Chalk that up as back-to-back profitable nights with our FanDuel NHL DFS Picks, only this time we crossed the cash lines in GPPs after a nice cash lineup to get things started on Opening Night.
I expected a bounce back night from Connor McDavid last night after missing the scoresheet in the opener, and man did he have a night. The Oilers’ captain netted a hat trick, added an assist and threw a whopping nine shots on goal in a 5-2 win over the Canucks. Two of his four points came on the power play. Unfortunately, linemate Zack Kassian was unable to get in on the action with just three shots to his credit on the night.
Our three-man Sharks GPP stack hit in a big way. Tomas Hertl and Evander Kane were in on all all three Sharks goals (they won 4-3 in a shootout) as Hertl tallied two goals and an assist with Kane notching a goal and two helpers. In true Kane fashion, he fired seven shots on goal while Hertl added three of his own while the duo combined for two power play points. Erik Karlsson missed the scoresheet, but he put two shots on goal and also blocked five while outperforming Brent Burns as discussed in yesterday’s piece. Big GPP hit there.
The best part about that hit is that Hertl, for an unknown reason, was priced at the minimum $3,000.
Finally, our Predators stack worked just nicely as well. We actually only got one point from our three players via a Filip Forsberg goal, but he also added two shots and two blocks. Additionally, Viktor Arvidsson and Roman Josi combined for 10 shots and five blocks, so while it would have been nice to get those two on the scoresheet, at least they brought their high floors to the table, and then some.
Finally, our goaltender Juuse Saros worked out just as expected. Saros turned aside 29 of 30 Blue Jackets shots en route to a win.
We’re off to a hot start, and we’ll look to continue that on this five-game Friday night slate as we’ll move back towards a cash lineup tonight!
FanDuel NHL DFS Picks – January 15, 2021
C – Auston Matthews (TOR) – $8,400 vs. OTT
For the first time in his NHL career, Matthews didn’t record a goal in the Maple Leafs’ season opener in Wednesday’s thrilling 5-4 win over the Canadiens, but he was a factor all night long.
Matthews recorded an assist but also put seven shots on goal and had 13 shot attempts in that one, firing the puck from all angles and looked in mid-season form all night long.
The 2016 first-overall pick finished one goal shy of finishing in a three-way tie with Alex Ovechkin and David Pastrnak for the NHL lead in goals last season, but 47 goals in 70 games is certainly worth writing home about while he fired a whopping 290 shots on goal in just 70 games a season ago.
And then there’s the matchup with the Ottawa Senators. The club added talent to their forward group in the offseason and traded for Matt Murray in goal, but their blueline remains one of the worst in the NHL, at least on paper for now. The Senators ranked 30th in overall defense last season and in the bottom 10 in most advanced metrics, so they more or less deserved their defensive fate.
Matthews is primed for a big night after an impressive season opener, so let’s lock him in at the top of our lineup tonight.
C – Jack Eichel (BUF) – $7,900 vs. WSH
The Washington Capitals hung six goals on the Sabres just last night, but Buffalo scored four of their own with Eichel notched a pair of assists in that one.
Of course, there’s a new winger in town in the form of Taylor Hall and the duo did not disappointing in their season opener. They skated together at both 5v5 and on the team’s top power play unit and Eichel helped set up Hall’s power play goal in the first period.
Here we have one of the higher floor players in the league. Despite Buffalo ranking in the league’s bottom 10 on offense last season, the American pivot tallied 36 goals and 78 points in just 68 games and fired 227 shots on goal. He also added 27 power play points to his credit while I would anticipate the Sabres actually sporting a quality power play this season with Eichel, Hall, Viktor Olofsson, Sam Reinhart and Rasmus Dahlin on the top unit. Plenty of talent there.
We should also get a nice matchup here. The Caps aren’t defensive slouches and added big Zdeno Chara in the offseason, but I’m more interested in targeting their goaltending tonight.
After Ilya Samsonov got the nod last night, he could either start on back-to-back nights or rookie Vitek Vanecek could make his NHL debut. The club’s second-round pick in 2014 enjoyed a nice year in posting a 2.26 GAA and .917 Sv% with the American Hockey League’s Hershey Bears last season, but regardless I like the idea of seeing what he can do to prevent the Sabres high-flying duo from hitting the scoresheet in this one.
