FanDuel NHL DFS Picks – February 26, 2020

It wasn’t a very productive GPP-aimed lineup last night as our stacks simply didn’t do anything at all despite their teams scoring goals as I had anticipated.

I’ve had terrible luck with the Flyers this year. Not because they don’t produce when I use them, but the wrong players do the damage when I stack Philly.

I used their top line and top power play unit last night, and the Flyers scored four goals, but the damage was done largely by the second line featuring Kevin Hayes and Travis Konecny as that duo scored three of the four goals.

Our stack combined for just seven shots and a block while being held off the scoresheet all together.

Our Canadiens stack didn’t do any better. It looked like the Habs were going to have the number of Thatcher Demko with two early goals, but none were scored by our stack and they would add just one more, also not scored from our stack.

Our three-man Canadiens stack combined for just seven shots on goal.

Our Wild mini-stack was only slightly better as Ryan Suter’s assist was the only point our skaters managed on the night (ouch) while he and Zach Parise both put four shots on goal. Again, not nearly enough.

Finally, Carter Hart did his job, turning aside 26 of 28 Sharks shots and earned the 4-2 win in the process.

Nonetheless, it was a very poor outing from our skaters despite their teams combining to score 12 goals, a number that I would accept any day of the week, but we just had the wrong guys from those clubs.

Let’s move on to tonight’s much smaller three-game slate!

FanDuel NHL DFS Picks & Breakdowns

C – Nathan MacKinnon (COL) – $8,500 vs. BUF

I am going straight cash with my lineup tonight and any cash lineup this evening should probably include this guy who brings the highest floor to the table on this slate and most of the slates in which he appears.

The Avs host the streaking Sabres tonight, and they’ll enter this one in a third-place tie with 3.67 goals per game on home ice this season despite the offense struggling of late with just six goals total over their last three games, but only one of those games was at home and they score three goals in that one, so the most recent offensive woes have come on the road.

It’s the matchup that I like most in this one as the Sabres will enter this one ranked 23rd with 3.38 goals against per game on the road while their penalty kill has struggled mightily away from home to the tune of a 69% mark, good for second-last in the NHL and only better than the Predators and their 68.5% clip.

MacKinnon enters tonight’s contest with 33 goals and 84 points in 61 games on the season while his 285 shots on goal rank second in the NHL behind only Alex Ovechkin and his 290 while those 84 points check in at fifth league wide. MacKinnon has been held off the scoresheet in back-to-back games entering this one tonight, however he’s been a monster at home where he’s notched 19 goals and 48 points on 162 shots in just 30 games – good for 1.60 points per game and a whopping 5.4 shots per game – so it would appear that MacKinnon has a good chance to deliver some production tonight.

C – Evgeni Malkin (PIT) – $7,900 vs. LA

I hate stacking the Penguins as the Crosby versus Malkin debate is always a tough one, but to me if we are going to play in only cash games tonight I think we should be trying to roll out a 5v5 and power play stack and have our guys skating together in all offensive situations.

With Crosby, his wingers in Jason Zucker and Dominik Simon don’t skate on the top power play unit, but Malkin has a winger that does so that’s why I am going with Geno in this one tonight.

The big Russian pivot was held pointless in three straight games but has since come back with three goals and four points over his last two games with three shots in each contest, so we’re getting him while he’s hot in this one. Malkin has notched 21 goals and 62 points in 47 games in what can be considered a bounce back year, although his 72 points in 68 games from last season weren’t too shabby, but he’s just set a higher bar for himself throughout his career. The good news is that he’s been almost as produce on the road than he has been at home with 31 points in both splits, but his 13 home goals and five power play home goals outweighs his eight road goals, none of which have come on the man advantage.

In terms of the matchup, it’s not fantastic on the surface as the Kings sit 14th with 2.82 goals against per game at home, but their penalty kill sits 27th with a 75.6% mark and considering how watered down this current Kings lineup is after several trades over the past few weeks, I think the Penguins will dominate the play in this one tonight.

W – Valeri Nichushkin (COL) – $3,900 vs. BUF

There’s some expensive pieces in this lineup tonight, so getting Nichushkin at this price is helpful and the fact that he is projected to skate with MacKinnon makes this a fairly easy call.

