Last night’s FanDuel NHL DFS Picks were looking solid heading into the late slate of games where we had a mini-stack and our goaltender going, but we simply didn’t get enough from that group and were left on the outside looking in for GPPs.
The Jets actually scored just two goals in their 5-2 loss in Detroit, however we got some notable production there. Kyle Connor led the way with a huge night that included two goals on eight shots. Mark Scheifele was also quite productive, tallying a pair of assists, three shots and two blocks on the night. Finally, Patrik Laine added an assist and a shot on goal.
I expected a rare offensive explosion from the Coyotes against the Blackhawks and indeed they managed to score five goals. Two of those goals were scored by Clayton Keller and his night was compounded by the fact he put 12 shots, yes TWELVE SHOTS, on goal as well. That said, his stackmates couldn’t deliver as both Derek Stepan and Oliver Ekman-Larsson were held pointless and combined for just four shots and a block. Safe to say Keller did the heavy lifting here.
Our Sharks mini-stack was held off the scoresheet as well. Brent Burns had an awful night, being held off the scoresheet and failing to record even a shot on goal. He did block three shots. Barclay Goodrow couldn’t deliver on his value upside as he too was held pointless and managed just one shot and one block.
Finally, John Gibson was good against the Kings in turning aside 25 of 27 shots (.926 Sv%), however he didn’t receive much goal support in an eventual 2-1 loss to the Kings on home ice.
The night was good to start, however our late-night exposure didn’t get the job done and left us profitless on the night.
Let’s turn our attention to tonight’s small two-game slate and see if we can rebound back into the money!
C – Tyler Seguin (DAL) – $7,500 vs. VGK
I think we’ll be able to use this lineup in most any format tonight, although we might want to avoid straight case games as there will be one glaring omission that leans it closer to a GPP or head-to-head format for this small slate tonight. The Dallas Stars host the Vegas Golden Knights tonight and could have the upper hand as Vegas played just last night in St. Louis in a 4-2 loss to the Blues. Vegas’ road defense hasn’t been too bad this season while tied for eighth with 2.76 goals against per game away from home this season, but this is simply not the same defense that ranked easily inside the top 10 in their first two years of existence. Overall, the Golden Knights rank 12th with 2.88 goals against per game and are in a tough back-to-back situation tonight. The Stars’ offense hasn’t been great at all this season with their ranking 27th with just 2.76 goals per game at home. That said, I’ll look to the big boys to get some production going tonight, beginning here with Seguin who has tallied six goals and 23 points in 32 games. The production is down, but this guy has still fired 115 shots on goal this season and his tiny 5.2% shooting percentage still sits well under his 10.8% career mark. There’s a ton of positive goal-scoring regression coming and I want to be there when that happens.
C – Nazem Kadri (COL) – $5,500 vs. NJ
Now, with the way the Avs’ lines look entering this contest tonight, it makes sense to use Kadri down the middle as he’s skating with the team’s two best wingers at both 5v5 and on the top power play unit, if these lines stick. Yes, that means we are indeed fading Nathan MacKinnon, possibly the best player in the league right now, so that’s why I wouldn’t go crazy with this lineup in double ups, but it should be okay for differentiation in head-to-heads and GPPs. After all, it’s been open season on this Devils team of late, so Kadri could end up delivering some big-time value if he can get on the scoresheet a couple of times tonight. The Devils rank 30th with 3.86 goals against per game on the road this season and have received just an .890 Sv% on the road as well. The Avalanche, on the other hand, are tied with the Lightning for first in the NHL with an even 4.00 goals per game at home this season. Enter Kadri who is having a nice season in his first year with the Avalanche in the form of 10 goals and 21 points in 28 games to go along with a healthy 72 shots on goal. Kadri missed a week’s worth of action with an upper-body injury, but returned with an assist on Wednesday against the Flyers and has a much better chance do so more severe damage tonight.
W – Jamie Benn (DAL) – $6,100 vs. VGK
Next man up in our three-man Stars stack is Benn who will skate alongside Seguin at 5v5 and on the Stars’ top power play unit. Now, it’s been anything but a productive season for the winger as he and Seguin have disappointed at the offensive end of the ice. He’ll enter this one with just six goals and 15 assists in 32 games, although he’s put a solid 78 shots on goal. However, like Seguin, it would appear that Benn is due for some massive regression in terms of his goal-scoring. His 7.7% shooting percentage this season is miles under his 13.3% career mark and he’s shot at at least 14.3% in each of the last two seasons. He’s never shot under 10.9% in his NHL career and never under 12.2% in each of his last six seasons. As a result, it’s clear that we are going to see some more puck luck moving forward for the 30-year-old and perhaps an offensive explosion awaits for this duo as both are due to find the back of the net far more often moving forward. With just one goal on his last 20 shots (5%), it would appear that Benn is ready for a multi-goal effort to make up for lost ground and let’s hope it comes on this two-game slate tonight.
W – Mikko Rantanen (COL) – $7,900 vs. NJ
Next man up in our three-man Avalanche stack is Rantanen who appears to be lining up with Kadri on the team’s second line while Joonas Donskoi and Andre Burakovsky are apparently set to flank MacKinnon on the Avs’ top line. Rantanen had a big night on Wednesday against the Flyers, tallying a pair of goals on three shots to get back on the right track after going pointless in each of his two previous contests. While he’s managed 20 points in 15 games this season and eight points in as many games on the road, Rantanen has tallied six goals and 12 points in just seven home games this season, which makes sense considering their share of the league’s best offense on home ice. Rantanen has played in three home games since returning from injury back on November 30th, and he has six points in that time. The Avalanche also have the NHL’s 11th-ranked power play at home with a 23.6% clip, so I am looking for Rantanen to get back on track in that department considering he hasn’t scored a power play goal over his last 10 games. The ceiling is extremely high for the 23-year-old in this matchup tonight.
