We have a small four-game NHL slate heading into the weekend tonight, but there’s still plenty of money to be made! Let’s dive in and set up some cash-aimed picks and see if we can bank some dough and get our weekend started on the right note!
FanDuel NHL DFS Picks – March 26, 2021
C – Nicklas Backstrom (WSH) – $6,800 vs. NJ
In my opinion, the Capitals have the best matchup of the slate as they take on the New Jersey Devils on home ice. From both an even strength and special teams perspective, don’t be surprised to see the Caps fill the net in this one tonight.
Washington will enter this one ranked fourth with 3.38 goals per game on the season while their power play sits in a tie for seventh alongside the Boston Bruins with a healthy 25% mark. They actually went 0 for 2 on the power play and put just 22 shots on goal in last night’s matchup with New Jersey, but still managed to find twine on four occasions in that one.
On the flip side, the Devils will enter this one ranked 20th with 3.03 goals against per game on the season, but more appetizing for me is the fact they are tied for last in the NHL with a 71.4% mark on the penalty kill this season. That penalty kill hasn’t been so bad of late in going 23 for 26 (88.5%) over their last nine games, but the overall number still does not lie.
Enter Backstrom who is once again having a big season. The crafty veteran has tallied 12 goals and 34 points in 32 games on the season. He doesn’t shoot the puck much with just 54 shots on the season and his 22.2% shooting rate is a cool 10% above his career mark of 12.2%, so while we night see the scoring curbed moving forward, he remains one of the game’s elite play-makers and with 13 points on the power play we should get some more production of the Swede in this one tonight.
C – Logan Couture (SJ) – $6,600 vs. ARI
This time last season, using the Sharks against a stout Coyotes defense would not have been a go in cash games, but perhaps GPPs. That said, while the Sharks’ offense isn’t great, the ‘Yotes are struggling defensively and we have some high floors with this Sharks stack tonight.
For the season, San Jose ranks 20th with 2.74 goals per game on the season with an 18% power play clip that puts them in a share of 24th alongside the New York Rangers. However, the Coyotes’ defense has slipped to 19th this season after finishing fourth over the previous two campaigns combined. While Arizona still boasts a quality penalty kill, they also sit 28th in scoring chances against/60, 25th in high-danger chances against/60 and 27th in expected goals against/60, according to Natural Stat Trick.
For his part, Couture has tallied 14 goals and 23 points in 31 games this season to go along with 77 shots on goal. His 18.2% shooting rate is probably a little much, but we’ve already seen shooting-rate regression kick in here as Couture has just one goal on 16 shots over his last eight games.
He does have a power-play assist with seven shots in his two games with the Coyotes here this season, but as the Sharks’ No. 1 center in all situations he should be able to produce tonight against a team not only giving up plenty of chances, but a team down to their third-string netminder in the form of Adin Hill who owns a mediocre 2.97 GAA and .906 Sv% in six games this season.
W – Alex Ovechkin (WSH) – $8,400 vs. NJ
It’s rarely a good idea to leave Ovechkin out of any cash-aimed lineups, but if we’re targeting special teams here in this matchup this man needs to be a part of your group.
Ovechkin wasn’t scoring at an Ovi-like pace earlier in the season, but a big month of March has changed that trajectory. Ovi has buried eight goals in 11 March contests so far with 10 total points in that time. He’s now up to 15 goals and 27 points in 28 games on the season, but he’s also put a whopping 114 shots on goal in the process.
Across his big month of March, he’s also peppering opposing netminders with plenty of rubber. He’s put 51 shots on goal in 11 March contests so far, good for a cool 4.64 shots per game this month.
It’s actually somewhat interested to see just four of his 15 goals coming on the power play, but with the way he’s scoring and shooting the puck right now, it’s awfully hard to see him not being effective with the Devils in the box tonight.
At the end of the day, he’s not evading my lineups tonight.
W – Jakub Vrana (WSH) – $4,600 vs. NJ
Completing our three-man Capitals stack tonight is Vrana who comes in at a much cheaper price than someone like John Carlson on the blueline. We have some expensive names in the lineup, so while we needed some cost-efficient bodies as well, Vrana is in a very favorable spot to produce in this one tonight.
The Caps have switched things up a little bit up front with Vrana skating with Backstrom on the team’s second line with Evgeny Kuznetsov playing with Ovechkin at even strength. That said, Vrana’s work this season has pushed Kuznetsov to the team’s second power play unit while he lines up with the big boys in Ovechkin and Backstrom on the top unit.
Vrana doesn’t take a ton of shots with 62 shots in his 32 games on the season, but he’s made good on 10 of those shots as he sports an elevated 16.1% shooting rate on the season. He’s added 11 points to his ledger, giving him 21 points in 31 games on the season.
His spot on the top power play unit isn’t due to his mass production on the man advantage with just three man-advantage helpers to his credit this season, but perhaps it’s an effort to gain additional balance on both units while Vrana and Backstrom have certainly found some chemistry at even strength.
It’s also a good way to get him going again as he hasn’t scored over his last seven games, so let’s see if he can get off the schneid in this one tonight.
D – Erik Karlsson (SJ) – $4,400 vs. ARI
At this point in time Brent Burns is the superior defensive option in cash games, but again we need to gain some cost efficiency here and Karlsson gives us that in a fine matchup this evening.
