FanDuel NHL DFS Picks – November 24, 2021

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After a small three-game slate on Tuesday night, Wednesday hits us with a rare monster slate by way of a whopping 14 games on the NHL schedule.

Let’s dive into some GPP picks and see if we can find the value on the board!

FanDuel NHL DFS Picks – November 24, 2021

C – Auston Matthews (TOR) – $9,400 vs. LA

If the law of averages means anything to you, getting Matthews into as many lineups as possible for the next little while might be a good idea.

In 17 games this season Matthews has tallied seven goals and eight helpers for 15 points. It’s an underwhelming bottom line for the Leafs No. 1 center, but let’s look at the bigger picture for a second.

Matthews has also fired 74 shots on goal to rank third in the NHL despite missing the first three games of the Leafs’ season. His seven goals on 74 shots results in a 9.5% shooting rate that is miles below his 15.8% career mark. His previous low in a season was his 14.3% clip from a 40-goal rookie season, so it would appear there’s plenty of positive shooting-rate regression to be had here.

As for the matchup, it’s a good one despite the Leafs being on the road here. The Kings enters this one ranked sixth in the NHL with 2.56 goals against per game. So, how is this a good matchup? That would be due to the fact they also rank 19th in high-danger chances against/60 and tied for 20th in expected goals against/60 at 5v5. Their 1.80 goals against/60 at 5v5 is well below their 2.41 expected mark.

Add in a penalty kill that ranks 24th at 77.8% on the season and the fact the Kings are without two of their best d-men in Drew Doughty (their best) and Sean Walker (top four) and Toronto should be in business tongiht while kicking off a western road swing in Hollywood.

C – Dylan Larkin (DET) – $6,900 vs. STL

The Red Wings have certainly been a whole lot more competitive than we expected this season and Larkin is in the midst of a bounce-back campaign after a woeful 2020-21 season.

Larkin scored just nine times with 23 points in 44 games on a tiny 6.7% shooting rate last season. Heck, he even scored just 19 times on an 8.5% clip in the 2019-20 season. So far this season, he’s already matched last season’s goal total with nine tallies and 16 points in as many games while the shooting rate has risen all the way to 17%. Given his 9.4% career mark we can certainly expect shooting-rate regression, but he was certainly due for increased puck-luck from the last couple of seasons.

In Larkin, we also get another high-volume shooter into this lineup. He’s not on Matthews’ level in that area, but he still has 53 shots in those 16 games, good for more than three shots per game on average. Larkin is also red-hot at the moment with five goals and seven points on 14 shots over his last five games.

As for the matchup, it’s also a good one. While the Blues sit ninth with 2.67 goals against per game on the season, they also rank 27th in high-danger chances against/60 and 26th in expected goals against/60 with a 2.11 actual goals against/60 that sits well below their 2.51 expected mark.

Let’s see if Larkin can stay white-hot in this one tonight.

W – Mitch Marner (TOR) – $7,600 vs. LA

Speaking of white-hot, Marner has silenced his early-season critics in a big way after a sluggish start to his season.

In his first seven games, the talented play-maker recorded just one assist while going pointless for six in a row after notching that assist on opening night. Across his last 13 games, however, he’s tallied five goals and 15 points while looking far more like the Marner we’re used to seeing.

The key here is that he’s back skating with Matthews at 5v5 play while obviously flanking him on the team’s top power-play unit as well. Marner serves as a swiss-army knife for head coach Sheldon Keefe, however, skating 21:11 per game while serving time on the penalty kill as well. He actually recorded a short-handed goal as part of his two-goal effort his last time out on Sunday against the Islanders.

I noted that the Kings’ 5v5 defense should regress and they’re also struggling on the penalty kill. It’s certainly also worth noting that the Maple Leafs rank first in the NHL in high-danger chances for/60 and expected goals for/60 at 5v5, yet sit 27th in actual goals/60 at 5v5 with a 1.95 mark that is nearly a full goal below their 2.80 expected mark.

Add in owning the league’s seventh-ranked power play at 23.2% and there is opportunity both at even strength and on the man advantage tonight.

W – Michael Bunting (TOR) – $3,900 vs. LA

We’ll go ahead and complete our Maple Leafs stack right here with Bunting who appears to be moving back to the Leafs’ top line alongside Matthews and Marner at even strength while getting at least some second-unit power-play minutes as well.

Bunting has moved around the Leafs lineup in his first year with the Leafs as the club’s biggest weakness is indeed on the left side up front, but he seems to be the best fit with that duo for now. He assisted on Marner’s second goal in New York on Sunday, giving him three points over his last five games and nine points in 20 games this season with 38 shots on goal in that time.

No, the floor is not high and Morgan Rielly is a fine option as part of this lineup, but Bunting’s cost-efficiency here makes sense, especially with Matthews set to explode for some offense any game now. Matthews has one goal over his last five games despite firing 21 pucks on goal in that time, so if he finds the net once or twice tonight there’s a solid chance Bunting is on the action.

If you’re looking for a sub-$4K winger on this slate, Bunting makes a ton of sense tonight in L.A.

D – Moritz Seider (DET) – $4,200 vs. STL

In like the cost here with Seider as an early Calder Trophy candidate alongside teammate Lucas Raymond who we’ll touch on below.

Seider was certainly highly-touted coming out of Germany (but playing in Sweden) for this NHL debut this season at just 20 years of age, but it’s safe to say he’s already exceeded expectations. The 2019 sixth overall pick has recorded two goals and 13 points in 20 games on the season, but also brings real nice peripherals to the table in the form of 34 shots and another 30 blocked shots in that time.

