It was yet another big night with our FanDuel NHL DFS picks as our cash-aimed lineup produced excellent results despite the relatively low-scoring night.
I managed to cross the cash line in all of my double ups and won every single head-to-head matchup I entered.
I expected a breakout night from Elias Pettersson, and that’s just what we got. Pettersson scored a power play goal, added an assist and put four shots on goal. Brock Boeser was actually held pointless despite the Canucks scoring five goals, but he did at least put four shots on net.
Our Senators three-man stack had a solid night despite scoring just once. Both Brady Tkachuk and Drake Batherson assisted on the lone goal, and that duo combined for 10 shots on goal as well. Defenseman Thomas Chabot was held off the scoresheet but brought his solid floor nonetheless with three shots and four blocks on the night.
Our Predators stack disappointed despite dominating the Blackhawks. We didn’t get on the scoresheet, but at least Filip Forsberg and Roman Josi combined for eight shots and three blocks. Ryan Johansen’s early-season struggles continued with just one shot on goal.
Finally, the decision to roll with Juuse Saros in goal paid off. He turned aside 29 of 30 shots in the Predators’ 2-1 shootout win, and came within 10 minutes of a shutout before a lucky bounce got by him midway through the third.
We’re rolling with these FanDuel NHL DFS picks of late, so let’s see if we can hit another cash-aimed lineup on tonight’s monstrous 14-game main slate!
*Line combinations courtesy of Daily Faceoff
**Advanced data courtesy of Natural Stat Trick
FanDuel NHL DFS Picks – January 28, 2021
C – Connor McDavid (EDM) – $8,800 vs. TOR
The Maple Leafs are rolling into this one having won five of their last six games and claimed back-to-back wins over the Calgary Flames on Sunday and Tuesday.
However, the Leafs are in the middle of a grinding schedule that will see them play seven times in 12 days, and after the first period on Tuesday they looked tired and drained before hanging on for the win. I think this is an excellent matchup for McDavid to explode for some offense.
McDavid and Toronto’s Mitch Marner share the NHL lead with 12 points on the season as McDavid has five goals and an NHL-high 35 shots on the young season. He scored yet another highlight-reel goal despite losing in Winnipeg on Tuesday and now has five points over his last two games. Keep in mind he was held scoreless on opening night, so he actually has all 12 of his points over the last seven games.
— Hockey Daily 365 (@HockeyDaily365) January 27, 2021
The world’s best player should be able to use his speed in this one to get by what will be a tired Maple Leafs team as the game wears on, and any cash lineup is incomplete without 97 at the top this evening.
C – John Tavares (TOR) – $7,700 vs. EDM
Not only are the Maple Leafs going to be tired in this one, but I expect Oilers netminder Mikko Koskinen to be worn down as well.
So, the Maple Leafs should be able to generate some offense themselves in this one, but we can’t afford the high-powered Marner/Auston Matthews duo, so we’ll pivot down to the second line, beginning with Tavares.
After all, he’s having a fine season himself with four goals and seven points in eight games with 26 shots in that time. He’s also scored all four of his goals on the power play and five of his seven points have come on the man advantage. After a white-hot start, he’s been held pointless in back-to-back games and in three of the last four, so it’s time he gets back on the scoresheet in a favorable matchup tonight in Oil Country.
W – Jesse Puljujarvi (EDM) – $3,800 vs. TOR
I think we can get monster value out of the young Puljujarvi tonight.
Why? Because he’s been moved up to the top line alongside McDavid and has looked mighty fine in that spot while it wouldn’t surprise me to see him take James Neal’s spot on the top power play unit should he show some offensive jump early in this one tonight.
When McDavid and Puljujarvi have been on the ice together at 5v5 they have absolutely dominated the possession game and the expected goals column as well. Here’s what McDavid had to say recently about the Oilers’ 2016 fourth-overall pick:
"He is different. He has more grind in his game. He goes inside more rather than being on the outside. His forechecking is fantastic. I thought his game yesterday was the best I've seen him play. It will be nice to see him bang one in, " McDavid on Puljujarvi #Oilers
— Jason Gregor (@JasonGregor) January 25, 2021
That’s some high praise from McDavid for sure and we’ll certainly give him a shot in this lineup tonight.
The 22-year-old has just two assists in eight games on the season, but has yet to score on 25 (!!!) shots on goal. I mean, when you’re playing with McDavid and you are that overdue to score, it’s going to happen and in short order.
Keep in mind he’s put all those pucks on net while largely skating on a third line with Kyle Turris while he’s averaged just 13:05 of average ice time on the season, but saw his ice time jump to 17:33 on Sunday in Winnipeg and 15:51 on Tuesday in Winnipeg given the McDavid exposure.
Best value play on the slate, bar none.
W – William Nylander (TOR) – $6,200 vs. EDM
With Tavares these days comes Nylander as the duo skates on the Maple Leafs’ second line and second power play unit together.
His season has been a lot like Tavares’ early on. He came out hot with two goals and three points on Opening Night and had five points in his first four games. He’s cooled off some since, but no one is going to argue with his seven points in eight games so far, although he’s put just 13 shots on goal in that time. Still, he has a goal and four points on the man advantage already. Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe has spread the wealth on his team’s power play this season, but it appears to be working as the Leafs sit second in the NHL with a 41.7% clip on the power play so far this season, behind only the Stars who have played just three games.
Add in the Oilers penalty kill that has slumped to 76% in the early going and we should be in business on the man advantage tonight.
With Koskinen as tired as he is and the Oilers ranking 25th in scoring chances against/60 at 5v5, I don’t think we need to reach for the Matthews/Marner duo in this one.
