All eyes are on the NHL this weekend with the NBA celebrating their All-Star weekend and football now two weeks into their off-season. This is good news for us daily fantasy hockey players as the sites have jacked up the contests and prize pools as compared to a typical Saturday, in the hopes some of those NBA players trickle in. Whether you're an experienced player hoping to take advantage of the increased action, or a newcomer giving NHL a shot, this is a good time to re-visit some key strategies in the hopes we can use them to get to the top of the leaderboards.
If playing cash games, you will want to start by taking a look at the Vegas lines and identify the teams with the highest totals. On this slate those appear to be Toronto, Colorado, Calgary, and Washington. These teams are a good starting point for the core plays in your lineup.
As far as identifying individual players, shots and power play time are two important factors to consider. Players who shoot the puck often can quickly rack up fantasy points without actually scoring goals, though of course the more you shoot the better chance you have to just do that. As for power play units, you can quickly view each team's most recent units by utilizing tools found here at DobberHockey.com.
If you're going the tournament route for your lineups, correlation is king so you will want to make sure you stack players that are on the ice together as much as possible. You could view each team's lines using the same tools mentioned above. Using a 4-3-1 (C-W-W-D, C-W-W, D) or a 4-2-2 (C-W-W-D, C-W, W-D) lineup construction are two often used and successful strategies to employ. With a majority of the ownership likely landing on players from the four teams mentioned above, don't be afraid to think outside the box in tournaments and get away from the crowd. Correlating your goalie with one of your stacks makes a lot of sense here as well in the hopes you can pick up the win if your stack is able to score a few times.
There is a full day of hockey on tap for Saturday with games ranging from 1 p.m. EST to 10:30 p.m. EST. However, it is such a spread that only six games remain for the main slate starting at 7 p.m. EST on both DraftKings and FanDuel, but have no fear there are still plenty of options available. All players and prices used are from DraftKings but can be applied to FanDuel as well.
C – Nathan MacKinnon ($8,300)
On a slate this small there are three clear options at center and not rostering at least one in cash games could prove costly. While the Toronto duo of Auston Matthews and John Tavares are fine options in their own right, it is tough to pass on MacKinnon here. Fresh off another two-point night on Thursday, the Colorado center is now up to 80 on the season in 56 games which puts him fourth in the league. His 18.3 DraftKings points per game average is a full point higher than any other player on the slate in part because of how often MacKinnon shoots the puck. He trails only Alex Ovechkin on a shot per game basis which puts MacKinnon in play for the 5+ DraftKings shot bonus every night and explains why he has arguably the highest floor in all of fantasy.
C – Mikael Backlund ($4,800)
While stretches of the season have been a struggle for Backlund from a fantasy perspective, he is currently on a bit of a hot streak having recorded two points in three of his past four games and seven points overall during that stretch. Skating a majority of his time with Matthew Tkachuk he has racked up an average of more than 20 DraftKings points across those four games. This duo makes for a great tournament stack to add in with another line. Calgary is a hefty home favorite tonight against a Blackhawks team who has lost five straight and allowed 13 goals across the last three games.
Stacking Options: Matthew Tkachuk ($6,000)
W – Max Pacioretty ($7,900)
Pacioretty has been one of the most consistent fantasy producers all season, as his average point per game output trails only Alexander Ovechkin for wingers on this slate. Pacioretty is coming off a 40 DraftKings point outburst Thursday night and that is the third time in four games he has cracked the 20-point mark as he has lit the lamp five teams in that stretch. The Knights' opponent Saturday, the New York Islanders, are really struggling to keep the puck out of the back of the net of late having allowed at least three goals in seven straight games which includes a 5-0 drubbing Thursday. Mark Stone ($6,100) and William Karlsson ($5,000) join Pacioretty on a line that could make for an under-the-radar tournament stack.
W – Taylor Hall ($6,500)
When the Coyotes traded for Taylor Hall, they certainly didn't anticipate being in the midst of a stretch where they've lost 12 out of 15 games, but that is where they find themselves entering Saturday. But with playoff hopes still very much alive in the well contested Pacific Division, perhaps a return to Gila River Arena will get the team going in the right direction. Hall was brought in for his offense and has produced with 21 points in 25 games since being acquired from New Jersey. With what will likely be an up-tempo game with Washington coming to town, Hall should get several opportunities against a defensive unit who had given up seven and five goals in the two games prior to defeating Colorado in a come from behind win on Thursday. With that comeback in the forefront of everyone's minds, the Coyotes top line of Hall, Christian Dvorak ($4,300), Conor Garland ($4,900) comes in at a very affordable price that could allow them to be stacked with one of the higher priced options.
D – John Carlson ($7,700)
Paying up for defensemen is often times a preferred strategy for the best DFS players and on a slate lacking many of the top names at the position, Carlson stands out. His 69 points on the season leads all defenseman by far and Roman Josi (56) is the only player within 20 of Carlson's total. No blue liner on the slate averages within four DraftKings points of Carlson and he is in good form with seven points in the past four games. This type of floor is coveted in cash games and his steep price tag will help keep his ownership in check for tournaments as well.
Both these defensemen have seen increased opportunity due to injuries on their respective teams. In Petry's case, he was already seeing power play time before Shea Weber went down, but his on-ice time overall has increased as Montreal continues to fight to stay alive in the wild card hunt. With 35 points to his name on the season, Petry comes in a few hundred dollars less than other defenseman with similar numbers. As for Hanifin, he was the beneficiary of the Mark Giordano injury in filling his spot on the top power play unit. Hanifin's performance hasn't guaranteed him a stay in this new role, with only one power-play point in the four games since, but a top power play defenseman for just $4,000 is not an opportunity that presents itself every day.
Goalies (Be sure to confirm goalies at Goalie Post before rostering)
Ben Bishop ($7,700)
David Rittich ($8,200)
Jack Campbell ($8,100)
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.