This article is part of our FanDuel NHL series.
The Blues allowed just 27.9 shots per game in 64 regular season contests under Craig Berube, but just two games into the 2019-20 season and that number has jumped to 31.5. They'll face their toughest test yet against the Leafs, who are averaging 36 shots per game and lead the league in both goals scored (14) and power-play goals (4). The Sabres will face the Blue Jackets and attempt to extend their excellent form early in the season after outscoring their opponents 10 to 3 through two games. A third straight win would match their best start since the 2008-09 season when they started 6-1-1.
Jordan Binnington ($8,400) has looked sharp with a .921 Sv% to start the season, but can the Leafs offense be stopped? Their first three opponents have combined for just three points through six games but credit the Leafs offense – especially the power play – that has been dynamite thanks to Auston Matthews' five goals. Binnington outlasted Frederik Andersen ($8,800) in overtime for the Blues' 11th straight win last time when they met in February, but Leafs look even better than they did last season and they'll be playing host this time.
The Sabres look like a completely new team under Ralph Krueger but a big part of their strong start has been the play of Carter Hutton ($7,100), who has a 1.50 GAA and .939 Sv%. They were planning to split the starts this season, but Hutton's strong play means he may earn a third consecutive start and as the Sabres try to take the division lead. The Jackets have allowed 11 goals in two games to start the season while the Sabres have scored 10.
One reason the Sabres have been so good on offense is because Victor Olofsson ($4,600) has come exactly as advertised. The shooting winger was Frolunda's top goal scorer in the Swedish League last season and he's fit in nicely on the top line and the top power-play unit, currently leading the league with two goals on the man advantage. According to HockeyViz, the Sabres have the highest shots per hour rate in the league, better than the Caps, Knights and Preds.
Jake McCabe ($3,700) has also shown well for the Sabres, leading the team with seven blocked shots and playing under a bigger role under Krueger. He has a low floor with his ability to contribute in multiple categories and he's getting plenty of playing time, averaging over 22 minutes per game and playing on their top penalty killing unit.
Vince Dunn ($3,900) is playing on the bottom pair for the Blues but he's been trusted to quarterback the top power-play unit. His impact so far has been minimal, but no other defenseman who plays such a prominent role on offense comes as cheaply as Dunn.
Sammy Blais ($3,600) is also a good value play with three points in two games playing alongside Ryan O'Reilly. He's had minimal defensive zone starts so far this season, according to HockeyViz, and the heavily sheltered minutes he's been playing should limit his downside while bumping up his upside.
FORWARD LINE STACKS
The Sabres are facing an opponent that's been beaten up twice already and there's no arguing against the total price. Eichel, Reinhart and Olofsson, all play on the top power-play unit and they have combined for nine points and 18 shots.
The Blues split their minutes evenly between their two scoring lines, but O'Reilly's line has been far more productive and comes much cheaper. The trio have combined for eight points to just three points from Brayden Schenn's line and their underlying possession numbers are among the best on the team with a combined 54.9 CF%.
This entirely line is essentially a value play if you believe the Leafs and Blues' top two lines will cancel each other out in a relatively low-scoring affair. All three players registering three points apiece and Tyler Bozak has struggled early on for the Blues with just two shots and a 33.3 percent win rate in the dot.
Morgan Rielly ($6,400) will be a popular pick, but Tyson Barrie ($6,200) shouldn't be overlooked and offers up a similar profile despite being slightly cheaper. Rielly tips the scales in his favor because he plays more minutes but Barrie is fourth in the league among defensemen with 11 shots.
The Leafs are leaning on their top four defensemen a lot, so that also makes Cody Ceci ($4,100) and Jake Muzzin ($4,200) very interesting option in blocked shots. Ceci leads the team with eight and both play on the top penalty killing unit. Offense is not their calling card, but they should provide a solid floor with so few options on a light two-game slate.
Seth Jones ($5,800) is a fantastic defenseman with a low floor but the team is struggling to score, so Jones is not an ideal pick. His value thus far has been mostly derived from blocked shots, and if the Jackets keep getting buried in their own zone it severely hampers Jones' ability to contribute on the score sheet.
Rasmus Dahlin ($5,400) dished out three helpers in a 7-2 rout of the Devils and his role will certainly increase as the season progresses. He's taken over for Rasmus Ristolainen as their top power-pay quarterback on a very dangerous looking unit that's gone 4-for-6.