Welcome to Stack the Deck, where we focus on the key players on the 12/10 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 Thursday’s four-game slate, and my thoughts on who to play with them in order to stack the deck in your favor.
Stats are gathered from War-On-Ice.com and Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com
Player Matchups are gathered from HockeyViz.com
On Wednesday we saw four games go down that all featured 3rd period drama. I am thankful for the late heroics by some, because without them I would have had a dreadful night. Nilsson fell apart in net in the 3rd, giving up 3 goals in the first 12 minutes of the period, but Hall and Draisaitl were able to combine on their 2nd goal of the net in OT, a sweet dish by Draisaitl on a 2-on-1. Crosby and Kunitz each assisted on one of Beau Bennett’s 3rd period goals, and Bennett would go on to notch his 2nd of the game before leaving due to an ugly looking knee-on-knee. My main disappointment was Max Pacioretty, who, like the rest of the Habs squad, pulled a convincing disappearing act in the 3rd period, letting Tuukka Rask win his 4th game in 21 career starts against Montreal. These games were interesting to the end, and were a fun sweat, so I am excited to get to Thursday’s slate and find some hidden gems, a la Bennett, who had a 9 DK point night at only $2.8k.
Target: Mark Scheifele (C) – Wpg (v. CBJ) – $4,700
Scheifele is not a household name, however at the age of 22, he already has a very solid resume. Last season, he fell one shy of the 50 point mark as a 21 year old, and is on the exact same pace this season, with 17 points in 28 games. What gives him great value tonight is his shot generation, which went from good to great over the last 3 games. On the season, Scheifele has taken more shots than every Jet besides Dustin Byfuglien and Blake Wheeler, who have skated 200 and 60 more minutes than Scheifele, respectively. On a shots/60 basis, Only Nikolaj Ehlers is better. These rate statistics bode well for him, as he has seen an increase in TOI, from 17 on the season to 18.2 in his last 10 games, and 19.5 in his last game. With a combined 16 shots in his last 3 games, I expect him to keep up the torrid pace, and to take the offensive burden in tonight’s matchup.
Stack: Drew Stafford (W) – $3,900
Stafford is an incredibly streaky player, going back to his days in Buffalo. Before his tough matchups against Washington and Chicago, Stafford potted two goals against the Leafs. While he has 6 points in his last 10, 5 of those game in 2 games. Playing on the PP2 and EV2 with Scheifele, Stafford too saw an increase in TOI recently, playing over 20 minutes last game. If there was ever a spot to take Stafford, at his super low price-point, today would be that day. He is a great GPP option to stack with Scheifele.
Target: Alex Ovechkin (W) – Wsh (@ Fla) – $9,100
Ovechkin is decidedly not a must-play. He fits in more as a “fade at your own risk” on this slate. If forced to pick between Ovi and Patrick Kane, however, I will go the way of Ovechkin. That said, there are more than enough cheap options on this slate to fit in both. Kane finds himself going against Nashville in a road matchup, meaning the Predators can send out any of their lockdown top 4 D-men to combat Kane. Coming off of two straight games where Kane was held pointless (no, those empty-net goals don’t count, you know he wouldn’t sniff the ice in that situation if his point streak wasn’t on the line), the Preds and Pekka Rinne have a great opportunity to snuff out Kane’s point streak.
Stack: Nicklas Backstrom (C) – $6,400
It is tough to talk about Ovechkin without discussing Backstrom, who doesn’t receive nearly enough credit for how talented he is. Over the last 2 seasons, only Daniel Sedin has more assists than Backstrom does, leading 75 to 73. And while Backstrom is a great distributor, and has the best offensive player in the league to feed the puck to, he also has 9 goals on the season to Ovechkin’s 12. For those who place emphasis on DvP (which, to be honest, I only really look at for D, but haven’t done too much investigating for myself on this topic), Florida ranks 25th against the C, and a stout 5th against W, making it seem as if Florida is weaker down the middle. Seeing as Backstrom’s production is highly correlated to Ovechkin’s, and Backstrom faces a nice matchup while Ovechkin is the definition of matchup proof, putting two and two together leads to a nice spot to target the Capitals top line tonight.
Target: Roman Josi (D) – Nsh (v. Chi) – $6,400
Roman Josi is on a tear right now, on a 5-game point streak. I fully expect him, along with Shea Weber to be utilized by Peter Laviolette to matchup with Patrick Kane’s line tonight. On Tuesday, Joel Quenneville deployed Kane and Co. against Ekholm and Jackman, and Kane still couldn’t muster up any offense. While this is a tough matchup defensively, +/- is irrelevant on DraftKings, and Kane, Artemi Panarin, and Artem Anisimov are nowhere close to Toews and Hossa defensively. Playing primarily against the Toews and Hossa line, Josi still recorded an assist and 5 DKPts, making it 5 straight games above 4.5 DKPts for the Predators’ best defenseman.
Stack: Calle Jarnkrok (C) – $2,900
Filip Forsberg is much too cheap for his talent, and James Neal has been the leading shot taker for Nashville, making his $6.3k price tag more than reasonable. However, if I am going to get exposure to Nashville, it starts with Jarnkrok. He centers the two aforementioned studs, and has played a ton of TOI in the last 5 games. This is due to Jarnkrok’s presence on both the top EV line and PP unit, and although he hasn’t put up points, he has played well enough to stay put there for the time being. With exposure to Forsberg and Neal, and with Nashville able to avoid Chicago’s top defensive unit with their two top offensive players, line matching plays a big role in my love of the Predators top unit tonight, in what is the game I most look forward to watching.
Target: Connor Hellebuyck (G) – Wpg (v. CBJ) – $6,400
Hellebuyck is the confirmed starter tonight, and I am all in, playing him in 100% of my lineups, for better or for worse. Columbus is a team that doesn’t worry me, especially with the way the Jets have been playing recently. Coming into tonight, Columbus has scored 2 goals or less in 6 of their last 7 games, and 1 goal in 3 of their last 5. Struggling to put together any sort of consistency, a road tilt with the Jets doesn’t bode well for them. Hellebuyck has been fantastic in his first 3 NHL starts, making 83 saves on 86 shots to go 3-0. With Michael Hutchinson struggling this season (after a good year last year, however), keep Hellebuyck on your radar for the future, at least until Ondrej Pavelec returns from injury.
Fade: Other Cheap Goalies
Because we already covered the Jets’ offense above, I wanted to cover some of the other cheap options in net tonight, because it doesn’t look good outside of Winnipeg. Buffalo has either Johnson or Ullmark going for them as they take on the Flames in Calgary, but both goalie has really struggled as of late, and the team in front of them is doing nothing to help them out. After spending much of the first month of the season in the top 5 of the NHL in Scoring Chances For %, they have freefallen, all the way to the bottom 10. This shows just how badly they have played, and against the Flames team that is coming off a commanding win against San Jose on Tuesday, I have no interest in looking to the Sabres for salary relief.
Elsewhere, Dustin Tokarski gets his first start of the season as the Canadiens travel to Detroit after being torched by the Bruins in last night’s 3rd period. Detroit has really come on strong lately, ranking in the top 10 in both shots for and scoring chances for per 60 minutes, so while a viable target, Tokarski is definitely not someone I trust to shut down the Red Wings.
If you have any comments or questions regarding Thursday’s NHL DFS action, find me on Twitter @Mattman1398. Good luck tonight, and as always:
Thanks for reading!
Photo Credit: Keith Allison/Flickr C.C. 2.0