Welcome to Stack the Deck, where we focus on the key players in action on February 4th across the 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 Thursday’s twelve-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
Well this week has been pretty weird, to say the least. Crosby went bonkers on Tuesday night, and along with Seguin dragged me to a nice profit. MacKinnon, on the other hand, played 20 of the most uninspired minutes I’ve watched en route to a 0 DKPt effort. If he could have mustered up anything, my cash lineup, which had 48.6 without him, would have been phenomenal rather than merely good. Our good friend Berube over in Brooklyn backstopped the Islanders to a 5-3 win, seeing 20 shots in the first period alone, setting the stage for a fantastic 8 DKPt night for the minimum-priced goalie. And getting back to the Sens-Pens game, that one certainly was the game to target, as it ended up 6-5 in favor of the Penguins. Unfortunately for us, it wasn’t Hoffman and Karlsson who did the damage, but the 2nd line and Cody Ceci. Karlsson and Hoffman ended with a respectable 4.5 and 3 points on the night, but came oh so close to sending the game to OT, with Hoffman hitting two crossbars on feeds from Karlsson in the last minute. With only 3 games last night, it was tough to build a cash lineup, so I just threw a handful of lineups into GPPs and hit with Lehner, but missed on TB and Monahan, which effectively ended my night.
Onto Thursday, where the schedule-makers continue to mystify the DFS community with another giant slate, putting 24 teams in action.
**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 later on in the post!**
Target: Tyler Seguin (C) – Dal (@ Col) – $8,600
The man has found his game again. After a tough stretch where he was held pointless in 6 of 7 games, he burst out for 8.5 points on Tuesday with 2 goals and 5 shots. It was a long time coming, because his shot generation rates had slowly crept back to normal after falling off early in that stretch. In fact, he actually has far exceeded his seasonal average in two of his last 3 games, firing 12 shots towards the net last game and 17 in the infamous Dallas-Colorado game the Saturday before the break in which Dallas out-Corsi’d the Avs by an NHL record 74 shot attempts. Tonight, Dallas seeks revenge for that ridiculous loss (yes, they lost that game, 3-1) tonight, and while they are on the road, I can see a fired up Stars squad putting up half a dozen on an overmatched Calvin Pickard, who draws the start in place of Semyon Varlamov, who shut the Stars down last time out. Expect Seguin and his shoot-first mentality to pave the way, and even if the game turns wonky like the last one, Seguin’s shooting floor keeps him as a great option with good upside.
Stack: Patrick Eaves (W) – $2,700
Eaves is not an impressive player by any means, but I will never turn a blind eye to a player in the position he is in. Let me explain: Eaves is on the PP1 unit alongside Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, and John Klingberg. He plays on line 2 with Jason Spezza. Combined, those 4 players alone are averaging 3.8 points per game. They are all in the top 50 for the entire NHL, and Benn and Seguin are 2 and 3, respectively. Eaves will pay off his salary if he can merely chip in one point in one of the best matchups of the season for any team. I love what Eaves allows me to do with my lineup, so I feel comfortable rolling him out in all formats.
Target: Thomas Hertl (W) – S.J (@ STL) – $4,800
In Hertl we have another option who is surrounded by great players, and has shown the ability to take advantage. Hertl’s slow march up the salary ranks has been vastly outpaced by his actual production, as over his last ten games he is averaging 3.8 FPPG. He possesses a high floor, with 28 shots in his last 10 games (on 49 shot attempts, which is right around the league average shots/shot attempt) and sees all of his even-strength time alongside Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton, the 2nd best goal-scorer (behind only Ovechkin) in the last 3 years combined and one of the greatest set-up men in the NHL. While he doesn’t skate with the first unit PP, he still sees a solid amount of TOI per game, making him a very safe play at a drastic discount to his superstar teammates in Pavelski and Brent “Chewbacca” Burns. San Jose has a sneaky great matchup in St. Louis, who has really struggled in terms of allowing both shots and scoring chances, while San Jose has soared up the standings with their recent play, snapping a 10 game point streak (8-0-2 to end January) in Tuesday’s hard fought loss to the Ducks.
Fade: Brent Burns (D) – $8,400
For GPP’s, obviously Burns makes a great inclusion on any San Jose stack. However, as is usually the case when it comes to spending up at defense, the question is: Burns or Karlsson? Over their last 10 games (not including the ASG), Burns has an outstanding “floor” in terms of shots + blocks of 56. Erik Karlsson, the Senators all-everything defenseman, has an even more ridiculous 63. At nearly $1000 cheaper, Karlsson is a practically identical fantasy option, in addition to being one of the top three players in the league, right up there alongside Crosby and Ovechkin in terms of sheer ability to dominate a game. In addition to their equal floors (if not favoring Karlsson slightly), Karlsson ranks 4th among all players in the Art Ross race, and the nearest defenseman (Burns, obviously) ranks 16th. You can’t go wrong with either player tonight, and I would love a lineup core of Seguin, Karlsson, and Burns, but if forced to choose one defenseman, I’m saving the $900 and going with Karlsson.
FantasyHub Lock of the Night: Torey Krug (D) – Bos (@ Buf) – $5,900
Speaking of Karlsson and Burns, over the last 4 games Krug has turned into a possession monster a la the DFS darlings mentioned above. He has fired 40 shots towards the net, equal to Karlsson’s iCorsi and outpacing Burns’ 29. Consistency is a great thing to find in DFS NHL, and Krug has shown it, going, 9, 10, 10 and 11 shot attempts in those 4 games. On the other end of the ice, Buffalo is coming off a back-to-back and will start Chad Johnson, a second-rate backup goalie who is more likely to produce a 6-goal meltdown than a 1-goal gem. You can count on the Bruins in this matchup, and Krug’s production and price makes him a great second defenseman, given the value forwards on the board. His floor is as high as any defenseman, with PP1 time on the league’s 2nd ranked unit (25% on the season) and upwards of 25 min TOI per night.
Stack: Ryan Spooner (C) – $4,700
Spooner has been a revelation for the Bruins, posting 37 points in 50 games. On a team with David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, and Brad Marchand, it is Spooner who leads the team in points/60. And he has done this through the very repeatable skill of primary assists, ranking 2nd in the entire league (trailing only Evgeny Kuznetsov of Washington) in FirstA/60. This is important because research has been done that has shown secondary assists fluctuate wildly from year to year but primary assists are much more stable, showing that you can expect primary assist rates to continue, while caution is required to interpret secondary assists. Spooner’s price is super low given his production, and he is another fixture on the Bruins top PP unit. He might go unnoticed given his 3rd line even strength time, but his even strength role hasn’t hurt his playing time (and thus his output) at all, as he actually skates upwards of 17-18 minutes per night while the nominal first-liner Brett Connolly sees only 11-12 minutes. If you are looking for someone to put with Krug, Spooner gives great exposure to a great PP against a bad goalie, for a very nice salary.
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: