NHL DFS February

Hello everyone! Our apologies for not getting an article out in quite some time, but we have a nice ten game slate to go over with you tonight. I’ll be discussing top stacks, gut/value plays, and goalies to help you build your optimal lineups for this evening. Now that we have a decent enough sample size, I’ll be referencing data from this season only. 

Top Plays

COL1 – Landeskog/MacKinnon/Rantanen – There really shouldn’t be much data to cite to justify why the Avs top line is one of the best plays on the slate. So far this year COL1 has a 74.59 CF60 with a 3.41 xGF60, owning the xG share at 63.77% which is massive. The Coyotes will also be playing backup goalie Antti Raanta in net tonight, who hasn’t played since February 13th. The line is going to cost you $21.3K to full stack, and my preference would be to use Cale Makar as he sees top PP minutes for the Avalanche who will see an Arizona PK unit that has the league’s second worst xGA/60 at 4v5, at 8.07.

MTL1 – Tatar/Danault/Gallagher – This is a matchup that I think is going to see some fireworks. Due respect to Connor Hellebuyck, but the reigning Vezina Trophy winner has a 77.9% HDSV% this year and is playing behind a defense that owns the second worst xGA60 and xG% in the league at 2.65 and 44.34%. MTL1 is one of the league’s best lines generating 76.07 (yes, you read that right) CF60, 3.28 xGF60, and own an xG% of 71.19%. Last game they saw a decent amount of time against WPG3, which is the textbook definition of mismatch. Even though they have a good PP matchup against the Jets, you’re going to see this line spread out on the man advantage, so I’d prefer to either pair them with Shea Weber or Ben Chiarot who play with them at 5v5. Even though Chiarot $4.2K, I think he’s playable as he has the highest iCF60 of all Montreal d-men at 17.22. I’m not going out of my way to fit him in by any means, but if you have salary leftover and want some correlation, why not give him a throw. 

EDM1 – Nugent Hopkins/McDavid/Puljujarvi – The slate’s marquee matchup will see the Oilers going head on with a Matthews-less Maple Leafs squad, which leads me to believe that Tavares will slot up to TOR1. So far this year at 5v5 JT and Marner have a 2.91 xGA60 with a 45.62% xG%. This Edmonton top line since Jesse P has been on the wing has been absolutely dominant at 5v5 play with a 3.46 xGF60 and 62.46% xG%. In my mind, there is absolutely no way the Maple Leafs are going to be able to slow them down tonight, so I do consider them one of the best, if not the best line to play on the slate tonight. Keep in mind that while the Oilers’ top PP unit is lethal, they’ve been cycling between Jesse P and Chiasson on the top unit. With that said though, I still do think it’s worth using Tyson Barrie as he QB’s the top unit. Oh, and they will get to shoot against Jack Campbell who hasn’t played since January 24th this year.

FLA1 – Vergaeghe/Barkov/Huberdeau – Personally I’m not one to stack against the Hurricanes, but over the last two weeks of play Carolina owns the league’s third worst xGA60 at 5v5 at 2.58. The Panthers have switched up their dominant 5v5 line by moving Huberdeau up in place of Duclair. So far in 2021 Barkov and Verhaeghe have been stellar, so I’m interested to see what happens tonight. There isn’t much data that we can cite here because these three haven’t played much, if at all together. But, in years past the Barkov/Huberdeau combo at home always seemed like one that you would see in lineups at the top of the contest. If I’m using a defenseman I’d prefer to take Yandle as he is $4.4K to Ekblad’s $5.5K, but the latter leads all Panthers skaters at 5v4 in iCF/60 at 34.6, and has yet to register one point so far with the man advantage. This would surely have to imply that positive regression is due soon.

Gut/Value Plays

NYI2 – Beavillier/Nelson/Bailey (V) – The Isles and Pens square off in New York tonight, and this Isles second line seems like it could be an interesting value play. So far this year Pittsburgh has quietly given up the seventh most GA60 at 5v5 at 2.59. What’s more interesting is that while they are doing about average in SCA60, they have been having serious struggles at preventing SCGA60, HDCA60, and HDGA60. In these categories they rank fourth, seventh, and second worst in the NHL. The reason I gravitate towards NYI2 is because at the very least they should see Evgeni Malkin who, despite being back with Bryan Rust where the pair has respectable defensive numbers, has been absolutely god awful this year. The one area that this pair has struggled greatly in: HDGA/60 at 1.99 in 120 minutes of 5v5 time together. When you consider the fact that Nelson and co will likely see the Matheson/Marino defensive pairing who have allowed 2.28 HDGA60 this year, I do believe that for $11.8K they can be used as a filler stack. Lastly, they will also get to shoot against Tristan Jarry who has a 77.2% HDSV% this season.  

