Despite a strong start to the night, last night’s FanDuel NHL DFS Picks fell just short of the cash line in GPPs.
I mean, we received solid contributions across the board. The Penguins offense was again stifled at home, however their lone goal was scored by Sidney Crosby while Jake Guentzel and Kris Letang were in on the assists. Unfortunately, Dominik Simon couldn’t get on the scoresheet in this one.
Our Jets mini-stack was largely a success as Patrik Laine notched three assists, a shot and a blocked shot to lead our lineup in scoring. Neal Pionk scored his second goal of the young season to go along with a pair of blocks and shot on goal. Very nice results here.
It appeared our Flames mini-stack was going to be productive when Mikael Backlund was initially credited with a goal, but the scoring was changed to Noah Hanifin and Backlund was left off the scoresheet all together and tallied just one shot on the night. Sam Bennett finished with four shots on goal.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment on the night was goaltender David Rittich who allowed four goals in a 4-3 loss to the Kings on home ice. Rittich was peppered in this one, still making 36 saves on 40 shots, but couldn’t get out with a win.
Let’s look to cross that cash line tonight on what is a small three-game slate.
C – Jack Eichel (BUF) – $7,800 vs. MON
The Sabres are off to a fine start to the season and I like their chances of continuing that tonight on home ice against the Montreal Canadiens. Carey Price owns a 3.69 GAA and .900 Sv% in two games after allowing five goals in Toronto on Saturday, so let’s see if we can attack a thin Habs blueline with a Sabres mini-stack in this one tonight. Eichel is off to a nice start with a goal and two helpers through three games this season to go along with eight shots on goal. Early-season results aside, we know what we are going to get from Eichel throughout a season. He’s not the sharpest shooter in the league as he’s yet to eclipse 30 goals after notching a career-high 28 last season, but he’s essentially been a point-per-game player in his NHL career after notching a career-high 82 points in 77 games last season. We also know we’re going to get a boatload of shots on goal with Eichel as he fired 303 shots on goal a season ago and has averaged 3.6 shots on goal per game throughout his four-year NHL career. He’s also going to log a ton of ice time on a thin Sabres offensive group as he’s already at 21:30 per game this season and should be well over 20 minutes per game again throughout the season. Plenty of cross-category upside with the Sabres’ captain tonight.
C – Kevin Hayes (PHI) – $5,500 vs. NJ
The New Jersey Devils were supposed to be a much-improved team this year (although I’m not quite buying it), however the early-season results are concerning, mostly from a defensive standpoint. Despite adding P.K. Subban – an offensive defenseman by trade – in the offseason, the Devils’ blueline group leaves plenty to be desired and they’ve been exposed in the early going. New Jersey has surrendered 11 goals through two games this season, most recently taking a 7-2 wallop from Eichel’s Sabres on Saturday night. After finishing among the worst defenses in the league last season, it’s possible they find themselves in a similar position again this season. As a result, I am once again going to target them with a stack, this time in the form of the Philadelphia Flyers. Call it a cash-oriented stack, but I’m not about to fade the Kevin Hayes-Claude Giroux-Jakub Voracek line that skates together on the team’s top power play unit together on top of their five-on-five time together. Keep in mind there’s not much to talk about in regards to the Flyers as this will be their first North American game of the season after opening the season with a 4-3 Global Series loss to the Blackhawks overseas. Hayes is being saddled with top-line duty and I love the value upside here as a result.
W – Claude Giroux (PHI) – $7,500 vs. NJ
After busting out with 102 points to finish second in league scoring in 2017-18, Giroux regressed to a still-quality 85 points in 82 games a season ago and his season didn’t get off to the best start with a pointless effort in a losing cause in Finland. Still, he did fire three shots on goal, something I believe he’ll be doing plenty of this season. Giroux’s shot totals have varied significantly from year-to-year in his NHL career. He posted as many as 279 in the 2014-15 season, but he’s also fired just 193 as recently as the 2017-18 season. Last season, he posted 229 which I think is the floor for Giroux. His new center Hayes is more of a pass-first player who doesn’t boast big shot totals himself, so I think Giroux will be putting plenty of pucks on net on this line, as well as Voracek. I expect the Flyers’ power play to be improved this season under new bench boss Alain Vigneault after Giroux scored just two power play goals last season. It’s a certainty that that number is going rise this season, and I think it’s a very good bet that he increases his goal total as well from the 22 he scored last season. Look for Giroux to get closer to the 100-point mark again this season with a big opportunity to jumpstart that goal tonight.
W – Jakub Voracek (PHI) – $6,900 vs. NJ
Competing our three-man stack is Voracek who likes to put pucks on net himself and despite not seeing softy goal totals throughout his career, could have an increased total as well this season. Voracek has fired at least 210 shots on goal in each of the last six seasons, yet he has scored just 20 goals in each of the last three seasons and owns a career-high of only 23 from the 2013-14 season. The culprit has been some criminally low shooting percentages of late, going as low as 5.2% in the 2015-16 season in which he fired 213 shots on goal, yet scored just 11 times in 73 games. After tallying 85 points on the back of 65 assists in the 2017-18 season, Voracek fell all the way to just 66 points last season, and I think it’s a sure thing that he easily eclipses that mark this season is what should be a new Flyers offensive system. Voracek has made his money on the power play throughout the years as he’s posted as many as 35 power play points in a single season dating back to the 2017-18 campaign. He fell to just 28 last year on a futile Flyers man advantage, but as noted, I expect that group to improve tonight. The Devils are a horrid 50% on the penalty kill through two games – just 3 for 6 on the kill – so let’s look for the this Flyers three-man stack to do damage in all scenarios tonight.
