Brett TalleyFantasy Hockey

Daily Fantasy Hockey Strategy: March 7th

This post covers the nine game slate of NHL contests on DraftKings starting at 7:00 P.M. EST.

Below I’ve got a discussion of the best matchups and potential stacks of the day followed by cash game rankings for tonight’s DraftKings contests. At the bottom of the post I’ve embedded my research chart for the day. Here is just a snippet of the chart I’ll use to explain what you’re looking at.

NHL DFS ex.

First the colors. Purple/blue is amazeballs, green is great, yellow is good, orange is bad, red is awful and deep red is no effing way.

The first column that isn’t self-explanatory is the fifth one, the one that is titled ‘z’ to the right of salary. That is how far above or below average the player’s salary is compared to all other players in action today. ‘Pts/Gm’ is a projection derived from my own Marcel-like projection system. The ‘z’ next to the projection is how far above or below average the projection is compared to all other players in action today. And then ‘zDIFF’ is the projection z-score minus the player’s salary z-score. The zDIFF column is really what we’re looking at.

Make sure to check Twitter for any injury news and line changes, and check Daily Faceoff for starting goalies.

Teams to Target

The best matchups of the day easily belong to Washington hosting Buffalo (who is playing for the second day in a row) and Montreal visiting Arizona.

If Alex Ovechkin ($9,300, W) is back in the lineup tonight, I like him with Nicklas Backstrom ($5,400, C) in both GPP and cash, high ownership percentages be damned. If Ovi sits again, Backstrom and Marcus Johansson ($3,700, C) will work for cash games. If you’re trying to be contrarion but still stick with the matchup, I’d look to the third line combo of Eric Fehr ($3,900, W) and Joel Ward ($3,700, W) for GPPs. On the blue line, Mike Green ($4,500, D) is an option for cash games and also in GPP if you use Fehr/Ward.

From the Canadiens, I prefer their second line tonight. For one, the second line has a better matchup than the first because they’re likely to avoid Oliver Ekman-Larsson. But the first line is also a little weak with Dale Weise ($2,600, W) playing up there. David Desharnais ($4,500, C) is alright, but he and Weise aren’t ideal line mates for Max Pacioretty ($8,400, W). So give me the second line of Tomas Plekanec ($5,000, C), Brendan Gallagher ($5,400, W) and Alex Galchenyuk ($4,100, C). You can use the entire line together in a cash game as well as a mini-stack of Plekanec and either winger. In a GPP I prefer Plekanec/Gallagher. If you use the whole line together in a cash game, I’d look at P.K. Subban ($7,000, D) to give you good exposure to both power play units. If you go with Plekanec/Gallagher in GPPs, you can pair them with Jeff Petry ($2,800, D).

The next matchups I’d pick on would be Tampa Bay hosting Dallas and the Islanders down in Florida facing a Panthers team with Dan Ellis likely in net.

There was a time this season when Florida’s top D pair of Aaron Ekblad and Brian Campbell was a possession monster and a matchup to avoid. But since February started, they’ve been below average from a possession perspective. In their last game against Dallas, they were -15 and -16 in Corsi +/- at even strength. That might have been why the Panthers primarily used their “second” D pair against Dallas’ stout top line. Of course, the second D pair was a combined -24 Corsi at even strength. For that reason, I like the Isles’ stout top line pair of John Tavares ($8,800, C) and Anders Lee ($5,000, C) in both cash games in GPPs. Nick Leddy ($3,800, D) is a good option to pair with them in GPPs.

Despite the good matchup for Tampa, I think they’re only a GPP play. Dallas has been a damn good possession team over the last five-ish weeks. At even strength, they rank fourth in Corsi for percentage in that time frame. If you’ve read my NHL posts this year, you know I liked to pick on Dallas’ D pair of Jyrki Jokipakka and Trevor Daley who were frequently matching up against the opposition’s second line. But Daley is injured and Jokipakka is now playing on the third pair with Patrik Nemeth. I wouldn’t mind trying to pick on that pair, and Tampa is one of the few teams in the league with a third line good enough to consider using in the right matchup. That makes Valtteri Filppula ($4,000, C) and Cedric Paquette ($2,900, C) a sneaky GPP play if you spend big elsewhere.

