Welcome to Stack the Deck, where we focus on the key players on the 1/19 NHL DraftKings Daily Fantasy Hockey 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 Tuesday’s eight-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 a tough battle for me, given that two of my favorite Penguins plays, Daley and Fleury, were both eliminated from consideration due to the confirmation of Jeff Zatkoff in net, and the late-breaking injury news regarding Kris Letang, and that he would in fact be able to suit up. I switched off both Daley and Fleury, and in Daley’s case, saved my night because of it. Zatkoff ran into some awful luck, giving up goals on two fluky bounces and Tarasenko doing Tarasenko things, which sent the Penguins to a 5-2 loss despite the Pens winning the Corsi battle (score adjusted to account for the late swarming of the net Pittsburgh was forced to initiate) 70-38, and out chancing the Blues 30-18. Everything that I thought was going to happen did in fact take place, minus the goals. I might as well have started Fleury, as Zatkoff gave me a goose egg, but the rest of my lineup flourished and in fact kept my night profitable. Hagelin and Hornqvist, the other two Pens I talked about, went for 6 points on the night, which is good enough for the combined salary of $9,600 in a cash format.
In San Jose, Ottawa and the Sharks played one of the dullest 4-3 OT games you’ll find, with only 3 penalties in the entire game. The Sharks controlled play from start to finish, outshooting Ottawa 35-17, but never seemed to really lay it on the Senators until late in OT, when a 4 on 3 PP saw many chances and a couple posts but nary a goal. Burns ended up with 5.5 and Karlsson with 2.5, capping off a weird holiday weekend in the NHL DFS world.
The last three nights, my cash lineups have scored 27.9, 34.6, and 31 points on DK, in that order. The 27.9 and 31 saw nice profits, while 34.6 was good enough to lose all but a few 50/50s. It goes to show that there is never a “benchmark” you should try to get to, and that the target should be finding the best players on a particular slate.
Let’s move onto Tuesday night’s slate, where it just so happens that DK is running their “January Jam” special for the NHL, with large prize pools at $100, $20, and $3 price points.
Target: Alex Ovechkin (W) – Wsh (@ Who Cares?) – $8,900
I don’t know if I should keep including Ovechkin, because I feel like I’m beating a dead horse. But I consistently see him without high ownership, in all sorts of contests. I have used this stat before, but believe it or not it’s even more ridiculous than the last time I used it: Ovi’s iCorsi/60, or how often he attempts a shot, is 29.23, or one shot every 2 minutes. The next closest player, per 60, averages 22.19 (more on that player in a bit). The gap between Ovechkin and #2 is equal to the gap between #2 and #91. He’s the best player to lace up the skates in this decade, for DK purposes, and is head and shoulders above the rest in what I consider the most important DK stat: shot generation.
Whatever his problems may be on other sites, such as PP points (some sites take away for PP points, DK doesn’t), +/- (not an issue this season, although in years past it has been), or just the importance of other categories (many sites have more than four point-scoring possibilities, which is what DK boils down to), Ovechkin is the perfect DraftKings play.
P.S: Ovechkin plays the Blue Jackets tonight, in case you were wondering. They’re bad. Like, worst in the NHL bad. Play him, please.
Stack: Matt Niskanen (D) – $4,700
Niskanen is still skating 25 minutes a night, looking to do so until John Carlson returns from injury. He plays the point on the PP1 squad, and gets his fair share of both shots and blocks, with a combined 41 over his last 10 games. If he can get a point in this cupcake matchup with the Blue Jackets, he will easily pay off value.
Target: Nazem Kadri (C) – Tor (@ Phi) – $5,600
Kadri is my favorite play of the night, and it isn’t relatively close. Daily Faceoff has both Tor PP units listed without Kadri, which sent me into a spiraling depression, because you see, he is the 2nd best player in terms of iCorsi/60, the one I mentioned above. He is in a good offensive environment against the Flyers, who just so happen to rank 29th against the Center position in DvP. So when I investigated this newfound Kadri news, I found out that yes, Kadri didn’t practice with the PP units yesterday. Instead, he was working on his PK game, because Babcock now wants him to receive even more ice time, and get him some blocked shots to go with his epic shot totals night in and night out. What a standup guy, that Babcock is. After practice, Babcock said “not to worry about” anything you may have seen during special teams practice, and went on to demonstrate Kadri’s importance to the team, assuring me that he will in fact see his regular role on the PP, where he has admittedly struggled this season, picking up only 5 points with the man advantage. That should fix itself against the Flyers and their 24th ranked PK unit. Kadri will go severely underowned with lots of DFS players relying on DailyFaceoff and LeftWingLock for their lines, and if he continues shooting at his current pace of 10 shot attempts per game over his last three games, he will rack up points in every category in this Tuesday night tilt.
Fade: Leo Komarov (C) – $4,500
Playing alongside Kadri currently, Komarov enjoyed riding passenger to the awesome duo of Kadri and JVR before JVR broke his foot, and leads the team in goals. That was rather unsustainable, as his current shooting % is 18%, and no offense to him, but Komarov is not that skilled of a player. He has struggled to produce on a nightly basis, with 3 of his last 5 games checking in at 0.5 DKPts or lower. He simply doesn’t shoot all that often, and while he might be good for a cheap goal here and there, targeting him at his salary doesn’t provide much safety, so I am avoiding him in all formats, instead focusing my stacks on better teams like Tampa, L.A, and Washington.
Target: Rick Nash (W) – NYR (v. Van) – $6,900
Rick Nash is averaging 4.1 FPPG over his last ten, which is a very good figure for any player below $7k. What I find more impressive is how he is also averaging 4.1 FPPG over his last 6, without a single goal on his game log over that time span. He’s been both a great distributor, with 5 assists, and an unlucky shooter, with 25 shots fired in six games. He’s trending in the right direction, as well, with 16 of those shots coming in his last three games. Vancouver has given up the most scoring chances per game of any team, and all Nash needs is one chance to get him going again, he’s a very talented player who can score on any goaltender, even vintage 2009-2010 Ryan Miller, who took the ice for Vancouver on Sunday against the Islanders (47 saves on 48 shots, the only goal coming late with the Islanders throwing everything and the kitchen sink at him). Take Nash in this golden matchup, along with any other Rangers you can get your hands on, as Miller has not been playing well at all the last couple seasons, Sunday be damned.
Stack: Henrik Lundqvist (G) – $7,900
King Henrik has returned after a brief out-of-body experience, snapping out of his slump with three strong performances coming into Tuesday. A top 5 goalie in the game, Lundqvist faces a Vancouver team bereft of talent that just lost their top line center in Henrik Sedin. While Daniel is the twin who scores most of their goals, Henrik is the textbook playmaker, finding Daniel in open spaces all game long. Without him, The Vancouver top line will struggle, especially as Daniel finds chemistry with new center Jared McCann, and the rest of the team was never a threat to score anyways. Take Lundqvist with confidence in this matchup, and hope that the reeling Rangers can fend off a much weaker opponent to get back on track with a victory.
If you have any comments or questions regarding Tuesday’s NHL DFS action, you can find me on Twitter @Mattman1398. Good luck tonight, and as always:
Thanks for reading!