FanDuel NHL: Thursday Targets

FanDuel NHL: Thursday Targets

This article is part of our FanDuel NHL series.

SLATE PREVIEW

It's a pretty big slate with nine games on the docket. Here's the rundown on some key matchups:

Predators at Blue Jackets (7 p.m. EST): The Jackets ranks fifth in GF/GP in February while the Preds are 28th in GA/GP. Head coach John Tortorella's squad may be playing a little looser, but they've also become more dangerous on offense and the Preds are still missing key players Ryan Johansen and Mattias Ekholm. This could be a high-scoring game, with both teams ranking in the bottom five in Sv% in February.

Islanders at Penguins (7 p.m.): This series tends to swing back and forth; the season series is split 1-1 and their past six regular-season meetings have all been decided by one goal. Note the O/U is 5.5 but their past five meetings have averaged 7.4 goals per game. The Isles' goalies have the clear edge but they also have to face Sidney Crosby.

Senators at Toronto (7 p.m.): This series has really been a lot closer than it should be, and don't let that 2-1 score last night fool you; the Leafs had two goals called back. Look for Michael Hutchinson to make his season debut against Marcus Hogberg, both of whom rate out as below-average goaltenders. Note this is the only game other than Sabres at Capitals (7 p.m.) that has an O/U of 6.5.

Kings at Coyotes (9 p.m.): This is the first meeting between the two teams and they have strikingly similar numbers in certain aspects: PK (84.8% vs. 84.6%, both top 10) and Shots (28.7 vs. 27.7, both bottom 10) so far this season, and 5v5 CF% (46.85 vs. 43.53, both bottom 10) and 5v5 GF% (both 52.17) in February. I expect this game to be close and fairly low-scoring, which is basically code for "stay away from this game."

(All fancy stats courtesy of Natural Stat Trick...)

GOALIES

Tuukka Rask, BOS vs. NJ ($8,500): The Devils have never really posted much of a challenge for Rask, who is 11-4-2 with a .950 Sv% and 1.35 (!) GAA against them, including a 20-save win against them earlier this season. The two games were close, but historically the Bruins have dominated them, losing just three times in their past 12 meetings. Rask allowed four goals in his last game, but it might be a good omen; in the two previous times he allowed four goals, he followed it up with a win.

Vitek Vanecek, WSH vs. BUF ($7,600): Vanecek will likely start again with Ilya Samsonov still with AHL Hershey as of this writing. He has looked better since returning from the COVID-related break and he has a favorable matchup against a Sabres team that has generated little offense with just one goal in two games so far this month, including one period against the Caps in which they generated zero shots.

Jordan Binnington, STL vs. SJ ($7,500): He's allowed two goals in his past two starts and presents a decent value play against a team that has only three forwards who have scored more than three goals, arguably the league's worst goaltending and an already-thin defense that will be without Erik Karlsson.

Elvis Merzlikins, CBJ vs. NSH ($7,300): Elvis hasn't been quite reached the lofty expectations he had set for himself in the playoffs, but this should be a game that he can win. The Jackets are usually more consistent and their offense has suddenly become effective even though they still lack a lot of top-end talent. The Preds' goaltending has been a sore spot and the Jackets have been better at generating shots from the slot recently.

VALUE PLAYS

Jordan Kyrou, STL vs. SJ ($4,400): He's hit a bit of a slump but his line with Brayden Schenn and Jaden Schwartz just seem snakebit, with six 5v5 GF compared to 10.18 5v5 xGF. The Sharks defense, who will likely have only three defensemen with at least 100 NHL games under their belts, should be a much easier challenge than the Coyotes'.

Nick Bjugstad, MIN at ANH ($4,000): His ice time is limited because he has stone hands but he gets to play with Kirill Kaprizov and Zach Parise, two of the Wild's best finishers.

Josh Norris, OTT at TOR ($4,000): He has two assists and seven shots in the series so far, playing some of his best hockey of late. With Michael Hutchinson in net, scoring goals should be a tad easier than facing Frederik Andersen. Tim Stützle ($3,800) and Drake Batherson ($3,900) could also be good value plays.

