It wasn’t a home run kind of night, but we were able to cross the cash line with last night’s FanDuel NHL DFS picks in what was a GPP-aimed lineup.
The night actually started hot. Chris Kreider scored an early goal for the New York Rangers while Matthew Barzal notched a goal and an assist with six shots on goal through two periods for the New York Islanders.
From there on out, it was a mix of good and bad. The good would be the goal and three assists we received from the Auston Matthews/Morgan Rielly mini-stack, but the bad came with Alexis Lafreniere’s continued early-career struggles while Semyon Varlamov was scored on with less than 30 seconds left to dash any hopes of collecting a victory in Washington.
Nonetheless, save for Lafreniere, we had consistent production up and down the lineup and Matthews was the only player I got at above 8.8% ownership on the night while six of our players were at 4.9% or less. That’s how you earn success in GPPs.
We go from a 13-game main slate all the way down to a two-gamer on Wednesday, but let’s dive in and hit some cash-aimed picks this evening!
FanDuel NHL DFS Picks – January 27, 2021
C – Elias Pettersson (VAN) – $6,400 vs. OTT
Prior to their 7-1 pounding of the Senators on Monday, things were looking awfully gloomy in Vancouver and many fingers were being pointed at Pettersson and his slow start. While the team win was nice, it was a surprise to see Pettersson held off the scoresheet despite the blowout win. Usually, we like to roster the hot hand in cash games, but I want to be there for when this talent eventually busts out.
The 22-year-old has just one goal and two points in eight games with 18 shots on goal in that time. However, a player sporting a career 17.3% shooting rate at the moment should see his tiny 5.6% mark so far rise in a big way moving forward. The puck-possession stats actually support Pettersson’s slow start, but you have to believe that if he can get on the scoresheet early in this one he will get rolling from there. Slow start aside, let’s keep in mind this is an elite talent and a player with 55 goals and 132 points in 139 career NHL games prior to this season.
There’s also the case of a lackluster Senators back end. The Sens rank dead last with 4.50 goals against per game this season after the shellacking on Monday and rank in the bottom seven in both scoring chances against/60 and high-danger chances against/60 at 5v5, as per Natural Stat Trick.
Add it up and we have another fine opportunity for the talented Swede to get things going in the right direction in this one tonight.
C – Ryan Johansen (NSH) – $5,300 vs. CHI
I’ve never been a big fan of Johansson in DFS in general as he’s mostly an assist/low-shot type of player. However, on this particular slate and in this particular matchup he fit well into this lineup as he gets set to take on the lowly Chicago Blackhawks for the second straight night tonight.
For example, he has just two assists and 11 shots in six games this season. Nonetheless, he remains the team’s No. 1 center at both 5v5 and on the top power play unit alongside some of the highest-floor players on this slate. It’s not like he doesn’t score goals at all as he’s actually tallied 14 goals in three of the last four seasons and 15 in the other over that span. His 14 across 68 games last season was set to be his highest since joining the Preds, but this is also a player that scored 59 across a two-year span in his final two seasons with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
We just need him to be more of a factor in the rematch tonight than he was last night. The Preds won that won 3-2 in OT, but Johansen recorded just one shot on goal despite skating 20:51 in that one.
The Blackhawks have predictably struggled on the back end as they’ll enter this one tied for 26th with 3.71 goals against per game and with 33.3 shots against per game. It’s a poor defensive club with poor goaltending playing their second game in as many nights, so it’s a good idea to get as many Preds into your lineup as possible tonight.
W – Brock Boeser (VAN) – $6,900 vs. OTT
Boeser was also held off the scoresheet in Monday’s blowout win, however the start to his season as been far more fruitful than that of his centerman.
Boeser has enjoyed a pair of two-goal games in the early going and will enter this one with four goals and six points on 17 shots across six games. He’s notched a goal and an assist on the man advantage and, like half the league, the Sens are killing penalties at less than 80% in the early going and don’t exactly have the best of bluelines to begin with.
