Welcome to Stack the Deck, where we focus on the key players on the 12/18 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 Friday’s 6-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
Last night was … Interesting. I loved Neuvirth going into the matchup against Vancouver, but he ended up seeing the bench in favor of Steve Mason, who himself admitted that he didn’t deserve to start. I pivoted over to Lindback, and that was my night. How do you give up 4 goals to a team missing Ryan Johansen and Jack Johnson, and can’t get out of their own way to boot!? The Coyotes gave up 7 total on the night, which makes me want to vomit, because I know they’re terrible (A lot of people do, to be fair) but they are still clinging to playoff hopes, with 5 of the worst 9 teams in the league taking up residence in the Pacific Division basement. The NHL is tough, it is hard to trust your research and the process, and figure out which off-the-board plays to target, but sticking to it will yield results. Especially in tournaments, it only takes one night to make up for weeks of frustration.
Elsewhere, Benn and Seguin were held in check in a surprisingly uneventful game, so any values that I found like Gaudreau and Monahan were crumbled by those two foundational pieces failing on me. Let’s shake that tough night off and look at Friday.
Target: Mark Scheifele – Wpg (v. NYR) – $4,800
Scheifele’s splits on the season are pretty insane. He has 5 points in 17 road games, and 16 in 14 home games. In his last 4 home games, Scheifele has 6, 6.5, 7.5 and 10 DKPts, making him really tough to ignore on this slate. I am not afraid of this matchup with the Rangers at all, as Lundqvist has a Sv% of .912 in his last 10 games, and that’s not including last night’s debacle, where he came in in relief of Raanta and gave up 4 goals on 31 shots to the Wild. Now that the Rangers don’t have elite goaltending (over a 10 game stretch of course, not to say Lundqvist isn’t elite), their poor possession numbers have left their defense exposed. With the tired Rangers coming to town Friday night, I like Scheifele and his line to continue their torrid production at home.
I wish I knew why these guys are so cheap, they combined for 19 DKPts in their last game. Scheifele, Stafford, and Perrault’s production at home (4.8, 4.2, 3.3 PPG respectively) put them all in the top 10 for their positions (with Scheifele being #1 C), and yet they are each below $5k. You don’t even have to like the matchup to understand they are 100% in play, but when you factor in the Rangers’ struggles, they are a must play, and the easiest stack of the night.
Target: Nikita Kucherov (W) – TB (@ Wsh) – $5,800
Kucherov has benefitted from playing on the Stamkos line (with the other 2/3rds of the Triplets on the mend from injury), but has done it mostly on his own lately. In the last 4 games, Kucherov has 5 points, and no other Lightning player has more than 2. I don’t fear the Capitals as much as I thought I would, as they haven’t been doing all that well, with their recent possession stats suggesting a net negative, even when you adjust it for the fact that they’ve been leading for most of the month of December. In the last Lightning-Caps game, Tampa had last change and didn’t do anything special with their top line, seeing nearly equal amounts of the top two lines both offensively and defensively, none of which particularly worry me. I can’t shake the feeling that Holtby is bound for a breakdown game, and Kucherov would be a main beneficiary.
Stack: Ben Bishop (G) – $7,700
In order to win a tournament, you really have to stray from the pack. We saw this last night with Quick and Johnson posting 40+ save shutouts in tough matchups, and in retrospect the top goalies of the night typically don’t make much sense. So taking Ben Bishop against the high-flying, Ovechkin-led Caps team is where I will try to differentiate myself tonight. With all the buzz that Holtby (rightfully so) gets, it will go lost on many that Bishop is actually only one bad game behind Holtby, as their Sv%’s are rather similar (.937 to .931), and both are in the top 5 of the NHL. The Caps are only shooting 7% in December, which I find really interesting given their season-long is 10%. I love Bishop as a low-owned goalie with massive upside. For a slightly safer option Jimmy Howard (and his .943 Sv% in his last 3 starts) mans the crease against the struggling Canucks, who lost half of the Sedins on Thursday, making their lineup even weaker if it so happens that Henrik misses tonight too after leaving Thursday’s game with an injury suffered from blocking a shot.
Always be sure to check the status of starting goalies before lineups lock
Target: Aaron Ekblad (D) – Fla (@ Car)
The former first overall pick is one of the most consistent mid-priced defensemen in the league, and his consistency is of the good variety. Because, you know, you can count on some players to be consistently bad, like Cam Ward. It hasn’t been confirmed who is opposing the Panthers in net, with Eddie Lack coming off of 2 straight games with 4 GA, and Cam Ward last seen giving up 4 goals on 8 shots. Times are tough in Raleigh, and in a game that will be off the radar of most hockey fans, Ekblad is in a great spot. Playing consistent PP and PK minutes, he should be able to pot a goal of his own, or set one of Florida’s underrated finishers up for an easy one.
Stack: Jaromir Jagr (W) – $5,200
Or Ekblad could set up Jagr. It is completely bonkers how Jagr is still a top player in the game. While he is playing in a back to back, and it’s probably not a great idea to play a 43 year old in a back to back situation, Jagr did get 5 days off between games, missing the Panthers game on Tuesday due to an illness. I like the fact that Jagr only saw 15 minutes of ice time in the blowout last night over the Devils. I believe he will be rested and ready to go against the Hurricanes, who he has decimated in his career, posting 116 points in 84 games against, good for his 2nd most points against any team, having only played the 5th most games against the ‘Canes.
Let’s go take down a tournament tonight. I’ll see y’all at the top.
If you have any comments or questions regarding Friday’s NHL DFS action, you can find me on Twitter @Mattman1398. Good luck tonight, and as always:
Thanks for reading!