We enter the weekend with a five-game NHL slate to comb through, and I’m going to mix these picks up a little bit and offer an optimal lineup that can compete in both cash and GPP tournaments.
With that in mind, to the picks we go!
FanDuel NHL DFS Picks – February 5, 2021
C – Aleksander Barkov (FLA) – $7,400 vs. NSH
Last night’s Panthers/Preds game was a wild one as the Panthers blew a late two-goal lead and dropped the OT decision to Nashville by a 6-5 count.
Barkov was certainly a factor in that one, notching a goal and an assist with three shots on goal in the tough loss. That said, while the back-to-back should offer up more offensive tonight, I’m on the Panthers side of things here.
He stopped all 12 shots he faced in relief duty last night, but 38-year-old Pekka Rinne is likely to play his second game in as many nights tonight while the Panthers will at least get a rested Chris Driedger between the pipes in this one. The Panthers also sport some of the best advanced defensive metrics at 5v5 this season, and I think the edge here goes to Florida as a result.
I’ll admit I felt a drop in production coming for Barkov given the weaker state of the Panthers’ offense and the fact he and Jonathan Huberdeau are skating on separate lines, but the big Finn has notched three goals and nine points with 29 shots on goal across seven games so far this season, but has also tallied two goals and five points on the power play as the Panthers’ man advantage hums along at 39.1% this season before taking on a Predators penalty kill that sits last in the league at 63.4% for the season.
Add it up and Barkov should be back to work in this one tonight.
C – William Karlsson (VGK) – $5,200 vs. LA
We’re not going to see this guy score 40 goals again as he did during the expansion 2017-18 season, however he does have a fine matchup on tap tonight against the visiting Kings.
The Kings enter this one ranked 23rd overall with 3.22 goals against per game on the season despite boasting a penalty kill that sits third at 87.9% on the campaign. I’m not so much worried about the power play opportunity here, but rather what Karlsson can accomplish at 5v5.
Vegas is one of the best advanced metrics team in the league from an offensive standpoint, ranking second in scoring chances for/30 at 5v5, for instance. Conversely, the Kings are struggling to prevent chances on defense, sitting 26th in scoring chances against/60, 29th in high-danger chances against/60 and 30th in expected goals against/60 on the season.
It’s been a mediocre start to the season for Karlsson as he’s notched two goals and three points on 14 shots. He’s logging a ton of ice time at 19:08 per game on the season while his shooting rate of 14.3% is more or less in line with his 13.8% career mark.
He’s the teams best center while skating on a line with Reilly Smith and Jonathan Marchessault, so look for Karlsson to get back on the scoresheet in a favorable home matchup tonight.
W – Jonathan Huberdeau (FLA) – $7,200 vs. NSH
Huberdeau and Barkov are skating on separate lines at 5v5 this season, but they have been excellent on the power play and targeting this Predators penalty kill is one of the better looks on this slate tonight.
The Panthers scored a pair of power-play goals last night and Huberdeau was involved in both, picking up a pair of helpers on the man advantage. Nashville has given up a power-play goal in seven of their last eight games and are just 66.7% over the last three games. That’s actually an improvement for this team as they sat under the 60% mark last week, but it’s obviously nothing to be proud of, either.
Overall on the season, Huberdeau has collected four goals and 12 points in just seven games. He’s scoring over his head as he actually has just 10 shots on goal this season, but again he’s been a power play monster, tallying a goal and seven points in as many games on the man advantage this season.
The 27-year-old continues to fly under the radar as one of the premier players in this league and certainly one of the best left wingers in the sport, but he’s a fine option once again tonight with special teams a major selling point on the Quebec native tonight.
W – Jonathan Marchessault (VGK) – $6,100 vs. LA
Marchessault is an excellent option in both cash and GPP contests tonight. Many are going to want Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty on the team’s top line for this one, but I’ll slip down to the second like for Karlsson and Marchessault.
One of the higher shot volume players in the NHL, Marchessault has just 15 shots on goal in seven games this season, and just one goal to show for it. That resulting 6.7% shooting rate is miles under his 10.5% career mark and he’s never finished a full season under 9%.
Still, he brings a nice floor to the table. The Kings rank in the bottom 10 in shots against per game this season, and 19th in shot attempts against per game as well. That’s certainly a fine start, but Marchessault is just due for too much positive regression to fade here.
Over the previous three seasons, Marchessault’s 781 shots on goal ranks him ninth in the league. He’s put more shots on goal than David Pastrnak and Jack Eichel in that time. This season, his 15 shots ties him for 255th league wide. Of course, the Golden Knights have played just seven games, but you get the picture. Something isn’t adding up here.
Over the last three seasons, he’s averaged 3.47 shots per game. This season, he’s at 2.14.
Not only is he going to shoot the puck more, but he should also benefit from increased puck luck moving forward, so give Marchessault a strong look at a reasonable price tonight.
D – Aaron Ekblad (FLA) – $5,600 vs. NSH
Completing our three-man Panthers stack tonight is Ekblad who was also involved in the high-flying action last night.
Ekblad tallied his third goal of the season last night, and the marker came on the power play. He also put three shots on goal to give him 19 of those through seven games. He’s notched three goals and three helpers in that time while also averaging a blocked shot per affair as well.