Aside from Daley/Jokipakka, Dallas’ other D pairs have been playing very well. Their second pair of Jordie Benn and Jason Demers have been absolute beasts possession-wise since February started. Among the 192 defenseman with at least 100 minutes in that time frame, Benn and Demers rank first and third in Corsi for percentage at even strength, respectively. Dallas’ goaltending is so bad that’s it’s hard to rule out any talented players facing them, but I’m actually scared enough of Benn/Demers to avoid the Tyler Johnson line tonight.

The top D pair of Alex Goligoski and John Klingberg has been pretty good from a possession standpoint as well and against tougher competition than Benn/Demers have faced. That D pair plus Dallas’ top forward line were all +15 or better in Corsi +/- at even strength in their last outing against Florida. That quintet figures to see a lot of the Steven Stamkos line, so I’ll have a hard time putting that line in a lineup as well.

I didn’t know it when I started discussing Tampa, but I really don’t like them tonight outside of Filppula/Paquette as salary relief in a GPP. Sorry it took me so many words to figure that out.

Speaking of Dallas’ top line, Jason Spezza ($5,600, C) was +19 in Corsi +/- at even strength in their last game and Jamie Benn ($6,700, W) was +15. Unfortunately for people like me who had a lot of exposure to them, they failed to find the back of the net. However, their failure to score has provided us with another opportunity to roster them because their salaries fell significantly today. On Thursday the pair would have cost you a combined $14,800 but today they’ll only run you $12,300. It may not have shown up on the score sheet, but that pair was dominant together on Thursday and their big price drop is not warranted. I like John Klingberg ($3,800, D) with them in GPPs.

I’m running a little long on word count here, so let me quickly say that I also like the matchup for the Blues in Toronto. Specifically, I think the Leafs are weak on defense down the right side, so I like some center-left winger combos for the Blues. In GPPs I like the upside of David Backes ($5,700, C) and Alex Steen ($5,400, W). Alex Pietrangelo ($5,400, D) can be used along with them. And in cash games I like the value of Jori Lehtera ($2,800, C) and Jaden Schwartz ($5,100, W). Pietrangelo also makes sense with them in cash games to get exposure to both power play units.

Player Rankings

Center/Winger Mini-Stacks (Cash)

  1. Tomas Plekanec/Alex Galchenyuk – Montreal Canadiens
  2. Nicklas Backstrom/Alex Ovechkin – Washington Capitals
  3. Nicklas Backstrom/Marcus Johansson – Washington Capitals
  4. Tomas Plekanec/Brendan Gallagher – Montreal Canadiens
  5. John Tavares/Anders Lee – New York Islanders
  6. Jori Lehtera/Jaden Schwartz – St. Louis Blues

Center/Winger Mini-Stacks (GPP)

  1. Nicklas Backstrom/Alex Ovechkin – Washington Capitals
  2. John Tavares/Anders Lee – New York Islanders
  3. Jason Spezza/Jamie Benn – Dallas Stars
  4. David Backes/Alex Steen – St. Louis Blues
  5. Tomas Plekanec/Brendan Gallagher – Montreal Canadiens
  6. Tyler Johnson/Ondrej Palat – Tampa Bay Lightning

Defense

  1. John Klingberg – $3,800 – Dallas Stars
  2. Alexander Edler – $4,100 – Vancouver Canucks
  3. Nick Holden – $3,000 – Colorado Avalanche
  4. Alex Pietrangelo – $5,400 – St. Louis Blues
  5. Mike Green – $4,500 – Washington Capitals
  6. Jeff Petry – $2,800 – Montreal Canadiens
  7. Nick Leddy – $3,800 – New York Islanders

Goalie

Goalies with an asterisk next to their name are second on their team’s depth chart, so don’t count on them playing. Any players in bold have been confirmed as the starter for the day. And players with a line through their name will not be starting tonight. Make sure you always check Daily Faceoff for starting goalie updates in case I am unable to update the list throughout the day.

  1. Brian Elliott – $8,000 – St. Louis Blues
  2. Carey Price – $9,500 – Montreal Canadiens
  3. Michal Neuvirth* – $7,900 – New York Islanders
  4. Andrei Vasilevskiy* – $6,800 – Tampa Bay Lightning
  5. Michael Hutchinson* – $7,100 – Winnipeg Jets
  6. Semyon Varlamov – $8,200 – Colorado Avalanche

Research Chart

You can download the research chart from this Google Sheet page here.

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