Fantasy Hockey: Mike Babcock is Not the Solution in Toronto

The Toronto Maple Leafs finally won something. On Thursday, the team announced the signing of veteran coach Mike Babcock to an eight-year, $50 million dollar contact— making him the highest paid coach in NHL history. The news broke Wednesday afternoon, and while early reaction has been positive from fans, does this really make the Leafs a better hockey team? Do they really have a chance of making the playoffs this upcoming season? Leaf fans would like to think they’re one step closer to ending their team’s 48-year Stanley Cup drought, but they might want to hold off on the parade for now. [Read more…]

NHL Western Conference Final Preview

We’re down to the final two teams in the Western Conference. The Anaheim Ducks proved to be too much for the Calgary Flames, ending their dream season by taking the series 4-1. The Chicago Blackhawks also made quick work of their opponent, sweeping the Minnesota Wild in convincing fashion. This will be a showdown for the ages, as both these teams are proven Stanley Cup winners and are two of the best teams in the league every year. With that, let’s take a look at this series and break down who will be heading to the Stanley Cup Finals in two weeks. [Read more…]

NHL Eastern Conference Final Preview

We’re down to the final two teams in the Eastern Conference. The Tampa Bay Lightning survived a late push by the Montreal Canadiens to win their series in six, while the New York Rangers came back from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Washington Capitals. The Lightning had a lot of success against the Rangers during the regular season, sweeping the three-game series and limiting New York to seven goals in those games, but the Rangers are the early favorites to win, so it’s anyone’s series right now. With that, let’s take a look at this series and break down who will be heading to the Stanley Cup Finals in two weeks. [Read more…]

NHL Eastern Conference Semifinal Preview

Photo Credit: Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images North America

Photo Credit: Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images North America

The first round of the NHL Eastern Conference playoffs was exactly as advertised — exciting, physical, and downright fun to watch. The first matchup of the second roud will see the Washington Capitals taking on the New York Rangers, and the second matchup will see the Montreal Canadiens facing the Tampa Bay Lightning. Both series are going to fun to watch, and I expect them to be very close games and go down to the wire. With that, let’s take a look at each matchup and break down who will be heading to the Conference Finals. [Read more…]

NHL Western Conference Semifinal Preview

The first round of the NHL Western Conference playoffs was exactly as advertised — exciting, physical, and downright fun to watch. The second round will feature two Stanley Cup winners from the last ten years, a Cinderella team, and the Minnesota Wild. The first matchup will see the Chicago Blackhawks taking on the Minnesota Wild, and the second matchup will see the Anaheim Ducks facing the Calgary Flames. Both series are going to fun to watch, and I expect them to be very close games and go down to the wire. With that, let’s take a look at each matchup and break down who will be heading to the Conference Finals. [Read more…]

NHL Eastern Conference Playoff Preview

It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for—the Stanley Cup playoffs! The second season is by far the most exciting season, and it most certainly won’t disappoint this year. There are some great matchups this year and some will go down to the wire to decide who continues their quest to 16 wins. The Eastern Conference has been a dogfight all year—with some surprising teams making the playoffs for the first time in a long time. With that, let’s take a look at each quarterfinal matchup.

You can also read Chris’ Western Conference preview here, and Brett Talley’s breakdown of Round 1 from a DFS perspective here. [Read more…]

Daily Fantasy Hockey Strategy: First Round Preview

It’s Stanley Cup Playoff time, and we’ve got it all covered for you. Christopher Morais published his Western Conference Round 1 preview already, and he’ll have a preview of the first round in the East tomorrow. Today I’ll be breaking down the round 1 matchups in depth (like balls deep) from a daily fantasy perspective so you can play hockey DFS a bit longer. [Read more…]

NHL Western Conference Playoff Preview

It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for—the Stanley Cup playoffs! The second season is by far the most exciting season, and it most certainly won’t disappoint this year. There are some great matchups this year and some will go down to the wire to decide who continues their quest to 16 wins. The Western Conference has been a dogfight all year—with some surprising teams making the playoffs for the first time in a long time. With that, let’s take a look at each quarterfinal matchup. [Read more…]

NHL Playoff Scenarios and Fantasy Hockey Implications

I was going to write up tomorrow’s NHL playoff scenarios as part of my post covering my picks for the Saturday evening slate of NHL contests on DraftKings. But I figured a standalone post with such information might garner a few clicks if I got it posted late this evening. So without further ado, here is how it breaks down for the teams that will be or could be in the Stanley Cup Playoffs when the dust settles. I’m also including some DFS implications for the evening 10-game slate where relevant.

Eastern Conference

New York Rangers: The Rangers have clinched the top seed in the East.

Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning: If the Habs win or get a loser point, they secure the top seed in the Atlantic division. If they lose in regulation and Tampa Bay wins, the Bolts would win the division. Both Montreal and Tampa Bay play evening games, so both teams will have something to play for.

Washington Capitals: With a win the Caps secure the second spot in the Metropolitan division and home ice in the first round.