W – Mitch Marner (TOR) – $7,400 vs. OTT
It’s asinine not to roster Marner with Matthews if you are rostering the latter to lead your lineup as the duo skates together on the teams’ top line and top power play unit.
Marner wasn’t quite the factor Matthews was in the opener on Wednesday, but he played fine and had some chances to score but couldn’t capitalize. That said, I love the idea of getting his elite play-making abilities and hockey IQ into this lineup against an Ottawa blueline he could have going in circles tonight.
Last season, Marner notched 16 goals and 67 points in 59 games and put 154 shots on goal. Prior to this season, he told the media he’d like to shoot more this season, but that’s going to prove to be difficult with Matthews firing the puck so much. Rather, I believe it will be more of the same with Marner using his vision to set up his elite goal-scoring center, but of course Marner was on pace for his third straight 20-goal season last year before an ankle sprain and the shortened season got in the way. The 23-year-old knows how to score goals as well.
Let’s also factor the ice time this duo saw on Wednesday. While it’s not guaranteed we’ll see the same thing tonight as Toronto played from behind all night long against the Habs, but Marner skated 24:47 in that one with Matthews played 25:02. That’s monster ice time for forwards, and while we won’t see that every night in a tight schedule, head coach Sheldon Keefe certainly isn’t shy about leaning on his big boys when it matters.
W – Taylor Hall (BUF) – $7,300 vs. WSH
Like Marner with Matthews, don’t go and roster Eichel without Hall. It just doesn’t make any sense.
It took Hall all of 8:48 to tally his first goal in a Sabres uniform last night and he would add a third-period assist and two shots to his ledger in his Sabres debut. He logged 19:30 of ice time in that one.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) January 15, 2021
It’s possible we could see the best version of Hall in Buffalo. For the first time in his 11-year career, Hall is finally playing with an elite center, something he did not have in his stints with the Edmonton Oilers, New Jersey Devils or Arizona Coyotes. None of those offenses were any good during Hall’s tenure with those clubs.
Now, however, he plays with a top-tier center in Eichel, a player that also hasn’t had a winger of Hall’s caliber to skate with in his five-year NHL tenure. Olofsson is a fine young player, as is Reinhart, but neither are on Hall’s level at this juncture.
We’ll see how much he shoots the puck given Eichel’s big shot totals, but Hall’s last full season included 278 shots on goal (2017-18) while he has a career-high of 286 (2015-16). He’s easily going to surpass 200 in his new digs, but I think we’re just scratching the surface on what this duo can do and it’s a good bet that they’ll be back at it tonight.
D – Rasmus Dahlin (BUF) – $4,800 vs. WSH
I think we’re getting an absolute steal with Dahlin at this price and this is as low as we’ll see him all season long.
I mean, Dahlin is going to be among the elite defensemen in the NHL in short order and his first two seasons in the NHL have been nothing short of spectacular.
As an 18-year-old rookie defenseman, Dahlin tallied nine goals and 44 points in 82 games. That’s incredible. Last season, he notched four goals and 40 points in 59 games, a six-goal, 56-point season if we extrapolate to 82 games. And folks, those numbers come on bad Sabres teams and offenses.
We know where the Buffalo offense will rank this season, but I do know that Dahlin’s spot on the top power play unit is going to have him racking up points all season along. The guy already had 20 power play points in his rookie season and 19 in just 59 games last season. Over the last two years, his 39 power play points ranks sixth among NHL defensemen. The names ahead of him: Keith Yandle, John Carlson, Torey Krug, Victor Hedman and Brent Burns. Yandle has fallen out of favor with the Panthers, but those are the best offensive defensemen in the NHL and none are priced this low, not even close.
So, do yourself a favor and lock Dahlin in and don’t think about it.
D – Nikita Zaitsev (OTT) – $3,800 vs. TOR
What? Well, you’re going to have to read below as to why this pick makes any sense, but there are some positives to having Zaitsev in this lineup to kick off a Senators mini-stack.
He takes on his old team in this one, a team that traded him to the Senators after a subpar season in the summer of 2019. The motivation factor would certainly be there.
Also, he actually has a fairly decent floor. He’s not going to rack up points and he’s never going to touch his 36 points as a rookie with the Maple Leafs. He only has 39 over his last 199 games after notching those 36 in 82 games in the 2016-17 season.
