Despite the presence of six games on Sunday’s NHL slate, FanDuel contests will have only the three evening contests because the other three have early starts. The options may seem limited, but the lack of lineup iterations could also lead to higher chances of winning.
Antti Raanta, NYR vs. NJD ($8,900) – With Henrik Lundqvist getting the start Saturday, Raanta is expected to start against the rival Devils, and it should be an easy win. He’s sporting excellent numbers with a 1.67 GAA and .941 save percentage, while the Devils offense is far from threatening with just 72 goals scored this season. Even better news is that the Devils are atrocious on the road with just four wins in 19 tries, so they’ll likely fall victim to Alain Vigneault’s line-matching tendencies at some point.
Jonathan Toews, CHI vs. SAN ($6,900) – Artem Anisimov (undisclosed) left Saturday’s game against the Blues and did not return, so Toews will have to pull double duty if Anisimov isn’t available. The Blackhawks’ captain drew immense praise from Mike Babcock during the World Cup for his preparation and ability to step up in big games, and the surging Sharks should bring out the best in Toews, who will likely have to go head-to-head against Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton. He’s yet to find his offensive groove, but lining up alongside Patrick Kane can only help.
Logan Couture, SAN at CHI ($6,900) – He looked fine Friday against Montreal after taking a vicious cross-check to the head against Ottawa, and if Anisimov isn’t available for Chicago and Joel Quenneville elects to deploy Toews against Thornton’s line, that leaves Couture with some juicy matchups because the Blackhawks don’t have another center who can match up. After a slow start, Couture has been very good at both ends of the ice, and this will be a key game for the Sharks because a win would give them a four-point cushion on the second-place Ducks.
Patrick Kane, CHI vs. SAN ($8,600) – He’s the most expensive winger available, but Kane’s well worth the money, as he’s averaging a point per game and he finally got the monkey off his back Saturday by scoring his first goal of December. The Sharks’ defense is stingy with just 68 goals against so far, but Kane is as good a bet as any to score no matter how good the defense or goaltending.
Taylor Hall, NJD at NYR ($7,100) – For the purposes of diversifying, Hall is a top option Sunday even though he’s facing an uphill battle against the Rangers. The Devils have gotten scoring from a few surprising sources, but Hall is by far their most dynamic offensive player, and his breakneck speed should be good enough to turn around anyone not named Ryan McDonagh on the Rangers’ blue line. Hall’s current three-game point drought is his longest of the season. If any Devil’s going to score, there’s a good chance it’ll be Hall.
Brock Nelson, NYI vs. OTT ($5,300) – If only because John Tavares can’t do it all. The 6-foot-3 former first-round pick is quietly having a small breakout season; in the aftermath of back-to-back 20-goal, 40-point campaigns, he’s second in team scoring and on pace for 50 points. Andrew Hammond, who is expected to start Sunday, has not been particularly sharp, and if the Sens’ defense intends to shut down Tavares and force the rest of the team to beat them, that responsibility will likely fall to Nelson.
Joonas Donskoi, SAN at CHI ($4,100) – The message was sent, and it was heard loud and clear. After sitting out as a healthy scratch against Ottawa on Dec. 14, Donskoi responded with two assists against Montreal, his first multi-point game of the season. The key now is to keep the momentum going – he was a notoriously streaky scorer last year, and managed a four-game point streak in late October before going ice cold.
Brent Burns, SJ at CHI ($8,300) – He’s on pace for 30 goals and 350 shots on net, and the last defenseman to do that was Bobby Orr. Burns has just been a fantasy monster all season and is working on a remarkable season. All daily games should have him as an anchor.
Erik Karlsson, OTT at NYI ($7,600) – After Burns and Karlsson, the quality of defensemen available dives off a cliff, so it’s not a bad idea to just take the top two guys and run with it; that’s also an uncommon strategy that will help you differentiate your lineup. At least in Karlsson’s case, the porous Islanders defense and goaltending gives him a slight advantage over Burns.