To paraphrase the great Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, “Finally, the SHOT has come….to it’s new home.” We are on a new site, The Puck Exchange (check out the monthly rankings for season long fantasy), but the article remains the same. Thank you for coming along for the ride at my new NHL DFS home. For those of you who’ve been with me for the last couple of years, welcome back. This I my fourth year writing about NHL DFS and I’m as excited today as I was the first time I wrote an article way back in January of 2015. It’s a pleasure to have you back here with me. For those of you that are new to me be prepared for the wild, wacky, self-indulgent, and serialized rhetoric that is the words of Doug Shain (yes, I often write as if each article is one episode in a year-long drama). Oh, and I make NHL DFS hockey picks as well.
I am a low buy in, large field GPP player. I’m not a pro and I’m surely no shark. I’m a regular person just like 90% of NHL DFS players. Some might say I’m the voice of the people (ok, only I’d say that). As my play has evolved over the years I’ve learned to appreciate min-cashes, but what I’m really looking for is that big score. There are a lot of losses along the way (that’s a reality you have to accept as a GPP player) but the wins should make up for those rough days.
As I have continued to evolve, I’ve realized that it’s ok to use chalk plays, so long as you have something to help differentiate. I was explaining this to a friend the other day; if you fade the chalk and it hits then you are pretty much done. On the other hand, if you ride the chalk you’re at least still even with everyone else. From there you need to find what you can do to differentiate yourself from the rest of the pack. That’s where this article comes in. I will mention a chalk play here and there but I’m here mostly to talk about those plays that can differentiate your lineup. I love to look at some very off the wall plays (although they have enough statistical support that they make some sense). Let’s never forget that there’s “good” contrarian (contrarian with research to back it up) and there’s “dumb” contrarian (randomly being different just to be different). We are “smart” contrarian, or HuLo. HuLo is a term I came up with (fine, my dad came up with it and gave it to me) for a group of players that are High Upside, Low Ownership (HuLo, get it?). I will use the term HuLo a lot, it’s kind of my thing; I’m the HuLo guy.
Along with using the term HuLo, I also invented a stat (this one really was all me). The stat is called SABS. SABS stands for “shots and blocked shots.” It’s a stat I use to help me justify my defensive picks. I think it’s fetch. I’m also trying to make fetch happen. I think it’s important you know this because I say SABS a lot when I write. I also say fetch a lot. I have issues.
My goal is for us to make a little bit of money and to have a whole lot of fun. I’m very active on Twitter and love interacting with my readers. As an elementary school teacher I’m not always there to answer your questions immediately, but I do write back to everyone that writes to me. You can find me @bankster17 where I wax poetic about all things NHL DFS, pro wrestling, and anything else that come to mind (I apologize in advance for the fieriest of hot takes). Also, I always have a new NHL DFS #mancrush and you’re going to hear a lot about them. Ask any long time reader about my affinity for Robby Fabbri. One more thing, I hate Jimmy Howard. That’s a story for another day but it’s very important to know just how much I hate Jimmy Howard. He is the worst.
You can find The One Time Shot on most Thursdays here at The Puck Exchange for at least the next month of the NHL season. Of course, I’ll be on Twitter all the time to answer any questions you may have and to give my thoughts on that night’s slate even if I’m not writing an article.
NHL DFS Starting Lineup – Stacks I’ll be focusing on – NHL DFS
St Louis Blues @ Florida Panthers (Roberto Luongo – expected goalie)
I don’t get the line on this game at all. Somehow Roberto Luongo is a -120 favorite despite just about every statistic going against the Panthers. Florida has given up 4.50 goals per game (27th in the league), while the Blues are averaging 3.50 goals per game (7th in the league). STL is 3-0 on the road and their power play unit should dominate the penalty killing team for Florida; STL has a 25% success rate on the PP (8th in the NHL) and FLA has killed only 78% of the power plays they’ve faced (bottom third of the league). The PP1 line for STL is loaded with talent and that’s where I’m headed tonight. Vladimir Tarasenko has been just fine so far this year (4 points and 9 SOG in four games), while Brayden Schenn has probably outperformed his expectations (5 points and 9 SOG in four games). Pair those two up and you’ve got a reasonably priced mini-stack that gives you exposure with all six of the top skaters for the Blues. If I can afford it I’ll probably use Jaden Schwartz as the last part of my stack as he’s possibly been the most effective player on STL with 7 points and 11 SOG in four games. It would be outstanding if the Vegas line pulled some ownership from the Blues. I think they are a good bet for a 3+ goal game.