That said, it’s certainly been a down season for the former Senators superstar. Injuries in recent years have certainly taken their toll on Karlsson, and he enters tonight’s game with just two goals and 10 points in 27 gamers. That’s even a far cry from the 40 points in posted in 56 games last season, and while his peripherals are solid with 51 shots and 36 blocks on the season, this certainly isn’t superstar Karlsson at the moment.
Still, he’s logging big minutes with 23:51 of average ice time per game and he has retained his spot on the top power play unit alongside Couture. Both of his goals and five of his 10 points have come on the power play, and while the Coyotes are more vulnerable at even strength, it’s at least something to work with here.
We won’t pretend we’re getting prime Karlsson at a cheap price, but given his time on ice and the matchup at hand and Karlsson certainly has plenty of value upside in this one tonight.
D – Vince Dunn (STL) – $3,800 vs. ANH
After our three-man Capitals and Sharks stacks, we were left to find some value at defense and in a utility spot, and I like what we have here with Dunn getting us started in an excellent home matchup.
The Blues have largely scored more than they’ve deserved if we look at the underlying metrics at even strength and their power play has dipped to 22nd this season at 18.6% after ranking third in that department last season.
Still, here’s a Ducks team that not only sits tied for 25th with 3.32 goals against per game on the season with a 75.5% penalty kill that ranks 24th, but they also rank 24th in scoring chances against/60, 29th in high-danger chances against/60 and 26th in expected goals against/60 at 5v5 this season. It’s also a Ducks team without No. 1 netminder John Gibson at the moment while 40-year-old Ryan Miller sports a 3.48 GAA and .880 Sv% across his 11 starts and 13 appearances on the season, going just 3-7-1 in that time.
For his part, Dunn has tallied five goals and 12 points in 32 games on the season go go along with 54 shots and another 39 blocks to give him some quality peripheral numbers. Despite having his name swirling in trade rumors this season, He’s seeing more ice time than every before with a career-high average of 19:35 per night while he anchors the club’s second power-play unit.
There’s plenty to like about the matchup and the player, so we’ll look for some value potential in this one tonight.
UTIL – Evander Kane (SJ) – $7,800 vs. ARI
Completing our three-man Sharks stack here is the expensive Kane who is rolling entering this matchup tonight.
Kane has tallied seven goals and 14 points across 13 games for the month of March so far, but he’s also fired a whopping 49 shots on goal during that time, good for 3.5 shots per game. Kane is also coming off a two-goal, seven-shot game his last time out against the Kings on Wednesday.
For the season, the veteran left winger has produced 14 goals, 29 points and 105 shots on goal across 31 games. He logs a ton of ice time with 19:54 of average ice time per game and has certainly put those minutes to good use this season.
Kane will get with Couture at both 5v5 and on the Sharks’ top power-play unit. Again, special teams isn’t by main concern here and the fact the Sharks haven’t scored a power-play goal over their last eight attempts across their last four games furthers that notion. However, Kane has 10 goals and 12 assists for 22 even-strength points in 31 games this season, and considering Arizona’s 5v5 defensive woes this season, it makes sense to target even-strength production.
Add it up and I’m excited to see what this three-man Sharks stack can accomplish tonight.
UTIL – Jordan Kyrou (STL) – $4,200 vs. ANH
Completing a Blues mini-stack here tonight is Kyrou who will line up with Dunn on the Blues’ second power-play unit, but also has a fine spot in the lineup at even strength as well.
It would appear Kyrou is once again going to skate on a line with Ryan O’Reilly and David Perron, otherwise known as the team’s top-two point-getters this season. In fact, only Brayden Schenn sits between Kyrou and his linemates in the team’s scoring race as Kyrou has tallied a healthy 10 goals and 24 points in 33 games to go along with 66 shots on goal.
A big time prospect out of junior after scoring 39 goals and 109 points in just 56 games with the OHL’s Sarnia Sting in the 2017-18 season, Kyrou hadn’t quite put it together at the NHL level until this season. Previously, he had five goals and 12 points in 42 games across the two previous seasons despite recording 58 points across 63 AHL games in that same time.
He couldn’t ask for better linemates and the power play time is a bonus alongside Dunn in an extremely favorable matchup tonight.
G – Ilya Samsonov (WSH) – $8,200 vs. NJ
Completing this lineup tonight is Samsonov who should certainly get the nod tonight after Vitek Vanecek earned the win in last night’s matchup with the Devils.
Vanecek and Samsonov have largely been in a timeshare between the pipes since the latter returned to the lineup. After an inconsistent start to the season, Samsonov has found his game over his last two outings, stopping 43 of 46 shots in that time, good for a .935 Sv% despite winning just one of those two starts. He does have wins in four of his last five starts, however.
This is the Russian’s second season in the NHL after working to a quality 2.55 GAA and .913 Sv% as a rookie last season. For this season, he owns a 2.48 GAA and .908 Sv% in nine appearances this season, but as just noted, his best work of the season has been over his last two starts.
The Capitals are heavy -219 moneyline favorites in this one tonight, and the safest option on the board as far as I can see. He should be seriously considered in all cash games tonight.