Welcome to Stack the Deck, where we focus on the key players in action on March 3rd 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 12-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, Corsica.Hockey, and Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com
Lines and Player Matchups are gathered from LeftWingLock.com and HockeyViz.com
Target: Jake Muzzin (D) – L.A (v. Mtl) – $5,300
Muzzin is always one of the best mid-tier values on the slate, but tonight he is just a slam-dunk play, in all formats. Ben Scrivens draws the start for Montreal, who played to a hard-fought OT loss last night in Anaheim. This leaves the Kings facing a dismal NHL goalie in Scrivens, and a tired team in front of him, one that has been quite bad for the last few months as well. Playing multiple Kings in cash games is not a bad strategy, and their ownership should (rightly so) be among the highest of any team on the slate.
Where I’ll start tonight is with Muzzin, a fixture on the top PP unit in Los Angeles. His shooting floor is through the roof, taking 13 shots in his last 2 games (and 35 over his last 10). This is backed by a sky high 7.5 iCorsi/game over the last 10 days, 2nd amongst all players in the NHL behind only Erik Karlsson. At nearly a $3k discount to Karlsson (who has a much tougher matchup) Muzzin is simply a must-play in cash games. To add to his PP exposure and shooting floor, he plays 25 min TOI per game and has an average of about 1.5 blocked shots per game on the season.
Stack: Anze Kopitar (C) – $6,300
Kopitar is the best player on the Kings, and I fully expect him to rack up multiple points tonight. The Kings have now been caught by the Ducks, and are only 4 points up on the Sharks in the standings, so the Kings need to kick it into gear soon to maintain their home-ice advantage after going 5-5 over their last 10. Kopitar is now centering Milan Lucic and Tyler Toffoli after last game saw the lines thrown into a blender, with no lines staying solid through the entire game. This bump in surrounding talent (Lucic and Dustin Brown were his prior linemates) and Toffoli’s positive regression coming (one goal in last 10 games despite 33 shots on net) bode well for Kopitar in a game the Kings are massive favorites in. Toffoli, Kopitar and Muzzin is a great GPP foundation, or even a cash game stack for the slightly riskier (in that 3 players from one team could be shutdown by a hot goalie or fluky circumstances) in their dream matchup with Ben Scrivens.
Target: Taylor Hall (W) – Edm (@ Phi) – $6,600
One of the top shooters in the whole league to begin the season, Hall took a backseat when Connor McDavid stormed back on the scene in February. Well, the hallmark of good DFS roster construction is finding proven skillsets that are showing signs of a bounce back. This is certainly the case with Hall, who has been returned to the top Oilers PP unit, consisting of him, Draisaitl, McDavid and Eberle, with Sekera on the point. That’s an awful lot of talent on one ice surface, and his PP potential becomes even sweeter when you consider that the Flyers have spent the most time shorthanded of any team since February 1st, along with taking the most penalties.
Hall has had a great last two games, with 6 shots in each game while his ice time returned to pre McDavid levels, skating an average of 19 minutes. I expect the Flyers to use Sean Couturier (one of the most underappreciated young defensive forwards in the league) to stop McDavid’s line, and leave the Giroux and Hall lines to play firewagon hockey, trading chances up and down the ice all game. Hall has shown the great shooting floor he had early in the season, and should see ample opportunity to pick up a point or two on one of the best PP units (on paper) in the entire league.
Stack: Mark Streit (D) – Phi (v. Edm) – $4,400
Although far from a “stack,” I think this game stack is one of the best ways to save a bit of salary (allowing you to get L.A and ANA players, who I’ll mention in a bit) while still getting exposure to one of the most “fun” games on the slate. While the Flyers are tops in each SH TOI and penalties in February, the Oilers have been undisciplined as well, ranking top 4 in each category. With Jakub Voracek out, Streit has filled his position as a defenseman on the PP, next to Gostisbehere. While Gost is the flashy play, Streit might actually have a higher floor tonight, because not only does he get that desirable PP1 time with Claude Giroux, the NHL’s point leader since 2010, but was also the most utilized PHI defender on the penalty kill last game, and has over 2 blocks per game in his last 6. Streit isn’t an inherently safe cash game option because he usually relies on assists to meet value, but I am using him because he is surrounded by quality scorers on a loaded PP unit and should see some opportunity to block shots on the kill. If you can’t afford Giroux (and it’s hard with Kopitar and Getzlaf going against subpar goaltenders tonight, not to mention Pavelski and Stamkos in great matchups), Streit gives you great exposure to him at a nice discount.
Target: Jamie McGinn (W) – Ana (@ Ari) – $3,900
McGinn was a trade deadline acquisition, and immediately slotted onto the Rakell-Perry line in Anaheim. This alone is reason enough to consider him, given his linemates obvious offensive talent. However, there are two more, perhaps better, reasons to play him. One is that he was immediately thrown onto Anaheim’s 2nd PP unit, where he took up his normal activities in front of the net, trying to dominate the dirty areas. He scored in his first game last night, making a nice redirection then slamming home the rebound, and generally looked to fit in great with his new linemates and racked up 6 DKPts. The 2nd reason as to why you should play Jamie McGinn? Niklas Treutle. That is who the Coyotes are running out in net tonight, and while he could be a good goalie, he certainly didn’t show it in the AHL this year, posting a .909 Sv% on the season. With the Ducks playing some jaw-dropping hockey at the moment, there is just no reason to avoid the Ducks solely because they are on the tail end of the back-to-back. McGinn is a cheap way to get exposure to this machine as they roll into Arizona looking for their 10th consecutive victory.
Stack: Corey Perry (W) – $6,500
Don’t overthink this slate too much, especially if you are playing cash games. Two of the league’s elite are facing bad teams with even worse goalies, and there should be a healthy amount of carnage in the southwest. If you want a Duck for premium exposure to each of the top two lines of Anaheim, Corey Perry is your guy. He is on ANA2 while playing on the PP1 alongside Getzlaf and David Perron. He has 10.5 FPPG in his previous two matchups, and should easily pass 30 goals for the 5th straight year (not including the lockout-shortened season), with 28 through 64 games. The former Hart trophy winner should have no problem meeting value yet again if Anaheim continues their stretch of impressive hockey.
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!