We had a real nice night with our FanDuel NHL DFS picks last night, but I can’t help but feel that we left something on the table with too many passengers.
For instance, our Bruins stack hit as David Pastrnak scored three times in their 5-4 win over the Jets, however Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron combined for just one assist and five shots on goal. Would have expected much more if you told me Pastrnak was going to get a hat trick.
Our Lightning stack got a goal from defenseman Mikhail Sergachev, but both Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson were held off the scoresheet in a 4-0 Lightning win.
Our Vegas mini-stack did okay as we saw Paul Stastny record an assist, but he also had zero shots on goal. While Shea Theodore was held off the scoresheet, he at least contributed five shots on goal and three blocks to have a decent night.
Finally, while he allowed three goals for the second straight game, Rangers netminder Igor Shesterkin notched the win while he was peppered with shots in this one – something we said was possible in yesterday’s piece – as he made 46 saves and therefore had himself a huge night at big-time value.
I’ll take the nice night and look to make it two in a row on tonight’s three-game slate!
C – Dylan Larkin (DET) – $6,600 vs. OTT
There’s not much to like about the Red Wings at all as they are historically bad this season, however there’s also not much to like about the Senators in terms of their game on the road. While the Red Wings enter this one scoring just 2.32 goals per game at home which is – by far – the worst mark in the NHL, they will be going up against the NHL’s 30th-ranked road defense where the Senators are allowing 3.87 goals per game. Tonight’s starter for Ottawa, Marcus Hogberg, had a nice start to his NHL season but has since been shelled, allowing at least four goals in four straight starts and posted an .885 Sv% over his final four starts to December before allowing one goal on 11 shots in relief of Craig Anderson in Washington on Tuesday. Enter Larkin who isn’t scoring at the same pace as he did last season on a terrible Red Wings offense as he has 10 goals and 28 points in 44 games. However, his floor is increased by both his high shot volume with 136 shots on the season and the fact that the Red Wings actually own a decent 20.5% mark on the power play at home, so I’ll take the Red Wings’ top center in what I believe will be a high-scoring game all-around tonight.
C – Jean-Gabriel Pageau (OTT) – $5,300 vs. DET
There haven’t been too many bright spots in the Senators season, but one has certainly been Pageau who has either turned himself into a key piece of the Senators rebuild or key trade bait come next month’s trade deadline thanks to the breakout season he’s enjoyed. The situation here with Pageau is similar to the one with Larkin above. Like the Red Wings, the Senators are a low-scoring team in this scenario as their 2.30 goals per game on the road ranks 28th, however like the Senators, the Red Wings are a terrible defense in this scenario as their 3.59 goals against per game at home this season is the second-worst mark in the league. For good measure, the Red Wings also rank 24th in terms of home penalty killing. As a result, Pageau – the team’s top-line center at 5v5 and on the top power play unit, should be in for some production tonight. The 27-year-old has tallied 19 goals – already matching a career-high, and 11 helpers for 30 points in 43 games to go along with an even 100 shots on goal. Whether he can maintain his high 19% shooting percentage remains to be seen, however for this matchup tonight there’s a ton of upside at a reasonable cost.
W – Tyler Bertuzzi (DET) – $4,800 vs. OTT
The lone Red Wings All-Star representative, Bertuzzi has made good on his prospect status this season and has been rather productive for a team that’s largely struggled at the offensive end of the ice this season. The 24-year-old posted a healthy 21 goals and 47 points while showings signs of a breakout last season, but he’s notched 15 goals and 32 points in just 44 games this season to go along with 85 shots on goal. Like his uncle Todd, Tyler plays a rugged game and plays in the dirty areas, so while his 17.6% shooting percentage may seem high, consider that many of his shots are coming from in tight in front of the goaltender on rebounds etc., so it wouldn’t be surprising to see him maintain a high shooting percentage in his career, which he’s mostly done with a 14.2% mark through the first 172 games to his career. Bertuzzi has accumulated nine of his points on the power play – which could be a factor tonight – but the Senators have mostly been beaten at 5v5 on the road this season so we should have upside for production in both areas for the young winger in this one tonight.
W – Robby Fabbri (DET) – $3,800 vs. OTT
Considering the Red Wings have a power play that’s clicking over 20% on home ice, I wanted to make sure that my stack was a top-unit power play stack and that’s what we’ll get here with the low-cost Fabbri. In fact, Fabbri will skate with Larkin and Bertuzzi on the team’s top line as well in the spot that was vacated by the injured Anthony Mantha. Fabbri made an immediate impression on the Red Wings when he scored two goals in his first game after being acquired in a trade from the Blues where he dealt with a ton of injuries. That said, his production has actually been steady for the Red Wings as the 2014 first-round pick has tallied 10 goals and 19 points in 27 games with his new club, although he doesn’t shoot the puck a whole lot with just 53 shots in that time. I mean, this is a guy that was productive when healthy with the Blues, especially earlier in his career, but he’s suffered two ACL tears in his knee which is just a devastating injury to come back from. That said, he’s done a fine job since moving over to the Wings and has been a weapon on the power play with five goals and eight points on the man advantage in those 27 games, so perhaps he can stay hot and deliver some value to this lineup in the process.