That’s what we want to target with this Canucks mini-stack. As noted above, the Sens are not only struggling on the surface, but underneath it as well, ranking 27th in scoring chances against/60 at 5v5 and 25th in high-danger chances against/60 at 5v5 to go along with the subpar penalty killing. Their advanced numbers caught up to them on Monday, but this Senators team has surrendered at least four goals in four straight games — all losses — and have averaged 5.25 goals against per game in that time. They’ve also lost five straight entering this one.
Add it up and the Pettersson/Boeser combination at 5v5 and on the Canucks’ top power play unit should be able to get the job done in this matchup.
W – Filip Forsberg (NSH) – $7,200 vs. CHI
One of the more under-appreciated goal-scorers in the NHL, Filip Forsberg looks like a major must when it comes to cash games tonight.
The Swedish sniper already has four goals in six games on the season with 18 shots in that time. He began his season by scoring in three straight games and scored his fourth two games back, but was held off the scoresheet in last night’s OT win.
He’s had some trouble staying healthy over the last three seasons, but here is Forsberg’s 82-game goal results — or on-pace 82-game results – since his first full NHL season in 2014-15.
- 2014-15: 26
- 2015-16: 33
- 2016-17: 31
- 2017-18: 32
- 2018-19: 36
- 2019-20: 27
Last season was a down year for many Predators save for Norris Trophy-winning Roman Josi, but Forsberg has simply been among the league’s best goal-scorers in his NHL tenure, ranking 19th in the league with 169 goals since that 2014-15 campaign. That’s more than Nathan MacKinnon, for example, in four fewer games.
He’s puts plenty of pucks on goal and is an advanced analytics darling, owning a career 58.4% Corsi For% in all situations. There’s just no reason to be fading the goal-scorer in this favorable matchup in cash games.
D – Roman Josi (NSH) – $6,300 vs. CHI
We’ll go ahead and complete this Predators three-man stack here with Josi who is also a must if you’re going to play cash games on this two-game slate tonight.
On the heels of that Norris Trophy from last season, the big rearguard has tallied a goal and two points in six games, but he’s also fired a whopping 26 shots on goal and blocked another seven. Those 26 shots ranks second among defenseman so far, four behind Vegas’ Shea Theodore.
There’s plenty of positive regression to be had in the goal-scoring department, and it should be soon. His lone goal of the season came on last night’s overtime winner to boost his shooting rate to 3.8% on the season. However, he’s never finished a season with a shooting rate below 5.2% and his career mark sits at 6.3%. For a guy that puts as many pucks on goal as Josi does, the goals are simply going to come in bunches
After all, Since the 2013-14 season, Josi’s 100 goals ranks fourth among NHL defenseman and his 16 from last season tied for second in the NHL behind Zach Werenski’s 20. The only difference was Josi did so on a normal — by his standards — 6.2% shooting rate.
The 30-year-old is clearly one of the best all-round defensemen in the NHL and there’s no way I’m leaving him out of any cash-oriented lineup tonight.
D – Thomas Chabot (OTT) – $5,100 vs. VAN
There’s another defenseman by the name of Quinn Hughes that makes total sense in cash games tonight and you can certainly look to find a way to throw him into a utility spot, but Chabot makes for an excellent pivot if budget constraints rear their head.
He’s off to a fine start this season with a goal and three points in six games to go along with 11 shots and another seven blocked shots. That’s the type of cross-category production you should be targeting in cash games.
That said, while he’s not off to the same eye-popping start he was last season, this matchup is quite favorable for the Senators.
The only scored once on Monday, but let’s go ahead and target this weak Canucks blueline again. Not only does Vancouver rank just one spot ahead of Ottawa at 30th with 4.25 goals against per game, they also rank dead last in shots against per game at 36.4. Furthermore, they rank last in scoring chances against/60, 30th in high-danger chances against/60 and last in expected goals against/60 at 5v5. Yikes.
