Below I’ve got a discussion of the best matchups and potential stacks of the day followed by cash game and GPP 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

I’ve written a lot of NHL DFS posts this year, and I’m pretty sure that today’s post was the hardest to write. Two of the best matchups for opposing skaters, Arizona and Buffalo, are in action today, but they’re playing each other. Both teams aren’t just bad defensively, they also have trouble scoring goals. There might be a spot or two where you can pick on those teams, but you can’t pick on them as much as you normally would.

Since there aren’t really good matchups on a team level, we’ve got to look for good matchups on an individual level. I ruled out a few teams like New Jersey, Montreal and Toronto from which to choose skaters, but for pretty much every other team I went in and looked at what the individual matchups would be. I used war-on-ice.com shift charts (here’s an example) to determine which lines would likely match up. So if I say certain lines are likely to match up with certain lines on the opposition, it’s because that is how teams have deployed their lines in recent games. Once I had the individual matchups down, I looked for the players facing the worst possession players.

Going back to the Buffalo-Arizona game, there’s a mini-stack from each team to at least consider.

From Buffalo, the idea is to pick the top six line that will avoid the second line centered by Sam Gagner which is Arizona’s best possession line (which is to say, least bad). That line also plays the most with Arizona’s top D pair led by Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Most recently, Buffalo has played their second line against the opposition’s top line at home. That might mean Buffalo’s top line with their two best offensive players, Tyler Ennis ($5,000, C) and Matt Moulson ($4,900, W), might be able to get away from Arizona’s better players.

From Arizona, you don’t really have to worry about avoiding certain Sabres because they’re just so bad from top to bottom. Ekman-Larsson ($6,200, D) is their best player, so If I’m using a Coyote, it’s him. He spends a healthy percentage of time on the ice during each power play, so any forward you might use will see some PP time with him most likely. I don’t think I’m going to end up using any Coyote forwards, but top line wingers Tobias Rieder ($3,600, W) and Shane Doan ($4,000, W) do have nice price tags. They could be a GPP option.

Aside from the toilet bowl, Vancouver arguably has the best matchup of the day. The Canucks will be at home facing the Avalanche who played last night in Edmonton (and lost). You don’t really have to avoid any Avalanche players because they’re an all around bad possession team, but the second line centered by Ryan O’Reilly isn’t as bad as the others. My guess is that the Sedin line sees more of the O’Reilly line than the second line centered by Nick Bonino ($4,700, C), and I’m leaning toward Bonino and Radim Vrbata ($8,600, W). Vrbata’s price is kind of ridiculous after his two-goal, three-point night on Tuesday, but Daniel Sedin‘s price tag ($8,000) is almost as ridiculous. You could go with Bonino and Chris Higgins ($4,000, W) instead, but there are enough cheap options today that you could make Vrbata fit if you decide you like this matchup best and want to spend your money here.

The other spots where you can spend your money are with the Washington and San Jose top lines. Washington will host New Jersey and will have to deal with Cory Schneider, but New Jersey is a terrible possession team. Nicklas Backstrom‘s price ($5,500) continues to be more than reasonable, so you can get Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin ($9,300, W) in a lineup. The Sharks will be in Detroit, and I’ve recently written about how you can pick on Detroit’s top D pair. That pair will be on the ice plenty with Detroit’s top line, which is the lesser possession line of their top two lines. That grouping should matchup with San Jose’s top line, so paying up for Joe Thornton ($5,100, C) and Joe Pavelski ($8,800, C) might be OK today. On the blue line, you can use John Carlson ($5,900, D) with Backstrom/Ovechkin and Brent Burns ($6,300, D) with Thornton/Pavelski.

Three other matchups catch my eye.

Montreal is a bad possession team that gets bailed out by Carey Price on the reg, but Dustin Tokarski gets the nod in net tonight in Winnipeg. Avoiding P.K. Subban and Andrei Markov might be nice, but they’ll likely see both of Winnipeg’s top lines, and Subban and Markov aren’t overly intimidating amyway. Blake Wheeler ($7,500, W) is a bit pricey for me, so I’m leaning towards top line wingers, Michael Frolik ($4,500, D) and Andrew Ladd ($5,200, W).

Boston at home against Anaheim is also a decent spot. The Ducks are an average possession team with average goaltending, so they’re not a terrible matchup. They’re not a good one, but not an awful one. Boston has three lines that can be used in daily, and the one you want is actually the one that will see the most of the Ryan Getzlaf line and Anaheim’s top D pair. That’s likely to be Boston’s top line who also happens to be the best value from that team today. Go with Patrice Bergeron ($6,100, C) and Brad Marchand ($4,300, W). On the blue line, both Torey Krug ($5,000, D) and Zdeno Chara ($4,500, D) are good options.

And finally, the Kings don’t have a bad matchup on Long Island against the Islanders. The Isles are weaker defensively down the right side, so I’d lean toward Marian Gaborik ($5,300, W) on the left wing of the top line. He can be paired with Anze Kopitar ($5,700, C).

Player Rankings

Mini-Stacks

  1. Nicklas Backstrom/Alex Ovechkin – Washington Capitals
  2. Nick Bonino/Radim Vrbata – Vancouver Canucks
  3. Michael Frolik/Andrew Ladd – Winnipeg Jets
  4. Tyler Ennis/Matt Moulson – Buffalo Sabres
  5. Patrice Bergeron/Brad Marchand – Boston Bruins
  6. Anze Kopitar/Marian Gaborik – Los Angeles Kings
  7. Joe Thornton/Joe Pavelski – San Jose Sharks

Defense

  1. Tyler Myers – $4,100 – Winnipeg Jets
  2. Torey Krug – $5,000 – Boston Bruins
  3. Brent Burns – $6,300 – San Jose Sharks
  4. Nick Leddy – $3,300 – New York Islanders
  5. Oliver Ekman-Larsson – $6,200 – Arizona Coyotes
  6. Alexander Edler – $5,300 – Vancouver Canucks

Goalies

  1. Jimmy Howard – $7,300 – Detroit Red Wings
  2. Petr Mrazek* – $7,900 – Detroit Red Wings
  3. Roberto Luongo – $7,800 – Florida Panthers
  4. Marc-Andre Fleury – $8,500 – Pittsburgh Penguins
  5. Anders Lindback* – $7,200 – Buffalo Sabres
  6. Matt Hackett – $6,500 – Buffalo Sabres

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.

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