Welcome to Stack the Deck, where we focus on the key players in action on March 8th 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 Tuesday’s 8-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: Kris Russell (D) – Dal (@ Mtl) – $4,500
John Klingberg has been ruled out again for Dallas, and his replacement on the PP1 unit is Russell. I could be the point guy on this lethal unit, and I would still consider myself in play for the upside offered by the exposure. Luckily I am not on an NHL roster, because I would curl up in a ball and cry if P.K Subban was taking 100 MPH slapshots while I was on the bench. Instead, Russell is a guy with a high floor and significant four-category upside tonight (shots, blocks, goals, assists on DraftKings), as he already ranks 2nd in the NHL in blocked shots this season, despite missing more than 10 games due to an injury.
With Klingberg out, Russell has seen 24 minutes in each of the last two games, giving him ample opportunity to rack up points. Russell picked up a PP assist in Ottawa on Sunday, and in another great matchup against Montreal, I will be getting just about 100% exposure to him so long as he is expected to play the PP1. On Sunday, the Stars PP1 played 90% of all the available PPTOI, with Russell sticking on the unit in both attempts, where they were 1-2 on the night. Russell sat out practice yesterday, so there is some risk that he will not be on the PP1 come game time, but with his contribution on Sunday I think he is a safe bet to see more opportunities. Russell makes for a very good mid-tier defenseman in both cash and GPP formats.
Fade: Tyler Seguin (C) – $8,300
Seguin is simply priced too high for how badly Dallas has struggled. Although Seguin has a nice shooting floor, amongst the league leaders in iCorsi/60 and averaging 4 shots per game over the last 10, he is dependent on a multi-point night or an Ovechkin-like shooting night to make value. While both of these are certainly within the realm of possibility, given how talented Dallas is, and how poorly Montreal has played this season with Carey Price out, I won’t commit to any high priced Star until they snap out of their funk. In his last 10 games, Seguin has fallen short of value in all but one of them, topping out at 9 DKPts nine games ago against Arizona, and averaged 3.4 FPPG over the stretch. That won’t cut it on a 8 game slate, and I will be looking elsewhere if I want to spend on a high-priced player.
Target: Pavel Datsyuk (C) – Det (@ CBJ) – $6,200
Datsyuk missed last game due to an illness, however was outstanding in the games prior to his one-game absence. I always like to pick guys who have the red subscript next to their names, as the average player avoids these situations. Datsyuk is confirmed as being in the lineup tonight, so barring a late flare up of his sickness he will be good to go. And Datsyuk had been playing some great hockey, averaging 4.2 FPPG in his last 10, and attempting 29 shots in his last 3 games against Chicago, Dallas, and Colorado. That bodes extremely well for his feasibility going forward, as Columbus, while a much better team than they were in November and December, is still not a very good team defensively. They’ve especially struggled to control possession, ranking as the 5th worst team over the last 10 games at preventing shot attempts, while generating the 6th lowest output of shot attempts. If Detroit can keep the puck in the offensive end of the ice, Datsyuk is the sort of player who can create chances from nothing with his elite stickhandling and ability to find open space. I will be focusing on Detroit’s first line in my lineups tonight, as I think they should be able to gash Columbus’s weak team defense.
Stack: Henrik Zetterberg (C) – $5,400
I like Zetterberg a lot in this matchup for the same reasons I like Datsyuk, going against a green Columbus back end. By no means is he a must play alongside Datsyuk, however I find it especially egregious that he is only priced $100 above Dylan Larkin. Larkin is a strong skater with flashes of brilliance, but is playing 3rd line minutes with 3rd line talent, with 1 G and 0 A in the last 10 games. He simply doesn’t produce without playing next to Henrik Zetterberg, as the duo has combined for points 16 times. Justin Abdelkader, the other component of the top line, has combined with Larkin for 11 goals together. Seeing as Larkin has 39 points on the season, much of his production is not repeatable next to the players he is skating alongside. And at 1.8 FPPG in his last ten, I don’t expect Larkin to out-produce Zetterberg tonight.
Target: Patrice Bergeron (C) – Bos (@ T.B) – $7,300
I was skeptical of Tampa’s 9-game winning streak that ended last night, as the opponents they faced were all rather weak, and the Lightning scooted by on the backs of their goalies, as both Ben Bishop and Andrei Vasilievskiy have been excellent. That was resoundingly confirmed by the beating the Lightning suffered at the hands of the Flyers, of all teams, losing 4-2 in a game in which the Lightning were out-Corsi’d (with score adjustments) 80-40 and outchanced 40-18. Tampa was completely outworked and outclassed, and now have to fly from Philly to the south to go back home, where they will meet a Bruins team that also played last night in Sunrise. Boston got similarly pounded in the underlying stats categories, but managed to eke out a 5-4 OT win after blowing a 3-0 and 4-1 lead. Bergeron, as you might expect was not the problem, as he posted a 58% Corsi For% and a 49% Scoring Chance For%, while the team as a whole posted a 45% and 33%, respectively.
So now that we’ve clarified that a 3-time Selke Trophy winner is not the root of his team’s defensive issues (a very tough task indeed), let’s dig into why he’s a great DFS play tonight. His new first line addition, Lee Stempniak, seems to have given the line some new life, with the tandem combining for 17 points in their 4 games together. Bergeron has been firing pucks on net with the best of them, with 20 iCorsi in his last two, and 28 in the last four. Bergeron continues to get PP1 time and kills a majority of Boston’s penalties, putting him in prime fantasy point scoring position all night long. In what should be a high-paced game with Vegas pricing the over on 5.5 goals as an even money bet, Bergeron should feature prominently at both ends of the ice, in great position to pick up points on the scoreboard and your leaderboards.
Stack: Lee Stempniak (W) – $4,400
Brad Marchand also makes for a good stacking option, but a near-$7k price tag is tough to swallow for a guy who simply doesn’t produce individually (14 iCorsi in last 4, compared to Bergeron’s 28). Stempniak is a much more reasonably priced option, and went for a goal and 2 assists last night against the Panthers, including the OT winner. Stempniak’s arrival in Boston has been a great fit thus far, and even though he hasn’t seen any PP time yet with the Bruins, his exposure to Bergeron and the opportunities that brings makes him a very good play for his price.
If you have any comments or questions regarding Tuesday’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!