Kevin Stenlund, CBJ vs. NSH ($3,700): That's six points in six games for the former second-round pick, who will stay as the second-line center as long as he can keep scoring. The Preds are a good opponent to perhaps extend that streak.

Colin Blackwell, NYR at PHI ($3,300): He's been a nice addition for the Rangers with four points in six games this season. The sample size is small, but Blackwell's 57.65 CF% trails only Filip Chytil on the Rangers.

LINE STACKS

Devils at Bruins

Patrice Bergeron (C - $8,000), David Pastrnak (W - $8,600), Brad Marchand (W - $8,100)

Pastrnak hasn't scored in four games, which makes me think he's due, otherwise the Devils often have had no answer for this line. It'll be popular, but note it's potentially difficult for this line to provide good value because Mackenzie Blackwood is legitimately good and can steal games.

Blue Jackets vs. Predators

Jack Roslovic (C - $5,100), Patrik Laine (W - $7,400), Cam Atkinson (W - $6,400)

Analytically speaking, this line's performance has dipped a little, but that hasn't stopped them from being effective. Both Laine and Atkinson, who has a goal in four straight games, are opportunistic snipers, so the idea is that they don't always have to win the possession game to score goals. This is Tortorella's preferred line for offense, starting in the offensive zone 58.5 percent of the time.

Islanders at Penguins

Sidney Crosby (C - $7,700), Jake Guentzel (W - $7,100), Bryan Rust (W - $6,300)

Crosby has had more success against the Isles than any other team in the league, and both Guentzel and Rust have been consistent scorers this month. Pens-Isles have been high-scoring affairs recently and it's a good bet Crosby's at the center of it. All three play on PP1.

Maple Leafs vs. Senators

Auston Matthews (C - $9,000), Mitch Marner (W - $8,200), Joe Thornton (W - $4,500)

Thank goodness for Old Man Thornton because Matthews and Marner alone take up quite a bit of salary. Thornton would've had two goals had they not been called back, and this line has been dominant all season.

Wild at Ducks

Joel Eriksson Ek (C - $4,900), Kevin Fiala (W - $5,700), Mats Zuccarello (W - $4,100)

This is a numbers play. We expected Fiala and Zuccarello to be rusty after their extended absences, but note the Wild have the third-best 5v5 xGF% in the league, behind only Montreal and Carolina and just ahead of Vegas and Colorado, four teams that are definitely good on offense. This is a new line that head coach Dean Evason has not used before, so there's plenty of intrigue, too.

DEFENSEMEN

Brent Burns, SJ at STL ($6,600): Burns is definitely going to play a lot of minutes with Karlsson out of the lineup, and even though the Sharks aren't a good team overall, Burns is still a premier offensive defenseman. He's been held without a shot just twice this season.

Charlie McAvoy, BOS vs. NJ ($5,500): David Krejci on PP2 means McAvoy returns as the QB for PP1, and he gets to face the league's worst PK.

Seth Jones, CBJ vs. NSH ($5,300): Zach Werenski is injured again, which means Jones is going to get the bulk of the minutes. His offense has come along recently with six of his seven helpers this season coming over the past two weeks.

Adam Fox, NYR at PHI ($4,500): Fox already plays a ton of minutes, so I'm wonder what head coach David Quinn has in store for his best defenseman with Jacob Trouba out long term. Fox's offense has gotten quiet lately, but over the past three games has put 12 shots on net. He'll be leaned on heavily in all situations, and the Flyers' goaltending and even-strength play have both taken a step back this season.

K'Andre Miller, NYR at PHI ($3,900): Likewise with Fox, expect Miller's playing time to increase without Trouba in the lineup. Miller missed one game but will step into his usual top-four role right away and quarterback PP2.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jason Chen
Jason joined RotoWire in 2013. In 2014, he was a finalist for the FSWA Hockey Writer of the Year award. Jason has also written for Yahoo Sports, CBS Sports, The Hockey News, The Hockey Hall of Fame's Legends Magazine, and Centre Ice Magazine.
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