It’s been a few days since my last FanDuel NHL DFS Picks, but we’re onto the official 16-team NHL Stanley Cup playoffs following an odd and entertaining qualifying round, to say the least.
We’ll kick off the official postseason with a four-game slate beginning at 3 p.m. ET, so let’s get right to it and see if we can get started on the right note!
FanDuel NHL DFS Picks – August 11, 2020
C – William Karlsson (VGK) – $6,100 vs. CHI
The Blackhawks upset the Oilers in the qualifying round to earn a date with the Golden Knights in the first round, however the task appears far tougher than the one they just passed.
Vegas earned the No.1 seed in the Western Conference’s round robin and appear to be one of the deeper clubs playing at its peak entering this series.
The Blackhawks managed to get passed the Oilers, but they did exactly play stout defense along the way, allowing 3.75 goals per game in that series while surrendering 34.3 shots per game. The elevated shots against should come as no surprise as the Blackhawks ranked dead-last in that department with 35.1 shots against per game in the regular season while making things extremely difficult on their goaltending in the process.
Furthermore, the Blackhawks thoroughly lost the possession game as well as the scoring chance share against the Oilers after ranking 22nd in Corsi For% in the regular season. On the flip side, the Golden Knights ranked first with a 54.76% Corsi For% at 5v5 in the regular season, so I expect the Knights to dominate the puck-possession game in this one.
Enter Karlsson who will skate on the top line and top power play unit in this one coming off a 15-goal, 46-point regular season in 63 contests. He had a goal and two assists with eight shots on goal in the three-game round robin while skating at least 20 minutes in two of the three contests.
He’ll probably skate with Mark Stone and Jonathan Marchessault in this one, so look for Vegas’ top line to do plenty of damage tonight.
C – Pierre-Luc Dubois (CBJ) – $5,700 vs. TB
The Blue Jackets took the deciding Game 5 in the qualifying round over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday night and forced a first-round rematch with the Tampa Bay Lightning who the club ousted in a shocking four-game sweep in last year’s first round.
While the Lightning are once again the heavy favorite – not that Columbus cares – they could be without top defender Victor Hedman who left the final round robin game with a leg injury and did not return. Regardless, if he dresses, Hedman will not be 100% and that’s a blow to this team’s defense game to be sure.
Of the 24 teams that qualified for the NHL playoffs, the Blue Jackets had the fewest goals per game with 2.57 during the regular season, but if you watched the round against the Maple Leafs, you would have seen Dubois elevate his game while he notched a hat trick in Game 3 of that series.
He’s the team’s top center at 5v5 and on the top power play unit coming off a campaign in which he tallied 18 goals and 49 points in 70 games with 158 shots on goal in that time. His hat trick accounted for nearly all of his production in the qualifying round as he added an assist in Game 4, but he played a major role in Columbus’ upset and could very well do so again in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal tonight.
W – Mark Stone (VGK) – $7,300 vs. CHI
When the Vegas Golden Knights acquired Stone at the last minute prior to the 2019 trade deadline and immediately struck an eight-year contract extension with the 200-foot winger, it immediately become clear that he was an excellent fit on this team.
The Golden Knights play a 200-foot game as a team and value puck possession, something Stone is better at than almost any player in this league. He’s certainly one of the top defensive forwards in the game and is annually among the takeaway leaders in the game. In other words, Stone drives possession at an elite rate as evidenced by his massive team-leading 67.65% Corsi For% at 5v5 during the round robin and stout 57.74% mark in the regular season.
Aside from the possession game that should play a huge role in creating opportunities tonight, Stone’s counting stats follow suit as he notched 21 goals and 63 points in 65 games while putting a healthy 168 shots on goal during that time. He enjoyed a productive round robin to be sure with two goals and five points in three games and was massive in the first round of last year’s postseason, notching six goals and 12 points in the heart-breaking seven-game loss to the Sharks in round one.
As one of the top all-round players in the game, look for Stone’s possession-driving presence to be felt on the scoresheet tonight.
W – Jonathan Marchessault (VGK) – $6,800 vs. CHI
Just because Marchessault’s possession numbers don’t stack up with Stone’s doesn’t mean we should be scoffing at his.
After all, posting a regular-season Corsi For% of 54.59% isn’t too shabby while his 55.52% Scoring Chances For% is an excellent number itself.
That said, Marchessault is in this lineup to get pucks on the net, something he does at an extremely high clip.
With Max Pacioretty back in the bubble and ready to go after missing the round robin, I would expect Marchessault to jump back onto the top line alongside Karlsson and Stone for tonight’s Game 1, giving us a three-man 5v5 stack and quite likely a PP1 stack as well, although we’ll keep an eye on this as the day progresses.
Nonetheless, I’m here for Marchessault’s counting stats while he’s coming off a big round robin finale against the Avalanche. In the regular season, the 29-year-old tallied 22 goals and 47 points in 66 games, but also fired a whopping 235 shots on goal in that time, good for the 11th-most shots in the league this season.
Marchessault was held quiet in the first two games of the round robin before scoring twice – including once on the power play – on four shots in the 4-3 overtime victory over the Avalanche to seal the No.1 seed.