Detroit Red Wings @ Arizona Coyotes (Antti Raanta – expected goalie)
I love my Golden Knights but let’s be honest, they shouldn’t be a successful hockey team at the moment. Yet here they are at 3-0-0 on the back of two wins against the Coyotes. I think that says a lot more about Arizona than it does Vegas. If the Coyotes are that bad, then it would stand to reason that the Red Wings should be highly competitive in this game. There’s a reason that Arizona is only a -115 favorite at home against a Detroit team that’s supposed to be one of the worst in hockey. The Red Wings may not win this game, but there is hope that they can put in a nice effort against the Coyotes. Most of that hope lies in the duo of Dylan Larkin and Antony Mantha. They have combined for 7 points and 16 SOG in the first three games of the year. I don’t normally go with a defender as part of my main stack but Mike Green has been awesome this year. In three games he’s already tallied 6 points. He happens to skate on the PP2 line with Larkin and Mantha. I’m going to throw these three together for a low cost, HuLo stack that will allow me to spend up on some of the bigger names on this slate.
Vancouver Canucks vs Winnipeg Jets (Connor Hellebuyck – expected goalie)
Vancouver may be my favorite stack to play today. In all fairness, I’ve had a giant man crush on Bo Horvat and Sven Baertschi for the better part of two years now but that man crush is there with good reason. They are a streak pair that rarely disappoints when I use them in a stack. They haven’t done much yet this year but I love the addition of Loui Eriksson to their line and think they are due for a big game very soon. Winnipeg is the perfect opponent for them as the Jets are last in the league in goals allowed per game (5.00), last in penalty kill percentage (67%), and second to last in shots on goal allowed (38.3)…and this game is at home for the Canucks! This means we are looking at a high volume coming from a trio of guys that thrive when given that volume. They are super cheap today and you can stack all three while spending up on defense, goalie, and a second stack. I am so very all in on Vancouver tonight.
Chalk stacks: Nashville Predators, Tampa Bay Lightning, Chicago Blackhawks, San Jose Sharks
NHL DFS 3 Stars of the Night – HuLo players (High upside, Low ownership) that I’d use as a one-off play outside of a stack
Evander Kane (BUF/W): Just looking at Evander Kane’s first three games this year makes me feel vindicated for backing him in fantasy for the last three years. He’s currently on a stretch that shows exactly what I love about him. It’s not even the 6 points in three games that gets me going, it’s the fact that he’s shot the puck 26 times in those three games. That’s an average of nearly 9 SOG per game; Ovechkin at his peak kind of volume. Goals are tough to predict but if I’m going to try to get a guy who is a hat trick threat, then I want the player with the highest volume of shots. Give me Kane all day long, especially if we can do so at a low ownership.
Brandon Saad (CHI/W): Boy, it sure looks like Saad is happy to be back in Chicago (see what I did there?). After a rock solid season in Columbus, it would have been hard to predict that Saad would end up improving on those numbers in his return back home. With so many more weapons on the Blackhawks, the pressure would not be on Saad to have to carry the offensive load. Well, we can throw that out the window as Saad has 5 goals and 2 assists in Chicago’s first four games. Saad is a pretty big name to have on a HuLo list but the reason he’s here is because I think he’ll be really popular as part of a Blackhawks stack but I don’t see too many people using him as a one-off play. I would happily jump on that ship to give me some exposure to Chicago while not going all in, allowing me some chances to go with ownership value with the rest of my lineup (hello, Canucks!).
Scott Hartnell (NSH/W): We might as well keep the former Blue Jackets train rolling and throw out Hartnell’s name tonight, too. The difference between him and Saad is that Hartnell has been highly efficient (3 goals on only 9 SOG), while Saad has been a volume guy (5 goals and 2 assists on 19 SOG). The problem with Hartnell is that his level of efficiency is not sustainable in the long run, but we aren’t looking at the long run. When a player is hot I like to roll with them. It’s even better if they are cheap. Hartnell qualifies as both. Add in the time Hartnell is seeing on the PP2 line and you’ve got a ownership/opportunity combination that works really well with his salary.
