Last night’s FanDuel lineup was an excellent one! Led by Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos, the four-man Lightning stack prevailed while Jamie Benn scored his first of the year and we even got a low-owned power play assist from Mikkel Boedker. Goaltending was another bright spot as well as Jimmy Howard turned away 33 of 35 shots to earn his third win of the young season. Let’s keep the momentum going for tonight’s five-game slate!
C – Rickard Rakell (ANH) – $6,500 vs. COL
After enjoying a career year last season, Rakell is off to a fast start again this time around. Through four games, the young pivot has two goals, two assists and 12 shots on goal. Rakell is seeing an increased roll early this season as Ryan Kesler is sidelined with an injury as he is averaging just short of 21 minutes of ice time per game while centering the team’s second line. He is also a fixture on the team’s top power play unit alongside all the big guns for the Ducks, a unit that has yet to score but is up against an Avalanche penalty kill that sits last in the league at just 66.7% for the season.
C – Alexander Wennberg (CLS) – $5,500 vs. NYR
Wennberg’s price is always a reasonable one due to the fact he is not a big shot on goal guy and is certainly a pass-first center. That said, he plays with two reliable goal scorers in Artemi Panarin and Cam Atkinson at both even strength and with the man advantage. Therefore, his assist total should be among the best in the game and I am happy to take his fair price as part of a Blue Jackets’ stack. The Rangers have had issues in goal this season as they have yielded 3.75 goals per game (T-24) and Henrik Lundqvist, tonight’s confirmed starter, sports an .898 save percentage through four starts this season.
W – Artemi Panarin (CLS) – $7,300 vs. NYR
Panarin isn’t off to a fast start with his new team this season, but it’s only a matter of time before the Russian starts to fill the net. He tallied three assists in his first game, but hasn’t recorded a point or a shot on goal in two games since. While playing with Patrick Kane for the last two seasons in Chicago helped, Panarin has excellent linemates in Columbus and should start shooting the puck at a much more consistent clip after throwing 211 pucks on net last season. He should also be a force on the power play as he scored 17 power play goals over the last two seasons.
W – Cam Atkinson (CLS) – $6,600 vs. NYR
After tallying a career-high 35 goals last season on 240 shots, Atkinson should be primed for another big season this time around. He plays with the aforementioned Wennberg and Panarin in all situations, and this line should start to dominate any time now. Columbus scored 3.01 goals per game last season (6th) and that number increased to 3.15 on home ice where they went 28-12-1 last season. Atkinson has incrementally increased his goal total, point total and shot total every season since the ‘13/’14 season and it wouldn’t shock me for that trend to continue this season.
W – Corey Perry (ANH) – $6,100 vs. COL
Perry has frequented this lineup three times already this season, but as I’ve said before, I truly believe he is due for a big rebound season after uncharacteristically scoring just 19 goals a season ago despite posting 215 shots on goal. Perry has averaged three shots on goal per game through four contests this season while averaging just short of 20 minutes of ice time per game. The Ducks power play has yet to strike this season, but once this unit begins to inevitably click the goals will start to come in bunches, and tonight is a good time to start against a poor penalty kill and a backup goaltender in Jonathan Bernier.
W – Patrick Eaves (ANH) – $4,300 vs. COL
Eaves made his season debut in the Ducks’ win over the Islanders on Wednesday, scoring a goal while recording two shots on goal in over 17 minutes of ice time. He lines up next to Ryan Getzlaf and Perry on the Ducks’ top line while he resumes his spot on the team’s top power play unit as well. Eaves was a trade deadline acquisition by the Ducks last season, a season in which he scored a career-high 32 goals on 154 shots on goal. That makes for a high 21% shooting percentage, but given his opportunity on the Ducks’ top lines this season it’s reasonable to expect another 25+ goal season from the veteran.
D – Cam Fowler (ANH) – $4,900 vs. COL
Fowler completes the four-man Ducks’ stack and should be in for a big time role tonight in Colorado. With Hampus Lindholm and Sami Vatanen sidelined, Fowler is playing big minutes on the Ducks’ blueline, averaging 26:15 of ice time per game, the third highest mark in all of hockey. Fowler is clearly the quarterback of the Ducks’ top power play unit and has been seeing an average of 4:13 per game on the man advantage as well. I feel very confident in the blueliner’s ability to get on the scoresheet tonight for the second time in as many games.
D – Zach Werenski (CLS) – $5,400 vs. CLS
Werenski is a lot like Fowler in the sense that he plays on the team’s top pairing and top power play unit as the lone defenseman. Werenski doesn’t see as much as time as Fowler does, but it’s fair to say his offensive ability exceeds that of Fowler. Werenski posted 11 goals and 47 points as a rookie last season including 21 points on the man advantage. He has averaged three shots per game on the season and has also blocked five so far, giving him plenty of cross-category upside in tonight’s matchup against the Rangers.
G – Mike Smith (CGY) – $8,200 vs. OTT
With Smith we have a “don’t fix what isn’t broken” mantra going. Smith enters play tonight with a sparkling .950 save percentage while leading the NHL with 152 saves on the season. The Flames have a stout top four defensive group, but somehow that have allowed plenty of shots, 40.3 per game to be exact, which is the highest mark in the league. That said, plenty of shots against and a hot goaltender is the perfect combination for DFS. Smith takes on a Senators team missing their best player in Erik Karlsson and a team that has scored only seven goals across three games (2.33/game) on home ice tonight.