This article is part of our FanDuel NHL series.
It's a busy Sunday with 11 games on the slate, starting at 12:30 p.m. EST with Wings-Hawks and then running all the way through until 9 p.m. with Oilers-Jets. Through the first week-and-a-half, here's two interesting tidbits regarding the teams in action tonight:
Entering Saturday's games, the Blackhawks have the second-highest differential between xGF and GF during 5v5 play at 3.36, meaning they've scored three goals fewer than expected. Only the Bruins have a higher differential and they scored six last night. Meanwhile, the Wings rank sixth. Translation: Look for the Chicago's and Detroit's offense to improve.
Continuing a trend since the 2014-15 lockout-shortened season, scoring is up again. At 3.76 power-play opportunities per game, it's the highest since the 2009-10 season. The Avs (10 PPG) have been the most potent, but the Leafs and Flames (best xGF/GP) have also been very efficient. The Ducks and Blues have fared the worst on the power play by going a combined 1-for-28 so far.
All fancy stats courtesy Natural Stat Trick.
Marc-Andre Fleury, VGK at ARI ($8,700): It's not always advisable to pick the goalie with the highest salary on a night with 21 other goalies in action, but Vegas is definitely the better team. They lost against the Coyotes because Robin Lehner can't handle the puck even though he likes to, and they won't have the same problem with Fleury.
Philipp Grubauer, COL at ANH ($8,400): The Avs needed some luck and overtime to beat the Ducks, but that should be the outlier and not the norm. Grubauer has only allowed four goals over his past four starts. The Avs should have no problems against the Ducks, and Grubauer is probably a better play than Laurent Brossoit ($8,400) against the Oilers.
Semyon Varlamov, NYI at NJ ($8,100): Only five goalies who've started at least two games have a save percentage above .950 at 5v5, and Varlamov (.985) and MacKenzie Blackwood (.987) rank first and second, respectively. The difference in this one will be the Isles' depth and defensive structure, which should help secure the win. Varlamov has also been excellent with a 0.33 GAA.
Linus Ullmark, BUF at WSH ($6,900): I thought Ullmark played well despite losing in the shootout. The Caps will be shorthanded again and they've scored more goals than their xGF numbers suggest they should. If the Caps are without Tom Wilson - their best player so far this season - the ice tilts even more in favor of the Sabres.
Jakub Vrana, WSH vs. BUF ($4,800): With Alex Ovechkin out of the lineup, we finally saw Vrana get first-line duty and he didn't disappoint with two points in 18 minutes. The Caps may be even more shorthanded if Wilson doesn't play, so they'll be leaning on Vrana a lot. He's a first-line talent with a second-line salary.
Conor Garland, ARI vs. VGK ($4,600): Through five games, Garland offers first-line upside. He produced three points on five shots in the previous game and now has five points and 20 shots on the season. His high-volume shooting provides a nice floor.
Kasperi Kapanen, PIT vs. NYR ($4,200): That's two points in two games for Kapanen, who is still working his way up the lineup. Evan Rodrigues ($3,500) is still holding down the spot Kapanen was supposed to play on the top line, but it seems like Mike Sullivan doesn't want to make any changes with the Pens on a three-game winning streak. He's the better player and getting time with PP2.
Jordan Kyrou, STL vs. LA ($3,700): Kyrou didn't score last night, but led all Blues' forwards with five shots. He's doing what he's supposed to do on a line with Brayden Schenn and Jaden Schwartz and also playing on the second PP. Ice time is hard to come by with so many vets on the roster, but Kyrou's line was dominant. Expected starter Jonathan Quick has a .897 save percentage this season.
Pius Suter, CHI vs. DET ($3,300): Suter was a top scorer in Switzerland, but has only posted one assist this season. It's still early going, but it's very encouraging sign Jeremy Colliton has kept him on the top line with Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat.
Ryan Donato, SJ at MIN ($3,200): Donato's ice time is trending upwards and managed a season-high five shots against the Wild last time out. He's skating on the top line with Logan Couture and Kevin Labanc where they generated 13 combined chances.
Oliver Wahlstrom, NYI at NJ ($3,000): Wahlstrom skated on the third line during Saturday's practice and will most likely be a game-time decision, but the 2018 first-round pick offers plenty of upside. He's a shoot-first winger and a strong value play against a team ranking last in the league with 37.5 shots allowed per contest.
Jason Robertson, DAL vs. NSH ($3,000): Pay attention to the lines at the morning skate for this one. With Joel Kiviranta and Jamie Benn a game-day decision, look for Robertson to perhaps move up to Joe Pavelski and Alexander Radulov's line. Rhett Gardner skated on that line at practice, but it's likely Robertson will play there after skating on the fourth line and playing some power play in the season opener.
Sabres at Capitals
They were held off the scoresheet last game, but not without a lack of effort after registering six shots and all three playing well over 20 minutes. The Caps escaped with a win last game, but that's unlikely to happen again.
Flames at Maple Leafs
The sample size is small because the Flames have played only three games, but this line has looked excellent in the early going. They've outchanced their opposition by 10 in 23:22 of 5v5 play for a 63.16 CF%.
Rangers at Penguins
It's a relatively expensive stack because Panarin really drives the offense on this line, but the trio has looked good for the most part. This stack isn't so much about the Rangers leaning on this line, but more so that the Pens' goaltending enters with the league's worst save percentage at even strength.
Rasmus Andersson, CGY at TOR ($4,800): Andersson has looked solid playing beside Mark Giordano and is even outscoring him 3-2. The big surprise has been on the power play, where Andersson is on the top unit where he skated 8:09 on the man advantage in their last matchup on Monday against the Canucks. Of note, the Flames' power play has gone 6-for-15 this season.
Jakob Chychrun, ARI vs. VGK ($4,200): Chychrun produced a very quiet game, but had two assists over the first two games of the series. He's one of the most underrated defensemen in the league and continues to lead the Coyotes in power-play and overall ice time.
Adam Boqvist, CHI vs. DET ($3,700): Boqvist will be a value pick most nights for me because he provides so much offensive upside. He played a season-high 18 minutes last contest and has racked up three assists in five games.
Ty Smith, NJ at NYI ($3,700): Smith is currently riding a four-game point streak. His ice time will fluctuate, but the Devils have been wise in deploying Smith in situations where he can excel. Smith has played shifts on both the power play and in overtime.
Bowen Byram, COL at ANH ($3,500): Like Smith, Byram will be buried on the depth chart due to his age and inexperience. However, his ceiling is higher and it's evident the Avs aren't afraid to use him. Byram boasts exceptional skating ability and often jumps up on offense, which puts him in a favorable position to generate scoring chances.