Their goaltenders have been under siege and it’s hard to blame them for the team’s defensive woes, but it’s worth mentioning Canucks goaltenders have combined for a 28th-ranked save percentage at 5v5 while they’ve killed penalties at the same poor 76.9% mark the Senators have this season.
Could be another high-scoring affair tonight in Vancouver.
UTIL – Brady Tkachuk (OTT) – $6,300 vs. VAN
If there’s any player that cannot be avoided in this lineup other than Josi, it’s probably this guy. He’s not the flashiest player, but his cross-category production speaks for itself and, as noted, this is an elite matchup.
The younger of the Tkachuk brothers, Brady is off to a hot start with two goals and four points in six games, but he’s also one of the highest shot volume players in the league with 24 shots so far, good for a share of 19th at the moment. Last season, Tkachuk’s 259 shots tanked eighth in the entire NHL, interestingly just one shot short of Josi’s 260.
That 2019-20 season also came with 21 goals in 71 games, his second consecutive 20-plus goal campaign to open up his promising NHL career. His career shot rate of 9.1% is actually fairly low for a winger, and not helping matters has been a brutal Senators power play in his time with the team, and that group has not been much better this season at just 12% (25th) in the early going.
However, the 5v5 matchup is the best in the business right now. Ottawa might not be the perfect team to take advantage of a weak Canucks defense, but it’s a team that received a major wake-up call on Monday and one that should have a fire lit heading into this one tonight.
Look for Tkachuk to deliver on his cross-category ways so far this season.
UTIL – Drake Batherson (OTT) – $3,800 vs. VAN
Full disclosure: I would absolutely love to get Nashville’s Viktor Arvidsson into this lineup somehow, and as the day moves along we’ll see if we can re-jig this lineup to make that happen (follow me on Twitter @BKemp17 for updates). That said, Batherson’s low cost allowed us to roster some high-floor players in this cash-aimed lineup, and he’s been good this season.
The rookie has done everything at the AHL level to prove he’s ready for full-time NHL duty. He tallied 116 points across 103 AHL games in two seasons at the ages of 20 and 21, and before this season he actually posted a solid 19 points in 43 NHL games despite playing for the low-octane Sens.
He’s yet to find the back of the net this season, but Batherson has three helpers in six games, but also an impressive 18 shots on goal for a cool three shots per game. He’s also racked up a pair of power-play assists and has looked like the best player on this Sens roster at times this season with his elite vision and passing ability showing up early in the campaign.
He’s now pointless over his last three with five shots on that time, but continues to log plenty of ice time with at least 16:02 skated in five of six games this season. He’ll skate on the team’s top line with Tkachuk as well as the top power play unit that will also include Chabot.
Given the cost and matchup, there would appear to be plenty of value in Batherson this evening.
G – Juuse Saros (NSH) – $7,300 vs. CHI
In all honesty, I don’t see anywhere to go in goal other than Saros at home against the Blackhawks, at least in cash games. I’m not about to roster anyone starting the Senators/Canucks game, or anyone playing behind this Blackhawks defense.
Pekka Rinne earned the overtime win in last night’s game, and it figures to be Saros going in the rematch tonight.
It hasn’t been the best of starts to the season for the 25-year-old as he’s worked to a 3.02 GAA and .905 Sv% in four starts. Even worse is the fact that he’s allowed eight goals and posted a .765 Sv% over his last two outings, both against the Dallas Stars after working to a .959 mark across his first two starts of the season.
With a couple days off to mentally bounce back from those efforts against the Stars, Saros should be just fine in this one. Here’s a young netminder that owns a career 2.58 GAA and .918 Sv% across 123 NHL games at just 25 years of age. That’s impressive work regardless of how you slice it.
It’s not as if the Predators defense has been carved, either, as they rank 11th in shots against per game and the top-half of the league in plenty of advanced defensive metrics. He may not have the opportunity to make a ton of saves (he faced just 34 in his two starts against the Blackhawks) but there’s a safety element here that no other goaltender on the slate will provide.
The choice is clear here with Saros.