If the Blackhawks are going to give up a ton of shots and get dominated in the possession game as I expect, I am thrilled to have this Golden Knights stack going tonight.
W – Cam Atkinson (CBJ) – $7,100 vs. TB
If getting shots on goal is the theme of this lineup, then let’s get Atkinson in alongside Dubois at 5v5 and on the Blue Jackets’ top power play unit.
After all, Atkinson has been a shot-on-goal machine in recent seasons, including this year when he put 148 shots on goal in just 44 regular season games, good for 3.4 shots per game. That’s a 279-shot pace in a full 82-game regular season and would have marked the sixth straight season that Atkinson had put at least 212 shots on goal in the regular season, but the second straight year he was on pace for at least 275.
He managed 12 goals and 26 points in his 44 games this season in a down year on the goal-scoring front, but he was productive in the qualifying round against the Leafs, notching two goals and five points with 13 shots – including a pair of five-shot games – in those five contests.
Like Dubois, Atkinson wad a factor in that series and I would expect that to be the case again in this one tonight.
W – Milan Lucic (CGY) – $3,400 vs. DAL
The Flames ousted the Jets to move onto the 16-team playoff while the Stars rallied late to beat the Blues to notch the No.3 seed in the Western Conference to seal a date with Calgary.
While he’s been much-maligned since signing that megadeal with the Edmonton Oilers a few years back, Lucic seems to have found a better home with the Flames. He’s not the same productive winger that he was in his hey day with the Boston Bruins, however Lucic notched eight goals and 20 points in 68 games in the regular season with 83 shots on goal.
That said, the rugged winger made his presence felt in a big way in the four-game series against the Jets, notching a goal and four points in those four games to go along with five shots on goal. Furthermore, it appeared he was rewarded for his stellar play with 16:14 of ice time in the clinching Game 4, a number well above his 13:20 average from the regular season.
The Stars were one of the better defensive teams in the regular season and scoring against them won’t be easy in this first round, but I’m seeing some value in what has been a productive Lucic of late.
D – Seth Jones (CBJ) – $4,900 vs. TB
Completing our three-man Blue Jackets stack is Jones who played a major role in the Jackets’ upset of the Maple Leafs while skating on the top defensive pairing and on the first power play unit as well.
Returning from a broken ankle suffered near the tail end of the regular season, Jones delivered fantastic cross-category production in the qualifying round. He notched a goal and an assist in five games, but also seven shots on goal. That said, his biggest contribution was in the defensive zone where he blocked 16 shots in five games, including three games with four or more blocks and two gamed with five blocks. He logged at least 26 minutes in all five contests.
While Zack Werenski is the most expensive option and probably the better offensive option, I don’t mind one bit paying down for Jones coming off a six-goal, 30-point regular season in 56 games with 126 shots on goal during that time. He is indeed the team’s best defenseman from an all-round standpoint and we know he’s going to be in the shooting lanes when the high-octane Tampa offense gets going in the Columbus zone.
At this price, Jones is bringing wonderful cross-category potential to the table tonight.
D – Shea Theodore (VGK) – $7,800 vs. CHI
You didn’t think I was done with Vegas yet, did you?
While I am loving the trio above, it was Theodore who enjoyed the monster round robin as he continues to mould himself into one of the top offensive defensemen in the game while delivering high floors for DFS purposes every time he hits the ice.
In 71 regular-season contests, Theodore notched 13 goals and 46 points to go along with a whopping 219 shots on goal. All three of those counting numbers are superior to the figures he put out last season despite skating in eight fewer games this time around. It was the second consecutive regular season in which he notched at least 12 tallies.
That said, Theodore enjoyed a huge round robin, notching two goals and two assists with 11 shots on goal in the three games. In fact, all of that damage came across the final two games of the round robin while he skated at least 23:15 in all three of those games.
He’s going to anchor the team’s top power play unit tonight in what could be a four-man PP1 stack. The Blackhawks had a solid penalty kill that ranked ninth in the regular season, but the Golden Knights also ranked ninth with a 22% clip on the power play, so I feel excellent about getting this quartet into this lineup tonight.
G – Cam Talbot (CGY) – $7,800 vs. DAL
The Flames are slight underdogs at +100 in tonight’s Game 1, but I feel good about rostering Talbot at a cheap price against a Stars offense that was the second-worst regular-season offense among the 24-team playoffs, just one tick ahead of the Blue Jackets with 2.58 goals per game which ranked 26th in the league.
After the Stars scored three goals in less than five minutes against the Golden Knights in the first game of the round robin, they went about 180 minutes without scoring again until rallying late against the Blues. They were shut out against the Avalanche, leaving them with just five goals across the three round-robin contests.
Talbot might have been the surprising starter in the qualifying round against the Jets, but he actually enjoyed a nice regular season, posting a 2.63 GAA and .919 Sv% in a big bounce-back season for the veteran. Furthermore, he worked to a dynamite 1.51 GAA and .945 Sv% in four games against the Jets in the qualifying round including a Game 4 shutout to clinch the series.
The Stars struggle mightily to score at times, and Talbot is hot at the moment, so I’ll take the 33-year-old to show up for this one tonight.