FanDuel NHL DFS Picks – February 26, 2021

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My rough stretch continued last night, but I’ll also add that we were absolutely hosed after lock.

A lineup anchor was going to be Jack Eichel until it was announced after lock that the Sabres’ superstar was a late scratch due to a lower-body injury. He actually took the warmup and head coach Ralph Krueger said everyone was caught off-guard by his ailment.

At that point, it was going to be very hard to cash with that lineup.

We were spot-on with stacking the Ottawa Senators against the Flames as Ottawa blew that one open in an eventual 6-1 beatdown over the listless road team. Our stack consisting of Tim Stuetzle, Drake Batherson and Thomas Chabot combined for a goal, three assists, six shots and three blocks. Each player recorded at least 16 FanDuel points while I had both forwards at around 3% ownership.

Taylor Hall was fine in notching an assist and five shots on goal and Victor Olofsson notched a helper himself. We also got an assist and three shots from Sebastian Aho at less than 2% owned.

The main problem in the lineup was Jaro Halak. I trusted the Bruins elite defense against a weak Islanders offense, so naturally the Islanders hung seven goals on the B’s with Halak posting a whopping -4 FanDuel points on the night.

Truth be told, this thing was over before it started due to the Eichel injury, and I personally believe we should be refunded our entries by a major corporation who shouldn’t collect free money for something out of its consumers control.

Nonetheless, we’ll move on to this three-game Friday slate and see if we can make amends.

FanDuel NHL DFS Picks – February 26, 2021

C – Nathan MacKinnon (COL) – $8,300 vs. ARI

There’s a real chance MacKinnon is the top producer on this three-game slate tonight.

The Avs superstar returned to action in Lake Tahoe on Saturday, notching a goal and two assists on five shots, however he’s been held off the scoresheet in back-to-back games this week despite putting six shots on goal. The Avs scored just two goals across those two games while getting shut out by the Golden Knights on Monday.

They’re slumping at the moment and rank 18th with 2.88 goals per game on the season with a 23.1% clip on the power play that checks in at 12th league wide. They’re probably due to score more at 5v5 moving forward, however, as they rank 11th in scoring chances for/60 and 12th in expected goals for/60 at 5v5 this season, according to Natural Stat Trick. Their 2.19 goals/60 at 5v5 is below their 2.27 expected mark, so while it’s not a huge difference, the talent level alone suggests this offense that ranked fourth last season will improve moving forward.

For his part, MacKinnon has notched four goals and 18 points in 15 games. There’s nothing wrong with the point total, but his four goals on 60 shots gives him a tiny 6.7% shooting rate that is well below his 9.9% career mark. Since breaking out as one of the elite players in the game in the 2017-18 season, however, he has not finished a season with a shooting rate below 11%.

The superstar is set to score plenty moving forward, and we want to be there when it happens.

C – Victor Rask (MIN) – $4,800 vs. LA

This lineup certainly leans towards cash games, and Rask doesn’t exactly bring a high floor to the table with a whopping 12 shots in 14 games. He’s actually scored five times, however, but his enormous 41.7% shooting rate should plummet in a hurry.

That said, he’s skating in between arguably the team’s two best offensive players at both 5v5 and on the power play as well, so it’s difficult to leave him out of a Wild stack tonight against the Kings.

Rask has added eight points to his ledger as well and while he’s averaging less than 12 minutes of ice time per game, he’s been over 14 minutes in three of his last four games.

I love the matchup here. The Kings sport some of the worst underlying metrics in the league, and while they rank 10th with 2.67 goals against per game on the season, they also sit 21st in scoring chances against/60, 20th in high-danger chances against/60 and 25th in expected goals against/60 at 5v5 this season. From an expected goals for% standpoint, the Kings are the worst team in the NHL.

So, while we have a player due to regress significantly in the goal-scoring department, we also have someone playing with favorable linemates in what appears to be an elite matchup.

W – Gabriel Landeskog (COL) – $6,400 vs. ARI

I used a three-man forward stack in this lineup with the Wild, so I needed to get a defenseman into my Avalanche stack. Therefore, I had to decide between Landeskog and Rantanen on the flanks of MacKinnon at 5v5 and on the top power play unit, and I went with Landeskog.

The team’s captain has just eight points to Rantanen’s 16, but I believe there’s plenty of positive regression in Landeskog. With just three goals on 42 shots, Landeskog is shooting at a 7.1% clip that is miles under his 11.4% career mark. He also hasn’t shot at less than 10.7% in each of his last seven seasons.

Additionally, Landeskog has been held without a goal over his last nine games despite putting 23 shots on goal in that time.

The guy is logging plenty of minutes on the season at 20:09 per game for the season, and without a point over his last four, I believe it’s time for the Swede to get back on the scoresheet alongside MacKinnon in this one tonight.

W – Mats Zuccarello (MIN) – $5,200 vs. LA

An arm injury cost Zuccarello about the first month of the season, but he has been on fire since getting back into the lineup.

Zuccarello has tallied three goals and nine points in five games on the season, but like Rask, he is literally firing on all cylinders with a 42.9% shooting rate on the season. A notoriously low shooter, Zuccarello has just seven shots in five games this season but has managed to connect on three of those shots.

Still, here’s an extremely consistent player. He did have a great season in posting just 37 points in 65 games last year, but typically banks at least 50 points in a normal campaign and has produced at 60-plus points on occasion as well. The Norwegian winger has been tasked with setting up talented rookie Kirill Kaprizov since entering the lineup while he’ll skate with Rask at 5v5 and on the top power play unit.

The Wild are an elite advanced metrics team and are facing one of the league’s very worst, so I’m going to simply take their most talented players into this matchup tonight.

