Welcome to Stack the Deck, where we focus on the key players in action on March 15th 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: Dylan Larkin (C) – Det (@ Phi) – $5,200
Many players who I have covered in the last week or two are still in play in all formats, such as Nikita Soshnikov and Kris Russell, so I’ll start off with a player who I recently shared some hesitations about in Dylan Larkin. This came when he was playing 3rd line minutes, and he has only really been good this season playing with Zetterberg and Abdelkader. But then Zetterberg and Datsyuk got split up by Jeff Blashill, and now Larkin is reunited with his old line. It’s amazing how well they seem to click, as Larkin immediately put himself back in my good graces. In three games with his new unit, Larkin has only one goal, but he has shown the same sort of fantasy-output that he did early on this season, posting 14 shots (on 24 shot attempts) in those contests.
I see this game as one with sneaky good fantasy potential, especially considering Philly has to decide whether they stick Sean Couturier on Datsyuk’s line, with newcomer Anthony Mantha making his NHL debut tonight (although unfortunately he is not in the DK player pool), or Zetterberg’s line. I have a feeling it will be the Larkin trio that gets to square off with Claude Giroux, an elite player but one who will push the pace offensively along with his linemates, leaving opportunity for odd-man rushes the other way. Larkin has the sort of game-breaking speed and talent to exploit Philly’s weak backend, and I think he makes good on his strong recent play and finally picks up a point or two in tonight’s matchup.
Stack: Danny DeKeyser (D) – $3,500
DeKeyser, mercifully, has replaced Niklas Kronwall on the Det PP1 unit, and rightfully so. Kronwall had been downright awful manning the point for Detroit, and with his injury keeping him out of the lineup tonight, DeKeyser should be in line for 20+ min TOI and a handful of PP time. Mike Green and Datsyuk’s line have been the first over the boards to try to take advantage of PP opportunities, but Zetterberg’s unit still sees enough time to give them some upside. DeKeyser is certainly not flashy, and he doesn’t provide the sort of shooting floor we look for in a cash game play, with 9 iCorsi in his last five games, but if you are feeling risky, a DET-PHI game stack (Schenn-Giroux-Gost Larkin-Abdelkader-DeKeyser perhaps) is how I will attack at least one of my GPP entries tonight.
Target: Patric Hornqvist (W) – Pit (v. NYI) – $6,800
With Evgeni Malkin going down, likely for the rest of the regular season, Sidney Crosby will once again be asked to shoulder the load for a Pittsburgh club that is dangerously close to having to fight down the stretch for their playoff spot. The last time this happened, Sid went crazy, putting up 11 points in 10 games. Hornqvist had 2 goals and 4 assists, but was expected to score 3.45 goals, per Corsica.Hockey’s ixG metric, which takes into account shot distance and other quality factors to grade each shot on league-wide averages. Hornqvist being as skilled as he is, he shouldn’t be held below his average all that often, as that’s a leaguewide number that doesn’t account for shooter talent, or passer-talent, as is the case with Crosby feeding him. I think Hornqvist will be able to help Crosby shoulder the load this time, and that starts tonight against a tired Islanders team that looked dead last night against the Panthers up until 10 minutes to go in the 3rd. Pittsburgh is much more explosive than Florida, and I don’t expect them to allow the Islanders to play as poorly as they did without putting up a touchdown. In a fight for their playoff lives, never count out Crosby, and Hornqvist is a cheaper way to get exposure to him.
Stack: Justin Schultz (D) – $3,600
Schultz moved up with the PP1 unit with Malkin gone, giving him a massive boost in value. His ice time is still a relative concern, but at half the price of Letang and being one of the better offensive (read: not defensive at all) defensemen on the slate tonight, has a great chance to register one measly point to reach value. He has at least 2 shots in each of his last 4 games, making the odds of a complete dud pretty low. I don’t mind at all the cash game mindset of getting Schultz and Russell and loading up on forwards, as you’re getting two pivots on what are on paper 2 of the best 5 PP units in the league at a price equal to that of Brent Burns.
Target: James Reimer (G) – S.J (v. Bos) – $6,800
Reimer gets the nod in net tonight, and I think he is the perfect combination of under-appreciated ability, low price, and solid matchup. And he’s at home. The masses will flock to Vasilevskiy tonight, but to me the best bang-for-your-buck comes from Reimer. On the season, Reimer has a .941 Sv% at 5v5, simply remarkable for a guy who played all but 3 of those games in front of the AHL Toronto Maple Leafs. His last start resulted in a shutout, and although the Bruins are a solid squad, I don’t see them beating the Sharks with the way San Jose has been playing.
Stack: Joe Thornton (C) – $5,800
$5,800 is a hefty price tag to pay for Joe, but he has 9 assists over his past 10 games, a trend that should continue into tonight. If Thornton can get a couple shots on goal, he should meet value rather easily. I just don’t see a 2 goal, 6 shot outburst coming from Thornton, or anyone on the Sharks. Outside of Reimer, I will be avoiding this game, and if you end up with $5,800 to spend, try to get Mark Stone or Jonathan Huberdeau in your flex, or Zetterberg if you’re desperate for a center on a night where the position is plenty deep.
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!