Welcome to Stack the Deck, where we focus on the key players in action on March 5th 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 Saturday’s 7-game main slate (There is an all-day featuring all 11 of Saturday’s games starting with MIN-BUF at 1 PM, and a 3-game afternoon slate that begins at 3 PM as well), 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: Brayden Schenn (C) – Phi (v. CBJ) – $5,400
**Schenn is currently listed as questionable due to an injury suffered late in Thursday’s game. Keep an eye on his status, and if he is out his replacement on PP1 and PHI1 alongside Giroux and Simmonds makes for a fantastic play as well.**
Given Schenn plays tonight, he is the perfect GPP option. There were a lot of players on Philadelphia Thursday as they took on the lowly Oilers and got smoked. Or, that’s what the DFS community at large will believe. Take a closer look, however, and what you’ll find was that the game was a byproduct of the sport: some awful variance that isn’t indicative of what’s to come. Considering that the score-adjusted (meaning score effects are factored into these figures, the disparity was actually much greater than this) Corsi and SC battles were won by the Flyers 67-50 and 35-29, the data actually shows that the Flyers played a high event game and did what they could to produce offensively, only to be stifled by Cam Talbot and his hot hand in net.
There is no time for the Flyers to pout over this, as Saturday the Blue Jackets give them a great chance to seek revenge, a similarly potent offensive team that struggles on defense to their Friday night opponent, who happens to be the Oilers. These unique circumstances are pretty cool, as three teams all play each other within a span of 3 days. Columbus put up 5 through the first half of Friday night’s game, and coasted to an easy 6-3 victory against an Oilers team off a back to back. The Flyers get the Blue Jackets now on a back-to-back, and in this impromptu round-robin tournament, I expect the Flyers to return to .500 on Saturday.
If Schenn plays, his 1.5 DKPt performance on Thursday will loom large in the back of players’ minds, keeping his ownership down, even though he attempted 9 shots after attempting 13 in his hat trick on Tuesday. 22 shots in 2 games is a remarkable feat, and while 11 iCorsi is not a reasonable benchmark for Saturday, his newfound confidence shooting the puck will serve him well as long as he has Claude Giroux feeding him in all situations.
Stack: Claude Giroux (C) – $7,300
Giroux will always be the beneficiary of some weaker opponents, as Sean Couturier typically gets the call to shut down the other team’s top line in home games. Against Columbus, that is especially important, however, as Brandon Dubinsky, the Blue Jackets’ best defensive center, is flanked by the two biggest offensive threats on the team, Boone Jenner and Cam Atkinson. With Dubinsky accounted for (which is more than likely), Giroux will find himself matched up with the likes of Alexander Wennberg and William Karlsson. In his last 3 games, Giroux has 1 goal on 12 shots (on 19 attempts) and 4 assists, and has been a surprisingly active shooter this entire season, his 175 shots on the season (37th in the NHL) putting the elite playmaker ahead of nominal snipers such as Joe Pavelski, Steven Stamkos, and Corey Perry, who Giroux has played fewer games than. Saturday night should be the culmination of a neat weekend threesome, and I expect there to be at least 3 goals on each side. I will be loading up on this game in GPP’s, and especially the Philly side of things.
Target: Tomas Hertl (W) – S.J (v. Van) – $5,400
The Sharks and Canucks have quickly become familiar with one another, with Saturday’s matchup being the third game between the two clubs this week. Sunday and Thursday resulted in 2 Sharks wins by a combined 7-3 score, but the games were far from uneven. The Sharks came out flat in both, and relied on comebacks in the 2nd half of games to put the Canucks away. Tomas Hertl was the best Shark on the ice in both games, posting a goal on 3 shots (and a blocked shot) on Sunday, and going for a goal and assist on Thursday with 4 shots. This is nothing new for Hertl, who has 12 goals on 73 shots and 8 assists in 26 games in the year 2016.
His price tag has been on the rise, but is yet to surpass Joe Thornton, who is another great value on this slate, but has a much lower floor due to his aversion to shooting, preferring to pass it off to Hertl or their linemate, Joe Pavelski. Although Hertl doesn’t receive PP1 time, he is a very skilled player in a great situation facing off with a bad team who he has torched twice in the last week. I will have Hertl locked into my cash lineups, and perhaps with a SJ1 stack in GPPs.
Stack: Brent Burns (D) – $8,100
Burns is much too expensive for cash game considerations, given his recent shaky iCorsi production. Still one of the top shot generators in the league, Burns’ play has been much more unpredictable than it was early on in the season. In the last 20 games, Burns has hit double-digit shot attempts 8 times, including the last 2 games, but has failed to clear 5 attempts in 8 of those games as well. And let me tell you, when you roster him on those nights, it is one of the most tilting experiences in NHL DFS (besides goalie, but we’ll save that story for another day), because he is invisible on the ice, rather than playing like a power forward with 28 minutes of ice time per night. Burns and Hertl hooked up for two goals last game, with each scoring once, and I love Burns for his correlation to pretty much every player on SJ given his ownership of both PP units and massive 5v5 TOI. If you want a SJ stack, there is a good chance Burns will be involved with any output the Sharks produce.
Burns makes for a fantastic GPP play on a night where many will choose to pay up for Erik Karlsson as he takes on the lowly Maple Leafs. (For the record, I will not be one of those individuals, as the Leafs have been surprisingly dominant in terms of puck possession, and the Senators have not been able to establish anything in their last 10 games, ranking only above the Colorado Avalanche in scoring chance %)
Target: Jiri Hudler (W) – Fla (@ Ari) – $4,200
If it seems like I am picking on a lot of weak teams… well, guilty as charged. But, that is what DFS is all about, being driven by matchups. Besides, of the bottom ten teams in the NHL, seven of them are included in this 14 team slate, with another two (Buffalo and Calgary) involved in the earlier NHL action. Hudler was one of the main rentals traded at the trade deadline, and he moved on from playing alongside Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan in Calgary to riding shotgun with Aleksander Barkov and Jaromir Jagr in Florida at both even strength and 5v4.
Hudler has explosive potential, and sat out last game due to some post-trade visa issues, which according to George Richards, the Panthers beat reporter and one of the more respected names around the league, are cleared as of Friday morning, so there should be no issues with Hudler’s status on Saturday. He should be massively underowned given this situation and the fact that Daily Faceoff has yet to list the correct lines on their site. He is a very talented player, and is in play in all formats as a value play in a great matchup with the Coyotes, who have lost 7 straight and given up 15 goals in their last 3 games. Just be sure to doublecheck both his status and the status of Jonathan Huberdeau, who is doubtful to play Saturday but might return and jumble the lines up yet again.
Stack: Aleksander Barkov (C) – $6,300 and Jaromir Jagr (W) – $5,500
Whoever plays alongside Barkov and Jagr will be in play, well, because Barkov and Jagr are both really, really good at hockey. Jagr has 10 points in his last 6, and Barkov has 5 points in 5 games coming off a lengthy absence, including 2 goals on the 25th, against the Coyotes. I love the idea of a FLA1 stack in both cash games and GPPs, due to the goaltending struggles Arizona has had combined with their lacking defense. Florida should generate enough offense to keep owners happy, while possessing the potential to explode for a 4+ goal night like each of Arizona’s last three opponents have.
If you have any comments or questions regarding Saturday’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!