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Fantasy Hockey Cheat Sheet: Top DraftKings NHL DFS Picks, Lineup Strategy for January 15

Geoff Ulrich gives his top NHL picks and lineup advice for Friday’s fantasy hockey slate on DraftKings, which starts at 7:00 p.m. ET.

NHL: Eastern Conference Qualifications-Toronto Maple Leafs at Columbus Blue Jackets John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Friday night features a five-game NHL slate, starting at 7:00 p.m. ET. In this article, we’ll discuss DraftKings daily fantasy targets as well as plays on DraftKings Sportsbook.

Set your DraftKings fantasy hockey lineups here: NHL $100K Twine [$20K to 1st]

DraftKings Sportsbook Plays

Toronto Maple Leafs at Ottawa Senators over 6.5 goals -122

So far, nine of the 15 games we’ve seen have hit seven or more goals for the total. Offenses have dominated in the very short term, which is also something we saw play out at the start of the NFL season. Both of these teams ranked in the bottom 15 of scoring chances against last year and bottom six in goals allowed. Ottawa has re-tooled their offense here a bit and should be able to better keep pace with their opponents in 2021. This one seems destined to be a high scoring affair.

Buffalo Sabres Moneyline +110

A potential duel of backup goalie, Linus Ullmark ($7,300) seems like the better choice here and may actually be the Sabres best goalie anyways. In his last six games last season he went 4-2 and posted save percentages above .900 in all of those games. The Oilers set a trend of bouncing back quickly from opening losses in these back-to-back games and I think the Sabres do the same, at some decent odds, tonight.

Place your NHL bets at DraftKings Sportsbook and bet online by downloading the DraftKings Sportsbook app.

Top Line Stacks

Buffalo Sabres vs. Washington Capitals

Jack Eichel ($7,500) – Taylor Hall ($6,500) – Tage Thompson ($3,700)

The Sabres got trounced in their first game against the Capitals, but get a shot at quick revenge here on night three. Despite the loss last night the Sabres played the Capitals quite evenly and their top trio showcased that they should be a good one to target this year for fantasy hickey purposes. Hall and Eichel are going to be one of the heaviest leaned upon duos in the league and led both teams skaters in ice time here—while both collecting multiple points. Thompson also remains one of the more elite value plays at forward tonight, as he saw just under two mins of PP time himself in game one and played alongside Hall and Eichel at regular strength.

The matchup isn’t the best, but the Caps didn’t have an elite penalty kill last year and allowed the 14th most power play goals against last season (and allowed one last night on three attempts). We could also be getting a look at the Caps backup tonight, Vitek Vanecek ($7,700 - unconfirmed) which makes this matchup a lot more tantalizing. The market still seems to be discounting the Sabres top-line here as the price is more affordable than most and we’ve already seen a couple of teams bounce back quickly from opening night losses in the second half of back-to-backs.

Superstar to Target

Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs at Ottawa Senators ($8,100)

As mentioned above, the Sens/Leafs game has the highest expected O/U just from a pure odds perspective tonight (Over 6.5 -120) and the Leafs come in as heavy favorites here too at -205. Goals are expected to be scored by Toronto and there’s little doubt that if that occurs you’ll see Matthews involved. The Leafs didn’t shy away from playing Matthews in the opener, allowing him 25 minutes of ice in the OT win, which saw him accumulate seven SOG and an assist on the winner. A day off between games here is nice as it likely ensures more big usage. The Sens gave up the ninth-most scoring chances against last year and gave up the second-most power play goals against. Matthews grades out as the top play on the ice for me here.

Value on Offense

Victor Olofsson, Buffalo Sabres vs. Washington Capitals ($4,000)

I mentioned the Sabres’ top line in the stacks section and if you like where I am was going with that you could always consider throwing Olofsson in with the Sabres top duo or replacing Tage Thompson ($3,700) with him. The Swede scored a PP goal opening night and is firmly entrenched on the Sabres second-line and first PP unit as of now. A 23-goal-scorer last year, he tied Hall and Eichel for power-play minutes last game and is an easy, cheap way to get a piece of the Sabres offense. If you’re in need of a cheap value to round out lineups, there’s not much better upside you can have for this price.

