This article is part of our FanDuel NHL series.
The Devils are the only team stuck at two wins but they shouldn't be huge underdogs against the undermanned Lightning. Patrick Maroon and Victor Hedman both left the game and did not return in a 4-1 loss to the Rangers last night. The Blues are another vulnerable squad having lost Vladimir Tarasenko to shoulder surgery for at least five months, but the Wild have been finding all sorts of ways to lose this season. The blew a 3-0 lead last night to the struggling Stars.
The Panthers and Avalanche have also been hit with injuries to key players in an early-season test for two teams who were expected to make significant improvements. The Avs offense will take a hit without Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen, but defensively they've allowed just 30 goals (third-best in West) and the Panthers have been pretty awful for most of their road trip with 15 goals allowed in three games.
The story with the Oilers is still the same – shut down Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl and you'll have a pretty good chance of winning. Unfortunately for the Blue Jackets, they just allowed seven goals to the Flyers with sloppy defensive play and goaltending has not been a strength.
The Habs and Coyotes both feature balanced squads with good goaltending and sneaky-good players. It'll be tight, but Carey Price is often the difference-maker with a 11-1-0 record and .934 save percentage against the Coyotes in his career, the best numbers he's posted against any team.
The Canucks are 4-0-1 at home and a win could put them at the top of the Pacific. With strong goaltending and quality depth at every position, the older, slower Kings will be outmatched. Eleven of the 12 Canucks forwards registered a point in their last game, and the Kings' goaltending has been awful.
Given how much the Lightning have fallen short of expectations and the uncertain status of their No. 1 defenseman, Curtis McElhinney ($7,800) doesn't seem like a smart play. Until the Lightning regain their Cup-caliber form, they've been difficult to trust this season.
A leaky Jackets defense ceded several breakaways to the Flyers so I fail to see how they can contain McDavid, even if Joonas Korpisalo ($7,800) has a bounce-back game. Sergei Bobrovsky ($8,300), who will make his fourth appearance on this four-game road trip, is another inadvisable choice even against the depleted Avs,.
Jordan Binnington ($8,100) should have the edge against Devan Dubnyk ($7,300) even without Tarasenko's goal support. The Wild played last night and blew a 3-0 lead to the Stars, who had a conference-low 25 goals heading into the game.
That leaves the aforementioned Price ($8,500), Philipp Grubauer ($8,000) and Jacob Markstrom ($8,000) as the best choices. Price's sparkling record against Arizona speaks for itself, and while Grubauer (four-game stretch with 13 GA) and Markstrom (6-5 shootout loss last start) have struggled a little, they've been excellent for most of the season. All three should be popular choices.
Sammy Blais ($3,800) is now skating in Tarasenko's spot on the top line, making him a good value play against a Wild team that allowed six goals last night. However, if the Blues need some offense look, for Robert Thomas ($3,500) to play in that spot when Craig Berube inevitably starts mixing up his lines. Also, look for Jaden Schwartz ($5,700) to shoot a little more.
Conor Garland ($3,900) has been on fire for the Coyotes with three goals and two assists in his past five games. Rick Tocchet spreads his ice time around but Garland's getting some power-play time with the second unit and his linemates Nick Schmaltz and Barrett Hayton ($3,100, three points in four games) are also mid- to high-upside offensive players.
Joonas Donskoi ($4,000) has moved up to Landeskog's spot with Nazem Kadri on the right wing. Playing with MacKinnon is going to give their values a huge boost and the Panthers are vulnerable prey. Tyson Jost ($4,300) is now the second-line center, which will bring added responsibilities and opportunities.
FORWARD LINE STACKS
Kassian is the weakest link and even without him you'll get a top-line's worth of offense between McDavid and Draisaitl alone. They have nine points combined in their past two games and the Jackets have allowed three goals or more in four straight.
During line rushes they're the "second line," but based on talent they're definitely Montreal's first. Armia with Domi and Drouin has been a deadly combination this season with three goals on 15 shots in 29 minutes together, according to Natural Stat Trick.
O'Reilly and Perron really drive this line but Sanford's a former second-round pick and a good player, too. He has two points in his past three games, while Perron and O'Reilly are coming off four-point games each against Detroit.
They've combined for 17 points in their past four games and Miller's been their MVP. Pettersson seems to be hurt because he's not taking faceoffs, but he's racking up the apples and Boeser doesn't need many chances to capitalize with shooting percentages near elite levels once again. The Kings are last in goals against even tough they're second-best in limiting shots against per game.
Hedman's absence means Mikhail Sergachev ($4,500) and Kevin Shattenkirk ($5,200) will get bigger roles on the power play. New Jersey's special teams has been awful this season, and considering the Lightning's potential, both Sergachev and Shattenkirk should be popular picks.
On the other hand, the Lightning's penalty killing has been really awful, and P.K. Subban's catching fire with a goal and two assists after a nightmare start with the Devils. The Lightning have allowed a league-worst 12 power-play goals this season.
Alex Pietrangelo ($6,000) is generally a safe pick and he's been quite the contributor on offense this season with 37 shots in 12 games. He's on pace to crack 200 shots for just the third time in his career after averaging 2.4 shots per game last season. He's a strong play driver and leads the Blues with 10 goals scored when he's on the ice, according to Natural Stat Trick.
The Avs' power play is going to take a huge hit but Cale Makar ($4,900) is a good value play as he tries to extend his point streak to five games. He's shooting a bit more with 11 shots during his hot streak but he has to fend off Samuel Girard ($4,300) on a nightly basis, so he's not exactly a risk-free play.
Quinn Hughes ($4,300) remains overlooked even though he's on a better power play and plays more minutes. He should be the front-runner for the Calder right now, and the Kings' penalty kill is operating at just 73.8 percent right now with 11 PPG allowed, tied for second-worst in the league. Alexander Edler ($5,600) logs all the big even-strength minutes but Hughes' upside is unquestionably and significantly higher.
One of the few bright spots for the Kings this season has been Sean Walker ($3,900), who has two points in his past three games and earning a bigger role by the game. He's yet to crack the power-play lineup but should do so soon; he's been arguably their best defenseman this season.