His shooting rate of 15.8% isn’t going to be sustainable, however this guy has been one of the best goal-scoring defensemen since entering the league in the 2014-15 season. The 2014 No. 1 overall pick has scored 71 goals over the previous six seasons, which ranks him 13th among defensemen in that time. He managed just five in 67 games last season in part due to a 3.4% shooting rate that is roughly half his 6.7% career mark, but scored at least 10 goals in each of his previous five seasons.
Interesting, he also ranks 13th among defensemen in terms of shots on goal since he entered the league, not including this season.
He does a big chunk of his goal-scoring on the power play as well, so again, let’s increase our exposure to the Panthers’ power play in what is the best possible special teams matchup on this slate tonight.
D – Kevin Shattenkirk (ANH) – $3,800 vs. SJ
Here’s where the GPP portion of the lineup kicks in as the Ducks and Sharks get together tonight in Anaheim.
The Ducks have been atrocious on offense this season, sitting dead last with 1.73 goals per game on the season and 30th on the power play at just 8.3%.
However, the matchup here is excellent as they take on Sharks team ranked 29th in overall defense on the season, but also 29th in scoring chances against/60, 27th in high-danger chances against/60 and 28th in expected goals against/60 at 5v5 this season. Add in a 29th-ranked 5v5 save percentage from the Martin Jones/Devan Dubnyk tandem and you can see how they’ve managed to fall so far again this season.
Shattenkirk isn’t off to a booming start with his new club, but he does skate on the team’s top power play unit. The Sharks are a top-10 penalty kill, but their 5v5 defense is so bad that I believe the offensively-minded Shattenkirk can deliver some quality value at this price.
The veteran has just one assist in 11 games, but is also without a goal on the season despite putting 18 shots on goal so far and skating 22:36 per game. He’s actually blocked 14 shots as well, so he’s brining quality peripherals to the table while he awaits for improved puck luck.
He’s a career 5.4% shooter, so look for the positive goal-scoring regression to kick in against the Sharks tonight.
UTIL – Rickard Rakell (ANH) – $5,700 vs. SJ
Puck luck has been a theme in this lineup, but there might not be anyone in the league due for more positive goal-scoring regression that Rakell.
The Swede will enter this one tied for 19th with 36 shots on goal for the season. Among the 21 players with at least 36 shots on goal, Rickard’s one goal is tied for the fewest in that group, and it’s with a defenseman in the Canucks’ Quinn Hughes. After Rakell, the most shots with one goal or less on the season is the Rangers’ Mika Zibanejad with 32. Montreal’s Josh Anderson is tied with Rakell at 36 shots, yet has seven goals to his credit.
That’s how the hockey gods work sometimes, but boy is this matchup with the Sharks an excellent opportunity for some positive regression to kick in.
After all, the 27-year-old has lone been a quality scorer, notched at least 20 goals in each of his last seasons, or been on pace for at least 19 in a regulation 82-game schedule. He’s tallied that lone goal with just two assists on the season, but I am totally here for the positive goal-scoring regression to kick in as part of a fine matchup with the rival Sharks.
UTIL – Jakob Silfverberg (ANH) – $5,400 vs. SJ
Silfverberg and Rakell aren’t projected to skate on the same 5v5 line tonight, but I could afford his services and he’s one of the team’s best offensive players, so it made sense to get him into this lineup while this Ducks trio will skate on the top power play unit together.
The Sharks’ PK was the best in the business last season and a top-10 unit again this season, but they’ve allowed a power play goal in each of their last three games, killing penalties at a reduced 76.9% rate in that span.
For his part, Silfverberg enters this one with three goals and five points in 11 games on the season with 21 shots on goal as well. His current 14.3% shooting rate is above his 10% career mark, but he’s also shot at 14.7% and 13.5% in the last two seasons, so perhaps he’s found another level when it comes to scoring goals. He’s tallied 45 goals in 139 games in his previous two campaigns.
Given the matchup, this Ducks stack might see some ownership, but given the cost-efficiency provided I like them as an optimal look on this slate tonight.
G – Andrei Vasilevskiy (TB) – $8,600 vs. DET
I don’t see much reason to reach for a GPP goaltender in this lineup as I’ll opt for the safety of top-priced Andrei Vasilevskiy tonight in Detroit.
In doing so, we’ll take on the league’s 30th-ranked offense and a group that’s without a top-line forward in Tyler Bertuzzi at the moment. The Wings have scored more than two goals in just one of their last seven games while scoring just a single goal in three of their last seven.
For his part, Vasilevskiy has been strong this season. The 26-year-old Russian has turned in a 1.99 GAA and .927 Sv% in eight starts on the season, going 6-1-1 in the process. He was the winner over the Wings in the first game of this series Wednesday, but faced just 16 shots in doing so. We’d like him to get an opportunity to rack up more saves in this one, but he’s also posted a .936 Sv% in two February outings so far, so he’s certainly rolling entering this one.
Someone like Marc-Andrey Fleury in a matchup with the Kings works, or you can perhaps reach for a GPP option such as Chris Driedger against the Predators. However, I’m comfortable enough here in going with the top option on the slate in the top matchup on the slate.