We’re just a few weeks away from the return of meaningful hockey.
As I do every week, I’m going to share some thoughts and information to give you the best chance of DFS success when play resumes.
Let’s dive in.
Fiala’s Looming Breakout
One player I’m going to be all over in the play-in round: Kevin Fiala. The supremely talented winger is taking over as the go-to-guy in Minnesota and for good reason. In the 20 games prior to the pause, he sat just one point back of the league-lead at 5v5. He was a chance machine, too, generating more than all but 24 players during that time. Fiala is really developing into the star he was drafted to be and he’s walking into a very enticing matchup against Vancouver. The Canucks gave up 5v5 shot attempts and scoring chances at a higher rate than anybody over their last 20 games. Not anybody in the playoffs. Just *anybody*. Yes, even horrendous teams like the Devils and Senators were better defensively prior to the pause. I think they can be exposed defensively and I fully expect Fiala to take advantage. Be it in DFS or a playoff-type pool, I fancy Fiala’s chances of putting up numbers.
Ehlers in Ideal Spot Against Flames
Nik Ehlers is another guy I could see doing real damage in the play-in round. Calgary hasn’t been overly stout defensively this season and their top two-way players (Mark Giordano, Matthew Tkachuk, etc.) will likely be getting hard matched against Winnipeg’s top line. Assuming Ehlers isn’t on it (L1 generally features two of Patrik Laine, Kyle Connor and Blake Wheeler on the wing), he could be in position to take advantage of softer competition. Ehlers was very productive leading up to the break and he does a ton of his damage off the rush/in transition. That’s an area the Noah Hanifin – Travis Hamonic pairing can really struggle in. If Ehlers is seeing a good dose of them (quite honestly, I expect he will regardless of which team has last change) he could pick up where he left off. I’m buying on Ehlers.
Rangers-Canes Should Feature Plenty of Scoring
One series I think has real goal scoring potential: Rangers vs Hurricanes. The former can’t defend a lick at 5v5 and, led by Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad, the Rangers have the starpower needed to get goals back at the other end of the rink. Carolina, meanwhile, was playing very high-event hockey leading into the pause (4th in expected goals for/60, 24th in expected goals against/60 over L20) and goaltending is always a question mark for them. I favor the Hurricanes to win the series but I think it’ll feature plenty of 7/8/9 goal games.
Numbers via NaturalStatTrick.com