W – Brady Tkachuk (OTT) – $5,400 vs. DET
To me, Tkachuk is one of the better options on this slate tonight from a value standpoint. No, his mid-range price doesn’t scream value, but when we consider the floor that he could bring to the table – not to mention a tall ceiling – I believe we can get some serious bang for our buck tonight. After a productive rookie season in which he posted a real nice 22 goals and 45 points in 71 games, Tkachuk has followed that up with 13 goals and 24 points in 43 games this time around, putting him on pace for those same 45 points if he can stay healthy for all 82 games. The point per game pace is actually down, but Tkachuk is putting a ton of rubber on net this season as he’s registered 151 shots on goal in just 43 games this season, a 288-shot pace over a full 82 games and a number that would shatter the 214 he posted last season – albeit potentially in 11 more games. Still, he’s averaging 3.5 shots per game this season and if he can match or exceed that average tonight I can see one or two going in for him. He does have eight goals in 23 road games and is shooting more on the road than at home, so let’s look for a high shot volume and some results from the 20-year-old winger tonight.
W – Mikko Rantanen (COL) – $8,100 vs. PIT
Now, I wanted to get a couple of three-man stacks in for the Red Wings and Senators game as I see cheap price going up against bad defenses, but it also left us with a ton of money to fill a winger and defense spot, so I’ll simply grab a couple of high-priced, high-upside players to fill those spots, beginning here with Rantanen. The young winger is enjoying another big season while riding shotgun to Nathan MacKinnon has he’s tallied 15 goals and 31 points in 28 games to go along with 70 shots on goal while he missed significant time earlier in the season with an ankle injury. The injury might have slowed his production a little bit as he’s coming off a season in which he’s posted 1.18 points per game compared to 1.10 this season, but the production is still very much there. The matchup isn’t a bad one as the Penguins have slipped a little bit defensively on the road as they’re now in the middle of the pack with 3.05 goals against per game on the road, however the Avs rank second with 3.90 goals per game at home this season. It’s a risk fading MacKinnon here, but we at least have some exposure to the potential MVP in this one tonight.
D – Thomas Chabot (OTT) – $5,700 vs. DET
Completing our three-man Senators stack is Chabot who has been a monster on the Sens’ blueline this season. Much was made about him skating an eye-popping 37:50 in an overtime loss to the Lightning back on December 17th, but he actually skated exactly 33:49 in each of the next two games and 31:45 in the next game. He’s been north of the 30-minute mark once in three January contests – also against the Lightning – so this guy is a threat to get more than 30 minutes of ice time on a nightly basis. If he does so tonight, then I would be shocked to see him miss the scoresheet. Still just 22 years old, Chabot is leading the NHL with 26:26 of average ice time per game and he’s turned that into four goals and 25 points in 43 games – a pace that’s actually off of his 14-goal, 55-point season from last year in which he did so in just 70 games. Still, it’s a healthy pace for a young defenseman on a poor offensive team. His 3.4% shooting percentage is also just half of his 6.8% career mark, so we should see some more goals coming for him with 117 shots on the season. In terms of the opportunity for the positive regression to kick in, there couldn’t’ possibly be a better matchup than against these Red Wings – the worst defensive team in the NHL.
D – Kris Letang (PIT) – $6,600 vs. COL
You could go with Cale Makar to form a mini-stack with Rantanen in this spot, however you would be leaving a ton of salary on the table, so I’m going with Letang who brings a wealth of cross-category upside to the table. To be honest, I wouldn’t even mind a Penguins stack here as the Avs have struggled mightily on the back end at home this season, sitting 28th with 3.30 goals against per game at the Pepsi Center this season. On the flip side, the Penguins enter this one ranked fourth with 3.47 goals per game on the road this season, so there’s potential for the Pens to get some offense going in what appears to be a favorable road matchup. For now, I’ll stick with the one-off Letang who has notched 10 goals and 28 points in 35 games on the season while his 25:31 of average ice time sits a few spots behind Chabot at fifth in the league. On top of the elite production and heavy minutes, he brings plenty of peripheral upside with 102 shots and 54 blocks in those 35 games as well. His 9.8% shooting percentage would be the second-highest of his career if the season ended today, so while that number could regress, I like the sneaky-good matchup in Denver tonight.
G – Petr Mrazek (CAR) – $8,500 vs. ARI
The goaltending situation is a little tough tonight. As noted above, I am certainly not trusting either Marcus Hogberg or Jonathan Bernier in the Sens/Red Wings game while it’s tough to trust Tristan Jarry against the NHL’s second-best home offense or Philipp Grubauer (assuming that’s the matchup, but nonetheless) against the league’s fourth-best road offense. As a result, I’ve simply settled on Petr Mrazek despite some weak results of late as he matches up with the Coyotes in this one tonight. The Coyotes’ offense had been hot and much improved after the Taylor Hall deal, however they were shut out last night in Tampa Bay and will therefore be playing their second game in as many nights tonight. The Hurricanes defense ranks first with 26.4 shots against per game at home this season – which isn’t the best for a DFS netminder – however this pick is simply the safest one I see on the board. Mrazek has posted a 256 GAA and .902 Sv% at home this season where he’s gone 12-6-0 and the Hurricanes are the heaviest favorite on the slate tonight at -190, so I think we need to strive for safety on this slate tonight and Mrazek is the best of the bunch in that department.