Welcome to Stack the Deck, where we focus on the key NHL players in action on January 21st across the daily fantasy industry, 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 Thursdays ten-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
Tuesday was a fun night in the NHL, with some of the highest scores in both tournaments and even cash games that I’ve ever seen. I had a good night in terms of picking my players, as Ovechkin, Niskanen, Nash, and Kadri combined for 26 DKPts by themselves. Lundqvist pulled out the win in OT after giving us a mighty scare against the lowly Canucks, and that win helped push me over the hump in my cash games. After a pretty boring Wednesday night, in which the Blues continued their winning ways while being hemmed in their own zone for two-thirds of the game, Thursday has many more games on the docket, so let’s get down to it.
**DraftKings Prices will be used, however there are some other sites that have very similar scoring systems to DraftKings, so if you play on OwnThePlay or FantasyHub (or any site with shots, goals, assists, and blocked shots making up the substance of the scoring system, and no +/-), this writeup will be useful to you as well. Stay tuned for the FantasyHub Lock of the Night at the end**
Target: Patrice Bergeron (C) – Bos (v. Van) – $7,500
Bergeron gets a matchup with Vancouver, a team that has given up 45 shots per game over Ryan Miller’s last 3 starts. While Miller has been phenomenal, posting a Sv% of .949 in those games, it won’t last forever, as Miller is the 2nd oldest goalie in the league (after Luongo) and hasn’t been all that good in a few seasons now. I expect the dam to burst wide open in this 2011 Stanley Cup rematch, as the animosity between these two teams (2011 Stanley Cup Finals) should lead to a penalty box parade. In December when these teams faced each other, they combined for 56 PIM, meaning the two sides will have a few scores to settle in this matchup. Bergeron should thrive on the PP, which will get at least a few opportunities as it welcomes back David Krejci from injury.
Stack: Brad Marchand (W) – $6,300
Speaking of scores to settle, the last time out, Brandon Prust speared Marchand in an area that nobody wants to be speared. It’s not difficult to imagine Marchand, already one of the edgiest players in the NHL, hitting the ice with a little extra something to prove. In formats that reward PIMs, Marchand makes for a great play, but even on sites like DraftKings, that don’t, Marchand sees regular PP time for a team that was the best the NHL for a stretch before Krejci’s injury, putting him in line for a nice night if he keeps his head.
Target: Carl Hagelin (W) – Pit (v. Phi) – $3,300
There are a few cheap forwards that I really like tonight, including Mikael Backlund and Kevin Fiala, but will focus on Hagelin, as he is the “safest” of the bunch by my estimation, skating alongside Malkin and Kessel against the Flyers. Hagelin has fired 7 shots in his first two games with the Penguins, and his speed makes him a better fit with Malkin and Kessel than Perron (who he was traded for) was, who admitted that his size and (lack of) speed made Pittsburgh a less-than-ideal locale for his playing style. At only $3.3k against a Philadelphia team that gives up the most points in the NHL to wingers per DvP, Hagelin gives some great exposure to one of the most dangerous duos in the NHL in Malkin and Kessel. While Hagelin may not play on the PP, he is seeing nearly 2 minutes a night as a PKer, which gives him a chance to block shots, and even potentially use his breakaway speed to take advantage of a very aggressive Philly D corps and net a shorthanded goal.
Stack: Evgeni Malkin (C) – $7,600
Pittsburgh has a very concentrated scoring expectation, which is a polite way of saying their bottom-six sucks. If they are going to beat anyone, it is very likely that the top-six forwards will have to step up and register a few goals. They are currently -170 Money Line favorites, so Malkin and the rest of the big guns will need to show up. Luckily, he has been up to the task as of late, averaging 6 FPPG in his last 3 outings, including a goal vs. STL on a pass from Hagelin. Outside of the goal, it looks like Malkin and Hagelin have some complimentary skill sets and are working well together, so use your savings on the wing to spend up at center with Malkin.
Target: Oliver Ekman-Larsson (D) – Ari (v. SJ) – $6,100
Player A: Last 10 games: 4 G 7 A 11 Pts / 8 Blks 34 Shots 80 Shot Attempts / 4.7 FPPG
Player B: Last 10 games: 1 G 3 A 4 Pts / 22 Blks 25 Shots 51 Shot Attempts / 3.3 FPPG
Player C: Last 10 games: 0 G 7 A 7 Pts / 24 Blks 33 Shots 80 Shot Attempts / 4.3 FPPG
If you still aren’t sold, let me tell you that player A is $1000 cheaper than both B and C, then are you? I think so. Player A is Ekman-Larsson, B is Roman Josi ($7,100) and C is Erik Karlsson ($7,400). OEL has taken his game to another level, firing off double digit shot attempts in 3 of his last 4 games, including a Herculean effort against the Oilers where he went for 1 G and 3 A, ending the night with 12 DKPts. Arizona has drawn the most penalties in the NHL so far this season, and San Jose is in the bottom 10 for PK%. Ekman-Larsson is a very affordable defenseman with both a very safe floor and immense upside, so I will be locking him in in all formats on Thursday night.
Fade: Max Domi (W) – $4,800
Domi is a GPP play that always seems to be a bit too highly owned. Over his last 10 games, he had exactly one game where he accrued more than 3 DKPts. Of course, that was a 13 point hat trick. Since then, he has 0.5 DKPts total in 3 games. In cash environments, there is no way I would consider him, but even in a GPP I’d rather have Mikkel Boedker, a not-as-flashy player who sees the most PP TOI/G of any forward in the NHL, for $300 more. Stick to guys who have the possibility to contribute without scoring, and when they do score, you’ll be glad you have a reliable squad around them to put up enough points to get you into the money.
FantasyHub Lock of the Night: Vincent Lecavalier (W) – $3,000 – L.A (v. Min)
Lecavalier has enjoyed a resurgence since his trade to L.A, with 3 goals and, more important for sustainability’s sake, 8 shots in those 3 games. He is blending nicely with the space-creating Kings, finding openings on the PP to get a shot off. He looks great, and is the minimum salary on FantasyHub. Lock him up to at least pay off his salary skating alongside Jeff Carter and Marian Gaborik on Line 2.
If you have any comments or questions regarding Thursday’s NHL DFS action, you can find me on Twitter @Mattman1398. Good luck tonight, and as always:
Thanks for reading!