Game Misconduct: NHL DFS, August 13

Last night was a good shot in the arm for taking educated stances on fading high priced players. We did not get adequate return on investment from Alex Ovechkin or Nathan MacKinnon, as Ovi got just his shot volume while MacKinnon got an extremely late assist to stave off total disaster.

Today’s slate sees a back-to-back between Carolina and Boston, game four (two) between Columbus and Tampa Bay, another potential throttling spot with Vegas hosting Chicago, and a game that should help make your decision to call it an early night easier (Calgary at Dallas).

Columbus Blue Jackets at Tampa Bay Lightning

Very bold of the NHL to go back to this game to kick off the slate… Sure would be a shame if something happened to your schedule of games puts on sunglasses. Unbelievably poor shooting percentages and a lack of whistles pushed this game to terrifying heights Tuesday, so let’s hope for a more reasonable amount of OT if it comes to it.

It’s pretty hard to digest the numbers from this game because everything about defies the norm. It’s fair to wonder if there is going to be at least some fatigue here given the marathon of just two days ago, but my thinking (based on mostly nothing) is that it will be more pronounced on the netminders than the skaters. These are professional athletes who, though they are coming off a long break, have still spent weeks getting back up to speed.

We covered the numbers of these teams in Game 1’s write up, so with the Lightning still the home team, things shouldn’t be too changed. Columbus has a slower, lower event style offensively and it’s clear they struggled in the first game to generate much of anything against Tampa’s stout defense. Looking at the numbers from periods one through four — taking the stance that overtimes five through eight are outliers — Tampa completely dominated at 5v5, posting a 63% shot share at 5v5. If we normalize these numbers it’s fair to take a bearish stance on Columbus’s offense.

Also, it’s worth noting that the Lightning were able to generate some quality chances during this time as well. The game of inches giveth and taketh away, but it does appear that the Bolts were able to figure out how to break through Columbus’s stingy system. Matchup numbers got muddied because of the chaos, but for the most part it does appear that the lines were mostly matched in hierarchical order.

The main takeaway here is that we are probably going to emotionally overrate fatigue. If that’s the case, then it’s a good opportunity to look back at Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov given their track record and a matchup against a Columbus top line that will attempt to play high-event hockey but often sees its numbers deteriorate when the pace is pushed up.

Also, there is still upside the low cost of the line of Yanni Gourde, Blake Coleman, and Barclay Goodrow. They won their matchups in the first game and they’ve posted a solid 59.31% shot share since the season resumed. If looking for punt plays or roster filler, this group could fit the bill.

For his Herculian 85-save effort in Game One, Joonas Korpisalo saw his salary shoot up to… $7.3K on DK. Again, it would seem more appropriate for fatigue to be an issue in netminders given the types of movements they make versus skaters, but who knows. You can still chase shot volume (albeit closer to 40 than 90) at this price. Andrei Vasilevskiy wasn’t quite as busy in the marathon and the win bonus helped him a bit more on FD. Columbus’s offense hasn’t really looked good these playoffs (1.63 xGF/60, third lowest) so while they may find success from game to game, as we add more volume to our sample size we should bet against their offense (nine goals incoming).

Chicago Blackhawks at Vegas Golden Knights

Game One pretty much went according to script, with Golden Knights winning and dominating play through the game. Only the second period saw a window of positive possession and control from the Blackhawks, but over the course of the game Vegas posted a 58.35% CF% at even strength. Add in some power play domination and Chicago really never was close.

Max Pacioretty looks no worse for wear after playing his first game since the shutdown, which is good news. DFSers took notice of his return and his line carried substantial ownership in Game One. That figures to continue tonight, so look for ways to differentiate your lineup if going with Patches, William Karlsson, and Mark Stone. There’s huge upside on this line, and typically a good floor with their shot volumes and power play role (Patches & Stone together). Their dominant 5v5 numbers from the season (75 shot attempts per hour at 5v5, xGF/60 of 3.4) don’t need to be overanalyzed.