I just noted that we want to try and get 5v5 and PP1 stacks going for cash games tonight, but Gabriel Landeskog’s price was too much for this lineup and with the season Nichushkin is having, I like his value potential alongside one of the best players on the planet tonight.

After Nichushkin somehow managed to score zero goals in 57 games with the Stars last season, he was cut loose by the team and picked up by the Avs in a move that looks brilliant. He’s tallied 12 goals and 25 points in 56 games on the season, quality production considering he’s mostly skated in a bottom-six role with less than 14 minutes of average ice time per game. This is also a guy they picked up off the scrap heap for next to nothing, so the team is certainly thrilled with this level of production as a depth scorer.

His spot alongside MacKinnon the top line increased his usage all the way to 20:41 in the Avs’ 2-1 shootout win over the Kings on Saturday, up from just 14:52 in the prior game. With Nichushkin we also get exposure to both power play units as he’s a member of the second group, not a bad thing against a horrific Sabres road penalty kill in what I believe is an excellent matchup tonight.

W – Bryan Rust (PIT) – $4,900 vs. LA

We get our 5v5 and PP1 stack here with Rust as he will skate alongside Malkin in both scenarios on the road against the Kings.

Considering the year Rust is having, I believe we’re getting a discount with him as well as part of a breakout year for the hard-nosed winger. Rust enters this one with 23 goals and 49 points in 47 games on the season. I mean, he’s averaging more than a point-per-game and nearly half his points have come in the form of a goal, yet we’re getting him under $5K? That’s no problem for me as he’s also been a notable power play contributor where he’s scored seven of his goals and notched 15 of his points with a goal and an assist while shorthanded as well. Skating in all situations for head coach Mike Sullivan has Rust skating just two ticks under 20 minutes per game.

One issue here is that he’s been far more productive at home with 32 home points compared to 17 road points, but there are just too many positives here in the form of his opportunity alongside Malkin in all offensive situations and his wildly discounted price. As a result, Rust is a layup to get into this lineup tonight.

W – Tyler Ennis (EDM) – $4,400 vs. VGK

This can be a funny league sometimes.

Monday morning, Ennis was a member of the Ottawa Senators and skating on the team’s third line. A few hours later, Ennis was traded to the Edmonton Oilers and immediately placed alongside Connor McDavid on the team’s top line. The move from the lowly Sens to the left wing of the best player on the planet paid immediate dividends for Ennis has he tallied a goal and an assist with four shots on goal in his Oilers debut last night in Anaheim. He skated 16:18 in that one while getting reps on the team’s second power play unit.

He’s actually had a real nice year despite not getting a ton of ice time in Ottawa. He scored 14 goals and 33 points in 61 games for the Sens with just 14:42 of ice time per game, nice production considering the Sens rank 26th in overall offense. The Oilers rank 14th in overall offense and combined with the spot alongside McDavid and Ennis could be in for some big-time production down the stretch here, at least if last night was any indication.

The matchup tonight is actually sneaky-good despite the Knights heading into this one having won six in a row. The Golden Knights have still surrendered 11 goals over their last three games and 3.50 goals per game over their last eight. Furthermore, Vegas ranks 25th with 3.15 goals against per game on home ice this season and 29th with a poor 75% mark on the penalty kill at home, so I believe there’s an opportunity for the Oilers to get something done in Sin City tonight.

W – Alex Chiasson (EDM) – $3,600 vs. VGK

Chiasson and Ennis will not skate together at 5v5 or on the power play, but this is about getting as much cost-efficient exposure to McDavid as possible and I think this is a real good way to accomplish that given the financial restraints we have from the stacks above.

While we are getting even-strength exposure to No.97 with Ennis, we get PP1 exposure to McDavid here with Chiasson as he’s a member of that top unit alongside the likes of McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Not only are the Knights sporting a poor penalty kill at home, the Oilers sport the NHL’s best road power play, or at least a share of the best road power play alongside the Montreal Canadiens with a 26.7% clip. As a result, I’m feeling real good about the value potential of this cost-efficient duo.