D – Darnell Nurse (EDM) – $4,800 vs. TOR
Nurse brings plenty of cross-category upside to the table tonight and he does so at a reasonable cost.
The bruising blueliner has already supplanted Tyson Barrie on the Oilers’ top power play unit where he will skate with McDavid, but again, I have a feeling Puljujarvi will be there sooner than later.
Nurse is off to a red-hot start as the Oilers No. 1 defenseman in Oscar Klefbom’s absence this season, tallying a goal and five assists for six points in eight games so far while logging more than 24 minutes a night. He’s added 19 shots on goal in that time and has also blocked five more.
The good news is that Nurse’s first game on the top power play unit on Tuesday yielded two power play assists as part of his three-assist night. He added three shots on goal and skated around 29 minutes in that one. We knew he’d see a major role with Klefbom out for the season and that has certainly been the case so far, and Nurse has been up to the task.
All of this is fine and well to begin with, but when we match it up against a drained Maple Leafs defense and team overall, I think Nurse has a big opportunity to hit the scoresheet for a third straight game tonight.
D – Bowen Byram (COL) – $3,500 vs. SJ
We had to find a way to cut some more costs somewhere in this lineup (you’ll see why) and I believe Byram is a good way to do so as the Avalanche take on the Sharks tonight.
The matchup is elite. Byram takes on a Sharks team that ranks 30th in overall defense while allowing an even 4.00 goals per game on the season after these Avs hung seven on them on Tuesday, and while he likely won’t get any power play time in this one, that doesn’t matter to me.
Why? Because a season after the Sharks ranked first in penalty killing, they still sit ninth in the early going. That means the Sharks have again been awful defensively at even strength, ranking 27th in scoring chances against/60 at 5v5 as well as 25th in high-danger chances against/60 and 29th in expected goals against/60, as per Natural Stat Trick.
So, don’t be surprised to see the Avalanche dominate again tonight. Byram has impressed so far in his young NHL career, tallying an assist, nine shots and two blocks in four games. On Tuesday, he saw a career-high 21:14 of ice time as he continues to gain the trust of head coach Jared Bednar as he’s just the latest of the embarrassment of riches the Avalanche have on their back end.
He could find his way into some power play time at some point, but Colorado faces one of the worst 5v5 defenses in the NHL in this one, so I am loving his opportunity in this matchup.
UTIL – Nathan MacKinnon (COL) – $8,500 vs. SJ
Getting McDavid, MacKinnon and Tavares into one cash lineup in favorable matchups should get the job done tonight. For what it’s worth, we can also nicely fit Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes into this lineup over the Colorado duo, so maybe it’s a night to roster a couple different cash looks.
Nonetheless, MacKinnon should feast tonight. It was borderline shocking to see the perennial Hart Trophy candidate to be held to just one assist in the blowout win over the Sharks on Tuesday, but he’s off to another MacKinnon-esque start with nine points in seven games with 30 shots on goal in that one.
Where MacKinnon ranks higher than a player like Pettersson is indeed that shot department as MacKinnon can make up for perhaps a lost assist by simply firing about five pucks on goal, something he’s done three times in seven games this season and has put fewer than four shots on goal just once so far this season.
He’s also shooting at just 6.7% with two goals on his 30 shots, and considering his career shooting rate of 10%, a goal-scoring binge in on the way for the 2013 No. 1 overall pick and this matchup with the Sharks seems like an optimal time to get started there.
UTIL – Nolan Patrick (PHI) – $4,700 vs. NJ
After scoring five goals on Scott Wedgewood and the Devils on Tuesday, it would appear the Flyers should be in business again in an identical matchup tonight in New Jersey.
Interestingly, the Avs and Flyers sit tied for sixth in overall offense this season, and Patrick’s return to the ice has been huge for Philly.
After he missed all of last season with a migraine disorder, Patrick has began this season with two goals and five points in seven games, but with just eight shots on goal in that time. Still, this pick has much more to do with his spot in the lineup than anything else.
With Sean Couturier out of the lineup at the moment, it’s Patrick centering the Flyers’ top line alongside Claude Giroux and Travis Konecny, otherwise known as the team’s top two forwards. He’s averaged 15:12 of ice time per game in doing so while he’ll give us at least some power play exposure on the second unit.
The 2017 No. 2 overall pick posted nearly identical freshman and sophomore seasons in the NHL with 13 goals and 30 points in his rookie year and 13 goals and 31 points the following season.
After a year off, however, Patrick is back with authority and his spot as the team’s top-line center makes for an appetizing play in a favorable matchup.
G – Chris Driedger (FLA) – $7,000 vs. CBJ
We had to sacrifice some on the goaltending front to get this elite-looking lineup into place, but I am totally cool in rolling with Driedger in this fine matchup tonight.
The big netminder has made just one start this season, but played well in turning aside 28 of 30 shots in a 5-2 win over the Blackhawks on the 17th of the month. That said, the 26-year-old Driedger was fantastic in his first extended NHL look last season, posting a stout 2.05 GAA and .938 Sv% in 12 appearances with the Panthers last season, winning seven of his 10 decisions. He certainly outplayed Sergei Bobrovsky in his time in the Panthers’ crease last season.
The matchup here is excellent as well. The Blue Jackets rank 23rd with just 2.57 goals per game on the season and their power play has once again struggled mightily at just 5.3%. They are now without Pierre-Luc Dubois and Patrik Laine still sits on injured reserve, so there isn’t a ton of firepower on this team at the moment.
The Panthers have been far better on defense despite a tiny three-game sample size as they rank first in scoring chances against/60 and second in expected goals against/60 on the young season at 5v5, so it seems they should be able to protect Driedger in this one.
It would appear there is some value to be had here at a reasonable cost in an extremely favorable matchup!