Dylan Strome, Chicago Blackhawks at Tampa Bay Lightning ($3,700)

Strome is going to get a lot of opportunity this year given the overall thinness of the Blackhawks up front. The 23-year-old is playing on the Hawks top line between offensive dynamos in Patrick Kane ($6,900) and Alex DeBrincat ($4,200) while also seeing regular PP1 time. Until Kirby Dach or Jonathan Toews gets back, Strome is going to be asked to play all the minutes he can handle and at under 4k in price there’s not really much better you can do here from an opportunity/cost perspective. He scored a PP goal opening night while playing 4:55 on the PP and 19 mins overall. The matchup here is irrelevant. Take advantage while it lasts.

Stud Goalies

Frederik Andersen, Toronto Maple Leafs at Ottawa Senators ($8,300)

Anderson started night one of the Leafs and while it was a somewhat shaky start, he settled in nicely in the back-half of the game and came up with 28-saves on 32 SOG. The Leafs don’t expect to improve a ton defensively and they allowed the 12th most SOG against last regular season. As a DFS play, the Leafs are also the second favorites on the board at around -205 on the DK Sportsbook here against a Senators squad that added a little beef up front offensively but is still expected to lack finish. Anderson’s a good anchor play on the back tonight.

Linus Ullmark, Buffalo Sabres vs. Washington Capitals ($7,300)

I mentioned this above, but Ullmark may very well be the Sabres best goalie. The Swede ended last year on a solid note, going 4-2 in his last six starts and those starts also saw him post a .933 save percentage over that span. The upside with Ullmark is high when he’s on and Washington can be a good opponent for said upside purposes as they attempt a lot of SOG (11th in the league last year). Ullmark’s a little risky for cash games but definitely has appeal here as a cheap GPP option.

Value on Defense

Erik Gustafsson, Flyers vs. Penguins ($2,900)

Gustafsson was an off-season acquisition made by Philly specifically to add a little oomph to their power-play. The former Blackhawk is a good mover of the puck and looks like he’s already carved out a fantasy relevant role for the Flyers as he played over 18 mins in the opener, but more importantly saw 1:30 of ice on the power-play. The fact he recorded two assists on opening night is just gravy but shows the nightly potential of what he offers in this role and at a cheap price. The Flyers look ready to use him and Ivan Provorov ($5,000) interchangeably on the PP so Gustafsson carries nice value early in the year.

Justin Schultz, Washington Capitals at Buffalo Sabres ($3,200)

Schultz was an off-season addition by the Capitals and gives them a little better depth on defense, particularly for power-play situations. He played around a min on the power-play in game one for the Capitals and while he didn’t produce much in just over 15 minutes of ice, expect his role to grow as the season progresses. Targeting cheap D-men with power-play exposure against Buffalo is never a bad idea anyways. The Sabres gave up the seventh-most PP goals against last year and don’t seem likely to show vast improvements there in 2021.

Power-Play Defensemen

Morgan Rielly, Toronto Maple Leafs at Ottawa Senators ($5,200)

If we’re being honest here, this is a ridiculously low price for Rielly, especially coming off such a great game against the Canadians on opening night. Rielly played just over 28-minutes in said affair and will be counted on all season to play heavy minutes in the top-pairing and anchor the Maple Leafs power-play now that Tyson Barrie has moved on. The Senators are a team you almost have to stack PP1’s against considering they gave up the seventh most scoring chances against, while killing penalties, and the second most power-play goals overall in 2020. Look for Rielly to put up more “elite” stud-like numbers in 2021 and for this kind of cheap salary to be a thing of the past in a month or so.

Set your DraftKings fantasy hockey lineups here: NHL $100K Twine [$20K to 1st]

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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is wavegoodbye) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.

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