How many times have you looked at the scores after a night of hockey and thought “How did that team beat that team” or “They scored five goals; how did he not score once?” If you’re like me, that is almost a daily occurrence. Sometimes, and what feels like often times, weird things happen.
On the fantasy side, sometimes you see a big number on the board only to look at the box score and see goals scored by guys that do little to help you. Another example from Thursday would be the St. Louis Blues who won 5-1 but their top two lines combined for only one goal. Instead their third line of Robert Thomas, Tyler Bozak, and Alex Steen found the back of the net four times! Steen was responsible for two of those goals and he hadn’t scored once the entire season. The chances those goals did anything to help your fantasy team is unlikely.
While these outcomes can be frustrating, if you’re willing to take some chances then embracing the unpredictability of hockey for DFS purposes can sometimes pay off. My biggest score of the season came from a lineup comprised of Ottawa Senators and some Tampa Bay Lightning not named Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point, or Steven Stamkos – not exactly a lineup you would expect to be at the top of a leaderboard.
Looking for high upside lines that are flying under the radar on a slate or rostering a third line because of a great matchup while everyone else is on the top two (see St. Louis above) can be ways you can take advantage of these unexpected outcomes. In future articles I hope to cover why rostering players with low ownership such as these can lead to real success.
As for tonight, we’ve got a loaded slate with ten games to choose from getting under way at 7 p.m. EST. All players and prices used are from DraftKings’s but can be applied to FanDuel as well.
C – Sebastian Aho $6,200
Without Nathan MacKinnon and Auston Matthews on the slate tonight, staples of this article the past few weeks, the search for centers will have to expand. The Kings come in to tonight’s game having lost three of their past four. In the only win in that span, Thursday against Vegas, they were outshot 36-5 in the last two periods but managed to hang on thanks to a great performance from Jack Campbell. Over the course of the entire season, only five teams have allowed more goals on the road than the Kings.
The Carolina Hurricanes enter as a hefty favorite here and will look to take advantage of this matchup. Aho leads the team in goals with 23 and is second to only Dougie Hamilton in terms of shots taken on the year. If he is shooting, he is racking up the points. In games where has at least three shots on goal since December 1, Aho has averaged over 20 DraftKings points. With the King’s recent struggles, Aho should be able to come close to that number.
W – Patrick Kane ($7,700)
The Blackhawks have quietly snuck their way into the playoff picture with a stretch of seven wins in 12 games. At the center as expected is Kane. Despite a constant shuffle of linemates and a lack of other scoring options around him, Kane continues to produce. In that 12-game span, Kane has ten goals, nine assists, and 50 shots – good for just under 20 DraftKings points per game. Three times Kane has exploded for over 40 DraftKings points in that period, which really showcases the type of upside he possesses. At home in a plus matchup, Kane is a great play for cash games and can even be used as a one-off in tournaments given the lack of options around him.
Stacking Options: Check pre-game rushes
W – Jakub Vrana ($5,200)
The Washington Capitals are in the premier spot on this slate with their home matchup against a struggling and underachieving Devils team. Most of the ownership will naturally gravitate towards Alex Ovechkin, for good reason, but don’t sleep on Vrana and his linemates in the second group. This trio, including Evgeny Kuznetsov and T.J. Oshie, have all scored four times each over the past seven games. Those 12 goals are seven more than the Ovechkin line has produced in that span.
Word from Captitals practice is that Vrana is set to replace Kuznetsov on the team’s top power-play unit, which should only add to Vrana’s value as every one of his 19 goals on the season have come at even strength. With discounted prices compared to other top options, stacking up this trio in tournaments or picking off a few for cash games are great options.
W – Nick Suzuki ($4,400)
When looking for salary relief, Suzuki can provide it with his role on Montreal’s second line. Alongside Max Domi, Suzuki finds himself with a matchup against the Ottawa Senators who are near the bottom of the rankings in goals allowed on the season. Since being moved up to the second line when teams resumed play after the Christmas break, Suzuki has seen over 18 minutes of ice time and racked up seven points in eight games. He has also been on the ice for over twenty of minutes of power play time during that stretch. Suzuki should have ample opportunity to crack double digits which given his price tag of only $4,400 would be a fine outcome.
D – Alex Pietrangelo ($6,300)
The Blues have shown no signs of a Stanley Cup hangover as they sit atop the Western Conference with 63 points. Having a player of the caliber of Pietrangelo on the blue line has certainly contributed to their winning ways. Over the past ten games Pietrangelo has five goals, seven assists, and has averaged 18.25 DraftKings points per game. His scoring potential coupled with his shot taking and shot blocking leaves Pietrangelo as one of the most consistent defensemen in term of fantasy scoring. The Blues opponent Saturday night, the Rangers, allow the second most shots per game, which should suit Pietrangelo well.
D – Esa Lindell ($4,200)
With John Klingberg sidelined the past three games due to injury, Lindell has more than filled the void left behind at defense. During that stretch Lindell has racked up six assists and 45 DraftKings points. With 17 assists now on the season, Lindell is poised to eclipse the 20 and 21 assist marks he posted the past two seasons. A recent bonus to Lindell’s game is the power play time he has been seeing in the absence of Klingberg. Three of the six assists over the last three games have come on the man advantage so it appears as long as Klingberg remains out, Lindell has more value than his $4,200 price tag would suggest.
Goalies (Be sure to confirm goalies at Goalie Post before rostering)
Jordan Binnington $8,400
Braden Holtby $8,500
Carey Price $7,600
The Five Hole
Five players to build cash lineups around:
Five tournaments stacks to consider not previously mentioned:
Feel free to reach out to me via Twitter for any NHL DFS questions. Follow me @SteveDotzel and I will do my best to tweet any major updates to players in the article throughout the day and before lock.