The Opening Ceremonies
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, 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 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 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 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 #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.
The Starting Lineup – Stacks I’ll be focusing on
Buffalo Sabres vs Montreal Canadiens (Carey Price – expected goalie)
If you’ve read any of my articles last year, you had to know that this was coming. I love the Sabres in DFS. One of the reasons I like them is that they tend to go underowned. I don’t think that this is going to be the case for much of this year, but against Carey Price one a decently sized slate we may be able to turn back the clock a little bit and get them at a very low ownership. Let’s not forget that Price went through a number of down periods last year where it was like he couldn’t keep anything out of the net. This game is in Buffalo and that crowd is definitely going to have their team jacked up. Finally, Buffalo is the NHL version of the 2013 Oregon Ducks football team. They push the pace and they shoot, shoot, shoot, and shoot some more. Eichel and Kane are relentless (averaged 8 SOG combined last year, with an upside of about 15 SOG if they both get going) and a guy like Jason Pominville is going to love being able to set them up. Clearly there’s a lot of risk in using them against Price but the potential payoff if they can score 3 goals is too high to pass up.
Colorado Avalanche @ New York Rangers (Henrik Lundqvist – expected goalie)
I know that the Avs were hot garbage last year, and they should be equally as bad this year. That said, they still have players that can pay off in a GPP. The one line I like most on this team is their top Power Play line. It combines the best of their top two even strength lines into something resembling a threatening hockey franchise. My favorite play on Colorado is Mikko Rantanen. He finished last season by scoring in three of his last four games, completing a really nice month or so of play. He’s still very cheap and I want to take advantage of that while I still can because it’s not going to last long. When you surround him with talent like Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon, and Matt Duchene (how is he still on this team???) he’s only going to produce more. Add in the fact that he’s on a line with those guys with a man advantage and it’s easy to see a situation where he crushes his price tonight. Let’s remember that Henrik Lundqvist, while one of the better goalies in the game, did end the year with a 2.65 GAA and he allowed 3+ goals in half of his final six games of the season. Using the Avs is going way off the board but if you want to stack Blackhawks, or Capitals, or Rangers you are going to need to find an off the board play just like this to pull away in a GPP. Even if you only go with Rantanen as a one off play, he gives you a flexibility/ownership advantage that could be huge for you.
Las Angeles Kings vs Philadelphia Flyers (Michal Neuvirth – expected goalie)
The Kings are far from a rock solid offensive team but it’s really hard to pass on a stack facing a bad goalie on the second night of a back to back on the other side of the country from their home stadium. Look at all of those negative descriptors I used to talk about the Flyers, they are clearly a team that should be on the short end of a blowout tonight. The funny thing is that I don’t think a lot of people are going to be willing to put the fate of their fantasy team on the offensively challenged Kings (a team many people on the east coast won’t stay up to watch – yes, this matters a lot). The safest play is to ride the top Power Play line since that’s where all the talent lies. This way we can use both Jeff Carter and Anze Kopitar along with Tanner Perason (potential #mancrush alert) and Tyler Toffoli. Toffoli is the one I’d sit if I didn’t want to use four players on the same team (and I totally get why you wouldn’t). Carter, by the way, is one of the more overlooked stars in the NHL. He’s a little inconsistent but at the end of the day he’s a 3.5 SOG/1pt per game kind of player. That’s not too bad considering he’s not priced like a top tier guy. I probably prefer Buffalo for upside and Colorado for ownership purposes but if you want a safer play, then the Kings are probably the best choice out of our three HuLo stacks tonight.
Chalk stacks: Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh Penguins, Chicago Blackhawks, New York Rangers
3 Stars of the Night – HuLo players (High upside, Low ownership) that I’d use as a one-off play outside of a stack
Derek Stepan (ARI/C): If there’s one thing that Stepan can do, it’s distribute the puck. He racked up 42 assists last season on a loaded Rangers offense. This year he’s taking a downgrade in talent (although you shouldn’t sleep on the talent of Max Domi, Anthony Duclair, and the defensive duo of OEL/Goligoski) but an upgrade in responsibility. This young Coyotes team is going to rely on Stepan to carry this offense and he could actually have a better year than last year. The matchup isn’t great but as a one-off play he could be very useful at his price.
Jonathan Drouin (MTL/C): This is probably too obvious of a play but since I’m not stacking the Canadiens, here he is. Drouin was a huge acquisition for the Canadiens and he should pick up a lot of the scoring slack that will be missing with the departure of Alexander Radulov to the Stars. Montreal should have little trouble putting up a few goals on the Sabres (even if I do like Buffalo as a HuLo stack).
