For the first time in three nights we failed to notch a profit with our FanDuel NHL DFS Picks. In fact, it was one of the worst results I’ve ever encountered.
The Maple Leafs didn’t have it again last night, and it was one of the quieter games we’ve seen from Auston Matthews in some time. Marner was even worse in posting a zero while Matthews recorded three shots and a block.
The Sabres didn’t get much done, either. Jack Eichel and Taylor Hall each recorded an assist on the Sabres’ only goal of the night and along with Rasmus Dahlin the trio combined for two assists, five shots and two blocks. Not early good enough.
While Tim Stuetzle’s debut was a quiet one in recorded just one shot on goal, the funniest part about it all is that Nikita Zaitsev was by far our top producer, notching a pair of assists and a blocked shot against his old team as the Sens pulled off the upset by a 5-3 score.
Of course, that meant disaster for Frederik Andersen. The Maple Leafs’ netminder was shelled for five goals on just 24 shots and looks completely out of whack in the early going this season.
It was certainly a forgettable night as we move onto more of an optimal lineup on tonight’s eight-game main slate!
FanDuel NHL DFS Picks – January 16, 2021
C – Sean Monahan (CGY) – $6,800 vs. VAN
The Flames and Canucks will renew hostilities tonight in Calgary as the long-time western Canadian rivals will see plenty of each other this season.
While the Canucks have a high-powered top six that carried them in their season-opening win over the Oilers on Wednesday, I believe the Flames are the superior team this season and I expect big year out of their core.
The Flames were dealt an OT loss in their only game of the season so far in Winnipeg on Thursday, a game in which Monahan notched a power play assist and two shots on goal while logging 18:30 of ice time in that one.
After recording 82 points in 78 games in the 2018-19 season, Monahan’s production cratered last season. He notched just 48 points across 70 games and seeing his 1.05 points per game two seasons ago slip all the way just 0.69 points per game last season.
This is a guy with three 30-goal seasons under his belt in seven NHL campaigns, and he’s recorded a pair of 27-goal seasons as well. In other words, the 22 goals we saw from him last season has a good chance of standing out as the outlier in that has otherwise been a productive NHL career.
The Canucks’ defense has surrendered eight goals in two games and it’s a group I believe will struggle for the most part this season. I would expect Braden Holtby in the Canucks’ crease for this one, but I don’t believe either he or Thatcher Demko are going to make much noise for a team I think will struggle to keep the puck out of their net.
C – Ryan Strome (NYR) – $5,300 vs. NYI
It will be interesting to see what type of ownership the Rangers will get tonight against the same Islanders team that blanked them 4-0 in the season opener on Thursday.
The Islanders have been among the best defenses in the league since Barry Trotz took over prior to the 2018-19 campaign, but here’s a Rangers offense that also ranked fifth in the league last season and one I believe will break out after being skunked two nights back.
For his part, Strome is coming off a career-year that saw him tally 18 goals and 59 points in 70 games, by far his best NHL season to date. The fifth overall pick of the 2011 draft had largely been labeled a bust prior to last season, but Strome appears to have found a home with the Rangers as he gets set to take on the team that drafted him tonight.
Strome will line up as the team’s second-line center in this one, but he’ll also skate on a line with 2020 Hart Trophy finalist Artemi Panarin as well as the 2020 first-overall pick Alexis Lafreniere. That’s certainly a fine spot to be on the depth chart while he’ll also skate with Panarin on the Rangers’ top power play unit.
The Islanders are a team that continues to defy analytics as they rank among the worst teams in the league in scoring chances against and high-danger chances against, so let’s see if this high-powered line can capitalize on some of those opportunities in this one tonight.
W – Artemi Panarin (NYR) – $8,100 vs. NYI
Of course, we’re going to get the high-priced Panarin into this lineup as he looks to redeem himself after being held in check on Thursday.
The Rangers accelerated their rebuild when they signed Panarin to a seven-year contract in free agency in the summer of 2019, and he certainly appears to be worth the investment. Panarin tallied 32 goals and a whopping 95 points in just 69 games last season, putting 209 shots on goal in the process.
Seemingly a play-maker by trade, Panarin has scored at least 27 goals in each of his five NHL seasons to this point, scoring at least 30 in three of those five seasons. As a result, he’s one of the leagues best blends of scoring touch and play-making abilities and it would appear he’s primed for another big season on broadway as part of this exciting Rangers offense.
He’s a puck possession monster with a 57.4% Corsi For% in all situations last season, a number that actually represented a career-low while he owns a career 59.4% mark. In other words, the Rangers greatly out-produce the opposition in terms of shot attempts when he’s on the ice, which of course means the Rangers spend much of their time in the offensive zone with the slick Russian on the ice.
You don’t keep a player of his caliber quiet long, so let’s see what he can offer in this one, perhaps at reduced ownership given the price tag and effort on Thursday.
W – Alexis Lafreniere (NYR) – $4,800 vs. NYI
It wasn’t the best of NHL debuts for the highly-touted prospect, perhaps the most anticipated NHL prospect to enter the league since Sidney Crosby. Interestingly, both players were drafted first overall from the Rimouski Oceanic of the QMJHL.
That said, it didn’t take long for head coach David Quinn to look to get his prized prospect into a top-six role after he mostly played on the third line with Filip Chytil and Julien Gauthier in the opener. Of course, you want the kid playing with confidence and the way to do that is to get him on the scoresheet. There is no better place to be in order to accomplish that than on a line with Panarin for this Rangers group.
With Lafreniere, we’ll also get exposure to both power play units as he skates on the second group while Strome and Panarin team up on the top unit.
