This article is part of our FanDuel NHL series.
The Sabres and Avalanche have yet to lose in regulation and they're putting their streaks on the line on the road. Both of them are facing teams that have a 4-2-0 record but their records be viewed with the highest of eyebrow raises. The Sabres and their vaunted power play will visit the Ducks, who have a pretty stalwart penalty kill but have had trouble scoring goals all season, while the Avs face the injury-riddled Penguins.
The Leafs will play the second half of their back-to-back against the Capitals, whose record would be a lot better if they haven't allowed 23 goals already, the sixth-worst total in the league. The Leafs should be well rested after a pretty easy matchup against the Wild last night with most of their big guns basically taking the third period off.
The Blue Jackets are tough to beat and the Stars might enter panic mode if they fall to 1-6-1. The difference maker in this matchup should be the star forwards, of which the Jackets have none and the Stars have a couple, but who knows if they'll show up.
If the Oilers can move to 6-1-0 against the Flyers, they'll be just one win away from tying their best start in the McDavid era. The Flyers will be playing the second half of a back-to-back after losing 3-1 to the Flames last night, though they'll have Carter Hart in net. The Western Canada road trip is one of the league's most brutal stretches, especially for Eastern Conference teams.
This is the only Sharks game this week until Saturday and the Hurricanes are 1-0 in their three-game California road trip after beating the Kings last night. The Hurricanes have continued what they started last season and look about as dominant as you'd expect from a team that's talented and fast.
Neither Matt Murray ($8,600) nor Philipp Grubauer ($8,200) are appetizing considering the past history of the Avs and Pens, though the Avs have a slight 3-1 edge over the past two seasons. The two teams scored 18 goals in two meetings last year, though oddly enough both games ended in a 6-3 score with the winner jumping out to an early 3-0 lead before ceding three straight goals and then scoring another three straight to seal the deal.
Braden Holtby ($8,000) and Michael Hutchinson ($7,300) are in the same boat, where the two teams feature so much offensive talent that it's just best to stay away, though there might be a value proposition to be had with Hutchinson. Alex Ovechkin has eight points in his past six games against the Leafs.
Ben Bishop ($8,500) is a bad choice at this price. He hasn't been the Vezina-caliber goalie he was last season, and Joonas Korpisalo ($7,800) should be avoided in any game except Scrabble. The two are combined 3-5-1 with a .894 Sv%. The Stars are so desperate they're hoping an over-the-hill Corey Perry's game-time decision can help save a sinking ship, while the Jackets are just looking for any kind of save.
Carter Hart ($8,300) is normally a great play but the Flyers are at the tail end of a brutal road trip (already 0-1-1) and they've already logged thousands of miles after starting the season in Prague. He'll have to face Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, which makes old man Mike Smith ($7,700) a better value proposition.
John Gibson ($8,500) and Carter Hutton ($8,400) have both played very well, though Hutton's favored because the Ducks offense is cooked and the Sabres power play has been impeccable. The margin seems thin but the Sabres should be able to pull this off, even on the road.
James Reimer ($7,500) has been brilliant this season (.933 Sv%) and Martin Jones ($7,500) surprisingly didn't look terrible in a 32-save win against the Flames. The Hurricanes won 2-0 last night but the game went late; with the addition of a 40-year-old spark plug and home-ice advantage, the Sharks might be able to pull this one off.
Sam Lafferty ($3,000) has stepped into the second-line center spot in Jared McCann's absence and he's carrying some rookie mojo with four points in his past two games. Despite numerous injuries, the Pens offense still ranks among the league's best when it comes to generating shots. If Lafferty stays in that spot, he'll get the best wingers not named Jake Guentzel, and the offense has to come from somewhere…
Even with the return of Evgeny Kuznetsov, Lars Eller ($4,600) has been playing some really good hockey. In his past three games he's scored two goals on eight shots and remains a titillating big checking center with soft-enough hands to play a scoring role. Eller has a team-high 64.02 CF% while Kuznetsov has the team's worst at 38.75 CF%, according to Natural Stat Trick. Translation: Eller's been outplaying him.
Former first-round pick Jason Dickinson ($3,800) has moved to the top line with Tyler Seguin and Joe Pavelski in an effort to spark an ineffective Stars offense. He's a well-regarded prospect and averaging close to 15 minutes per game in his past two games, though didn't record a single shot.
Zack Kassian ($4,500) was on the cusp of washing out of the league and now he has the cushiest job in the league. He's averaged more than 18 minutes in his past three games and comes at a lower price than any regular first-line winger. He can be boom or bust because the Oilers' top line is essentially a two-man line, but it's the best two-man line in the league.
Erik Haula has been a great addition, but it's Martin Necas ($3,500) we want to focus on. Another young European stud on a team full of them, Necas has a point in four straight games, including the game winner last night. The Hurricanes basically have two secondary scoring lines, so consider Necas a top-six forward, if he isn't already. Playing time on the top power-play unit also boosts his value.
FORWARD LINE STACKS
The Pens defense has one respectable pairing, another defenseman who's barely playable in his own zone, two warm bodies and two black and yellow traffic signs named Johnson and Gudbranson. It would be surprising if the Avs can't take advantage of a very thin defensive corps.
Let's be honest – the Wild never stood a chance even after they went up 1-0. Matthews' line played just five minutes in the third period, which means Mike Babcock wants them fresh for a big test against the Caps. They combined for three points and Matthews is the league's most unstoppable goal scorer right now.
You can't go wrong with either Leafs line, especially since they're the same price. Marner and Tavares combined for four points against the Wild, and like Matthews' line barely played in the third period. Only one of these lines will draw John Carlson and Holtby has not been very sharp to start the season.
Kris Letang ($7,100) will be a popular choice because he's an elite defenseman on a team that has no other real option. He's averaging four more minutes than the next Pens defenseman and fifth in the league overall in ice time. It may not be pretty but Letang's a great option in a potentially high-scoring game.
The Avs defense is a little more balanced but its spearheaded by Cale Makar ($4,500), who is a steal at this price with six assists in five games. We might have to wait a little while until his first goal because he's not shooting a lot, but he's been a great quarterback for their power play. Samuel Girard ($4,000) has two points and a little better at getting shots through. He's justifiably priced lower than Makar, who has much more upside.
Dougie Hamilton ($6,200) is getting more ice time than ever before and making the most out of it with eight points in seven games. They looked a little tired against the Kings last night and will be playing the second half of a back-to-back but he's producing like an elite defenseman without the elite price tag.
Rasmus Dahlin ($5,900) will continue to be a top pick as long as the Sabres power play continues to tear it up. The Ducks have a good penalty kill, but other than the Bruins they have not faced many good power plays – the Sabres will be a good test. Jake McCabe ($3,700) is also a good value option as someone who can score and block shots while playing a lot of minutes.
Jonas Siegenthaler ($3,700) will be an interesting value option playing alongside John Carlson ($6,600). The Swiss rookie is averaging 19 minutes per game, making him a top-four defenseman based on ice time and he's supplemented that with at least a blocked shot per game.