Welcome to Stack the Deck, where we focus on the key players on the 12/9 NHL DraftKings slate, and determine whether they should be played with a teammate, or ridden individually. Stacking is a common tactic in NHL, with linemates and power play units staying relatively stable throughout the course of a game, and to a smaller extent, a season. Here are a few players I am targeting on Wednesday’s four-game slate, and my thoughts on who to stack with them in order to tilt the odds in your favor.
Stats are gathered from War-On-Ice.com and Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com
Tuesday was a very high-scoring night, with the Stars and Hurricanes combining for 11 goals, and a lot of big names putting up points elsewhere in the league. Seguin’s line combined for 11 points, with Klingberg picking up 3 points as well. Seguin and Nichushkin were about the only players I wrote up who performed, as Jones gave up 4 goals in half a game before being pulled, the Panthers scored 2 goals, with no points coming from Ekblad or the top line, and Gostisbehere failing to chip in a point while the Flyers put 3 goals on the board.
There’s only one thing to do in a situation like this, and that’s to move on to tonight’s action. We’ve got a four-game slate, which is a bit smaller than I like, but there are some good targets.
Target: Sidney Crosby (C) – Pit (@ Col) – $7,500
Crosby is the forgotten superstar in the NHL this season, with Kane’s incredible point-streak (aided by two points on ENG the last two nights), Benn-Seguin’s continued chemistry, and a show-stopping rookie class. I think there is a good chance that a lot of DFS players, even on tonight’s short slate, might overlook Crosby at C in favor of his own teammate, Evgeni Malkin, Joe Pavelski, or even Nathan MacKinnon against the Pens banged-up defense. While they are all viable plays, and I am sure to have a piece of each, Crosby gets my recommendation today. Over the last 10 games, Colorado has shown no improvement over their season-long Corsi For%, ranking last in both among teams on the slate, by a healthy margin.
This means Pittsburgh is in prime position to drive possession tonight, and there is nobody more primed for an offensive breakout on the Pens than Crosby. He is shooting a career-low 8.22%, whereas in the previous 7 years (2007-14) he shot at a 15% clip. This is a ridiculous figure, but it shows how good Crosby is offensively. He is generating shots at nearly an identical pace to those seasons, and to Malkin’s current season (but Malkin’s success is coming on 16% shooting) but hasn’t quite had the finishing touch. Against a Colorado team that struggles in all areas of the ice, Crosby should have no problem picking up some points.
Stack: Chris Kunitz (W) – $4,200
Kunitz had been a colossal disappointment this season, with 3 points in his first 23 games. I say “had” because Kunitz picked his game up on the west-coast trip, with 6 points in the last 3 games, against the three California teams. Kunitz seems to have found whatever it is that made him a productive player in years past (playing with Crosby tends to do that), and his price is very cheap for a player who is exposed to such a fabulous playmaker. Kunitz sees time on the PP1, where the Penguins have one of the league’s most dangerous units.
If Kris Letang is out again tonight (questionable as of Wednesday morning), David Warsofsky also makes for a great play, as he replaced Letang on the point of that PP1 in Letang’s absence, and skated 21 minutes in the last game against the Ducks. At $2.6k, he is a great cheap option if Letang’s undisclosed injury keeps him out of tonight’s action.
Target: Max Pacioretty (W) – Mon (v. Bos) – $7,700
Pacioretty has been great lately, putting up 16 shots in his last 2 games, but with no goals or points to show for it. This will scare some people off, but I see a huge opportunity against this Bruins team. Patches had points in 11 out of 12 games coming into the previous two games, making him one of the most consistent players out there in terms of both shooting and scoring. While he is the most expensive winger on the board tonight, the Bruins are allowing the most scoring chances per game in the league over the last 10 games, and while Tuukka Rask has bailed them out, going 4-0-2 in his last 6 starts, he has been shelled by Montreal in his career, going 3-14-3 in 20 career starts against the Habs.
Stack: Alex Galchenyuk (C) – $4,800
With the Canadiens struggling to score (Pacioretty’s point per game aside), the lines have been juggled as of late, putting Galchenyuk with Pacioretty on both line 1 and PP1. This is great news for DFS players, because Galchenyuk was a solid producer, even on the 2nd line and 2nd unit. Given ice time with supremely talented players like Patches, P.K. Subban and Andrei Markov, Galchenyuk will thrive. Galchenyuk trails only Pacioretty and the injured Brendan Gallagher in shot attempts per 60, so I trust him to be involved in the offense tonight.
Target: Ryan McDonagh (D) – NYR (@Van) – $4,800
McDonagh hasn’t been fantasy relevant in a while, as he is a great top-pairing defenseman, but wasn’t too involved in the Rangers offense. This changed recently, with McDonagh being tasked to man the point on the Rangers PP1 unit. New York has had good special teams this season, ranking 4th in PP% and 6th in PK%, and McDonagh is now a fixture in both situations. Coming off a 9 DKPt effort Sunday, with 1 goal on 1 shot, 2 assists, and 3 blocked shots, McDonagh’s upside is clearer than ever. Skating upwards of 22-23 minutes per night, McDonagh has the skillset to take advantage of this Canucks team that has lost 5 of their last 6.
Fade: Rick Nash (W) – $7,100
While the PP has been clicking for the Rangers, Nash has struggled as of late. Since his hat trick in Florida on 11/21, Nash has not had a multi-point game in 8 games since. Even more concerning is that after taking 10 shots in his hat trick game, he has taken 2.6 shots/game since. He certainly has the ability to take over a game and create offense, but until he finds it again, I would much rather pay for any of the other 7 players that are above $7k on DraftKings tonight.
Target: Anders Nilsson (G) – Edm (v. SJ) – $6,600
Nilsson has won three straight games while posting a 1.62 GAA and .957 SV% in those games. The Sharks are certainly no pushover, but at $6,600 and the rest of the goaltending position looking to be in similarly iffy matchups, but at much higher prices, I will take my chances on the hottest goaltender (sorry Lundqvist, not like that) at home with the cheapest price and move on. I do understand that Nilsson’s Oilers are a slight underdog, so if you are more risk-averse, look at Mike Condon for the Habs, as he is playing at home, as the biggest favorite on the night. I just think that Condon’s lofty $7,600 salary is unwarranted, as his stats are actually worse than Nilsson’s on the season, and the Bruins are a potent offense.
Stack: Taylor Hall (W) – $7,100
The secondary benefit to taking Nilsson is then pairing him with Taylor Hall. The 24 year-old is on fire right now, coming off a two point game against the Sabres where he owned the ice. He is the 6th most expensive player on the board tonight, but only Brent Burns and his amazing DFS skill set has a higher FPPG on the season. Hall is in another good spot, over the last 10 games the Oilers and Sharks play at the two fastest paces going tonight, based on Corsi/60. This Sharks squad that looked lost last night against the Flames, and is still missing their best shut-down defenseman in Marc-Edouard Vlasic, who is doubtful to play Wednesday, will be left reeling from Hall’s game-breaking talent.
If you have any comments or questions regarding Wednesday’s NHL DFS action, find me on Twitter @Mattman1398. Good luck tonight, and as always:
Thanks for reading!