Welcome to Stack the Deck, where we focus on the key players in action on March 7th 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 7-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: Nathan MacKinnon (C) – Col (v. Ari) – $6,600
One of only two games to feature a 5.5 O/U (the other being S.J @ CGY), the Avs and Coyotes are both solid options, given their equally porous defensive units. Over the last 10 games, the Avs have given up the most opponent-adjusted scoring chances per game, and the ‘Yotes are 4th, meaning this game has defensive meltdown written all over it. Not to be outdone, the Coyotes have given up 3.6 Goals/60 since February 1st, the worst mark in the league. Fittingly, the Avs are 5th worst. If there is a game to watch tonight, this is it, if not for actual good hockey, but to experience three goalies throwing simultaneous tantrums. Yes, of course I am talking about Patrick Roy. Tonight’s expected starters, Louis Domingue for Arizona and Semyon Varlamov for Colorado, have been awful in their recent starts, with Domingue posting a .888 Sv% and Varlamov a .863 in their three most recent starts. They will need to shake their struggles off in order to keep this game from becoming a shootout.
MacKinnon is the one of the best dollar-for-dollar plays on the board in my opinion, as his production puts him as the 3rd best center tonight, but he is priced as the 6th most expensive option. He has been a shooting monster all season, ranking 17th in the NHL in iCorsi/60 playing for a horrible possession team, but recently if it weren’t for bad luck he wouldn’t have any luck at all. Over his last 10 games, the 2013 #1 overall pick has fired 39 shots on net, and only 1 of them has found the back of the net, giving him a 2.6 Sh%. Even though MacKinnon’s career shooting % is a hair above 9%, very low for a player of his talent level, I still expect him to snap out of his recent goal-scoring drought in a big way against Domingue, who has been markedly worse on the road this season.
Stack: Gabriel Landeskog (W) – $6,300
Landeskog flies under the radar most of the time, but we can use that to our advantage tonight. With the lines in Colorado always subject to change when Roy feels the need to do so, he currently has MacKinnon centering Mikkel Boedker (former Coyote traded at the deadline, for those of you looking for a narrative street angle tonight) and Landeskog at both 5v5 and on the PP1 unit. Landeskog is a very good player, and his usually low shot generation has seen a boost in recent games, with his last 10 games producing 27 shots. You will need points from Landeskog to reach value (whereas with MacKinnon there is an outside chance at him taking 10 SOG to reach value, as he averages 6 per game against ARI this season), but if you are looking for a player to stack with MacKinnon, his linemates are obvious places to start.
**Late Edit: Roy has struck again, moving Landeskog to the 3rd line, making MacKinnon’s new linemates Mikkel Boedker and Blake Comeau. Comeau is a sneaky play, and had a goal to go with 7 shots last time out. Play at your own risk, as he still isn’t a very good hockey player, but for $4k you can do much worse.**
Target: Michael Stone (D) – Ari (@ Col) – $4,800
I don’t think there is such a thing as “too much” exposure to this game tonight, for the reasons I listed above. My #1 defenseman on the night is Stone, who has a jaw-dropping 50 shots+blocks over his last 10 games. He receives PP1 time alongside Oliver Ekman-Larsson, a fantastic PP distributor, and plays well north of 20 min TOI in each game. For a sub-$5k price tag, there is no reason Stone shouldn’t be considered in your cash lineup, as he offers great exposure to OEL and has shown the highest floor of any defenseman on the slate not named Brent Burns.
Stack: Oliver Ekman-Larsson (D) – $6,300
If you want elite upside and want to save a bit off Brent Burns, OEL offers the 3rd most shots in the league for D behind only Erik Karlsson and Burns. He receives just about every second of PP TOI, and is highly involved, gaining a point on 68.3% of all PP goals he is on the ice for. Among D who have seen at least 200 minutes of TOI with the man advantage, OEL ranks 5th in IPP (Individual Points Percentage, described above) and 3rd in iCorsi/60 against the league’s elite offensive defensemen, showing just how involved OEL is in the Arizona offense. In a game where goals should be relatively easy to come by, combining Stone’s elite floor and Ekman-Larsson’s elite floor-upside combination is a very good GPP stack, and a viable cash option if your lineup permits it.
Target: Nikita Soshnikov (W) – Tor (v. Buf) – $3,000
Taking a foray out of Colorado for this last play, Soshnikov offers a very solid performance (over an admittedly small sample) for a bare-bones price. In his first taste of NHL action, Soshnikov has impressed, putting 12 shots in goal in 4 games. This alone would raise some eyebrows, as being paired with two of the only true NHL-caliber forwards TOR has to offer at the moment (Nazem Kadri and Leo Komarov) gives him some good exposure in a great matchup with Buffalo and Chad Johnson. What makes Soshnikov a great play tonight is the two goals he has scored, because even though the shots are reason enough to play him in DFS, the goals should give Babcock more confidence in him, leading to more PP time, and more leash if he struggles early on in the game tonight.
Toronto has been playing inspired hockey, managing to out-Corsi and outchance opponents in 6 of their last 7 in spite of their clearly overmatched roster. With Kadri struggling to score but primed for a breakout, Soshnikov should be able to parlay his strong showing into another nice night with multi-point upside against the Sabres’ backup goalie Chad Johnson, who has posted respectable numbers on the season but is also prone to the occasional blow-up game from time to time.
Stack: Nazem Kadri (C) – $5,400
When you pay a mid-range salary for Kadri, you aren’t usually paying for his point upside, but rather his floor as one of the top shot generators in the league. On the season, his iCorsi/60 at 5v5 is the 4th best in the NHL, behind Ovechkin, Pacioretty and Tarasenko. This is a rare matchup where Toronto is not going to be overmatched, as Buffalo is probably a better team, further along in their rebuild, but are lacking defensively without Ryan O’Reilly, out for a few weeks with an injury. Kadri has a great chance to up his paltry 5.5 Sh%, which is far below 10%, a mark which he has cleared in each of his first 3 seasons. While he is unlikely to go on a torrid stretch of goal-scoring to reach it given his surrounding talent, tonight is one of the few nights where his matchup shouldn’t affect his output at all. I like him as a GPP stack with Soshnikov and a secondary cash option if you can’t pull the trigger on a $3k punt.
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!