lone point over his last three games.
Nonetheless, I am loving the Flames tonight in Winnipeg and we’re getting some seriously high ceilings at reasonable prices.
UTIL – Mikael Granlund (NSH) – $5,100 vs. TB
Completing our Predators mini-stack here is Granlund who is off to a hot start after re-signing with the Preds as a free agent late in the offseason.
He’s been one of the better Predators forward this season, notching two goals and four points in five games with 13 shots in that time. He did score 17 goals in the shortened 2019-20 season, but just 30 points in 63 games. He’s regressed since posting 136 points across two seasons with the Minnesota Wild in 2016-17 and 2017-18, but it appears he’s back to vintage form, at least so far this season.
He’s also largely done it without the help of struggling center Matt Duchene. Duchene has just three assists in eight games this season and scored just 13 goals in his 66 games with Nashville last season, his first in Music City.
Nonetheless, Granlund appears to be his old self here in the early going and we’ll take him and his consistent production to team up with Josi in this one tonight.
G – Jacob Markstrom (CGY) – $7,900 vs. WPG
It appears allowing Markstrom to walk to the division rival Flames was an even worse decision that it appeared to be at the time.
Markstrom is off to a hot start in his new digs, turning in a 2.18 GAA and .929 Sv% in six starts and has two shutouts in that time. He actually shut out his old team in the second game of the season in mid-January and he’s coming off a 37-save shutout of the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday, dealing the Habs their first regulation loss of the season in the process.
— NHL (@NHL) January 31, 2021
Of course, the Jets traded Patrik Laine to the Columbus Blue Jackets along with Jack Roslovic, but Pierre-Luc Dubois continues his quarantine and is not yet eligible to suit up for this new team. It’s a thinner Jets offense as a result, but they haven’t performed like one.
The Jets rank fourth in overall defense on the season with 3.63 goals per game, but they also sit seventh in scoring chances for/60, 12th in high-danger chances for/60 and 9th in expected goals/60 at 5v5 this season. It appear they are more or less deserving of their offensive fate to this point.
Still, I just love the way Markstrom is playing right now. There’s another quality goaltender at the other end of the ice in Hellebuyck, but after Saturday’s goose egg against the Habs, I’ll take the hot hand in this one tonight.