STL2 – Perron/Schenn/Hoffman (G) – This line is very interesting because I think that very few will be on them due to their price, but I think they have the potential to destroy the slate tonight. Many know that so far this year Schenn and Hoffman have seen many defensive struggles, having been absolutely steamrolled at 5v5. BUT, tonight is intriguing because Berube has placed Perron on the left wing, which I’m thinking helps stabilize them just a little defensively. And not only that, but the Sharks second line is being centered by Noah Gregor and features Rudolfs Balcesr and Timo Meier. As much as I respect Timo Time, I think that if the Blues second line does in fact get to face off against the Sharks secondary unit that we are going to see some goals. It’s unclear who will be starting in net for San Jose, but regardless of who it is, neither goalie has a HDSV% this season of greater than 81% (Duby has a 64.5% HDSV% LOL). While I’m not particularly fond of stacking a second line that costs $18.4K, we all know that San Jose has been one of the league’s worst defensive teams, owning the eighth worst xGA60, and despite the Blues’ struggles over the last few games, I think that a meeting with the Sharks is just the ticket to help their numbers start seeing some positive regression. My preference for a d-man to pair them with would be Dunn at $3.4K, but if you have $5K left over rostering Justin Faulk is something I’m totally fine with.

DET1 – Fabbri/Larkin/Mantha (G) – I’m incredibly nervous about writing this line up as a gut play because they absolutely torched me the other night when Detroit put up 5 goals against Nashville and the Wing’s top line contributed to 0 of those. The Blackhawks have been playing some surprisingly good hockey over their last ten games, sure, but, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Detroit’s defensive numbers this year have been better than Chicago’s. The Hawks this year have a GA60 of 2.3 which matches their xGA60 of 2.32, the latter of which is the ninth worst in the league. In summary, the goals that they are allowing is right on par with what they should be allowing. Furthermore they also are sixth worst in SCA60 and tenth worst in HDCA60, which doesn’t bode well for non-NHL goalie Malcolm Subban who tends the twine for Chicago tonight. I’m personally a fan of Larkin and Mantha being together, as is the rest of the DFS community, and pairing with Fabbri means you can full stack this top line for $15.3K. I refuse to use Detroit d-men. 

MTL2 – Drouin/Suzuki/Toffoli (G) – So the Habs made some line changes in the middle of their last game versus Winnipeg, and it’s possible that we will see this trio together tonight as Josh Anderson is out with an injury. I for one was beyond happy last year when Tyler Toffoli went to Vancouver and started wreaking havoc on the Canucks top line, so you can imagine how I feel this year. For the last several seasons I’ve been of the mindset that Toffoli is one of the league’s most underrated players, as his time in Los Angeles usually saw him sheltered on the third line. For what reason this was, I have zero clue. When TT is on the ice, the Habs as a team are putting up a CF60 of 65.84, and both he and Suzuki on the ice allow Montreal to achieve a least 57.68% xG%. It’s an interesting line for sure, as they could spend some time seeing WPG1 who offers little defensively, much like the rest of the Jets. 

Goalies

John Gibson – So I don’t have any data to back this up whatsoever, but I’ll explain anyway. In my experience when teams go blender mode on their lines, much like Vegas has today, unless the new combinations have seen a fair amount of ice time together at some point, they usually take a couple games to find their groove. If of course they ever do. This is not me in any way saying that the Golden Knights have no chance of coming out and putting up 4 goals tonight at least. John Gibson gets absolutely hung out to dry by his teammates, but he is without question one of the top goalies in the league, some might argue the best. Tonight he costs $6.6K, and with some high priced lines like EDM1 and COL1 on the slate, I’m perfectly fine with taking one of the NHL’s best and putting him in my lineup. The challenge here though is that Anaheim seldomly announces who their goalie is going to be early in the day, so keep that in mind that it might be an hour or two after lock before you find out if Gibson will be in net. 

Cal Petersen – Playing goalies when their team is in a back to back situation is not something I’d normally do, however with the new divisional play structure the NHL has gone to this season, many teams are playing at least 2 games in a row against each other. This means that teams don’t have to worry about tiring overnight due to travel. The reason I like Petersen tonight is because not only is he $7K, but he has the highest HDSV% of all goalies in the NHL with a minimum of 100 minutes of play, at 92.3%. Although the Wild defeated the Kings last night, and as much as I think Kaprizov is a fun rookie to watch, Minnesota has not been a team known for consistent scoring in their last couple of seasons. Kaprizov and Fiala do make me nervous, yes, but again this is a team that has no true number one center. 

Jordan Binnington – Binnington has looked shaky this year, and his HDSV% is one of the worst in the league. So, why play him tonight you ask? Well, the Sharks have no Hertl in the lineup, and with Couture going head on with ROR tonight, I’m not totally convinced that many other San Jose lines can offer much from a scoring perspective. Sure, I do think that they’ll put up some shots, but the way to beat JB is by getting to the high-danger areas of the ice. Outside of Couture and Meier, not many SJ forwards excel in generating iHDCF. Therefore, my guess is that San Jose is going to put up some shots, yes, but not the quality that you’re going to need to get them by Binnington. He’s $8K which I’m not particularly crazy about paying for a goalie, but he could see some low ownership with high volume. 

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