D – Cale Makar (COL) – $6,200 vs. ARI

Completing my three-man Avalanche stack is Makar who is proving his Calder-winning season was no fluke.

After compiling 50 points in 57 games as a rookie, Makar has notched 13 points in 14 games so far as a sophomore. However, he also has just one goal on 28 shots with his 3.6% shooting rate falling well under the 9.9% mark he posted a season ago. The top goal-scoring NHL blueliners shoot in the 7% range, so while he likely won’t shoot at 9.9% again any time soon, he’s certainly due to score a bit more moving forward.

One area where he’s seen a major increase is in ice time. His 24:18 of average ice time this season is more than three minutes per game above his 21:01 mark from last season as he’s been tasked with more defensive responsibility as well while producing with the best of em’ at the offensive end of the ice.

Of course, he’s the power play quarterback with seven of his 12 helpers coming on the man advantage after he recorded four goals and 19 power play points as a rookie last season.

It was a no-brainer to complete this stack with the elite young blueliner in Makar.

D – Adam Fox (NYR) – $4,700 vs. BOS

The Bruins were throttled for seven goals last night on Long Island and will therefore be playing their second game in as many nights tonight, only this time with Tuukka Rask getting the starting nod.

While it’s always difficult to target this Bruins defense, perhaps we have them at a rare vulnerable moment here. In additions to their back-to-back scenario, they’re also without a pair of blueliner regulars in Matt Grzelcyk and Jeremy Lauzon at the moment, thrusting players like Urho Vaakanainen and John Moore into the lineup with increased responsibilities to boot.

The Rangers’ offense has tailed off dramatically this season, but Fox has still had a solid year. The sophomore has notched a goal and eight points in 17 games, but also with 41 shots and 41 blocks to his credit. He’s a cross-category producer and one that we’re getting at a reasonable price.

He burst onto the scene with authority last season, tallying eight goals and 42 points in 70 games and is averaging a whopping 25:08 of ice time per game this season after skating just 18:54 per game as a rookie.

He’ll kick off a high-floor Rangers mini-stack in this one.

UTIL – Kirill Kaprizov (MIN) – $5,000 vs. LA

Of course, you saw this one coming. Kaprizov is the final piece of our Wild puzzle in this one as he looks to keep his Calder Trophy consideration going in this one.

After leading the KHL with 62 points in 57 games last season, the 2015 fifth-round pick made the transition to the NHL this season and has been as advertised. The 23-year-old has notched four goals and 15 points in 16 games. Like his linemates, Kaprizov doesn’t shoot the puck a ton with just 27 shots in his 16 games, but we know he’s a goal-scorer after he put up back-to-back 30-goal seasons in the KHL over the last two years while playing just 57 games in each season.

After cooling off a little bit following a red-hot start to his NHL career, Kaprizov is hot once again with a goal and six points over his last three games. He’s also put just three shots on goal in that time, however.

While this stack doesn’t bring a high floor to the table with extremely low shot totals, it’s the team’s most talented offensive unit and one that will skate together at 5v5 and on the power play as well.

UTIL – Mika Zibanejad (NYR) – $6,300 vs. BOS

Completing our Rangers mini-stack is Zibanejad whose goal-scoring woes have continued beyond belief.

Zibanejad scored an empty-net goal on Saturday against the Capitals, finally getting the monkey off his back after scoring just once in his previous 15 games. He followed that up with a two-assist effort in Philly on Wednesday, but still has just two goals on 51 shots this season, good for a 3.9% shooting rate that is miles under his 12.6% career mark.

Among the 56 players with at least 51 shots this season, only Rickard Rakell and Dougie Hamilton have fewer than two goals. He’s simply been one of the unluckiest players in the NHL to this point.

Clearly, the matchup is not a favorable one against a Bruins team that is annually one of the best defensive teams in the NHL, but you have to believe a goal-scoring explosion is going to happen at some point for the Swedish pivot, so I’ll pair him with Fox and see what the duo can offer up in this one.

G – Cam Talbot (MIN) – $7,800 vs. LA

It’s been quite a while since we last saw Cam Talbot between the pipes.

The veteran puck-stopper hasn’t played since way back on Feb. 2, a good three-plus weeks without playing in a game. Normally, I’d be wary of using a netminder that could have plenty of rust on him, however this is just an elite matchup.

Talbot enters this one sporting a 2.40 GAA and .920 Sv% on the season across six starts. Not only that, but boy are the Kings scoring goals above their heads at the moment.

Their offense sits 12th with 3.06 goals per game on the season and their power play has certainly done its part with a 24.6% clip that sits 10th league wide.

However, check this out. The Kings also rank last in the league in scoring chances for/60, 29th in high-danger chances for/60 and 28th in expected goals for/60 at 5v5. Their expected goals for% ranks 30th ahead of only the Jets, yet the Kings’ offense continues to roll.

Additionally, this Wild defense is one of the best in hockey. They rank ninth in scoring chances against/60, third in high-danger chances against/60 and 11th in expected goals against/60 at 5v5 this season. Their 2.38 goals against/60 at 5v5 is above their 2.05 expected mark, so look for this fifth-ranked defense to perhaps improve even more moving forward. For good measure, the Wild also sit fifth with an 86.4% penalty kill on the campaign.

Add it up and Talbot should be able to get into the win column in a matchup extremely lopsided on paper tonight.

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Brenton Kemp / Author

Brenton is a lifelong sports fan who resides in Ontario, Canada. Brenton is a fan of most all sports but specializes in hockey, baseball, football, basketball, and golf. He’s a fierce researcher with a strong appetite to deliver accurate and relevant facts that in turn have led to past success with picks and DFS advice across the board. Brenton’s biggest goal is to deliver readers with the picks and advice that can build their bankroll. He takes great pride in his success and loves nothing more than to share that success for the benefit of everyone involved.