Jakub Vrana (WSH/W): What a crazy bit of value Vrana can bring to your team if he actually ends up on the top line for the Capitals along with Ovechkin and Kuznetsov. Ovi is one of the best goal scorers in the league, while Kuznetsov is a fantastic playmaker in his own right. Ottawa is a relatively friendly matchup and this kid is so young that I don’t think he knows he’s supposed to be nervous tonight. It wouldn’t shock me if he put a few shots on net and was able to get a point, assuming he’s on that top line.
The Blue Line – Defensemen to target
Anthony DeAngelo (NYR): There is no team that has a better matchup for defenders than the New York Rangers. Last season the Avalanche were the third most generous team to opposing defenders. While most people are going to look at Kevin Shattenkirk or Ryan McDonagh, I’m going to instead save some money and ride Anthony DeAngelo. Full disclosure, I have an Anthony DeAngelo addiction. He was consistently effective for the few games he played for Arizona last year. This year he’s currently slated to be on the second power play line for New York so there’s going to be opportunities for him to rack up the points.
Matt Niskanen (WSH): I love finding defenders with good matchups who play on the power play but who aren’t the “best” defender on a team. Same great matchup, much cheaper price. Niskanen is exactly that type of play. He actually skates on the top defensive pairing for Washington and is manning the blue line for the second power play unit. The Senators gave up the fourth most points to opposing defenders last year so the matchup is outstanding for Nisky. Much like with DeAngelo for the Rangers, I’d much rather use the cheaper player and spend up elsewhere.
Brandon Montour (ANH): Montour is a shot-taking machine for a defender. Considering he was only on the ice for about 18 minutes per game last year, it’s pretty telling about his potential that he was averaging over 3 SABS per game (with more than 50% of that number coming from SOG, which is rare for a defender). Montour is now skating with the second power play line for the Ducks and they’ve got a really sweet matchup against the Coyotes, a team that gives up a ton of SOG. Montour would give you a huge ROI if he was able to tally a goal or an assist (8 total in his final ten games last season).
Chalk defenders: Kevin Shattenkirs, Ryan McDonagh, John Carlson, Roman Josi, PK Subban, Rasmus Ristolaineni
Between the Pipes – Goalies to target
Corey Crawford (Chicago Blackhawks vs PIT)
I will always try to find a goalie that is playing a team on the second night of a back to back; even more so if that team is a high powered offense that will draw ownership away from my goalie choice. The Penguins played on Opening Night and they’re back at it again tonight. Crawford was a good goalie last year, but at home he was borderline elite (2.30 GGG with a .926 save percentage). This sets up very well for him to come out and continue to play well at home. You won’t often get to use Crawford at an ownership discount so make sure to take advantage of that tonight.
Devan Dubnyk (Minnesota Wild @ DET)
As I was coming up with my chalk goalies list, it occurred to me that we can’t really have five goalies that are going to be chalky. One of the top five on the day is going to have to be an ownership value play. I immediately removed Gibson, Lundqvist, and Quick from consideration since they are playing at home. That left me with Holtby and Dubnyk. Although Dubs has the better matchup, I really think that people are going to lean towards the upside and safety of Holtby. That means that there’s a very good chance that Devan Dubnyk is going to be low-owned. I’m all for that because Dubnyk has been my guy for three years now. He has an excellent season last year with a 2.29 GAA and 6 shutouts. He was a little bit worse on the road, but not so much that I’m concerned about it. What I did notice about his road stats was that he faced more shots per game on the road (26.7 shots faced/game at home vs 29.4 shots faced/game on the road). More shots equals more chances for saves. I’d say that this would be an issue against a good team, but the Red Wings are far from that. There’s just nothing scary on this team past their top line, and even they aren’t all that great. I think Dubnyk has the potential to be the highest scoring goalie on this slate, especially if MIN gets a win (which they should).
Tuukka Rask (Boston Red Wings vs NSH)
Rask was one of the very best goalies at home last season. He has a 2.11 GAA with 5 shutouts (and an additional 3 SO on the road). This made him a great DFS play every time the Bruins were in Boston. He gave up one goal in two starts against the Predators last season so we know that he’s capable of keeping them in check. Vegas agrees with me on Rask as the Bruins are a decent sized favorite in this game (-135). What pushes Rask over the edge for me is that he’s one of the more economical goalies on this slate (especially on DK). That flexibility could give you the cap space you need to spend up a little bit on defense or to splurge on a big stack.
Chalk goalies: Jonathan Quick, Braden Holtby, John Gibson, Henrik Lundqvist
Follow me on Twitter @bankster17 (I’m always available for questions or conversation) and good luck tonight with your One Time Daily Fantasy Shot!