Our month of December got off to a fine start with last night’s FanDuel NHL DFS Picks on the small two-game slate.
We picked the right goaltender as Tuukka Rask was once again very sharp on home ice as he turned aside 28 of 29 Canadiens shots and picked up a 3-1 win in the process.
The win was of the come-from-behind variety and our three-man Bruins stack was involved. David Krejci set up David Backes’ go-ahead goal and Jake DeBrusk bagged the insurance marker less than three minutes later.
Our three-man Canucks stack was also solid with Brock Boeser scoring one of two Vancouver goals and J.T. Miller adding an assist.
However, the fate of the stack depended on what you did with the spot I gave to Zack Kassian. Kassian missed last nights game after being injured on Saturday, so some lineup maneuvering would have been required. A pivot to Alex Chiasson would have worked well as he picked up a pair of third-period assists.
It was a solid lineup, but let’s get things cranked up a notch or two on tonight’s five-game slate!
C – Jack Eichel (BUF) – $8,400 vs. NJ
This lineup is going to lean towards cash but I don’t mind using it in cash games, GPPs or head-to-heads as there is plenty of upside throughout. That is surely the case with Eichel and the Sabres as they take on the visiting New Jersey Devils. The Sabres split a weekend back-to-back with the Maple Leafs, but they scored six goals on Friday on their home ice where they will be tonight. Eichel scored two of those six goals and enters this one with a whopping 12 goals and 23 points in just 13 games on home ice this season. For the season he has notched 16 goals and 35 points with 99 shots in 27 games, easily putting him on pace for career-highs across the board. He’s been white-hot of late as he’ll carry a nine-game point streak into this one with eight goals and eight assists for 16 points over those last nine contests. The matchup is certainly an attractive one tonight as the Devils will enter this one ranked 29th with 3.48 goals against per game this season while their 3.55 goals against per game on the road sits in a tie for 25th alongside the rival New York Rangers. Eichel is far-and-away the most expensive player on the slate but the ceiling is too hard to fade in this matchup on home ice.
C – Mathew Barzal (NYI) – $6,600 vs. DET
You could debate wh0 has the better matchup on the slate whether it’s the New York Islanders or Buffalo Sabres as the Islanders get a road matchup with the worst defense the NHL has to offer. The Red Wings enter this one ranked dead-last, by far, with 3.93 goals against per game this season while their 3.64 goals against per game at home is also the worst mark in the business. They have taken some serious lickings of late including a 6-0 home loss to the Maple Leafs, a 6-1 road loss to the Flyers and a 5-2 home loss to the Washington Capitals. While the Islanders might not quite boast the same explosive offenses of those teams as they rank 17th in total offense this season with 2.88 goals per game, the Red Wings are simply a targetable group regardless of the opponent at this point in time. Enter Barzal who has notched 10 goals and 22 points in 24 games this season to go along with 51 shots on goal. One issue here is the fact that the 2015 first-rounder has notched just four goals and five points in 10 road games compared to six goals and 17 points in 14 home contests, but again, this isn’t your typical road game and I don’t see why he can’t produce against this league-worst defense tonight.
W – Victor Olofsson (BUF) – $6,500 vs. NJ
Next man up in our three-man Sabres stack will be Olofsson who will skate alongside Eichel at even strength as well as on the Sabres’ top power play unit. The rookie got off to a white-hot start to the season thanks in large part to the power play as he scored six power play goals in the first seven games of the season, however he would go on to score just one goal over a 15-game stretch afterwards, which actually makes sense as he was due for major regression in his shooting percentage after that ridiculous start. However, Olofsson has found his touch of late, notching three goals over his last five games and enjoyed a very consistent month of November with four goals and six assists for 10 points over the final 12 games of the month. Of course, skating alongside Eichel in all offensive situations can’t hurt, either. Like his star center, Olofsson is also more production on home ice where he’s notched six goals and 12 points in 13 games on the season compared to four goals and eight points in 14 contests on the road. He hit a couple of posts in Toronto on Saturday or else we would be talking about a red-hot stick at the moment, but his production of late has been solid nonetheless and I want him in this lineup riding shotgun to Eichel.
W – Sam Reinhart (BUF) – $5,200 vs. NJ
Completing this three-man stack is going to be Sam Reinhart who is simply not going to be faded in this one tonight as he too skates alongside Eichel and Olofsson at 5v5 and on the team’s top power play unit. The 24-year-old is having a solid season as he’s notched nine goals and 20 points in 27 games on the campaign to go along with 52 shots on goal. His 17.3% shooting percentage is probably due to dip closer to his 12.5% career mark as we move forward as he’s never shot higher than 13.9% for his career to this point. His current points pace is a little shy of the 65 points he posted last season in 82 games, and it’s interesting because Eichel is on a career-high pace as his centerman. Reinhart hasn’t been nearly as productive as his linemates of late as he’s notched just one goal and three points over his last eight games, however December is a new month and I would be shocked to see his linemates continue their consistent production and see Reinhart fall by the wayside. He’s still logging a ton of ice time at more than 20 minutes per game on average and at least 20:19 in seven of his last eight games, so let’s see if he can get off the schnide in a favorable home matchup tonight.
