It wasn’t a great night at all for our first FanDuel NHL DFS Picks piece of the postseason.
Our four-man Oilers stack did fine as Connor McDavid scored a power play goal on three shots while Ryan Nugent-Hopkins fired six shots on goal on top of his power play assists to lead our lineup in scoring. Oscar Klefbom had three blocks and two shots while Josh Archibald registered a single shot on goal.
The result had much more to do with the dud we received from our low-owned Stars stack as they were shut out by the Avalanche while our goaltender, Matt Murray, wound up allowing four goals as the Penguins blew a 3-1 lead in their 4-3 loss to the Canadiens.
It’s an early start to the main slate this afternoon, so I’ll go ahead and tackle the three-game late night slate that begins at 6:30 p.m. ET.
FanDuel NHL DFS Picks – August 6, 2020
C – Auston Matthews (TOR) – $8,800 vs. CBJ
The Columbus Blue Jackets put up a fortress in Game 1 and stymied Matthews and the high-octane Maple Leafs offense with a shutout, but that was certainly not the case in Game 2.
The Maple Leafs dominated the Jackets and outshot them 38-20 in that one, and while it took them in excess of a period and a half – and a game and a half for the series – to score, it was Matthews who broke the ice with a nifty tip passed Jackets netminder Joonas Korpisalo to give the Leafs a lead they would not relinquish.
Matthews finished Game 2 with three shots on goal, but he actually managed six in Game 1 as well, giving him nine for the series while he added an assist on the empty-net goal scored my Morgan Rielly in the 3-0 Game 2 win.
Coming off a hefty 47-goal campaign with 80 points in 70 games to go along with 290 shots on goal, Matthews is one of the highest-floor players in the league at this point and has looked the part of a dominant pivot so far in this series.
C – Paul Stastny (VGK) – $4,800 vs. STL
There’s mix of cash and GPP players in this lineup, but Stastny could fit into either given the tiny three-game slate.
He’s not going to bring a high floor to the table as he doesn’t shoot the puck much with just 136 shots in 71 games this season, but he did pot 17 goals in that time while adding 21 helpers. Stastny was also a solid contributor on the power play where he scored five goals and 10 points on the season.
The Golden Knights came out of the gate hot in the round-robin, scoring five goals in a victory over the usually-stout Dallas Stars defense and while Stastny didn’t figure into the scoring, he did put five shot on net and skated 17:23 in that one as the team’s second line center and a member of the top power play unit.
The Blues are a quality defense, but we have to go somewhere with these picks and I believe Stastny’s Golden Knights can build off their round-robin-opening offensive outburst in this one tonight.
W – Mitch Marner (TOR) – $7,400 vs. CBJ
Marner hasn’t quite been at his best in this series as a blocked shot accounted for his lone production in Game 1 of this series, but he did put five shots in goal in an improved Game 2 where he skated alongside Matthews both at even strength and on the team’s top power play unit.
The power play is one area the Maple Leafs will look to improve. They’ve gone 0 for 6 in the two games so far, and it’s an area they need to make work as their sixth-ranked 23.1% clip on the man advantage was a big advantage for them on paper heading into this series.
Marner was a big part of that power play success, posting six goals and 24 points on the man advantage this season while he notched 16 goals and 67 points in 59 regular-season contests this season – a 93-point pace in a full 82-game season, although he missed time with a high-ankle sprain this season.
At the end of the day, it’s a good idea to lock in Marner alongside Matthews in all situations as the Leafs look to carry over their Game 2 dominance into this one tonight.
W – Nicholas Robertson (TOR) – $3,000 vs. CBJ
No, he’s not going to skate with Matthews and Marner tonight, which makes this play a bit of a one-off, but Robertson could be a sneaky value pick tonight against the Jackets.
A second-round pick in the 2019 draft, Robertson grabbed the attention of the hockey world when he potted 55 goals in just 46 OHL games with the Peterborough Petes. That led the Maple Leafs to invite Robertson to their training camp where he earned a spot due to his lethal shot and quick-strike ability as part of a fast-paced line alongside Alex Kerfoot and Kasperi Kapanen.
He was quiet- like most of his teammates – in registering just one shot in Game 1, however Robertson put four shots on goal in Game 2 as part of that third line, but also the team’s second power play unit.
ESPN named Robertson the NHL Prospect of the Year during the hiatus, and now I’m willing to roll the dice on the sniper at the minimum price tonight.
W – Kyle Connor (WPG) – $6,900 vs. CGY
The Flames have the Jets on the brink of elimination in tonight’s Game 4, however I’ll look for the Jets offense to get going despite possibly missing Patrik Laine and Mark Scheifele again for this one tonight.
