Welcome to Stack the Deck, where we focus on the key players in action on February 16th 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 eleven-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, the beast that is DFS consumed my soul on Tuesday, with an unexplainable coaching decision sinking my favorite target, Jaccob Slavin (after playing 75% of PP over the prior two games, he was replaced by someone named Brett Pesce and saw 0 PP TOI), and the rock-solid Cory Schneider getting exposed by a hapless Philadelphia team for 5 goals on only 15 scoring chances.
If you didn’t win a GPP Tuesday, don’t feel bad, the winner had WSH2, which saw the majority of their TOI against Anze Kopitar, and PHI1, on a team that was outchanced in a game featuring only 31 scoring chances. For some context, of the 900 NHL games that have been played this season, only four have had fewer than 31 total scoring chances. It was and always will be the right decision to fade those exact plays, because the one time they pay off will not be worth the hundreds of trials it’ll take to hit. It does take some game theory and low-owned plays to win a GPP, so I can’t fault the process, but there is no reason for anyone to regret not getting a piece of either of those lines. Congrats to those that succeeded Tuesday, because I certainly did not.
Coming off a few frustrating days, I’m ready to get back on the board with a good night tonight. Here are some of my favorite plays on a loaded Thursday slate.
**DraftKings Prices will be used, however there are some other sites that have very similar scoring systems to DraftKings, so if you play on 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: Alex Ovechkin (W) – Wsh (@ NYI) – $8,900
On a night with so many options, I think it will be easy to rationalize going balanced across the board, leaving Ovechkin much lower owned than he should be. Even for $9k, I think he is a top play tonight, because he is so unbelievably reliable. For as good as he has been on the season, better than any player in the league with 5.4 FPPG, he has been even better in his last 10, averaging a mind-boggling 6.2 FPPG, with goals in 7 of 10 games and 5.6 shots per game. He is still the go-to guy for spending up on any slate, because he is so explosive. The Islanders have had no answer for Ovechkin in two games thus far this season, ceding 2 goals and 13 shots in those games, with 3 blocked shots to boot. That’s a total of 7 FPPG, and if he gives you that tonight, you will be very happy. Coming into tonight’s action, he has taken 15 shots in 2 of the last 3 games, and has broken 10 shot attempts in 6 of his last 8 games. There is simply no player like Ovi, who has the perfect skill set for DFS. There’s enough value on the board to make Ovechkin affordable, and I will be plugging Ovi into my lineup tonight in this good matchup with the Islanders and their overachieving goalie, Thomas Greiss, a career backup who has ridden a hot start to the lion’s share of the Isles crease duties.
Fade: T.J Oshie (W) – $5,700
Even though Oshie is a household name due to his USA shoot-out heroics in the 2014 Winter Olympics, he simply hasn’t lived up to his name or price this season. Playing with Ovechkin for the entire season, he has only 17 assists on the year in 55 games, and doesn’t have nearly the shooting floor I look for in a DFS player. This is shown in his last 10 games, where he has taken under 2 shots per game. Although Ovechkin is a fantastic play, his teammates with direct exposure have been priced out of consideration in cash games, and I prefer finding cheaper stacks, such as one I will roll out later in the post.
Target: Tyler Seguin (C) – Dal (@ Ari) – $8,400
This late in the season, it is strange seeing two teams in the same conference that have not yet played. However, that is exactly the case today, as the Stars and Coyotes will meet for the first of three matchups taking place in the next 4 weeks. Dallas is the premier team in DFS in terms of play style and talent, and Arizona is a team that started off hot (AKA lucky) and has faded lately, beating up on the league’s poor teams in February while having their doors blown in by the West’s elite. The last team in the mix with L.A, ANA, S.J, and CHI, who have averaged 5 goals in their recent games against Arizona, Dallas is coming off a tough stretch of their own, with their last 4 games coming against WSH, CHI, NSH and STL. It’s tough to sustain a streak through those teams, but before the St. Louis game, Seguin had 8 points in 5 games.
Dallas fell short in OT to the Blues, and as a result Lindy Ruff shook up the lines yet again. While we lost old friend Patrick Eaves to the 4th line, Patrick Sharp makes his way back up to the first line and Jason Spezza makes his triumphant return to the 2nd line, and 1st PP unit. Seguin has been a great player in his last 10, averaging 5.0 FPPG, and now gets the addition of Sharp and Spezza in place of Eaves in all situations, and still has Jamie Benn riding shotgun. After a tough stretch of games, this matchup in Arizona is a dream come true for Seguin, and I will be loading him with Ovechkin into all my lineups.
Stack: John Klingberg (D) – $6,300
With Ovechkin and Seguin locked into your lineups, it’s tough to decide which high priced D to go after in Arizona. In one corner, you have Oliver Ekman-Larsson, coming off a 10 point performance and having nearly a 5 shot+block floor in his last 10 games. In the other, you have John Klingberg, the dynamic Dallas defender who was great before the recent rough schedule, and now gets an easy matchup in a game where Jason Spezza returns to man the point alongside him on the PP1, where Dallas has 5 uber-talented players now. In GPP’s, I think Klingberg-Seguin is an elite stack that will be way too low-owned, and in cash games, I think you can pick your favorite between the two players, as each have their benefits. I am going Ekman-Larsson in cash, but can’t fault you for going Klingberg if that’s where you wish to target a stack.
FantasyHub Play of the Night: Sven Baertschi (W) – Van (v. Ana) – $3,000
The matchup isn’t great, with the Ducks rolling out a good defensive corps and 3 solid forward lines, but the opportunity makes Baertschi an incredible value. He has found himself playing on the PP1 alongside the Sedin twins, and should be able to use his offensive talent to make the best of this opportunity. In his last 7 games, he has attempted more than 4 shots per game, an awesome figure for someone around $3k across the industry. He has a discernible floor of a couple shots, and has a great opportunity to get an assist or two on the PP. Ignore the matchup, and take advantage of the talent and opportunity in Baertschi.
Stack: Ben Hutton (D) – $3,600
Also finding himself playing with the PP1, Ben Hutton has been asked to do a ton in the absence of Alexander Edler, playing 22 minutes or more in the last 3 games. Last game, LeftWingLock.com shows that he and Baertschi were on the featured PP1 unit, and are still listed there, although DailyFaceoff doesn’t agree with that, I tend to lean towards the last game’s units when in doubt. Hutton has had a few nice games in the past 8 games, with 3 of those eclipsing the 5 DKPt mark. For only $3.6k and receiving PP1 time, I’d be willing to take a chance on Hutton alongside Baertschi, as it allows you to spend up for so much elsewhere.
If you have any comments or questions regarding Thursday’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!