Welcome to Stack the Deck, where we focus on the key players in action on February 12th 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 Friday’s seven-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
I don’t want to talk too much about last night, but all I can say is “Wow.” In cash, I had 50 points by 9:30 EST on the backs of Eaves and Ovechkin, and was sniffing the top of GPP’s with my lineup. Fading Oilers/Leafs and Sharks/Flames completely, I was up by more than 20 in every single H2H around 9:30. Needless to say, McJesus stormed in and wrecked my ROI, with him and Eberle combining for over 30 points. With 56 points, I nearly missed the cash line in some small 50/50’s. With 2 hat tricks on my roster, I was looking up at hundreds of players in GPP’s. It was a pretty wild night, and a fun way to start off the weekend.
For my sanity’s sake, let’s hope that a good cash score is closer to 30-35 tonight, rather than 50. But if there are any cornerstones in a great cash lineup, here are some guys that I think are great candidates to perform tonight.
**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 Play of the Night later on in the post!**
Target: Oliver Ekman-Larsson (D) – Ari (v. Cgy) – $6,100
OEL is just a beast for Arizona, and it shows through in nearly every stat you look at. From a pure hockey standpoint, his Relative Corsi For%, or a measure of how much better your team fares possession-wise with you than when you are on the bench, is the most impressive one. It comes in at 6.27% (6th in the NHL among Defensemen), turning Arizona from a bad team into a slightly above-average one with his play, without much help from his d-partner, Connor Murphy, whose Rel Corsi is 1%. For DFS purposes, OEL is actually even better, because not only does he lead the Coyotes in points, assists, shots, and iCorsi/60, but he ranks well among all NHL D-men: 2nd in goals and shots, 3rd in iCorsi/60, and 6th in points.
On a slate with just under half of the NHL in action, he is the 8th most expensive defenseman. The numbers don’t quite add up, which makes him a good value play on any night. What makes him a special play tonight, and one worthy of special inclusion in every format, is the matchup with the Calgary Flames. They are coming into Phoenix off a road back-to-back, playing a tough San Jose team last night. Even more interesting is to account for the times of puck drop. The Flames-Sharks puck drop was at 10:30 EST last night, while tonight’s puck drop in Arizona is 9:00 EST, given Arizona’s refusal to give in to Daylight Savings Time. While it might be a very inconsequential fact, with even less time to recover than normal, the Flames seem to be prime candidates for some tired legs. OEL has taken 47 shot attempts in the last 5 games, including 9 shots on net in his last game. Finally, in two games against the Flames this season, he’s put up 2 goals on 8 shots, good for 5 FPPG. I expect him to at least meet that standard tonight, with the ability to get a couple points and use his shooting floor to have him sniffing double digit DKPts.
Stack: Anthony Duclair (W) – $3,800
Duclair has joined the Ari PP1, which on the back of OEL’s offensive talent has gone 4-13 in their last 3 games. Not only are they converting at least once per game, but they are getting ample opportunities to do so. Calgary is the 2nd worst team in the league in terms of PK%, so I expect Arizona to pot multiple goals if they can get their typical 4-5 PP’s tonight. Duclair is a very talented player, acquired via the Keith Yandle trade last year from the Rangers, which to this day has Rangers fans undervaluing the contribution of Yandle because they see Duclair doing electric things in the desert (One of the 5 D-men better than OEL in Rel Corsi%? Yandle). Given the chance to shine on the power-play, I think he is in a great spot to put up multiple shots and perhaps even net one himself. For less than $4k, he gives you a lot of flexibility to maneuver under the salary cap in all formats.
Target: Pavel Datsyuk (C) – Det (v. Col) – $6,000
With 5 points in his last 3 games, it is safe to assume Datsyuk is enjoying his time playing with Zetterberg and Abdelkader. Datsyuk doesn’t have the highest floor, but he has two games in his last four with 7 shots, and has a matchup with the Avalanche tonight. If there’s one thing the Avs do, it’s allow shots (and scoring chances) and the skill of Zetterberg and Datsyuk should enable them to exploit the heck out of this matchup. As the biggest favorite of the night, it’s clear Vegas doesn’t respect the Avs run of unsustainable PDO (and wins) that brought them into the playoff race. Going up against a Colorado team coming off a road back-to-back and finally getting their #1 PP defenseman back, Detroit is a great target, and their first line one of the best bets on tonight’s slate.
Stack: Mike Green (D) – $4,900
Green returns to the ice tonight after a groin injury left him sidelined for the previous two games. He will regain the point position on the PP1 unit, one that has newly incorporated Pavel Datsyuk, rather than having him anchor the #2 unit. This makes the first unit even more explosive, and in the nine games prior to injury, Green totaled 2 goals and 3 assists on the power play. The Avs, in their eternal defensive struggle, will wind up trapped in their end and will be forced to take penalties, which they are a bottom 10 team at killing off. A Detroit stack will probably be chalk in GPP’s, but they are in such a good matchup that it’s worth taking the plunge in most situations.
FantasyHub Play of the Night: Jake Muzzin (D) – L.A (@ NYR) – $4,900
I wrote this yesterday against the Islanders, where he went pointless but still had 4 shots and 4 blocks. With Antti Raanta in net for the Rangers, the Kings should be able to take some revenge for last night’s loss in Brooklyn. I’ll edit what I wrote to keep it relevant for today, but if it sounds familiar, it’s because Muzzin was a great play yesterday, and still is today.
Jake Muzzin has been in phenomenal form as of late, with 6 points in his last 6 games. Even better is the fact that he has over 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 Manhattan, 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.
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. Yesterday, Carter took 6 shots on net and had an assist, making it two straight games in which he has done so, and picked up an assist. Against Antti Raanta in net, I expect the Kings to take out their frustration from last night on the hapless Rangers, who without Ryan McDonagh and Henrik Lundqvist are a very poor defensive team. Carter, skating with the PP1 unit in Anze Kopitar, Tyler Toffoli, Drew Doughty, and the aforementioned Jake Muzzin, is in a great spot to benefit, and should keep up his strong recent form.
If you have any comments or questions regarding Friday’s NHL DFS action, you can find me on Twitter @Mattman1398. Good luck tonight, and as always:
Thanks for reading!