I mean, the guy recorded 112 points across 52 games with Rimouski last season, a season after notching 105 points in 61 games as a 17-year-old in the 2018-19 campaign. He’s not going to be held in check much longer, and while he’ll take his lumps as every rookie does, moving up to the Panarin line is a major boost for the 19-year-old Quebec native.
D – Rasmus Andersson (CGY) – $4,600 vs. VAN
Marc Giordano and his cross-category ways is a fine play at $5,300, but I am certainly willing to save some dough and roll with Andersson who has supplanted Giordano as the team’s top offensive defenseman this season.
It’s now Andersson on the Flames’ top power play unit along with Monahan while Giordano as slipped down to the second group. He notched an assist and blocked a team-high four shots in the opener in Winnipeg on Thursday and also put a shot on goal to show that he too can bring plenty of cross-category production to the table.
The 24-year-old logged just 19:56 of average ice time last season, but is now on the team’s top pair alongside Giordano and the increased power play time while have him logging big minutes this season after skating just one tick shy of 24 minutes on Thursday. He tallied five goals and 22 points with 124 shots and blocked another 83 as well across 70 games.
However, look for the Swede to obliterate those numbers this season as he looks to continue his strong effort on Thursday into this one tonight.
D – Alexander Romanov (MON) – $3,900 vs. EDM
The Oilers’ defense was absolutely atrocious in their season-opening 5-3 loss to the Canucks on Wednesday, but fared much better just 24 hours later in a 5-2 win. That said, I’m not sold on a group that looks awfully thin with the loss of No. 1 stalwart Oscar Klefbom while Mike Smith’s injury is going to put major pressure on goaltender Mikko Koskinen who is going to see plenty of work for the foreseeable future.
The Canadiens looked awfully impressive as a whole despite dropping Wednesday’s opener to the Maple Leafs 5-4 in overtime, and Romanov was perhaps the most impressive Canadien on the ice.
He fed Tomas Tatar a beautiful pass for a second-period goal but also put three shots on goal and blocked another four for a 19.7-point effort in his NHL debut.
Premier but de la saison pour Tatar, premier point dans la LNH pour Romanov!
— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) January 14, 2021
The Canadiens’ 2018 second-round pick recorded just seven assists in 43 games in the KHL last season, but began the year as a 19-year old and looked awfully comfortable with the puck on his stick Wednesday. He’s going to far exceed that production, and it appears we could have a cross-category beast on our hands in no time.
UTIL – Johnny Gaudreau (CGY) – $7,800 vs. VAN
I believe we’ll get Gaudreau at lower ownership tonight as the price tag is quite high for a guy coming off a down season. Gaudreau’s 58 points in 70 games last season is a fine year by most players’ standards, but considering he recorded 183 points over 162 games across the previous two seasons, clearly there’s plenty more in the tank for the 27-year-old.
There is big-time pressure on the Monahan/Gaudreau tandem to produce this season. After a disappointing year from both last season, rumors began to swirl about changing up the core in Calgary, naming both players as potential trade candidates with each having another year left on their contracts after this season.
#Flames Johnny Gaudreau & Sean Monahan have now combined on 216 goals since the start of 2014-15.
That is the most in the NHL among teammate duos in that time.
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) January 15, 2021
It wasn’t a monster effort on Thursday, but Gaudreau got off to a fine start by tallying a power play goal and recorded three shots in 18:44 of ice time. One thing he’s consistently done in his NHL career is shoot the puck as he recorded 209 shots last season in those 70 games but also 245 in 82 games the season prior. We’ll look for major positive regression on his tiny 8.6% shooting rate from last season as well, a number well under his 12.1% career mark and the 14.7% mark he posted in the 2018-19 season.
Let’s look for another strong effort from this three-man stack in what I believe is a favorable home matchup in this one.
UTIL – Tomas Tatar (MON) – $5,900 vs. EDM
We’ll complete a Canadiens mini-stack here with Tatar who will skate with Romanov on the team’s second power play unit in addition to their 5v5 spent together.
It’s more of a 1B power play group rather than a strict second-unit as Tatar was actually the team’s top point-getter by far last season, tallying 61 points in 68 games. Aside from Max Domi, who was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Josh Anderson, the Tatar/Phillip Danault/Brendan Gallagher top-line trio were the team’s top point producers last season. Both Tatar and Gallagher skate on that 1B power play unit while Tatar also led the Habs with 22 power play points a season ago.
This is the league’s second-ranked penalty kill from last season as only the San Jose Sharks bested the Oilers in that department, but Klefbom and his elite shot-blocking skills was a major part of that and I’ll expect regression from that group as a result.
Tatar looked in fine form on Wednesday and I’ll look for him to carry that into this cross-country matchup tonight.
G – Jacob Markstrom (CGY) – $7,800 vs. VAN
Much of the hype surrounding this Canucks/Flames matchup centers around Markstrom, the Canucks No. 1 goaltender from last season who signed with the Flames in free agency.
Markstrom was the Canucks’ MVP last season during his career-year that saw him post a career-high .918 Sv% that is well above his .911 career mark. He wasn’t overly impressive in allowing four goals on 34 shots on Thursday against the Jets, but he’ll certainly be ready to go for this one tonight.
We’ll see how potent this Canucks offense is as we move along, but they had one strong game and one poor game so far. The top-line trio of J.T. Miller/Elias Pettersson/Brock Boeser will produce, but Miller is out again tonight while Jake Virtanen appears to be moving up to the top line as a result.
Bo Horvat, Tanner Pearson and rookie Nils Hoglander should generate some offense as well, but there’s not much depth in the bottom six. Major pressure is on that top line to to the bulk of the heavy lifting this season.
For tonight, however, I’ll roll with the Markstrom vs. his old team storyline and look for the big Swede to bring his ‘A’ game into this matchup tonight.