Being Contrarian on Short NHL Slates

Once again, we have a 2-game Monday NHL slate. If I were being smart, I would fade this slate completely and start researching for the nice 10-game slate tomorrow. If you have to play every main slate like me, though, I would suggest playing tournaments only. With that being said, on a 2-game slate where the chalk is very clear, you’re going to get creative to have GPP success with limited entries in a large field tournament like the FanDuel $3 Breakaway ($20K guaranteed). We know the sharks like SaahilSud, shf52, and testosterown will be max-entering this tournament which makes it difficult for low-bankroll grinders like us to have a differentiated lineup that could take take down a GPP. Here are some of the strategies that you should look to utilize in large tournaments on nights like tonight where there are only 2-3 games.

Goalie Against the Chalk Offense
With only two games on the slate and one huge favorite, the majority of ownership is going to be on the Penguins. It’s not often we see a -300 favorite in hockey because of the extreme variance, and tonight is a night that players with smaller bankrolls should look to capitalize on the talented low-owned goalie. This season, Mike Smith has a solid 84.85 high danger save percentage, which means he has played very well despite the poor defense in front of him. Against a team high-paced team like the Penguins is a good, not dominant, possession team, there should be scoring chances to go around for both teams. Smith will see a ton of shots on goal and if he has a 40 save performance while only giving up a goal or two, which he is more than capable of doing, you’ll put yourself way ahead of the field with a 7-10% owned goalie if the Coyotes are able to find a way to get a few goals on Matt Murray.

Power Play Stacks
This is something that a lot of people do already, but it is worth mentioning for smaller slates specifically. Power plays are obviously big scoring opportunities for the offense so you will always want exposure to the guys that get a lot of power play minutes. You’ll also differentiate your lineup if you have power play stacks in which the players skate on different lines at even strength. For example, on the second power play unit for the Penguins, we have Nick Bonino (3rd line), Connor Sheary (1st) and Patrick Hornqvist (1st). This makes for an interesting stack because most people will stack Sheary and Hornqvist with Crosby because he centers them at even strength. However, Arizona is average on the penalty kill (80.9%) and this second unit power play stack is a way to take players from the chalk team while getting low ownership.

Defensive Pairing Stacks
This is one I like to use even on big slates. I like to look for defensemen that skate together at even-strength and both get power play minutes (whether they are together or on different units). For example, Pittsburgh is 76% on the penalty kill so I would look to see if two Arizona defensemen that skate together on even-strength also get power play minutes. Those two are Alex Goligoski (2nd PP) and Anthony DeAngelo (1st PP). This makes them an interesting stack as they will presumably both be under 10% owned. If they can both assist on an even-strength goal and/or get a power play assist or two, you’ll have a huge edge on the field.

Take a Stand on The Chalk
On 2-game slates with one game seeming one-sided on paper, there are players and stacks that are going to take up a large chunk of the ownership. If you have 150 entries to spare, you can stack the chalk lines with every other line which will give yourself a bunch of room for error. However, if you are playing 5-20 lineups per night and the chalk goes off on a two game slate, you would have to nail every single other player to give yourself a chance for a top GPP finish. For us small stakes grinders, you will need to take a stand on the mega-chalk like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. I would suggest going way over the predicted ownership or way under the predicted ownership. What this means is if you think Sidney Crosby is going to be 50% owned in GPPs, you would not want to have 5 of your 10 lineups with Crosby. Instead, you would want either 0-1 lineups or 9-10 lineups with Crosby. This way, if you fade Crosby and he goes off, you’re just going to lose. If you fade him and he only has one assist, you will give yourself a much better chance to profit in a big way. The chalk is going to make or break your night on a 2-game slate and you don’t want to match the ownership of players like Crosby and Malkin when you have limited lineups.

Stacking the Lower Vegas Total Game
This a high-risk/high-reward strategy that could pay off. With such high ownership on one team in such small slate, you should consider stacking the other game in hopes of it turning into a 6-5 shootout and the “chalk” game is lower-scoring than expected. This strategy is a tough one tonight because the “other” game features two of the top goalies in the league in Carey Price and Tukka Rask, but if the puck bounces the wrong way a couple times, this game could become the one to target for scoring.

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