Pretty much the same goes for Paul Stastny, Reilly Smith, and Jonathan Marchessault. Smith was the non-32 overtime slate breaker. Keep in mind that he played just under 14 minutes in the game, so his production was highly efficient and may not necessarily be easily duplicated. Then again, this is Chicago… basically you can’t go wrong with any of Vegas’s top six, and mix-and-matching is fine.

We know about Chicago’s overall horrendous defensive numbers, so breaking it down a little further, we saw the Marchessault line take out Patrick Kane group with the Stone line going against Jonathan Toews & Co. Many would simply assume the Kane line is the better draw, but while that may be true, the margin is a lot closer than it may seem. Toews is not the shutdown center of 10 years ago. His line allowed well over a shot attempt per minute together at 5v5 in the regular season, so there’s no volume concern. We also saw plenty of high-danger shot attempts taken, so there’s no quality control.

You’re going to want a piece of Vegas’s top six thanks to their lid lifting and slate breaking ability, so while we started at the top talking about fading high-priced stars, don’t fade just for the sake of fading. Make sure it makes sense.

Chicago is in a pretty impossible spot here. The matchup is brutal on paper, on the ice at 5v5, and there aren’t many holes to try to exploit — especially as the road team. The silver lining, I suppose, could be that the Knights will score so much that it creates a score-effect binge of offense for Chicago.

Toews, Domanik Kubalick, and Brandon Saad form one scoring line with Patrick Kane, Kirby Dach, and Alex DeBrincat the second. In theory the Kane line looks like the better play given their high-end finishing ability and power play correlation, but they will see almost all of their 5v5 time against one of the Marchessault or Stone lines. Yikes. Chicago’s forwards offer virtually no floor against a far superior talent.

Shea Theodore is the big ticket blueliner, but there are some values to mine amongst the Vegas blueliners. Nate Schmidt, Alec Martinez offer good floor/upside combos at their price, and you can slum it up with Brayden McNabb and Nick Holden given their ability to accumulate counting stats and the favorable matchup.

In net, Robin Lehner wasn’t all that busy in Game One and that is likely to continue on a game-to-game basis. He’s a strong cash game play given how mismatched these teams are. Set it and forget it. Corey Crawford is on the complete other end of the spectrum and needs a low probability game-stealing performance to be relevant in GPPs. At his price point Korpisalo projects better.

Carolina Hurricanes at Boston Bruins

Two familiar faces from yesterday as these two needed double (lol amateurs) overtime to determine a winner. Ultimately the Bruins controlled this one, and the Hurricanes got some unlikely goals from secondary defensemen. At 5v5 Boston controlled 55% of the shot share while getting quality looks on their way to an expected goal rate of 2.36. Carolina lagged a bit with a 1.86 expected goal rate; this number isn’t necessarily surprising given its in line with the Bruins’ regular season average.

Too much can’t be extracted from one game, of course, but that’s what we saw in the opener. We know Carolina is a fast paced team that is strong at 5v5 in their own right, so this series should be even throughout.

Boston’s elite top line had no issues with working against Carolina’s equivalent, but the matchups weren’t as strongly enforced as the game went on and each team tried to give their stars better looks. At the end of the game, both top lines were right around 50% shot share while the Hurricanes’ top line of Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen, and Andrei Svechnikov slightly underperformed given their inability to generate scoring chances or high-danger looks (expected goal rate of just 0.19).

Ondrej Kase has injected energy into a previously disappointing second line of David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk. With several high-end options on the slate today this group is a nice pivot away from the Bergeron line for Boston. Especially if they can find their way to some matchups with the Aho line (13 scoring chances allowed in 16 minutes at 5v5) DeBrusk and Kase could continue to provide nice value. Krejci is less of a shooter over the long-term, for what it’s worth. The third line of Anders Bjork, Charlie Coyle, and Nick Ritchie scores points under the hood as they averaged well over a shot attempt per minute, but their usage is concerning and there finishing ability is fair to be questioned.

