Welcome to Stack the Deck, where we focus on the key players in action on February 15th 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 Monday’s five-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
**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. Mtl) – $5,900
So Friday, I led off with OEL and was rewarded for doing so. He put up a goal and 2 assists, and ended up with 8.5 DKPts on the night. So you want to know what DraftKings did? They dropped him $100. And then Saturday, he had a tough outing against a streaking San Jose team, and they dropped him another $100. So now, he is $200 cheaper than Friday, with the same floor and potentially even more upside against the Mike Condon-led Montreal Canadiens. Condon has stopped less than 90% of his shots faced over the last 10 games, so I am looking forward to getting pieces of Arizona in this juicy matchup.
OEL is the top defensive option on the slate, because not only does he lead the Coyotes in points, assists, shots, and iCorsi/60, but he ranks highly among all NHL D-men: 2nd in goals and shots, 3rd in iCorsi/60, and 6th in points. For less than $6k, Ekman-Larsson is a staple in my cash and GPP lineups.
Stack: Shane Doan (W) – $4,500
Doan has really catapulted to the forefront of the Arizona playoff push, with 9 points in his last 10, and leading the Coyotes in goals, having already eclipsed the 20-goal mark. Doan had an excellent outing against the Flames on Friday, going for 11 DKPts, his 2nd multi-point game of the week. In his last matchup against the Canadiens, he scored a goal, and in general has seen the ice time and opportunity to go with his excellent production, making him very worthy of a Coyotes-based stack.
Target: Phil Kessel (W) – Pit (@ Fla) – $6,500
This is quite a contrarian take, as Evgeni Malkin is still out, leaving Kessel on a line with Carl Hagelin and Matt Cullen. But, it almost seems like Kessel plays better when he is in control of the puck. That was the prevailing thought behind the failed connection between Crosby and Kessel early on, and Malkin was a much more natural fit because they are both good at creating space and finding space without the puck. With Malkin out, Kessel hasn’t had great success by way of points, but has accelerated his shooting pace, with over 7 shot attempts per game in the 5 games Malkin has missed. With everyone and their mother investing (and with good reason) in the Chicago Blackhawks against the Toronto Marlies.. err.. Leafs, Kessel is a great player to differentiate your lineups with, while still maintaining a great floor. Kessel has 13 shots and 23 shot attempts in the last two games, and has seen nearly 20 minutes of ice time in each. He is still entrenched on the top PP unit, and takes on a Florida team riding unsustainable goalie play to their success. Al Montoya gets the start tonight, and the Pens PP should be able to get a few past him, and lower his astronomically high PK Sv%. Look for Kessel to have the puck on his stick whenever he is out there, and use his shooting floor to get value, and the PP to exceed it.
Fade: Patric Hornqvist (W) – $6,400
With exposure to Crosby in all situations, Hornqvist is a GPP option. However, he is massively overpriced for what amounts to a 3rd wheel on the Pittsburgh top line. It is undeniable that Chris Kunitz and Crosby have a special chemistry, and can find each other in all areas of the ice. Kunitz is not as talented as Hornqvist, but he gets himself into Crosby’s favorite passing lanes, and has reaped the rewards of playing alongside him for years. If you want some Crosby exposure, look to Kunitz at nearly $2k less, if Kessel doesn’t fit your criteria.
FantasyHub Play of the Night: Scott Darling (G) – Chi (v. Tor) – $7,500
It is real easy to outthink yourself, but when a great opportunity such as this one comes along, you have to take it. I usually have problems taking goalies that are such giant favorites (-230 right now, down from -290 before the Darling announcement, and that Kadri is a GTD), and those usually stem solely from shot volume concerns. But tonight, I don’t see that being an issue, because on the season, the Leafs have taken the 6th most shots in the league on a per-game basis. Even with Kadri, JVR, Lupul, and Bozak out, their top 4 players, they took 36 and 38 shots in their last two games. “But, these are the Blackhawks, you see, and those are the Canucks and Oilers, two bad defensive teams,” you might be yelling at the screen right about now, but over the last 10 games, they’ve allowed a very similar number of shots as the Leafs’ previous two opponents. The Leafs play a high-event style of hockey under coach Babcock, and it shows. With a barren roster and a high shot volume, the Leafs give up the most points to opposing goalies, and should give Darling enough trouble so that he sees a nice floor in saves, with an outside shot at a shutout and a virtually guaranteed win. Crazy things can happen in the world of DFS hockey, but the median outcome for Darling tonight, at a mid-tier goalie price, is too high to pass up.
Stack: Patrick Kane (W) – $8,700
He’s expensive, and I really don’t want to pay this much for a guy without the safe shooting floor of a player like Ovechkin. But, look at these. Look! How are those players going to stop a guy on pace for 107 points? I have no idea, so I’ll be rolling with him, shooting floor be damned.
If you have any comments or questions regarding Monday’s NHL DFS action, or just want to say hi, you can reach out me on Twitter @Mattman1398. Good luck tonight, and as always:
Thanks for reading!