New York Islanders: If the Caps lose, the Isles will have a chance to pass them in the standings and have home ice in the first round matchup between those teams. If the Isles win in regulation or overtime and the Caps lose, the Isles get home ice, even if the Caps get a loser point. If the Isles win in a shootout and the Caps get a loser point, or if the Caps lose in regulation/overtime and the Isles get a loser point, the teams will be tied in points and in the ROW column. Washington owns the second tiebreaker by virtue of accumulating six points to New York’s five in their games against each other this year, so the Caps would get home ice in either of those events.

The fantasy relevant point here is that the Caps play at 12:30 (eastern), so the Isles will know if they have anything to play for by 7:00. If they do have something to play for, their skaters are an option in fantasy given that team’s above average offense. They played last night, but so did their opponent, the Blue Jackets, so Isles will at least warrant consideration. I would not consider Jackets even if the Isles have nothing to play for.

Detroit Red Wings: Like the Islanders, the Wings will know if they have something to play for by the time their game starts. An Ottawa win and a Detroit regulation loss would bump the Wings down from third in the Atlantic division to a wild card spot. A win or a loser point secures third for Detroit in the Atlantic division. Ottawa plays at 12:30 and Detroit plays at 7:00. Even if the Wings do have something to play for, I don’t care for them in fantasy against Carolina. If they don’t have anything to play for, Carolina gets more interesting from a fantasy perspective. I’m probably going to take a look at Hurricanes anyway, but if Detroit is locked into third in the division by game time, Carolina would get a little bump.

Ottawa Senators, Pittsburgh Penguins, Boston Bruins: Although Ottawa could jump Detroit in the Atlantic division, two of these three teams are likely to fill the wild card spots. All three could be eliminated with a loss, and none of them will know prior to their game whether they have been eliminated. I don’t like Boston’s matchup with Tampa Bay for fantasy purposes, but Penguins obviously warrant consideration against Buffalo.

Both Ottawa and Pittsburgh are in with a win. Ottawa is also in with a loser point. Pittsburgh is in with a loser point only if Boston loses or wins in a shootout (the details of that are explained below).

Boston is in with any kind of win and and either an Ottawa or Pittsburgh regulation loss. If Ottawa picks up a loser point, Boston cannot pass them. If Pittsburgh picks up a loser point and Boston wins in regulation or overtime, the teams would be tied in points and in the ROW column. The calculation of the second tiebreaker is a bit complicated, but Boston owns that tiebreaker by virtue of picking up three points to Pittsburgh’s two between the first game the teams played against each other in Boston and the second game the teams played against each other in Pittsburgh. Like I said, the second tiebreaker calculation is complicated. If Pittsburgh picks up a loser point and Bostn only wins in a shootout, Pittsburgh would own the ROW tiebreaker.

Western Conference

Anaheim (Mighty) Ducks and St. Louis Blues: These two are tied atop the conference, but Anaheim can clinch the top seed with a regulation or overtime win by virtue of their lead in the ROW column. They also clinch with a St. Louis loss. If Anaheim wins in a shootout and St. Louis wins in regulation or overtime, they would be tied in points and in the ROW column. They’re also tied in the second tiebreaker, which is points earned in the game played between the teams in St. Louis and the second game played between the teams in Anaheim. The next tiebreaker is just goal differential, which easily belongs to St. Louis (+45 compared to Anaheim’s +9).

Anaheim plays a late game and St. Louis plays in the afternoon, so Anaheim could have the top seed clinched before they play. If they need a win to get the #1 seed, their skaters are obviously an option in a great matchup against Arizona. Even if they don’t have anything to play for, it may be hard to fade them in that matchup. The presumption is that they might give fewer minutes to their top guys, so depth line players might warrant consideration in that situation.

Nashville Predators: The Preds are locked into second in the Central division and have home ice in the first round. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Carter Hutton got the start in this one against Dallas. The Stars are gunning to get Jamie Benn the individual scoring title, and they are a high powered offense to begin with, so the Stars are definitely an option, especially if Hutton starts for Nashville.

Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild: The Wild sit two points back of Chicago but lead in the ROW column by three, so they could pass Chicago for third in the Central division with a win and a Chicago regulation loss. The Wild play early and the Hakws play late in Colorado. The matchup for the Hawks with the Avs is a good one for fantasy, but I’d probably fade them if Minnesota loses and the Hawks secure third in the Central before they play. The Avs do not warrant fantasy consideration even if the Hawks have nothing to play for.

Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames: These two teams are going to play in Round 1, it’s just a matter of who will have home ice. Vancouver gets home ice with a win or a loser point. If Calgary wins and Vancouver loses in regulation, the teams would be tied in points and in the ROW column. The Flames own the second tiebreaker by virtue of acquiring more points in the meetings between the teams in the regular season. Calgary plays in the afternoon and Vancouver plays late, so the Canucks will know if they have anything to play for by game time. If they do, they’re obviously an option against Edmonton. If they’ve secured home ice before they play, you might have to fade them a bit. But that will admittedly be hard to do in such a good matchup against Edmonton.