W – Gabriel Landeskog (COL) – $7,100 vs. NJ
Completing our three-man Avalanche stack is Landeskog who will also flank Kadri at both even strength and on the top power play unit. What I am doing here is taking a calculated risk that Rantanen and Landeskog will help Kadri, say, notch a goal and an assist and deliver good enough value that a MacKinnon fade doesn’t hurt us. I also like the fact that this three-man stack is also a power play stack, so we still get exposure to MacKinnon’s skill level on the man advantage. That said, it would be nice if the production from this trip came at even strength and we just leave MacKinnon out of it all together. Landeskog also missed a lengthy period of time with a lower-body injury, and he hasn’t had the most productive of seasons with five goals and nine points in 15 games on the season. He’s also put just 34 shots on goal in those 15 games. He too hasn’t done a ton on the power play and even more so than Rantanen as Landeskog hasn’t scored on the man advantage in his 15 contests this season with just two power play assists in that time. Regardless, plenty of production should be expected for this trio tonight.
W – Valentin Zykov (VGK) – $3,000 vs. DAL
Here’s where the GPP and differentiation really kicks in for this lineup with Golden Knights winger Valentin Zykov. It appears that Zykov will get a solid opportunity to produce tonight as he’s set to skate alongside Paul Stastny and Alex Tuch on the team’s third line while he’s also set to skate on the same power play unit that also contains Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone. Zykov missed a big chunk of time to start the season due to suspension, and he hasn’t done much since returning as he’s yet to score a goal and has just two assists and 11 shots in his nine games played this season. While he’s logged just 49 games in parts of three NHL seasons, Zykov did produce in a late-season call up two years ago with the Hurricanes in which he scored three goals and seven points in 10 games. The follow season,s he was moved to the Golden Knights but appeared in just 23 games last season with two goals and five points in that time. His season got off to a rocky start this time around, however for this matchup tonight he’s been put in a position to succeed. It won’t come easy against one of the league’s very best defenses, but for GPP purposes I’ll roll with Zykov as a cost-efficient winger tonight.
D – Miro Heiskanen (DAL) – $5,300 vs. VGK
Completing our three-man Stars stack is Heiskanen as he will form a stack at both even strength and on the team’s top power play unit alongside Benn and Seguin has he’s taken John Klingberg’s spot as the lone defenseman on the Stars’ top group. If he’s not among the game’s most skilled offensive defensemen yet, it’s not going to be long until he is. I mean, the guy scored 12 goals as a 19-year-old defensemen in the NHL – an impressive feat to be sure. This season, Heiskanen has tallied seven goals already in just 32 games to go along with 21 points on 81 shots. Where he hasn’t produced much is on the power play where he’s yet to score and has just four assists on the season. Heiskanen’s split don’t really favor either side as he’s tallied 10 points in 17 games at home and 11 points in 15 games on the road, but his home shooting percentage of 5.3% is well under his 11.6% mark on the road, so perhaps those splits narrow as the season moves along. There’s not much of a choice of defenseman for the Stars to pair with Benn and Seguin as Heiskanen is a lay up and one that has the skill level to produce against any defense in this league.
D – Brayden McNabb (VGK) – $3,600 vs. DAL
If you’re looking to mini-stack with Zykov, there are a few options. My first option would be Nicolas Hague, however he missed last night’s game in St. Louis with an illness and is questionable for tonight. However, if we find out that he is getting back into the lineup I would for sure use him as he’d be likely to skate with Zykov on the power play, or at least on one of the two power play units. We can also roster Deryk Engelland, however he skates on the third pair and doesn’t get a ton of ice time. So, for now I am going to use McNabb who will skate on the top pairing alongside Nate Schmidt who was narrowly too expensive for this spot. What I like with McNabb are the solid peripherals as he’s put 32 pucks on goal in 34 games this season, but he’s also blocked a healthy 57 shots in that time. Offensively, McNabb has tallied two goals and six points in 34 games on the season in just under 20 minutes of average ice time. He has just one assist over his last 10 games, but as mentioned I am looking more for the peripheral numbers to get him to hit value tonight, but keep an eye on Hague’s status as we get closer to lock.
G – Pavel Francouz (COL) – $8,400 vs. NJ
Completing this lineup tonight will be Francouz who has been getting the starts in the Avalanche crease in place of the injured Philipp Grubauer. In short, Francouz has flourished in his opportunity to be the team’s No.1 starter of late. Entering this one tonight, Francouz sports a 2.27 GAA and .927 Sv% on the season, however he’s been even better than that of late. In three December starts and four December appearances, Francouz has posted a 2.14 GAA and .934 Sv% while going 3-0-1 in that time. He was brilliant on Wednesday against the Flyers, turning aside 32 of 33 shots for the win. He’s also in quite the favorable matchup tonight. The Avalanche actually haven’t been the best defense at home this season, but the Devils enter this one tied for last alongside the L.A. Kings with 2.00 goals per game on the road this season. The Avalanche currently sit as huge -230 favorites to win this one on the moneyline, giving Francouz plenty of upside to earn his fifth win in his last six outings.