Lining Up: Lines to Target for Fantasy Success
My dear friends, the most intense stretch of the fantasy hockey season is upon us. Champions will be crowned, losers will be taunted, and bragging rights will be abused. To guide you in your journey towards fantasy hockey stardom, I’ve compiled a few line combinations that feature players with low ownership in fantasy leagues who have hidden value this week. We’ll discuss how an underrated line in Montreal can provide you with production as they play four more games this week. We’ll also take a look at a line Anaheim, Vancouver and Washington as each team has a favourable off-day schedule. Off-day refers to matchups on Wednesday/Friday/Sunday when fewer games are being played around the league and your fantasy hockey roster probably has some open slots.
The Montreal Canadiens find themselves outside of the playoffs looking in, three points behind the Blue Jackets for the second wild card spot in the East. This week they take on the Flyers, Islanders, Sabres and Hurricanes in what appears to be their make-or-break stretch of the season. The Canadiens need to win at least three of these next four games to keep their playoff hopes alive, as they face some much tougher teams in the final two weeks of the season. The team definitely has motivation to perform this week and their hardest-working line will be the catalyst of any success they have.
On any given night, Brendan Gallagher is Montreal’s most diligent player. He fights for every puck and engages in every net-front battle regardless of his opponent’s size. He has recorded 30 goals for the second-straight year and continues to put himself in a position to score. This season, he’s played the majority of his minutes with two players that share the same mindset and complement his style very well.
Amidst a season where every player on the roster has been putting up career numbers, Phillip Danault might be the Habs’ most impressive player. His defensive dominance has overshadowed the fact that he’s on pace for 53 points this season. Danault has recently started seeing time with the man-advantage and even though Montreal has one of the league’s worst power plays, it has certainly shown some signs of life with the chances they’ve been producing. With just 15% ownership in Yahoo leagues, there’s a good chance he’s sitting on your waiver wire. You Danault what you’re missing out on!
Tomas Tatar is on pace for a career-high 58 points this season and is still available in about half of Yahoo’s fantasy hockey leagues. Tatar has a great shot and always seems to be generating dangerous rebounds when he puts the puck on net. Having a tenacious player like Gallagher on his line to go to the net and clean up those rebounds certainly helps.
The Tatar-Danault-Gallagher line has been one of the best lines in the LEAGUE this season. Through 550 minutes of ice-time (huge sample size), they’ve controlled 61.8% of the shot-share, generating 61.7% of all scoring chances created while they’re on the ice and 62% of high-danger opportunities. I’ve heard a lot of people say that the Canadiens can only put low-quality shots on net and have no finishing ability, but that’s certainly not true for this line which has outscored their opponents 35-16.
If you’re hunting for Ducks on the waiver wire this week, your primary targets are probably Rickard Rakell, Ryan Getzlaf and Jakob SIlfverberg. However, it’s likely that those guys are already owned in your fantasy league, so we’ll explore a couple of lesser known options that you can target. The key behind these suggestions is their exposure to Ryan Getzlaf, who has been hot recently with seven points in his last five games. While Anaheim’s line combinations are certainly not set in stone, their lines from last game indicate a couple of young players are currently in a great position to provide some under-the-radar production for your fantasy roster.
Daniel Sprong is riding a hot streak with four goals in his last six games. His value is slightly hindered by a lack of power-play opportunity as well as overall ice-time – which has been hovering around 10 minutes recently. Considering he’s owned in just 2% of Yahoo Leagues, he makes for a solid addition in deeper formats.
If you’re hesitant to add Sprong because of his limited ice-time, Nick Ritchie is a great alternative because he sees a few more minutes of even-strength action and has a spot on the team’s second power-play unit. As a whole, the Ritchie-Getzlaf-Sprong line has been pretty good over the last 10 games, controlling 59.4% of all shots taken while they’re on the ice. Additionally, the Ritchie-Getzlaf-Sprong unit has been together more often than the Rakell-Getzlaf-Silfverberg unit over the last five games.
With Monday’s contest against the Blackhawks already in the books, the Canucks have two more off-day games this week – Wednesday against the Senators and Sunday against the Blue Jackets. That matchup against Ottawa on Wednesday alone makes it worthwhile to grab a Canuck from the waiver wire. Over the past month the Sens have conceded the second-most goals (51 goals in 14 games) in the league, averaging 3.64 goals against per game. At this point, Vancouver’s most offensively-gifted players – Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser – probably aren’t available on your waiver wire. Fortunately, there is someone who gets to play with those young stars at even strength and on the power play, and he’s owned in just two percent of Yahoo leagues. Over the past seven games, Josh Leivo has been averaging more than 18 minutes of ice-time and 2.57 shots per game. While he’s only recorded two points in those seven games, he has certainly been put in a position to succeed and has a great opportunity to get on the scoreboard this week.
The Leivo-Pettersson-Boeser trio has had a chance to build some chemistry this season – with over 200 minutes of ice-time together. Through 38 games this season, they’ve taken 100 faceoffs in the offensive zone compared to 12 in the defensive zone. That disparity tells us a lot about how coach Travis Green deploys this line, giving them plenty of opportunities to produce offensively.
The Capitals are the only team this week to play on both Friday and Sunday, allowing you to squeeze a couple of extra games in for the home stretch. At this point in the season you’d be hard-pressed to find a member of Washington’s top-six lying around on the waiver wire, aside from Jakub Vrana of course. Since the theme of this week is finding value where others aren’t looking, we turn to the Caps’ third line – one that doesn’t get too much attention in fantasy leagues.
After taking a few games to adjust to his new team, Carl Hagelin has five points in his last seven games as a Washington Capital. Lars Eller has seven points in his last ten games and Brett Connolly has eight points in his last ten games. These guys are available in the vast majority of fantasy formats as Eller is owned in six percent of Yahoo leagues, Connolly in five percent and Hagelin in just one percent!
I don’t get to watch the Caps play as much as I would like to, but according to members of the team’s fanbase, this third line of Hagelin, Eller and Connolly has looked extremely dangerous as a unit. Not only do they pass the eye-test, but the advanced stats support the idea that they’ve been playing really well. The Hagelin-Eller-Connolly trio has controlled 61% of the shot-share, 70% of scoring chances and 65% of high-danger opportunities generated while they’re on the ice.
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