Winnipeg Jets: The Jets are locked into the eighth seed.

Daily Fantasy Hockey Strategy: March 21st

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 starting at 7:00 P.M. ET. 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 matchup of the day on paper probably belongs to Nashville hosting Buffalo, who is playing for the second day in a row. Matt Hackett should be in net for the Sabres as opposed to the rejuvinated Anders Lindback. The biggest problem with the Preds is that there lines are a mess. James Neal and Colin Wilson are out, so they’ve totally jumbles the lines. Of the five Preds I’d consider using, at least one of them is on all four lines. The only two that are together are Mike Fisher ($4,300, C) and Craig Smith ($4,900, C), so that’s the only pair I’m using. Shea Weber ($6,400, D) is an option on the blue line.

The next best matchup belongs to the red-hot Ottawa Senators who will be hosting the Maple Leafs. The second line centered by Kyle Turris ($6,100, C) had a big night on Thursday, so they’ve seen their prices increase. As a result, I don’t see the value in them. I’d lean toward the first line pair of Mika Zibanejad ($3,800, C) and Bobby Ryan. I like Erik Karlsson ($8,500, D) in this matchup, but I have a hard time paying that price. If you’re looking for a cheap option, Patrick Wiercioch ($3,300, D) plays with the Turris line on the power play and Cody Ceci ($3,400, D) plays with Zibanejad/Ryan.

I’m also going back to the Pittsburgh well again tonight after my Stars kept them in check on Thursday night. The Pens are in Arizona facing the fantasy-friendly Coyotes. With Evgeni Malkin and Patric Hornqvist not making the road trip, the Sidney Crosby ($9,000, C) line is really the only option. You could go with Brandon Sutter ($3,900, C) and Blake Comeau ($3,800, W) in a GPP, but the first line is probably preferable. Of Crosby’s wingers, I prefer Chris Kunitz ($4,400, W) to David Perron ($4,800, W) but both are options. Kris Letang ($5,800, D) is an option on the blue line.

After those three top matchups, the next few teams that show up in my  matchup stat are Philadelphia, New Jersey, Montreal and Chicago. With Philly and New Jersey, I just can’t. I swore off Philly on Thursday and I can’t go back. Plus, the value on Giroux/Voracek isn’t great tonight. I could see Wayne Simmonds ($5,300, W) or Mark Streit ($4,300, D) in a stray spot or two, but that’s it. New Jersey played last night and Mike Cammaleri may be out again with an illness, so there’s nothing too enticing there.

As for Montreal and Chicago, I just don’t quite see the value. I think Montreal will get Max Pacioretty‘s line away from the Joe Thornton line plenty, but I just don’t like the prices enough. And the Toews/Hossa/Sharp line is about the only threatening line Chicago has right now, but again the prices just aren’t quite good enough for me.

There are a few other pairs and players I like that are listed in the ranks below.

Player Rankings

Mini-Stacks (cash games)

  1. Mike Fisher/Craig Smith – Nashville Predators
  2. Mika Zibanejad/Bobby Ryan – Ottawa Senators
  3. Sidney Crosby/Chris Kunitz – Pittsburgh Penguins
  4. John Tavares/Josh Bailey – New York Islanders
  5. John Tavares/Kyle Okposo – New York Islanders

Mini-Stacks (GPP)

  1. Mika Zibanejad/Bobby Ryan – Ottawa Senators
  2. Mike Fisher/Craig Smith – Nashville Predators
  3. Sidney Crosby/Chris Kunitz – Pittsburgh Penguins
  4. John Tavares/Kyle Okposo – New York Islanders
  5. Cody Eakin/Tyler Seguin – Dallas Stars
  6. Derek Stepan/Rick Nash – New York Rangers

Defense

  1. Travis Hamonic – $4,100 – New York Islanders
  2. Mark Streit – $4,300 – Philadelphia Flyers
  3. Johnny Boychuk – $4,900 – New York Islanders
  4. Kris Letang – $5,800 – Pittsburgh Penguins
  5. Shea Weber – $6,400 – Nashville Predators
  6. P.K. Subban – $6,400 – Montreal Canadiens
  7. Patrick Wiercioch – $3,300 – Ottawa Senators

Goalies (cash games)

  1. Marc-Andre Fleury – $8,800 – Pittsburgh Penguins
  2. Andrew Hammond – $8,900 – Ottawa Senators
  3. Kari Lehtonen – $7,600 – Dallas Stars
  4. Cory Schneider – $8,300 – New Jersey Devils

Goalies (GPP)

  1. Ben Scrivens – $6,800 – Edmonton Oilers
  2. Marc-Andre Fleury – $8,800 – Pittsburgh Penguins
  3. Kari Lehtonen – $7,600 – Dallas Stars
  4. Cory Schneider – $8,300 – New Jersey Devils

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.

Research Chart

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