This article is part of our FanDuel NHL series.
Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Canadians!
It's an early start due to the holidays with the late matchup between the Oilers and Blackhawks not included in FanDuel's main contest.
The Panthers and Devils are the only intraconference showdown and it'll be an interesting one; another bad outing by Sergei Bobrovsky and he's going to get accused of highway robbery, while the four Mouseketeers – Taylor Hall, Nico Hischier, Jack Hughes and P.K. Subban – have combined for zero goals.
The Bruins and Ducks, both 4-1-0, are expected to have a very low-scoring affair. John Gibson has been phenomenal and the Bruins have perfected their goalie rotation and remain quite stalwart on defense. That's the opposite for the Wild and Sens, two teams that have trouble scoring but also have trouble keeping their opponents from scoring. The Blues will end their four-game road trip against the shorthanded Islanders to close out the early games.
The Sabres will try to continue their early-season rampage against the struggling Stars, who are 1-4-1 with an offense yet to wake up. The Stars are a confusing team; they have all-world talent but awful execution. The Avalanche, in contrast, still basically have one line but they're looking to extend their winning streak to five games against the Caps.
John Gibson ($8,500) is the possibly the league's best goalie right now, but Jaroslav Halak ($8,300) plays behind the better team. As long as the Bruins' top players are healthy, the Ducks – who continue to juggle lines as they try to figure out their rookies– are no match. Halak is cheaper even though the Bruins are favoured.
Devan Dubnyk ($7,800) vs. Craig Anderson ($7,200) should be a duly ignored matchup because it could go so many ways, one of which would see them both having bad games. The Sens showed they can surprise if they're not taken seriously, and the Wild have been lost in the woods all season. The Panthers and Devils haven't played to their potential, either, but the offense in front of Sergei Bobrovsky ($8,700) should be able to bail him out.
Both Jordan Binnington ($8,400) and Ben Bishop ($8,700) also should be able to win their road matchups, but they could prove challenging, making their price tags a little tough to swallow. Binnington and the Blues have a good chance against an Isles squad that hasn't looked nearly as good as they did last year, though Semyon Varlamov ($7,500) can steal the occasional game. The Islanders are bleeding shots with a league-worst minus-69 in shot attempts according to NHL.com.
The Avs can improve to 5-0-0 against a shaky Caps defense and an even shakier Braden Holtby ($8,000), which makes Phillip Grubauer ($8,200) the safer bet. He's looked very good this season but this matchup will largely depend on the Avalanche offense and Nathan MacKinnon, who has just two goals and a minus-2 rating in his past five games at Capital One Arena.
Who knows how much ice time Maxime Comtois ($3,300) will really get but he's slated to skate on the top line with Ryan Getzlaf and Ondrej Kase ($4,000) who is also available at a good value price. Karson Kuhlman ($3,400) would be the parallel pick for the Bruins, who is skating on the second line with David Krejci and offers a higher floor with more stable shooting and shot blocking production.
Vladislav Namestnikov ($5,000) will be an interesting play for the Sens, who is getting more ice time and a bigger role off Broadway. He played 21 minutes against the Lightning and scored two goals and may play an even bigger role if Artem Anisimov cannot play.
In an effort to snap his team's early-season woes, Joel Quenneville is trying out Frank Vatrano ($3,300) in Jonathan Huberdeau's spot next to Aleksander Barkov. Vatrano was third on the team with 208 shots last season.
No Jordan Eberle means the Isles have promoted Anthony Beauvillier ($4,800) to the top line with Matt Barzal and Anders Lee. Last season, Beauvillier's possession metrics improved when playing with Barzal (how could it not?) so here's hoping the trio can click right off the bat.
Andre Burakovsky ($4,600) has a little extra something to play for in his return to Washington. The crafty winger has scored three points over the past two games. Possession rates for the Avs' top two lines are quite similar, but Burakovsky gets to face the second pairing.
FORWARD LINE STACKS
For the first time Olofsson's price tag has exceeded Reinhart's, but the true play driver is Eichel, who was held to zero points last game but still managed six shots on goal. All three play on the top power-play unit, which is 8-for-19 and still tops in the league.
They're expensive but this remains a very talented line that has yet to get going. The Sabres' PK has been just as bad as their PP has been good. The Stars' trio have scored just four goals on 49 shots (8.2%), which is significantly lower than their career averages.
The wild card is Malgin, whose speed should help create time and space for Huberdeau and Dadonov, but will Quenneville keep this line together? The Devils defense shouldn't pose much of a challenge.
Blais is not a passenger on this line; he's scored three goals and five points this season, already surpassing last year's total (4 in 32 games). In fact, it's Perron who might offer up the least value, but he also has five points and gets some power-play time to boot.
John Carlson ($6,600) will be the popular pick and rightfully so as the Caps' workhorse. He leads the league with 10 points and he's one of the safest options out there. Rasmus Dahlin ($5,900) should be a popular pick as well as the quarterback of the league's best power play.
Thomas Chabot ($5,100) and P.K. Subban ($5,000) are intriguing options in the $5,000 price range because both play such big roles for their respective teams. What you're looking for is a mix of everything (offense, shots, blocked shots) in games that could potentially be high-scoring.
The Isles have really spread their ice time around so Ryan Pulock ($4,000) hasn't really had the chance to establish himself as the alpha dog, but he's arguably their top defenseman and gets plenty of power-play time. Devon Toews ($4,300) averages less ice time both on the man advantage and at even strength even though he's more expensive.