Look no further than his 22:20 of average ice time and first-unit power play time as evidence of the trust he has with the coaching staff this early into what appears to be a promising NHL career.

Seider has shown excellent offensive upside already as a pro, tallying two goals and 22 points in 49 games as an 18-year-old d-man with the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins in the 2019-20 season before playing last year in Sweden’s top pro league (due to the lack of an AHL season) and went on to record a healthy seven goals and 28 points in 41 contests.

Obviously, the talent is there, but we’ll need it to show up tonight against a Blues team that has more regression coming for their defense at even strength.

D – Robin Salo (NYI) – $3,500 vs. NYR

If you’re following this precise lineup, you can accord either Salo or Sebastian Aho on the Islanders’ blueline. Both are looking like they’ll get top-unit power-play minutes in this one, but in short, I like Salo due to the fact he’s skated more than 22 minutes in both of his games this season while Aho’s ice time has dipped to around 14-15 minutes in each of his last two.

Salo isn’t on the scoresheet as of yet, but he’s already recorded an encouraging three shots on goal and five blocked shots in his limited NHL duty.

Like Seider, Salo also played last season in the Swedish Hockey League, and like Seider, he was extremely productive in collecting six goals and 30 points in 51 games. He’s gone on to notched two goals and a healthy eight points in 14 games with the Islanders’ AHL affiliate in Bridgeport.

A 2017 second-round pick by the Isles, the Finn also looks to be ahead of Aho on the defensive chart in general — which helps explain the superior ice time — as he’s projected for top-pair minutes alongside Noah Dobson. Remember, the Islanders have been ravaged by a COVID protocol situation, and rear guards such as Adam Pelech, Andy Greene and Zdeno Chara are out as a result while Ryan Pulock is out with a lower-body injury for a little while.

It’s a great opportunity for Salo, but also for us as he takes on the rival Rangers tonight at the minimum price.

UTIL – Lucas Raymond (DET) – $5,400 vs. STL

You also have a choice here between Raymond and Tyler Bertuzzi as both skate on the top line with Larkin as well as on the Red Wings’ top power-play unit.

There’s not a material reason as to why I went with Raymond, but if we’re going with one Calder candidate why not another one in Raymond?

He too has far exceeded expectations so far this season. He wasn’t a lock to make the team out of camp, but all he’s done so far is record seven goals and 19 points in his first 20 NHL games. The Swede has recorded a healthy 48 shots on goal as well with a 14.6% shooting rate that makes sense.

Not only am I high on these three Red Wings players in general, but Detroit’s offense has been much, much better than anticipated. They might sit 22nd in overall scoring with 2.70 goals per game (already a big improvement from recent seasons), but also 13th in high-danger chances for/60 and eighth in expected goals for/60 at 5v5. Their 2.19 goals/60 at 5v5 is well below their 2.51 expected mark, so this even-strength offense has actually been rather good and should get even better.

A 25th-ranked 15.8% clip on the power play has held their overall offense down, but against a Blues team set to regress defensively while giving up plenty of dangerous scoring chances I’m certainly willing to give the Wings some looks tonight.

UTIL – Mathew Barzal (NYI) – $6,200 vs. NYR

The Islanders’ forward group is beat up by the COVID situation as well, but that doesn’t change the fact that this Rangers team gives up far too much on the back end.

Sure, they sit 14th with a solid 2.83 goals against per game, but the rest is rather suspect. In addition to a 25th-ranked 77.4% mark on the penalty kill, the Rangers also rank 22nd in high-danger chances against/60 but also 29th in expected goals against/60 at 5v5. Their 2.19 goals against/60 at 5v5 is well below their 2.54 expected mark.

The difference in actual results and expected results comes from the elite goaltending of Igor Shesterkin which remains an issue for this one, but I see the Islanders getting well overlooked on this slate and we’ll get these guys at very low ownerships as a result.

As for Barzal himself, he’s notched just four goals and eight points on a solid 44 shots in 15 games. That type of production will keep him off DFS radars for the most part, but he’s a guy that’s recorded 0.86 points per game in his NHL career (including this season) but is at 0.53 at the moment this season.

Obviously, there should be some positive regression from a points standpoint, but also a shooting-rate standpoint with a 9.1% mark that sits below his 11.5% career clip.

If these Islanders can hit it’s an awfully big start for this lineup tonight.

G – Elvis Merzlikins (CBJ) – $7,800 vs. WPG

Merzlikins hasn’t been at his best of late, but there’s enough reason in the numbers to roster him tonight in GPPs as he takes on the Jets tonight on home ice.

The latter two words in that last sentence are extremely important. In three road outings this season, he’s been beat up for a 3.64 GAA and .891 Sv%. However, in seven home appearances, he’s worked to a stout 2.28 GAA and .930 Sv% while going 6-1-0.

The gap in those splits isn’t only this season, but in his career. In 37 road games, Merzlikins owns a 2.99 GAA and .906 Sv%. However, he’s dominated to the tune of a 2.10 GAA and .934 SV% across 34 home games. Pretty substantial data there to be honest.

And then there’s this Jets offense. At home, they sit ninth with 3.40 goals per game and fifth with a 28% clip on the man advantage. However, on the road, they rank 22nd with just 2.50 goals per game with an awful power play that is tied for 25th at just 12.5%. A serious gap in these home/road splits as well.

The Blue Jackets have been a poor team in defending overall this season from an underlying data standpoint, but there’s little doubt Merzlikins has been at his best at home this season.

You can look elsewhere for options in and around this price, but for now I like Merzlikins to shut down the Jets tonight on home ice.

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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.

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