W – Anthony Beauvillier (NYI) – $5,300 vs. DET
Next man up in our three-man Islanders stack is Beauvillier who will skate with Barzal on the team’s top power play unit, but his 5v5 center is actually Brock Nelson. Therefore, we have exposure to both of the Islanders’ top two lines while we will also have a three-man top power play unit stack as well. Despite the Islanders sitting in the bottom-half of the league in road offense, their road power play actually ranks 12th at an 18.5% clip away from home and the Red Wings rank 25th with a 76.7% mark on the penalty kill at home, so we have something to work with in this area. It’s been a breakout season to this point for the 22-year-old Beauvillier as he has tallied eight goals and 16 points in 24 games to go along with 51 shots on goal. He’s actually quietly been one of the better young players in the game as he scored 21 goals as a 20-year-old in the 2017-18 season and added another 18 a season ago. However, his career-high in points is 36 from that 2017-18 season but his pace this year puts him at 55 points if he can skate in all 82 games. He’s also managed a solid seven points in 10 road games on the season so let’s look for the 2015 first-rounder to keep it up in this one tonight.
W – Max Pacioretty (VGK) – $6,500 vs. NYR
The Golden Knights haven’t played their best hockey this season and their road offense is well into the bottom-half of the league, however I still like their road matchup tonight in New York against the Rangers. The Rangers are playing good hockey at the moment coming off a 4-0 road win over the Devils and they’ve allowed two goals or fewer in three of their last four games, but this is still one of the weaker defenses around the league. I mean, they still rank 25th with 3.28 goals against per game this season, also 25th with 3.07 goals against per game at home and 24th with a 78.3% mark on the penalty kill at home. There’s plenty of room for the Golden Knights to produce offense tonight and I want the high floor of Pacioretty in this lineup. The guy is shot-taking machine as his 109 shots this season ranks him third in the NHL at the moment, but he has just nine goals to his credit so far. As a result, his 8.3% shooting percentage is under his 11% career mark. He’s still managed 25 points in 28 games on the season as he skates with talented linemates in Paul Stastny and Mark Stone, but I want to see his positie goal-scoring regression kick in against a Rangers team that ranks dead-last with 35.2 shots against per game at home this season.
D – Ryan Pulock (NYI) – $4,500 vs. DET
Completing our three-man Islanders stack is Pulock who, as mentioned, will form a three-man power play stack alongside Barzal and Beauvillier against a weak Red Wings penalty kill tonight. There’s three Islanders defensemen between $4,000 and Pulock’s $4,500 price on this slate as you can grab Nick Leddy and Devon Toews in that range, but those of those players skate on the second power play unit so this is really an easy choice. Pulock has yet to unleash his bomb from the point on the power play as he’s without a power play goal this season with three helpers on the man advantage, but he does have three goals overall on 51 shots while his current 5.9% shooting percentage is right in line with his 5.6% career mark to this point. He’s actually now shot between 5% and 5.9% in each of this qualified NHL seasons – including this one – to this point in his young career. He burst onto the scene with 10 goals on 184 shots in just 68 games in the 2017-18 season and followed up with nine goals last season. His current pace puts him at another double-digit goal season with 10 if he can skate in all 82 games. Let’s see if he can unleash that deadly slap shot from the point and grab us some power play points alongside Barzal and Beauvillier tonight.
D – Shea Theodore (VGK) – $4,600 vs. NYR
Completing my Golden Knights mini-stack is Theodore who will skate with Pacioretty on what is listed as the Golden Knights’ second power play unit. However, Theodore actually leads the Golden Knights with 3:38 of average power play time and Pacioretty ranks second on the team with 2:46 of average power play ice time, so I would argue that this unit is indeed the team’s top unit and given the talent on board it’s a good one. Overall, the Golden Knight’s power play ranks ninth with a 21.1% mark on the season, however that number falls substantially to just 13.0% on the road which ranks 23rd league wide. As mentioned, the Rangers aren’t boasting a quality home penalty kill this season, so there is some increased upside for that scuffling Vegas road power play after all. For his part, Theodore has notched three goals and 12 points in 28 games this season, but he too carries a nice floor thanks to his elevated shot total of 70 shots this season – good for exactly 2.5 shots per game, on average. He’s coming off a 12-goal, 37-point season and 202 shots on goal and his current pace this season puts him at nine goals, 35 points and an identical 205 shots on goal in a full 82-game season this time around. For tonight, he and Pacioretty should be able to team up for high floors and even higher ceilings.
G – Carter Hutton (BUF) – $7,400 vs. NJ
Both Carter Hutton and Linus Ullmark are listed at this $7,400 price against the visiting Devils tonight, so I would roster whoever gets confirmed as tonight’s starter. However, I hope that it’s Hutton that gets the nod and I believe it will be after his performance over the weekend against the Maple Leafs. Ullmark started the first of the back-to-back at home on Friday, but allowed four goals on 29 shots (.862 Sv%), his fourth not-so-great start over his last five. After a rough stretch, Hutton got back on track in turning aside 41 of 43 Maple Leafs shots in Toronto on Saturday, good for a .953 Sv% which snapped a stretch of four poor starts in a row. Despite the strong effort, he finished the month of November with a poor .884 Sv% after an October that saw him post a real strong .926 mark. Coming off a quality start, I would believe it’s Hutton that gets the start tonight against a Devils team that ranks 29th with 2.09 goals per game on the road this season and 25th with a 12.5% mark on the power play on the road. The Sabres rank 13th with 2.69 goals against per game at home this season and allow just 29.1 shots against per game at home. Add in their -118 odds to win and I think Hutton brings us quality value upside in a favorable home matchup.