As for Carolina, we knew it was going to be tough sledding going against a juggernaut defense. The Aho line — the most explosive, the best finishers — really struggled to the tune of a 27.545 xGF% with hardly any quality chances among their 20 5v5 shot attempts. It wasn’t just the matchup against the Bergeron line either, as the matchups were more fluid as the game wore on. Ultimately this line will generate scoring chances based on their abilities, but it may happen on “home” ice. Given their price point and the reduced floor/ceiling combo in Boston, the top line sets up as MME contrarian action.

Finishing has always been the Achilles of the Hurricanes. When talking about finishing in this context, we’re talking about executing on successful implementation on system work — scoring a goal after getting into position for a high-danger shot attempt.

The line that generated the most scoring chances? Why Nino Niederreiter, Morgan Geekie, and Jordan Martinook. Not a lot of high-end talent in terms of goal scoring there. Beyond the top line there is more risk of being frozen out of DFS scoring by Carolina’s secondary lines. While they benefit from better on-ice matchups the skill level is lower and Boston still runs a tight ship defensively.

Despite playing for nearly 81 minutes, Tuukka Rask only saw 28 shots on goal. If the win points aren’t there, Rask is at risk of a poor score and comes expensive. Petr Mrazek, meanwhile, saw 40 shots on net but he’s always been more of a league average goalie. Yes, he is playing behind a good structure, but is the game stealing ability there? (Side note, that OT game winner allowed, woof.)

Calgary Flames at Dallas Stars

The final game of the slate could easily be the slowest paced, lowest event game of the day/night. Calgary took pretty solid control of 5v5 play in Game One, dominating the shot share (55 to 42) and limiting the Stars to just three high-danger shot attempts in their 42 looks.

Dallas really hasn’t looked right for a while now. As previously discussed the coaching change in December slowed the team way down and created a dull style.

As expected, the Stars used their dedicated checking line (Faksa) against Flames’ top trio of Sean Monahan, Elias Lindholm, and Johnny Gaudreau. This line hasn’t been the dominant 5v5 force we are used to, and the Faksa line actually kept them in check quite. In over 14 minutes, Calgary’s top line took less than 11 shot attempts and had an expected goal rate of 0.08. Definitely going to be breaking my circadian rhythm for this game…

Matthew Tkachuk didn’t post anything useful for DFS purposes, but his line — with Mikael Backlund and Andrew Mangiapane — continued to be a play-driving force. The Monahan line was the only one hard matched, which again should benefit this line. You don’t see the big point totals here usually, but if looking to get on the Flames against a weaker defensive opponent, this line makes for a strong pivot. They’ll come cheaper and carry less ownership (though that shouldn’t be an issue) while Tkachuk works on the top power play unit.

It appears that Dallas threw in the towel on Tyler Seguin third liner towards the end of the game, as he wound skating about three minutes at 5v5 with Jamie Benn and Alexander Radulov. For the Dallas offense to have a chance this trio needs to be kept together. There isn’t much depth in the forward ranks to support any of them, with perhaps the exception of Seguin. With their forces combined, the top line averaged over a shot attempt per minute, generated nearly 32 scoring chances per hour, and averaged an expected goal rate of 2.8. Though Seguin may be much less than 100%, there is definite buy low opportunity here if we can get reasonable assurance they will stick together. They won’t be chained to the Tkachuk line, either.

Joe Pavelski, Denis Gurianov, and Mattias Janmark came through in G1 but the floor is very low with this line because of Dallas’s overall suppressed numbers. At least Pavelski still works on the top power play unit.

Ben Bishop figures to be back in net for the Stars while Cam Talbot coninutes to #JustWinBaby for the Flames. Though there’s some potential for in-game reinjury risk with Bishop, fading both offenses and counting on a slower paced game makes sense. Talbot seems relatively easy to project, expect a few shots less than 30 to reach net, a few to get past him, and the win firmly in play. Neither netminder (including if Anton Khudobin start again) is the worst on the board.

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