That said, he does block shots at a high rate. Zaitsev’s 121 blocked shots last season ranked 20th in the league, and he did so in 58 games. If he had played about 67 games which seems to be above the average of the players above him on that list, he was on pace to block 140 shots which would have played him ninth in the league.
Against a high-powered offense like the Maple Leafs, the Sens will see plenty of shot attempts tonight and in turn Zaitsev will have plenty of shot-blocking opportunities. Anything else with him is considered a bonus.
UTIL – Joe Thornton (TOR) – $4,200 vs. OTT
We’ll see how long the Thornton experiment on the Matthews/Marner top line goes as the 41-year-old didn’t have a great effort in his Maple Leafs debut on Wednesday, but it appears he’ll be back with them tonight, and the price is certainly right here.
Toronto scored five against the Canadiens Wednesday, however that Habs blueline is far superior to this Senators group. I would expect more time and space for Thornton to utilize his play-making skills in tonight’s contest.
Also, while he may not last on the top line at 5v5, I would expect Thornton to remain on the Maple Leafs’ power play regardless. He’s currently riding shotgun with Matthews and Marner on the top unit and I don’t think he’ll be going anywhere anytime soon in that regard. At worst he’ll move to the second unit and there’s plenty of talent there in John Tavares and William Nylander who provided the bulk of the offense on Wednesday.
He’s rarely going to shoot the puck, but given his spot in the line combined with this matchup, Thornton makes plenty of sense at a low cost.
UTIL – Tim Stuetzle (OTT) – $3,000 vs. TOR
Now the Zaitsev play makes more sense, right? While Stuetzle and Zaitsev will only skate together for some 5v5 shifts, it makes more sense to mini-stack them as opposed to a one-off defensemen to pair with the minimum-priced Stuetzle.
Of course, the 2020 third overall pick will make his highly-anticipated NHL debut tonight, and the good news is that he’s already seen intense game action of late while the remainder of his teammates haven’t played in some time.
Stuetzle recently competed for Germany at the World Junior Championship over the holidays, taking home top forward of the tournament honors in the process. Despite playing on an undermanned German team, Stuetzle notched five goals and 10 points in just five games and even tallied five points in five games at the 2020 tournament.
Tim Stuetzle goes backhand between the legs then uses a backhand toe drag and dishes it off for near goal. pic.twitter.com/laIJpUN7Xl
— Pavel Barber (@HeyBarber) October 28, 2019
It appears he’ll start the season on a line with Derek Stepan and Evgenii Dadonov as the team’s second line. I’d argue that his line has more talent than the Brady Tkachuk/Josh Norris/Drake Batherson top line, but it’s also unfortunate that he won’t skate with Thomas Chabot on the team’s top power play unit.
Nonetheless, he’ll play against a Maple Leafs defense that ranked 26th last season and struggled in the season opener with the Habs. Plenty of defenses around the league have been sloppy given the short training camp and no exhibition games, but Stuetzle nonetheless has a quality opportunity to get his NHL career started on the right note in this one.
G – Frederik Andersen (TOR) – $8,200 vs. OTT
Plenty of goaltenders have also struggled over the last couple nights, Andersen included.
He allowed four goals on 32 shots Wednesday, good for an .875 Sv%, but ended up with the win nonetheless. That’s the nice thing about playing being a high-octane offense like the Maple Leafs. The problem was that a couple of goals went through Andersen and not around him.
This comes on the heels of a down season in which he posted a career-worst .909 Sv% after four straight seasons of posting a figure between .917-.919. He was remarkably consistent before last season, but we’ll give him time to iron out the kinks in what is a contract year for the big Dane.
There’s little doubt he takes on an improved Ottawa offense, at least on paper. He’s also playing behind a defense that struggled in the opener. That said, Andersen made several big saves in overtime on Wednesday before the Leafs eventually won it, and perhaps that stretch gave him his confidence back heading into this one.
All that said, be mindful that this is the first of a back-to-back set with the Sens as the teams play against tomorrow night. As a result, it’s possible they opt to give him an additional day of rest and give the starting nod to Jack Campbell instead. At this point, I’d say it’s a coin flip as to who will start. That’s why you’ll want to follow me on Twitter @BKemp17 as I provide updates on issues such as this.
If Campbell starts, simply pivot to him at the same price. He posted a solid .915 Sv% in six games with the Leafs after a trade deadline deal from the L.A. Kings, and he too should be backed by plenty of goal support from the league’s third-ranked offense from a season ago.