FanDuel NHL Picks – December 20th

Too many duds in last night’s wild night in the NHL, and Craig Anderson yielding a six-spot to the previously-cold Wild did not help the cause. We will aim for a high level of improvement on tonight’s quiet three-game slate.

C – Sean Couturier (PHI) – $6,500 vs. DET

The Red Wings have won back-to-back games and yielded just four goals over that stretch, but I do not trust Petr Mrazek in goal so let’s fire up a Flyers stack. Couturier is set to blow past his previous career highs in just about every offensive category. He enters play tonight with 15 goals and 15 assists on the season and sits on 99 shots on goal as well. He is the top line center and centers the top power play unit as well. He should get some good looks against a Red Wings team that surrenders 3.20 goals per game on the road.

C – William Nylander (TOR) – $5,300 vs. CLS

It’s rare to see Nylander as a center, but tonight he is set to skate in between Patrick Marleau and Zach Hyman in Columbus. Nylander isn’t the same elite player he is when Auston Matthews is healthy, but here’s top hoping yesterday’s snipe leads to some confidence for the second year forward. The goal was just Nylander’s sixth of the season, but he has 82 shots on goal and his 7.3% shooting percentage is due for an increase moving forward.

W – Wayne Simmonds (PHI) – $5,400 vs. DET

It’s going to be hard to escape high ownership on the Flyers tonight, but using Simmonds over Giroux and Voracek should help. He isn’t having nearly as good of a season as the other two, but perhaps for one night Simmonds can outscore the duo. He has ten goals on the season, four of which have come on the power play. He plays on the top line with Couturier and also flanks him on the top power play unit as well. Simmonds has been among the league leaders in power play goals for many years so let’s get him back to his scoring ways tonight.

W – Mitch Marner (TOR) – $4,100 vs. CLS

Marner’s struggles this season have been well documented, but the truth is those are a thing of the past. The sophomore winger has eight points over his last six games including a four-point effort in yesterday’s 8-1 drubbing of the Hurricanes. The Leafs’ offense has been quiet without Matthews, but yesterday’s performance was one to build off. Marner was the best Leaf yesterday and I believe we are getting him at an extremely attractive price tonight.

W – James van Riemsdyk (TOR) – $6,200 vs. CLS

van Riemsdyk skates with Marner at 5v5 and on the power play so let’s get the duo together in this lineup. He paces the Maple Leafs with 16 goals, seven of which have come on the power play. The Maple Leafs’ power play ranks sixth at 22.8% for the season and van Riemsdyk is a big reason why. The veteran goal scorer had himself a three-point day yesterday and should be able to connect with Marner for some more offense tonight against Blue Jackets’ backup Joonas Korpisalo.

W – Johnny Gaudreau (CGY) – $7,600 vs. STL

Thanks to the value the Maple Leafs have provided we have some salary to work with here so let’s roster Gaudreau. He’s been one of the most consistent point producers in the league this year and is catching the Blues while they are not at their best. St. Louis has lost three of their last five and most recently surrendered five goals to the Jets on Sunday. Gaudreau enters play with 40 points and 102 shots in 34 games this season and brings a solid floor with him as a result.

D – Mark Giordano (CGY) – $5,900 vs. STL

Giordano is the most expensive blueliner on the slate but we will go ahead and use him with Gaudreau in a mini-stack. The veteran defenseman is the lone rear guard on the Flames’ top power play unit, but also brings with him a solid floor via his counting stats. He has fired 88 shots on goal and has blocked 73 as well. He is coming off of a two-goal effort against Vancouver and has tallied 13 shots on goal over his last two games.

D – Shayne Gostisbehere (PHI) – $5,700 vs. DET

Completing our three-man Flyers stack is the obvious and likely highly owned Gostisbehere. You can tell he is really feeling it right now as he has fired 14 shots on goal over his last three games, two of which have found twine. Four of his six goals for the season have come on the power play as the crafty defenseman is up to 25 points in 30 games to go along with 85 shots on goal as well. A nice night from the Flyers top power play grouping would give this lineup a nice boost.

G – Mike Smith (CGY) – $7,800 vs. STL

Goaltending is a little bit tough today but the combination of Smith being real solid lately and the Blues’ offense struggling has led me to the veteran Flames netminder. Smith has allowed two goals or less in four of his last five starts and owns a .931 Sv% over that stretch. The Blues have scored just six goals over their last five games and are really feeling the loss of Jaden Schwartz at the moment. Smith’s workload has been light lately as he hasn’t faced more than 29 shots over his last five games, which hurts his save value, but that also helps with goal prevention and shutout probability as well.

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