The Blue Line – NHL DFS Defensemen to target
Michael Del Zotto (VAN): You already read about how much I like the Vancouver PP2 line tonight so it would stand to reason that I would also like the guy manning the blue line for them. Del Zotto doesn’t have any points yet this year but he was a nice little offensive defenseman during his time with the Flyers. Most of his value is going to come from blocked shots (he has 4 in two games), but if that PP2 line does what I think it will then Del Zotto should be in line to add an assist along the way. If he does that then we are looking at a play that should crush value. Also keep in mind that the Jets have been the fourth most generous team to opposing defenders in the league and a lot of that value is going to come from the fact that Winnipeg takes a lot of shots (36 SOG per game). More shots equals more chances for blocked shots. I’m loving Del Zotto’s chances for a good night tonight.
Victor Hedman (TB): Not only does Tampa Bay have the benefit of being at home against a team on the second night of a back to back but Hedman has been filthy so far this year. He is averaging 6 SABS per game this year. That’s a really high number when you consider that 14 of his 18 SABS are coming from shots on goal. Being such a vital part of the Tampa offense means that he’s got a better chance than most defenders to rack up shots and assists. The Penguins are giving up an average of 5 goals per game this year, and even though it’s early in the year that’s a worrisome number. The main perpetrator of those bad numbers is Anntti Niemi (4 goals allowed in 9 minutes of ice time). He’s scheduled to be on the ice again tonight and that means a big night is coming for Tampa.
Mattias Ekholm (NSH): In only three games this year Ekholm has accumulated 2 assists and 11 SABS. That’s a pretty nice return for a guy that’s priced in the lower mid-tier of defenders. You’re not going to have to worry about ownership on him because he’s got PK Subban on the same team and that’s where the Nashville plays are going to end up. He’s going to see time on the power play and Dallas has been pretty generous to opposing defenders so far this year. He’s a very well-priced addition to any Preds stack or as a one off play to save some one money on the back end.
NHL DFS Chalk defenders: Victor Hedman, PK Subban, Brent Burns, Alex Pietrangelo, Kris Letang
Between the Pipes – NHL DFS Goalies to target
Jacob Markstrom (Vancouver Canucks vs WPG)
The Canucks are a home underdog tomorrow, a spot that I love when looking for a GPP goalie. I know that the Jets can score (they are averaging 3.33 goals per game on the season) but Markstrom has been very good in his two starts this year (1.94 GAA with a .948 save percentage). More promising to me than the low GAA is that he’s facing an average of 38.5 SOG per game. If he can continue to withstand that barrage of shots he will end up being one of the better value goalies on the slate. Lots of shots means lots of saves. It’s actually quite remarkable that Vancouver has allowed the most SOG per game in the league, yet they are fifth in goals against per game. That’s a dream combination for NHL DFS. I’d definitely take my shot with Markstrom and use his value price to spend up on a big time defender (Hedman) or a chalky stack (Tampa or Chicago).
Jake Allen (St Louis Blues @ FLA)
I’m shocked to see that the Blues are underdogs in Florida tonight. Allen is 3-0-0 on the season and has given up 2 goals in two of his three starts this year. The only time he got a little blown out was on Opening Night against the defending Stanley Cup champs. He’s since gone on to save 95.2% of the shots he’s faced against the Islanders and Stars. Allen continues to be one of the safest goalie plays you can make on a night by night basis. He may not have the upside of some of the bigger names net minders but if you have a team you’re really confident in, then a consistent performer like Allen is exactly the type of play you want. There’d be nothing worse than having a great lineup be ruined by an inconsistent goalie that got blown out.
Andrei Vasilevskiy (Tampa Bay Lightning vs PIT)
It’s a small sample size but the last time the Penguins played on the second night of a back to back they scored a grand total of 1 goal (the second night of the year against the Blackhawks). Well, Pittsburgh played last night in Washington and had to travel down to Florida for tonight’s game. I can absolutely see them laying another egg with the short turnaround. The biggest concern here is that Vasilevskiy has given up 11 goals in three games this year (3.66 GAA). His saving grace has been that the Tampa Bay offense has outscored their opponents in two of those starts to he was able to salvage a win. I actually can see that happening again tonight as the Lightning should be able to light up an overmatched Antti Niemi (25.90 GAA – a meaningless number with only 9 minutes of ice time under his belt, but so fun to write so I had to include it).
Chalk goalies: Martin Jones, Corey Crawford, Antti Raanta, Roberto Luongo
Follow me on Twitter @bankster17 (I’m always available for questions or conversation) and good luck tonight with your NHL DFS!