This article is part of our FanDuel NHL series.
The Hurricanes (4-0-0) have yet to lose a game and they look pretty good. We expected that. But the Ducks (3-0-0) and Sabres (3-0-1), too?
Here's the list of teams the 'Canes have defeated: Habs, Bolts, Caps and Cats. That's a strong foursome of two playoff contenders, last year's regular season champ and the 2018 champs. They'll play host to the Islanders, who have the 24th-ranked offense at 2.33 goals per game, and have the easiest path to remain undefeated.
The Panthers' PK (19th at 71.4%) is going to have a huge challenge if there's a parade to the penalty box in a frustrating start to the season. The Sabres have been a big surprise, going 8-for-15 (53.3%) on the power play, three more goals than the next highest team. The Panthers' 19th-ranked PK is going to have a huge challenge, but despite the recent loss the Panthers are improving and outshot the Hurricanes 50-34.
Using MoneyPuck's expected goals metric and his power rankings, the Ducks and Blue Jackets are very evenly matched except for one thing: goaltending. However, John Gibson played last night so he's probably sitting, which means Ryan Miller gets the nod. The Ducks offense continues to struggle, scoring just one goal last night.
Joonas Korpisalo ($7,500) has not been good (.851 Sv%, 3.45 GAA), but with the Jackets at home and the Ducks playing the second half of a back-to-back, Ryan Miller ($8,000) seems like the less desirable play, both as a straight bet or value play.
Neither Sergei Bobrovsky ($8,800) nor Carter Hutton ($8,400) are safe picks against two explosive offenses. Despite their talent, the Panthers offense hasn't graded out very well; HockeyViz has them generating 12 percent fewer unblocked shots on net at even strength than the average team, and MoneyPuck's expected goals metric has them scoring just 1.9 goals per 60 minutes. They are averaging the most shots per game (38.3), but there's not enough high-quality shots and their effort level has a shorter lifespan than a fruit fly. Still, Hutton's not exactly a brick wall and made 31 saves in a 5-2 loss in their last meeting.
That leaves Petr Mrazek ($7,800) at home against Semyon Varlamov ($7,600). Neither goalie has stood out but the 'Canes have carried over their mojo from last season, outshooting the Lightning 16-0 in one period and then chasing Bobrovsky in another. I would take Carolina's offense over anything the Isles have to offer right now.
Marcus Johansson ($5,000) has a three-game point streak and he's healthy after two injury-plagued seasons. He's on the lower end of the price range among second-line centers but offers up plenty of upside on a team with a deadly power play. Casey Mittelstadt ($3,900) is also an intriguing play as he goes head-to-head against Denis Malgin, who's been a scratch for two of the three games.
The Islanders really spread their ice time around so Anthony Beauvillier ($5,100) will never get big minutes, but he's in the top-six in even-strength ice time and also sees plenty of action on the power play with Barry Trotz's 1A-1B setup.
One of the better value plays will be Ondrej Kase ($3,900), who skated on the third line but ended up playing 16 minutes and scoring the Ducks' lone goal against the Pens. The skilled winger is an analytics darling but also very much passes the eye test and possesses top-six upside at a low price.
FORWARD LINE STACKS
As long as they're scoring it's wise to just roll with it. The power play is red-hot and it's slightly cheaper than the Panthers' top line. Eichel and Olofsson are both very good shooters and the trio have combined for 17 points.
Svechnikov leads the team with six helpers and Staal has three points in his past two games. McGinn makes this line a good value play with his low price tag and all-round production with two assists, five shots and two blocked shots. The top line is also a worthy line stack but will cost a fair bit more.
Wennberg's possession numbers are still good, but he can be a risky proposition because he either gets a ton of assists or nothing at all. Bjorkstrand is the most valuable as the trigger man and in this third full season is on track to register more than 200 shots, while Texier can fill multiple categories and played 18 minutes last game. The trio are in the top four in CF% according to NaturalStatTrick.
The Sabres power play has been dominant picking Rasmus Dahlin ($6,300) seems like a must. Colin Miller ($4,000) and Rasmus Ristolainen ($4,400), who play on the second unit, can pitch in with a few points. Both Miller and Ristolainen are known as big shooters and also block their fair of the shots.
Jaccob Slavin ($4,800) continues to be one of the league's most underrated and it's reflected in his price. If he doesn't put points on the board he's at least a decent source of blocked shots. He had eight of them against Florida and managed to keep his point streak going, too.
Aaron Ekblad ($4,500) is still a shooting machine averaging three shots per game. Because goals are weighted more, Ekblad's track record of a double-digit goal totals makes him a potential high-upside play, and it's something Keith Yandle ($5,900) hasn't done since 2013.