Welcome to Stack the Deck, where we focus on the key players on the 12/28 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 Monday’s six-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
The weekend was a fun one in DFS land, with some great performances across the league. Jack Eichel broke out of his slump in a big way, putting up 4 points in his first game in front of his hometown fans in Boston, helping the Sabres to an improbable comeback win in which their entire top 6 smashed value, as most teams that score 6 goals will do. Ovechkin didn’t play well, but Holtby came through with a really nice 7.6 DKPt night, with the win coming off the checking line’s output for Washington.
Tampa continued to perplex me, putting up 5 on a listless Columbus team on a 3 point night from Stamkos and a career night for some guy named Mike Blunden. What is truly amazing about the Lightning is that they have had 17 powerplays over their last 2 games, going 0/10 two games ago against the Canucks, and 3/7 last night. I’ve gotten good at putting flop performances aside for MLB, but need to learn that NHL works in the same way, and that if a team is not fundamentally flawed, the game after a dud is probably the best time to jump on that team, especially in tournaments, where you can benefit from the price decrease (Stamkos fell $100 after the Vancouver debacle, and rose $200 after Saturday’s outburst, not enormous swings but still noteworthy) and the lower ownership that comes from the bad taste left in DFS players’ mouths (or the flaming bag of feces left on the front porch, in the case of Tampa against Vancouver. I might not get over that one all season).
With that in mind, let’s roll into Monday, a short week for the working class but a jam packed week in hockey, with World Juniors round robin matchups in the mornings and NHL action finishing off each night through the New Year.
Target: Jonathan Marchessault (C) – TB (v. Mtl) – $2,900
Marchessault is quickly becoming one of my favorite DFS plays. Only 5.9% owned on the DraftKings Holiday Skate large-field GPP on Saturday, I don’t expect too many people to catch onto him before Monday’s action. Here’s the thing: Marchessault is on a 6 game point streak, with 7 points in that stretch. He goes unnoticed because of his 3rd line spot, but is actually a fixture on the PP1 unit. The fact that he is facing the Canadiens, a team I have targeted rather successfully in the recent past, makes me giddy. They simply can’t compete without Carey Price in net, but I won’t recount their struggles for the umpteenth consecutive write-up. There are whispers of Tampa receiving some form of reinforcements from their injured stable of players, most of whom warrant PP time, but Marchessault’s chemistry with the PP1 unit should keep his role safe for the time being. Check the lines in pregame warmups though, to be safe.
Stack: Steven Stamkos (C) – $7,400
So the Unstoppable Force meets the Immovable Object. Stamkos has been a real tough nut to crack for me, as I have taken him a considerable amount, but don’t have much production to show for it, and then when I finally give up on him, he does Stamkos things and puts up 10 DKPts. Luckily, my uneasiness is settled quite a bit by the Canadiens taking the ice against the Lightning Monday. I am not afraid to roll out the entire Lightning PP1, however it’s really tough to do with 3 centers (according to DK), so Stamkos and Marchessault are my choices here.
Target: Brent Burns (D) – SJ (v. Col) – $8,000
Burns is just an unbelievable player. He is the highest scoring skater on a per game basis by a whopping half a point per game, leading Alex Ovechkin although Ovi is $700 more expensive and playing on the road against a Sabres team with a slow paced style capable of shutting him down. San Jose’s matchup with Colorado is a great pivot if you are looking to spend some money, as Joe Pavelski and Burns have both been unbelievable as of late, with 5 individual games of 8 DKPts between them in their last 5 games. All of this occurred on the road, as the Sharks’ early season schedule was very imbalanced, leaving them with 21 road games out of the way having only played 13 on home ice. The Avs allow the 5th most shots in the league while playing as a terrible possession team. Their recent run of success is a bunch of smoke and mirrors courtesy of a hot goaltender, and this was proven when they gave up SEVEN goals to the Toronto Maple Leafs last time out. Play all the Sharks you can manage, as they are all too cheap for the upside they bring and have even shown as a team recently, as they have scored 15 goals in their last 4 games.
Stack: Martin Jones (G) – $7,000
Martin Jones is a top 5 NHL goalie. At least, that is what Adjusted Sv% tells us, a metric designed to place every NHL goalie on a level playing field. It takes a goalie’s Sv% in 3 different shot areas (high danger, medium danger, low danger) and accounts for the league-wide distribution of “shot dangers”. It is proven to correlate more closely to future Sv% than just normal Sv%, so I tend to look at Adj. Sv% when I look at goalies. And since the beginning of the 2013 season, Jones has the 5th best rating, trailing only Carey Price, Cory Schneider, Ben Bishop, and Semyon Varlamov. Against a Colorado team that ranks dead last in possession and towards the bottom in scoring chance generation, you can bet that I will take Jones at home and save $1000 over the high-end goalie options.
Target: Sven Baertschi (W) – Van (v. LAK) – $2,700
I don’t love Baerstchi, but with all the high end C and D options that I really like, I want to go cheap at the wing position. Baertschi is a fabulous value, as he is supremely talented at 23 with first round pedigree. Playing for two different AHL teams after a midseason trade last year, he recorded 55 points in 72 games, including 15 in 21 playoff games. Given a chance to play in the big leagues this season, he had a three game goal streak going into the holiday break, and came out of it playing 16 minutes in Saturday’s loss to the Oilers. If you are looking to go with a stars and scrubs approach, Baertschi has the chance to put up the points needed to win a GPP.
Fade: The Sedins
If you are looking for a contrarian stack Monday night, don’t look towards the Canucks playing the LA Kings. The Kings are the best team in the Pacific by a landslide, and play the Sedins an awful lot. Over the last two seasons, the Sedins have combined for 8 points in 7 games against the Kings, which is solid for one player, but doesn’t cut it for two players that total $10.8k. It is best not to go for the Kings in any situation, but it is especially unwise when they have years of experience in how to deal with those players and Drew Doughty. Drew Doughty is very good at defense, and spends a majority of the game on the ice, so he is tough to avoid, even with last change at home..
If you have any comments or questions regarding Monday’s NHL DFS action, you can find me on Twitter @Mattman1398. Good luck tonight, and as always:
Thanks for reading!