NHL $1,000 to $5,000 Challenge: Night #2
Setting the Stage
Once again, I entered 2 lineups in both the Cross Check and Forecheck on DraftKings. Let’s take a closer look at these contests:
Obviously it makes plenty of sense that the winning score in the Forecheck is significantly higher than the Cross Check given the larger field size and larger max entry cap. That being said, it is worth noting that the minimum cash score is nearly identical. We’ll keep an eye on this moving forward. I actually am beginning to wonder if this 2-max is a good tournament to try and build bankroll in or not because it seems to be heavily populated by sharp players. I suppose we’ll know more as we gather more info playing it over time.
As you can see, I chose to pair STL2 and PIT1 with CBJ1/CBJ2 in my 2 lineups. In the Cross Check, Crosby and his linemates were ~ 15-18% owned while Tarasenko and his linemates were about the same. Frankly, I was expecting slightly higher ownership on Crosby’s line and was pleasantly surprised. Worth noting that Kevin Shattenkirk was surprisingly only 7% owned. I correlated Marc-Andre Fleury and Carter Hutton to the respective stacks. Given how expensive it was to pay up for Tarasenko and Crosby I ended up punting Jakub Vrana on both teams in order to fit everything. I was absolutely shocked to see Vrana at 23.5% owned in the Cross Check, which must have been a product of DraftKings’ tight pricing. Despite outperforming more than half of the field in both GPPs, neither of these lineups cashed. They finished 33rd and 36th in the Cross Check.
Why these lineups?
I do a GrindersLive show breaking down the NHL slate every Saturday afternoon with @JayWilly so I spent a lot of time breaking down this slate on Saturday. I basically resolved that PIT1 was far and away the top play of the slate and I expected them to be highly owned. Crosby is just playing absolutely incredible hockey lately and the Red Wings 1) aren’t very good and 2) were starting a rookie goaltender in his first NHL game. STL2 was also in a great spot in large part due to Winnipeg’s propensity to take penalties and perform poorly on the PK. I anticipated high ownership here as well, given that Vladi the Tank had scored a hatty last time out. Columbus was facing Arizona and, well, the Coyotes are just so atrocious defensively that I couldn’t ignore the value in rostering some Blue Jackets (who were reasonably priced given the match-up). Worth noting that the Columbus offense is also legit and the expected goals for and other offensive metrics back it up.
The problem with locking PIT1 into a roster was that they were extremely expensive and made it really hard to stack other lines with them. Crosby was $8,700, Hornqvist was $7,400, and Sheary was $5,400 ($21,500). One would ideally stack Kris Letang ($7,000) with their PIT1 stack, but that actually made it nearly impossible to fit any sort of decent roster in around them. Tarasenko, Steen, Shattenkirk cost $19,000 to stack, which created similar issues. While this made making a PIT1 or STL2/Shatt team somewhat difficult, it actually was a bit comforting regarding ownership because it probably pushed some people off of these lines.
After resolving that I wanted an STL2 team and a PIT1 team, the next question became: who do I pair them with? Columbus was an obvious spot as they were facing the Coyotes and actually quite reasonably priced. CBJ1 fit into my STL2 stack like a glove and I set that lineup fairly early. Fitting something I liked into my PIT1 stack was much more difficult. As you can see, I ultimately resolved to put Boone Jenner / Brandon Dubinsky / Seth Jones in there. I didn’t love leaving Cam Atkinson off this CBJ2 stack as he is the best offensive player on this line, but he was just was too expensive. Dubinsky and Jenner were awesome value, as was Seth Jones. Random fact: the Jenner-Dubinsky-Atkinson line actually led the NHL in 5v5 SCF/60 (scoring chances for per 60 minutes) last season among lines that saw a significant amount of TOI.
Did we make any mistakes?
As I noted in the last edition of this blog, focusing on whether one won or lost money is definitely not the best way to analyze your play. I don’t think stacking PIT1, STL2, and CBJ were mistakes. Pittsburgh won their game handily and the top line had a plethora of chances to score. Sheary actually had a goal called back for goalie interference (not sure if I agree —- seemed Hornqvist was pushed into the goalie). It’s hard to say playing the top line was a bad maneuver when the team had 5 goals and one called back.
STL2 had Alex Steen score a goal and also got the power-play chances I expected them to get, but was unable to convert. Steen and Tarasenko were a bit more highly owned that I expected, though I was shocked to see Shattenkirk significantly less owned than the aforementioned duo. As I noted above, a large part of why I thought STL2 was a great play was the expected PP time and advantage against the poor Winnipeg PK. In turn, Shattenkirk was a crucial piece of my stack given his power-play role and production.
The Columbus Blue Jackets were undeniably a strong play last night given that they registered 60 (yes, 60!) shots on goal. The Blue Jackets dominated play in this game and Mike Smith was just absolutely unreal in the cage for Arizona. Both lines I stacked actually scored in this game.
Regarding goaltending, I’m not sure how I feel about my choices and what happened. Fleury was undeniably the safest play on the board as the Penguins were a huge Vegas favorite. That being said, he wasn’t an extremely high upside play and he was expensive. I wonder if I would should have considered dropping down in order to upgrade Vrana. Hutton was a play I actually liked more and, obviously, he worked out poorly. Giving up shorthanded goals always stings.
I actually saw this quote from Leafs coach Mike Babcock on Twitter last night and it’s highly relevant here….
“I don’t worry about what you deserve; I just worry about did we play right or not. When you play right and you do it over and over again, you get all the points you need. Tonight when you play good like this you leave satisfied and you get on with it.”
As always, really appreciate any and all comments. Would love to further discuss the merit of my choices below and am always open to contrasting opinions.
Night #2 Starting Bankroll: $938
Current Bankroll: $876