It’s been a solid, if unspectacular year for Chiasson coming off a career-high 22 goals last season. He’s notched eight goals and 20 points in 57 games, but also five goals and 12 points on the power play, which is obviously the key tonight. His production is down in large part due to his reduced role as his 13:09 of average ice time this year is almost four minutes less than the 16:58 he averaged a season ago. He’s skated far more than his average ice time for this season of late, however, and while that hasn’t translated to production I will look for that to change in this sneaky-good matchup tonight.

D – Kris Letang (PIT) – $7,100 vs. LA

Of course, if you’re going with a three-man Pens PP1 stack, Letang’s inclusion is pretty much mandatory, at least if you’re not using both Crosby and Malkin in the same lineup.

While a lot of the attention on this team goes towards how productive Crosby and Malkin remain after so many years in the league, Letang’s production has not slipped one bit and it sometimes seems as if he’s getting better with age. The 32-year-old will enter tonight’s contest with 14 goals and 41 points in 53 games on the season to go along with 159 shots on goal and another 77 blocked shots to boot. His production on the power play has been solid as well where he’s scored six goals and 15 points on the season while his 25:49 of average ice time is the fourth-highest mark in the NHL.

Letang’s splits don’t really favor either side, which is nice for this road matchup, and he’s been productive of late with three goals and eight points over his last nine games. Not much else to see here other than the fact Letang is a must in a Pittsburgh PP1 stack tonight.

D – Cale Makar (COL) – $5,600 vs. BUF

Similar to Letang, Makar is pretty much a must in any Avalanche stack tonight as the matchup is just too good against a poor Sabres defense and a brutal Sabres road penalty kill.

At this point it would be hard to vote against him for the Calder Trophy as Rookie of the Year as he’ll enter this one with 12 goals and 45 points in 53 games on the season while he’s been beastly to the tune of 17 power play points in that time. The production is excellent considering he’s not getting monster minutes with 20:55 of average ice time per game.

The 21-year-old doesn’t bring the same peripherals that Letang brings to the table as he’s registered 113 shots on goal and blocked just 43, but the peripherals are not why he makes an appearance in this lineup, at all. Like most of the Avs, he’s been held in check of late given their recent offensive woes that stem from some injuries to key offensive contributors, but he still has three assists over his last four games and has registered at least two shots in them all. At the end of the day, he’s actually perhaps the second-best offensive contributor on this team behind MacKinnon at the moment, so get this guy into your cash lineups tonight.

G – Tristan Jarry (PIT) – $8,900 vs. LA

Completing this lineup here is going to be Penguins netminder Tristan Jarry, who to me is a layup as the top goaltender on this slate and it’s not even close in terms of both safety and opportunity to combined.

By opportunity, I mean the chance to rack up plenty of fantasy points. That comes in the form of saves and considering the Kings enter this one tied for 11th with 33.1 shots per game at home, he should get a chance to rack up some saves. Combine the elevated average shot total with the fact that the Kings don’t capitalize on those shots with a 27th-ranked 2.71 goals per game and a 30th-ranked 6.28% shooting rate at 5v5 at home and you get excellent goal-prevention upside here as well.

And then there’s Jarry himself. He’s been perhaps the best story in the goaltending department in the league this season as he’s taken over the No.1 job in Pittsburgh thanks to his 2.23 GAA and .927 Sv% on the season – numbers that only slip slightly to a 2.51 GAA and .921 Sv% on the road in 12 appearances, going 7-5-0 in the process.

It would appear he has a strong chance for an eighth road win tonight against a thinned-out Kings lineup as the Penguins sit as substantial -195 favorites to win this game on the moneyline tonight.

Combine the saves opportunity, a weak Kings offense, excellent road numbers and huge win potential and Jarry is bar-none the top netminder on this small slate tonight.


Brenton Kemp / Author

Brenton is a lifelong sports fan who resides in Ontario, Canada. Brenton is a fan of most all sports but specializes in hockey, baseball, football, basketball, and golf. He’s a fierce researcher with a strong appetite to deliver accurate and relevant facts that in turn have led to past success with picks and DFS advice across the board. Brenton’s biggest goal is to deliver readers with the picks and advice that can build their bankroll. He takes great pride in his success and loves nothing more than to share that success for the benefit of everyone involved.