It’s been a crazy last 24 hours. The coronavirus pandemic has hit the sports world in a big way and in a hurry. The NBA has postponed its season until further notice, and while the NHL announced they are not immediately following suit, discussions are ongoing throughout Thursday while all morning skates and meetings across the league have been cancelled today.
To be honest, it’s difficult to envision NHL games moving forward given the now lengthy list of cancelled sporting events across the globe.
Nonetheless, as of now there is no official word of cancellations of tonight’s NHL schedule, so let’s try to regain some normalcy and take on this 10-game Thursday night slate!
FanDuel NHL DFS Picks & Breakdowns
C – Brayden Point (TB) – $7,200 vs. PHI
Tonight’s lineup is going to be of the cash variety and will include a couple of the best offenses in the NHL as well as a home team in a favorable matchup.
The Lightning enter this one as the NHL’s best home offense as they have averaged a whopping 3.85 goals per game at Amalie Arena this season while their 29.7% clip on the power play at home is the second-best mark in the NHL.
They’ll take on what has been a surging Flyers team, but one that saw their nine-game win streak snapped their last time out while they haven’t exactly been a quality road defense to begin with. In fact, the Flyers rank 29th with 3.56 goals against per game on the road where No.1 netminder Carter Hart has posted a 3.81 GAA and .857 Sv% on the season away from home, although he isn’t confirmed as tonight’s starter as of yet.
Enter Point who will need to do even more heavy lifting moving forward with Steven Stamkos out of the lineup, but he’s had a real nice season in posting 25 goals and 64 points in 66 games on the season while putting 141 shots on goal. Point’s splits are about dead even on the season, but as the team’s top center at even strength and on the top power play unit, I’ll look for him to drive this lineup in a favorable matchup.
C – Nicklas Backstrom (WSH) – $6,300 vs. DET
The biggest upside on this slate rests with the Washington Capitals as they play host to the Detroit Red Wings this evening, otherwise known as the worst team and worst defense in the NHL.
That defense has been especially bad on home ice as the Wings rank dead last while allowing 4.06 goals per game on the road where their penalty kill sits 27th with a 75.2% mark.
On the flip side, Backstrom’s Capitals will enter this one ranked eighth with 3.39 goals per game on home ice this season although their home power play hasn’t been up to par at 23rd with a 16.8% clip on the season at Capital One Arena.
For his part, Backstrom has had a fine season with 12 goals and 54 points in 61 games to go along with 132 shots on goal. The floor isn’t terribly high on a normal night with more assists than goal and the fairly low shot total, but there’s little doubt it takes a big step forward in this matchup tonight while the ceiling is a high one as well. Like Point, Backstrom’s splits are almost dead even as he has 27 points both on the road and at home – with one more game played on the road – while he has 65 shots at home and 67 on the road. Nonetheless, I’ll kick off my Capitals stack with Backstrom here tonight.
W – Ondrej Palat (TB) – $4,900 vs. PHI
Next man up in our Lightning stack here with Palat who will skate with Point at even strength while he gives us exposure to both power play units as he skates on the second group.
The 28-year-old Palat has had a solid season in posting 17 goals and 41 points in 69 games, although he too doesn’t bring much in terms of shots on goal with just 128 on the season. Nonetheless, he’s scored at a healthy 13.3% clip on the season and is playing alongside the team’s best center at even strength.
Palat was responsible for Tampa Bay’s lone goal in Toronto on Tuesday, a goal that snapped a four-game pointless drought while it’s just his third tally over his last 18 games, so let’s hope that his goal on Tuesday is the start of a little hot streak. Now, he only skated 13:56 in that one which is seemingly a really low number considering his spot next to point, but that’s most due to his pack of special teams time on the ice as nearly all of that came at 5v5.
Nonetheless, the Flyers present the Lightning with a real nice matchup tonight and one that I believe can be taken advantage of on this big slate.
W – T.J. Oshie (WSH) – $6,700 vs. DET
Of course, Alex Ovechkin is the best cash option on this slate, but with the way the Capitals’ lines are working these days, we can’t get a 5v5 and PP1 stack going with Ovechkin and his center, so I’m moving down to the second line to Backstrom and Oshie who will indeed form the desired 5v5 and PP1 stack against a terrible road defense and poor penalty kill as well.
The 33-year-old Oshie has having a pretty typical Oshie-like season. He’s scoring a lot while not taking many shots on goal, in other words. Through 69 games, Oshie has tallied 26 goals on just 133 shots while he’s also added 23 assists for 49 points in those 69 games. If we want a power play stack as part of our Capitals exposure it’s probably a good idea to have Oshie as part of it as he’s recorded 10 of his 26 goals on the power play while 10 of his 12 power play points this season have come in goal form.
He’s not exactly sporting a hot hand at the moment as he has just a goal and an assist over his last six games, and both of those points came in the same game on Saturday in Pittsburgh. He’s been slightly more productive at home, but it’s not about the splits tonight but rather just having the league-worst Red Wings in town as this is about as good a matchup as you’ll find in NHL DFS this season.
W – Brendan Gallagher (MON) – $7,300 vs. BUF
While the Canadiens aren’t a high-octane offense – at least not at home – they do have a chance to get their offense back in gear tonight against the visiting Sabres.
They scored twice in a 4-2 loss to the Predators on Tuesday, but they still have just three goals total over their last three games. The Canadiens win enter this one ranked 27th with 2.73 goals per game at home this season and their home power play has been terrible to the tune of a 12.4% mark, which is good for the worst home power play in the NHL.
None of that is any good, but the matchup is. The Sabres enter this one ranked 26th with 3.41 goals against per game away from home while their 69.4% mark on the penalty kill away from home is the worst number in the NHL. So, it would appear that the Canadiens have a nice opportunity to get their offense going tonight.
Besides, Gallagher is a good bet to be involved regardless of how many goals they manage tonight. The diminutive winger has notched 22 goals and 43 points in 59 games this season while battling some injuries and illness, however he also brings a real nice floor to the table in the form of 226 shots on goal in that time. He’s managed just a goal and five points on the power play, but he’s been extremely productive at 5v5 action and he brings a real high floor to the table, especially in this matchup here tonight.
W – Charles Hudon (MON) – $3,100 vs. BUF
Completing our Canadiens mini-stack is Hudon who is projected to skate alongside Gallagher tonight with Max Domi down the middle at 5v5 and I like that he’s seen an increased usage of late.
Averaging just 11:32 of ice time per game for the season, Hudon skated 16:33 in his last game has skated at least 14:30 in each of his last four games.
Sure, he’s notched just one goal and two points in his 15 games at the NHL level this season, but he’s also skated on the fourth line with the majority of the season and his goal from last Tuesday came in the first game of his increased usage in a top-six role.
We’ve seen a fairly productive Hudon in the NHL in the past as he notched 10 goals and 30 points in 72 games two seasons ago, and he’s had a huge season for the Canadiens’ AHL affiliate with 27 goals and 35 points in 46 AHL games to this point.
When we add in the favorable home matchup we get some nice value potential alongside Gallagher in this mini-stack.
D – John Carlson (WSH) – $6,600 vs. DET
This play here doesn’t need a ton of explaining as Carlson forms a PP1 stack with Backstrom and Oshie and will also see a large chunk of time with them at even strength as well.
Cruising to his first career Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenseman, Carlson’s season has been nothing short of monstrous.
In 69 games, Carlson has tallied 15 goals and 75 points and has peppered 189 shots on goal as well with another 108 blocked shots to boot. As a result, he brings elite cross-category upside to the table and has been the best fantasy defenseman this season by a good margin. Carlson has also tallied 26 points on the power play, although we’ve actually seen him produce more on the road this season than we have at home, although I’m not about to argue with his 31 points in 33 home games, either.
Like I said above, splits mean very little here as the matchup with the league-worst Red Wings is more important so let’s not fool around and get Carlson into our cash lineups tonight.
D – Mikhail Sergachev (TB) – $4,300 vs. PHI
Completing our three-man Lightning stack here is Sergachev who may or may not form a mini-stack with Brayden Point on the team’s top power play unit as the status of defenseman Victor Hedman remains unclear at this point.
If Hedman returns, Sergachev will move down to the second unit with Palat, so it’s not the worst thing in the world despite that unit not seeing a ton of ice time. Nonetheless, he’s a cost-efficient defenseman with point-producing potential in this matchup.
For the season, Sergachev has notched 10 goals and 34 points in 70 games to go along with 118 shots on goal in that time. Despite skating on the second power play unit for much of the season, he’s still managed to muster five goals and 13 points on the man advantage this season while even adding a shorthanded tally as well.
With Hedman out of the lineup, Sergachev has seen a massive increase in usage, skating at least 24:35 in each of his last three games and as much as 28:20 in that time, both of which are miles above his 20:22 average for the season. He notched a goal and an assist in the first game of the increase in ice time on Saturday against the Boston Bruins.
While we don’t know the status of Hedman as of yet, I like this play at this price and in this matchup regardless.
G – Braden Holtby (WSH) – $8,400 vs. DET
For cash games tonight, I’m not sure there’s an option even close to Holtby against these Red Wings.
That doesn’t mean he’s been the best goaltender on the slate as he’s endured a shaky season, posting a 3.11 GAA and .897 Sv% on the season to go along with a worse 3.15 GAA and .894 Sv% in his 24 outings at home.
Nonetheless, the matchup here is dynamite. The Red Wings rank last by a mile with just 1.94 goals per game on the road this season and 30th with a 12.1% clip on the power play on the road as well. Like in part due to his struggles, the Capitals sit 24th with 3.12 goals against per game at home, but again it’s the matchup that we’re most concerned with here.
He’s been good in three of his four March starts, however, and very good over his last two while posting a .926 Sv% during that time. Add in the Capitals as massive -385 moneyline favorites and there is some serous win potential on top of the shutout upside here with Holtby tonight.