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Daily Fantasy Hockey Strategy: February 13th

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. 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.

Stack Options

By far the best matchups of the day belong to San Jose at Arizona and Columbus hosting Philadelphia. Assuming Ray Emery is in net for the Flyers and Mike Smith is in net for Arizona, Columbus has the better matchup. But San Jose is one of the three well above average offenses in action today along with Dallas and Chicago, and Columbus is a somewhat below average team offensively. For that reason, I prefer San Jose to Columbus but will probably use players from both teams.

I’ll also be using some Dallas players even though they have a below average matchup with Florida, although the Panthers played in Minnesota last night, which mitigates the bad matchup. The Stars are easily the best offensive team in action today and arguably the best offense in the league. As for Chicago, they’re only somewhat above average offensively and have the worst matchup of the day against New Jersey, so I won’t be using Blackhawks.

As mentioned, the Sharks will be in Arizona tonight, so that means I’ll only be looking at their top two lines. I don’t like depth lines on the road. And because the Yotes don’t play stud defensemen Keith Yandle and Oliver Ekman-Larsson together at 5-on-5, we can’t simply pick the top-six line least likely to face that pairing. But Ekman-Larsson is inferior to Yandle defensively, and he is paired with Zbynek Michalek who is no defensive stalwart himself.

If we could tell which line Ekman-Larsson/Michalek would be matched up with, we could probably identify the preferable San Jose line. The problem is that the last time these two teams played (which was also in Arizona) the San Jose lines were a bit different. Joe Thornton ($4,700, C) was centering Patrick Marleau ($6,300, W) and Matt Nieto ($2,800, W) while Logan Couture ($8,800, C) was lined up with Joe Pavelski ($8,100, C) and Melker Karlsson ($2,700, W). But recently the centers have swapped winger pairs. That makes it a bit difficult to tell if Arizona will choose to matchup the same way. But I’m going to guess that Ekman-Larsson/Michalek stay matched up with the Thornton line as they did back in January. That means Yandle and Keith Stone should be matched up with the Couture line.

I’m kind of glad that the Thornton line should have the better matchup because I think that line has the better value today. The whole Thornton line will cost you $15,500 (31% of your budget) while the Couture line will cost you $17,900 (35.8% of your budget). If you don’t want to use the whole Thornton line together, Thornton/Karlsson is a cheap mini-stack that allows you to spend big elsewhere. In a GPP, that could mean stacking that pair along with Couture/Marleau for a Sharks-heavy stack. But Karlsson does not see power play time, so Thronton/Pavelski is also a good cash game stack if you can afford it. I’d also be fine using Brent Burns ($7,500, D) if you’re using any forwards from the first power play unit. Burns is expensive, but he produces damn near like a forward. You don’t have to use him, but you can if you can afford it.

OK, now Columbus who is hosting Philadelphia. The Flyers only have one good defensive D-man, Mark Streit. Aside from Streit, none of their blue liners need to be avoided. The last time these two teams played (in Columbus) Streit unsurprisingly matched up with Columbus’ top line and should again tonight. That doesn’t mean you have to avoid Columbus’ top line, but I’m probably going to because none of them have a good value grade for the day (as you can see in the research chart at the bottom of this post).

I do, however, quite like the Columbus second line. Brandon Dubinsky ($4,000, C) is an excellent value. He can be paired with his right-winger Cam Atkinson ($5,100, W). Unfortunately, Atkinson plays up on the top power play unit while first line right winger Nick Foligno plays on the second unit with Dubinsky. Hey Columbus, please leave your 5-on-5 lines intact on the power play for us DFS’ers, please. On the blue line, I like Kevin Connauton ($2,800, D) who also plays on that second PP unit. Dubinsky/Atkinson/Connauton is a nice little mini-stack.

Because Columbus is at home, I’m cool with using a depth line as well. If you need a cheap cash game stack, you can go with Artem Anisimov ($3,700, C) and Jack Skille ($2,800, W). Anisimov plays on the second PP unit with Dubinsky. I can’t imagine you’ll need to go that cheap, but if you do, there you go.

And finally my Dallas Stars who are hosting Florida. Unfortunately, I won’t be headed downtown tonight to take this one in live because we’re having my sister over for dinner. Awesome.

Because this is an East-West matchup, these two teams have not yet faced each other this year. But I really don’t need a shift chart from a previous game to know that Aaron Ekblad and Brian Campbell are going to matchup with Bennguin. Ekblad/Campbell is a really stout defensive pairing, so Benn/Seguin won’t be one of my top options in cash games, especially given their high price tags. Now, if you use some of the cheap forward combos listed above, Benn/Seguin can be used in GPPs as they always have the chance to go off.

The Stars are also at home, so, again, I’m good with using depth lines. And it’s a good thing depth lines are in play because I prefer the third line to the second from a value standpoint. Second line center Jason Spezza ($6,800, C) has a value grade that’s worse than Seguin’s today, so it’s hard to go with the second line. The second line wingers also have below average value grades. I’m leaning toward the third line who is, unfortunately, missing Antoine Roussel as he’s sitting out a couple games for a suspension. I say unfortunately because normal third line center Cody Eakin ($3,800, C) is likely to move to wing while Vernon Fiddler moves up to center that line. I like Eakin today as well as fellow third line winger Ryan Garbutt ($3,600, W). I wish Eakin was centering the line, but I may use the pair anyway.

Eakin/Garbutt are certainly cheap enough that I could fit in Seguin/Benn if I want to go with a Dallas-heavy GPP stack. And I should also point out that Patrick Eaves ($3,900, W) is the third wheel with Seguin/Benn and provides another way to make Seguin/Benn more affordable if you want to use all three together. If you do use Seguin/Benn anywhere, I’d definitely use John Klingberg ($4,400, D) along with them.

I feel like I should also note that Philadelphia is a slightly above average offense with a slightly above average matchup, which also makes them a decent play today. Moreover, the price tags for the first liners Claude Giroux ($7,000, C), Jakub Voracek ($6,100, W) and even Brayden Schenn ($4,300, D) are not at all unreasonable. To put the cherry on top, Columbus does not have defensively imposing blue liners. The top pair of Jack Johnson and David Savard is a decidedly below average pair defensively, but that pair actually didn’t matchup a ton with the first line the last time these teams met. The slightly above average third pair of Connauton and James Wisniewski actually saw quite a bit of the first line. But even then, this is still a really good spot for the Philly top line. Pair them with the previously mentioned Streit ($4,000, D) who is a nice value today.

Price-Adjusted Cash Game Rankings

Center/Winger Mini-Stacks

  1. Claude Giroux/Jakub Voracek – Philadelphia Flyers
  2. Brandon Dubinsky/Cam Atkinson – Columbus Blue Jackets
  3. Joe Thornton/Melker Karlsson – San Jose Sharks
  4. Joe Thornton/Joe Pavelski – San Jose Sharks
  5. Cody Eakin/Ryan Garbutt – Dallas Stars
  6. Logan Couture/Patrick Marleau – San Jose Sharks
  7. Tyler Seguin/Jamie Benn – Dallas Stars

Defense

  1. Mark Streit – $4,000 – Philadelphia Flyers
  2. John Klingberg – $4,400 – Dallas Stars
  3. Kevin Connauton – $2,800 – Columbus Blue Jackets
  4. Alexander Edler – $4,200 – Vancouver Canucks
  5. Brent Burns – $7,500 – San Jose Sharks

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. Antti Niemi – $7,600 – San Jose Sharks
  2. Curtis McElhinney – $7,300 – Columbus Blue Jackets
  3. Kari Lehtonen – $8,500 – Dallas Stars

Research Chart

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

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