Welcome to Stack the Deck, where we focus on the key players in action on February 11th 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 nine-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 pretty good day for yours truly. I was keeping up with NHL news right before 7:00 EST and saw the rumblings out of Calgary on Gaudreau and Monahan being healthy scratched. Even though I had only Giordano in my lineup, I quickly switched off him, moved my flex to D, upgraded my W to Kucherov, and put Mikael Backlund in my flex, given the increased workload on his shoulders. With all these changes and the success of the lineup I built around them, I fought off an awful Ben Bishop performance of .6 DKpts and still scored 39.6 on a very low-scoring night for the NHL. It’s so important to stay on top of news prior to lock, because you never know when a bombshell like the Gaudreau/Monahan situation might drop, and being in position to process and take advantage of that information gives you that much of an edge on your opponents.
Here’s to another great night of Thursday night NHL action, and be sure to give a warm welcome to the NBAers who will start trickling on in, as tonight’s 2-game slate in the NBA will serve as a last hurrah for those players, who will then disperse to other games (or nothing at all) until next Thursday, making for a solid week of increased NHL volume across the industry.
**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!**
**News and Notes: Artemi Panarin is still out for CHI, and last game the Hawks were shutout without him. Lehtonen is an intriguing GPP play in a high paced game. Jared Spurgeon has been confirmed out as well for the Minnesota Wild. There are many backups in net tonight, so be sure to confirm your goalie is in fact starting.**
Target: Alexander Ovechkin (W) – Wsh (@ Min) – $8,700
It’s been a while since I have had the opportunity to write up Ovi, as he came out of the All-Star break a bit banged up and had to sit out a game. However, he is showing no signs of slowing down his ungodly shooting pace, attempting 9.2 shots per game in his last 10 and scoring 7 goals in that time frame. He gets a fantastic matchup in Minnesota, who (as I mentioned on Tuesday) has still only won 3 games since January 1st, and is still missing two of their top 3 d-men in Jared Spurgeon and Jonas Brodin. Ovi will likely see Ryan Suter for the majority of his minutes, which hampers his upside a bit, but when Christian Folin is the other defenseman you’ll share a majority of the ice with, that’s not dissuading to me. Count on Ovechkin to exceed his high floor tonight as the Capitals continue their 39-9-4 season against the worst team in the league for the last month and a half.
Stack: Braden Holtby (G) – $8,500
Holtby is actually not the most expensive goalie of the night as that honor goes to Corey Crawford, who takes on the Stars. With that, however, it is worth noting that $8,500 is a lot to spend on a goalie, but I am willing to take the plunge. First of all, I think Holtby has the best chance to win, even on the road. Secondly, Minnesota has put up 35 shots or more in four of their last five games. They are playing really poor hockey, have suffered crucial injuries as of late, and are still putting up a consistent volume of shots. I think Holtby has an outside chance of a 30-save shutout, and makes for a great play on a night where many players will go dumpster diving trying to save a few bucks in net, what with all the backups getting the call tonight.
Target: Evander Kane (W) – Buf (@ Phi) – $5,900
Kane is averaging 8.6 shot attempts per game in his last 10, placing him on the tier reserved for Ovechkin and Seguin, but usually only Ovechkin. What makes this even more incredible is how Kane has done it, playing on Buffalo’s 3rd line and 2nd PP unit. That isn’t to say Kane isn’t a massively talented player, but more of Dan Bylsma has a top PP unit he trusts, and Kane has found a great niche as a PKer and energy guy, who just happens to have top-5 pedigree and a heavy shot to boot. Kane’s floor is insanely high considering his sub-$6k price tag, and did you notice he won three fights last game against noted pugilist Alex Petrovic of Florida before getting a game misconduct? If you think that stopped his production, well, think again, because he still put up 3 shots, 1 blocked shot and a goal on 7 attempts in just 11 minutes of ice time. With the injury to Johan Larsson, who is a nice player, Buffalo decided to spread the wealth of offensive talent even thinner, however this resulted in Sam Reinhart getting knocked off the first line down to play with Kane and Brian Gionta. This will only help Kane’s performance, and he makes for a great play against the Flyers, who ranks 30th in the NHL in DvP to wingers.
Stack: Sam Reinhart (C) – $4,100
To expand a bit on Reinhart, he’s a 20 year old former #2 overall pick who is tied for 2nd in the NHL among rookie goal-scorers. He is a solid skater who will be able to keep up with Kane and his great speed, a great passer with an insanely high Hockey IQ according to scouts, and is a great net-front presence. This sets up for a nice bit of chemistry between the two, as Reinhart can get the puck to Kane and get to the net to deflect the shot or clean up any rebounds. Against a weak Philly defense, it’s worth a shot in GPPs to see if you can find some instant chemistry between the two, while Kane’s floor makes him a great cash-game play.
Jake Muzzin has been in phenomenal form as of late, with 6 points in his last 5 games. Even better is the fact that he has nearly 7 shot attempts per game, and has blocked 2 shots per game over that time frame, all the while playing over 20 minutes per night and playing with the L.A PP1. In a high-event game in Brooklyn, with Vegas split right down the middle on the money-line, Muzzin’s 4-category excellence (G, A, Sh, BS) puts him right up there with the highest priced defensemen in terms of floor, at a much cheaper cost.
Similarly to Tuesday, where he was my lock of the night, I also like Travis Hamonic (NYI) as a “bonus lock”, if you will, with a similar floor in the same matchup and an even cheaper price than Muzzin.
Stack: Jeff Carter (C) – $5,800
Jeff Carter seems to have snapped out of the funk that had him below his seasonal average of 3.6 FPPG in six straight outings, putting 6 shots on goal to go with a goal and assist in an 8 point effort during L.A’s rout of Boston. I think he can parlay the outburst into a nice little stretch of hockey, as he skates alongside Tyler Toffoli at 5v5, and moves up with Toffoli to join Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty, and the aforementioned Muzzin on the powerplay. When surrounded by the talent that Carter has, with the skills (and fantasy production) he has shown in the past, it’s hard to stop the points once they start coming. Unfortunately for the Islanders, the Kings best players look to be turning around their recent struggles and gaining their confidence back.
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!
Featured Image Credit: Photo Credit: Keith Allison/Flickr C.C. 2.0 https://www.flickr.com/photos/keithallison/3484734701