W – Tanner Pearson (VAN) – $5,100 vs. LA
The Los Angeles Kings will play their second game in as many nights tonight after upsetting the Flames in overtime by a 4-3 count last night, so I think they’ll be ripe for the taking and the Canucks should be able to get some offense going in this one. The Kings will start Jonathan Quick who was torched for six goals on just 31 shots (.806 Sv%) in the Kings’ season-opening loss in Edmonton on Saturday. He is also coming off by far the worst season of his NHL career in which he posted a 3.38 GAA and .888 Sv% in 46 appearances. The Kings have also allowed nine regulation goals over the first two games of the season, a far cry from the defensively-stout Kings teams of the past. As a result, I am going to roll out a GPP-aimed three-man Canucks stack tonight, beginning here with Pearson. Pearson has actually been a force so far this season after a rough 2018-19 season that saw him play for three teams. He actually finished strong with nine goals and 12 points in his final 19 games of the season with the Canucks and has scored a goal and a whopping 13 shots on goal through two games this season, logging 17:17 of average ice time in the process. He is going to skate on the second line alongside Bo Horvat and will form a three-man second unit power play stack with a couple of other Canucks in this lineup tonight.
W – Josh Leivo (VAN) – $3,800 vs. LA
Next man up in the Canucks stack is Leivo who comes at a cheap cost but should be given a nice opportunity to produce against a team that’s struggling defensively and a goaltender that’s struggled mightily for well over a year now. After being seldomly used with the Maple Leafs in five years with the club, Leivo was moved to the Canucks last season and did a solid job of tallying 10 goals and 18 points in 49 games with the club. He’s without a point in two games this season, but has five shots on goal and is averaging a tick over 16 minutes of ice time. He opened the season on the top power play unit, but it looks like he has moved down to the second group for this one tonight, and that’s fine by as he will now skate with Pearson at both even strength and on the man advantage. Given the second line and second power play unit roles, Levio should at least maintain that 16 minutes of ice time tonight. He’s more of a sharp-shooter in terms of his quick-strike ability and his deadly shot, so we can probably expect plenty of shots on goal from Leivo if he can keep his minutes up in a top-six role. With a nice matchup in front of him, I’m liking the value Levio brings to the table tonight.
D – Tyler Myers (VAN) – $4,900 vs. LA
Completing our three-man Canucks stack is Myers who will skate with the Pearson-Leivo duo on the Canucks’ second power play unit. The 6’8″ Myers is being used more often with his new club in Vancouver than with his old club in Winnipeg as he’s logged 23:16 worth of ice time per game through two games this season after logging 20:21 last season with the Jets. Myers has certainly been involved early on this season as he’s notched an assist and fired a whopping seven shots on goal while blocking four shots as well. There’s real nice cross-category potential here with Myers, especially in an increased role with the Canucks. He scored nine goals and 31 points last season with the Jets, but also firing 156 shots on goal and blocking another 99 across 80 games. That’s not elite cross-category upside like his teammate and cash-oriented Alexander Edler brings to the table, but it’s certainly respectable for a player that played a little over 20 minutes per game on the blueline. The Canucks’ offense isn’t as good as Winnipeg’s but I could see Myers chippin in more up front this season and he’s already firing plenty of pucks on goal in the early going. Hopefully the Canucks’ second power play unit can do the damage in this one tonight.
D – Rasmus Ristolainen (BUF) – $4,800 vs. MON
It took a while, but I’ve finally completed my Sabres mini-stack as Ristolainen lines up against the Canadiens. After just one season, it’s pretty obvious that Rasmus Dahlin is the Rasmus to own on the Sabres’ blueline as he’s taken over as the lone defenseman on the top power play unit, however let’s not forget the cross-category production that Ristolainen has delivered over the years. Last season, Ristolainen scored five goals, added 38 assists, took 182 shots on goal (for the second straight year) and blocked another 121 shots to lead the Sabres in that category. It was the fourth consecutive season in which he’s posted between 41-45 points, giving fantasy owners plenty of consistency. The Sabres are certainly going to lessen the workload on the still-24-year-old after he logged more than 26 minutes per game for two straight seasons. The Sabres beefed up their blueline in the summer and late last season and now Ristolainen has averaged one tick under 24 minutes per game on the blueline. Still, that’s a real solid number and perhaps less can be more with Ristolainen. He’s been good so far with an assist, 10 shots and five blocks through three games and I’ll look for his consistency to continue into tonight’s action.
G – Carter Hart (PHI) – $8,300 vs. NJ
The Kings offense has been really good to start the season and I’m not sold on the Canucks blueline, so I am going to go with Carter Hart over Jacob Markstrom on this slate. Besides, I believe the 21-year-old Hart is already the better goaltender after he put together a fine .917 Sv% despite playing behind one of the NHL’s worst defenses last season as a 20-year-old. The Devils should have an improved offense from a season ago, but that’s not saying a whole lot from a group that tied for 25th in that department. They’re still very thin after the top-six and I think a revamped Flyers blueline will be able to give Hart more support this season than they did in the past. The Flyers are listed as -125 favorites to win this one on the moneyline tonight, so the win upside is there. Hart surrendered three goals on 31 shots in the Flyers’ season-opener overseas, but that was against what should be a very good Blackhawks offense, and what was a top-10 offense from last season. At home in their home opener, I believe the Flyers come out buzzing tonight while I certainly believe they’ll get the victory as well. Hart is my top goaltender on this small three-game slate as a result.