Besides, it was Connor who was the club’s top goal-scoring winger in the regular season as he notched 38 goals in just 71 games played, surpassing last year’s total of 34 in which he skated in all 82 regular-season contests. Additionally, Connor’s 239 shots on goal ranked him 10th in the league on top of his 38 tallies tying for sixth, so we’re truly talking about one of the top offensive players in the NHL at this point.
He’s largely been held in check in these playoffs, however, as he’s notched just one assist, but he has eight shots on goal and has skated at least 23:12 in all three games to this point. Head coach Paul Maurice is leaning heavily on the Connor/Andrew Copp/Blake Wheeler line to generate offense with his two superstar players sidelined, and I’ll look for Connor to be up to the task in tonight’s must-win Game 4.
W – Blake Wheeler (WPG) – $6,600 vs. CGY
Like Connor, it’s been a tough go for Wheeler so far in this series.
Coming off another excellent season in which he tallied 22 goals and 65 points with 180 shots on goal, Wheeler also has just one assist in these playoffs, but he’s also recored just two shots on goal across the three games with both of those coming in the Jets’ Game 2 victory.
Over the last couple of seasons, Wheeler has made his living off of feeding passes to Scheifele and Laine, so it’s understandable why he’s scuffled some in their absence. That said, he’s getting a ton of ice time as well, skating at least 21:04 in all three games in this series, and the offense is going to come for the big forward.
The Jets are another team that needs to get their power play going as they’re just 2 for 15 (13.3%) in these playoffs, and once that does happen Wheeler is certain to be in on the action alongside Connor. I’ll look for that group to kick it into high gear tonight.
D – Neal Pionk (WPG) – $4,700 vs. CGY
One of the most underrated defensemen in the NHL this season, Pionk really turned himself into a top-tier blueliner in 2019-20.
A main piece of the trade that sent Jacob Trouba to the New York Rangers, Pionk turned into a cross-category fantasy beast this season, posting six goals and 39 assists for 45 points in 71 games while putting 177 shots on goal and blocking another 78 to boot. Additionally, he notched three goals and 25 points on the power play – good for a share of third-most in the league among defenseman alongside the Canucks’ Quinn Hughes and behind only Boston’s Torey Krug and Washington’s John Carlson. That’s also ahead of names such as Roman Josi, Victor Hedman and Alex Pietrnagelo.
The Flames are averaging five penalties against per game in this series. As noted, the Jets have failed to capitalize to this point. Once they do, this trio is going to be in for a big night and I’ll roll the dice on that taking place in tonight’s Game 4.
D – Nate Schmidt (VGK) – $4,500 vs. STL
Completing our Golden Knights mini-stack is Schmidt who will form an even-strength mini-stack with Stastny while the duo gives us exposure to both of the team’s power play units.
The smooth-skating former Capital enjoyed another productive year on the Golden Knights’ blueline as he tallied seven goals and 31 points in 59 games with 112 shots on goal and another 91 blocks as well, giving him some solid cross-category potential as well.
He enjoyed a big night against the Stars on Monday, tallying a goal and an assist with a whopping five shots on goal, good for a cool 28 FanDuel points in that one while skating 24:38 to boot.
It’s tough to gauge whether the big minutes on the blueline will carry over into this one tonight as Schmidt averaged 21:41 in the regular season and has never averaged more than 22:14 in any season, however he certainly made his presence felt out of the gate.
Considering the cost, I like the value potential Schmidt can bring to the table tonight.
G – Frederik Andersen (TOR) – $8,300 vs. CBJ
While much of the attention for the first game and a half of this series went to the goaltender at the other end of the ice in Joonas Korpisalo, it’s actually Andersen who has allowed just one goal through the first two games of this series.
Andersen took a tough-luck Game 1 loss when he allowed just one goal on 34 Blue Jackets shots, but he was solid in turning aside all 20 shots he faced in the team’s Game 2 win. He wasn’t terribly busy in that one and the Jackets didn’t create much in terms of actual scoring chances, however he made the necessary saves to earn the win and increase his save percentage to .981 through two games this series.
Of course, the matchup appears to be a good for the Danish netminder. Of the 24 teams that qualified for the expanded playoffs, the Blue Jackets’ 2.57 goals per game this season is the lowest of the bunch and tied the lowly San Jose Sharks for 27th league wide. Additionally, Columbus’ 16.3% clip on the power play from the regular season also ranked 27th and they too are 0 for 6 in this series on the man advantage.
He’s been sharp to this point and when Andersen is on, he’s one of the best in the business. He’s my top cash option on the slate, but works just fine for GPPs as well on the short slate.