This article is part of our NHL DFS Breakdown series.
I've been editing Russ' article since the start of the season, trying to learn to the art of building great DFS hockey lineups along the way. A few years ago, I was one of the hockey editors for RotoWire, managing the day-to-day news coverage, but that role came to a close just as DFS was hitting it's growth phase.
In any case, as 2018 comes to a close, I'm hopeful I've learned enough to capably step in for a day on this piece. As a heads up, this week's schedule is strange, so Russ' next article will run Thursday since that's the largest remaining weekday slate after Monday's.
Please see this previous article for the basic strategy write-up.
Russ' rankings are determined by a Corsi-based Rating System that he created, the average rating is about 49 per game. Like Corsi, this represents the total number of shot attempts per game either for or against, but it's also adjusted for shooting percentage and save percentage. Any shot attempt counts, whether it is on goal, off target or blocked, which is why the average hovers around 49, rather than the league average shots on goal (31.4). With the current rosters loaded, the Offense Rating (OR) range is a best of 55.5 (SJ) to a worst of 43.9 (NYR), and the Defense Rating (DR) range is a best of 44.9 (CGY) to a worst of 58.4 (OTT) – Ottawa is so bad, the next worst team is 51.3 (NYR). These numbers will change daily with line changes, injuries and player call-ups. The goal is for these values to clearly show how good or bad a team ranks by equating it to shot attempts per game.
Slate Preview: Monday, December 31, 2018
The Main Slate on Monday is slightly different on the two sites. On DraftKings, lock is at 6p ET and 11 games are included. On FanDuel, lock is at 7p ET and eight games are included.
Two teams are playing the first game in a back-to-back Monday; the Flyers are traveling to Nashville to play Tuesday, while the Kings are headed to Vegas after their tilt in Colorado.
The following chart will be included so I do not have to bog down the write-ups with too many Offensive and Defensive Ratings. Also shown are my projected Shots on Goal, Shooting Percentage and Save Percentage. Starting Goalies are listed with either a Projected or Confirmed tag at the time of publication – this will be updated later in the day.
*All stats are projected figures based on my ranking formulas, using 2017-18 and current year statistics.
Expensive Line Stacks
(The number next to the player name is the power-play line they are slated to skate with, if a 0 is shown, that means they are not on either power-play line.)
CLS1 vs. OTT: Artemi Panarin-1 ($7,900 FD, $6,500 DK), Pierre-Luc Dubois-1 ($5,900 FD, $5,800 DK), Cam Atkinson-1 ($7,400 FD, $7,800 DK) - The Sens have been an easy target all season, and there is no reason to think things are going to change as the calendar flips to 2019. At the very least, getting some exposure to the Blue Jackets with a one-off play from this group, or with a two-player combo tying in Seth Jones with a spot on the blue line seems prudent. As a trio, the CLS1 line has racked up 17 points over the last five games, while Atkinson has potted eight goals in his last 15 contests – including four over the last five – entering play Monday night. Panarin's discounted price on DraftKings makes him a steal.
CGY1 vs. SJ: Johnny Gaudreau-1 ($8,400 FD, $7,500 DK), Sean Monahan-1 ($7,300 FD, $6,900 DK), Elias Lindholm-1 ($5,900 FD, $6,600 DK) - The Flames will benefit from getting the final line change Monday as they're at home against the Sharks, giving their strong top line an upper hand in this matchup. Gaudreau brings slate-breaking potential to the table every night, and he'll look to close out a red-hot December (9 G, 13 A in 13 games) with another big game as he's currently on a 100-point pace thanks to a gaudy 15.1% shooting percentage. Monahan and Lindholm can be stacked without Gaudreau if desired, and both are better values while still providing exposure to Gaudreau if you opt to play a different elite winger around that price point.
COL1 vs. LA: Matt Nieto-0 ($3,300 FD, $3,100 DK), Nathan MacKinnon-1 ($8,600 FD, $8,100 DK), Mikko Rantanen-1 ($8,000 FD, $7,700 DK) - Nieto's place on this line is hardly guaranteed over the course of Monday's matchup with the Kings, making him in an easy cut. MacKinnon and Rantanen are the highest-projected duo on the board Monday, but they're also the most expensive two-man stack in play, so you'll need to find value options elsewhere to offset their cost. The Kings' penalty-killing unit is the worst on the slate, and the Avs are converting 27.3% of the time with the man advantage this season. Moreover, the Kings don't have a good shutdown defensive line to slow down MacKinnon and Rantanen at even strength, which could make paying the premium for both of them worth it.
*DraftKings Only* BUF1 vs. NYI: Jeff Skinner-1 ($6,600), Jack Eichel-1 ($8,000), Sam Reinhart-1 ($5,900) - If the Sabres-Islanders matchup were part of the FanDuel Main Slate, loading up BUF1 as part of a stack would likely be part of the plan there as well. Within Russ' projections, only the Sabres approach the Blue Jackets on Monday night, as there is a pretty steep drop (relatively, of course) between Columbus and the other high-end line stacks. Check the status of Eichel prior to game time, as he's questionable with an undisclosed injury. If he sits, stacking this line is much less interesting.
Value Line Stacks
DET1 vs. FLA: Andreas Athanasiou-2 ($4,400 FD, $4,300 DK), Dylan Larkin-1 ($6,700 FD, $6,400 DK), Justin Abdelkader-0 ($3,500 FD, $3,000 DK) - The usual "feel free to cut Abdelkader" caveat applies. Larkin continues to produce near a point-per-game clip, while he's averaged a career-high 21:38 TOI/G this season. He enters Monday's game with a 13-game point streak (7 G, 9 A), and while his supporting cast was better at even strength when he was skating with Gustav Nyquist, Athanasiou's lower price makes him easier to stack with Larkin. Since returning from a two-game absence due to injury, Athanasiou has played at least 16 minutes in consecutive games, including 2:53 on the power play in Saturday's loss to Dallas. Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo is finally showing his age this season, carrying a 3.07 GAA and .902 save percentage into Monday's game with a well below average defensive squad skating in front of him.
FLA2 at DET: Frank Vatrano-2 ($3,900 FD, $4,700 DK) Henrik Borgstrom-2 ($3,300 FD, $3,100 DK), Mike Hoffman-1 ($6,400 FD, $6,300 DK) - The Panthers' second line might be matched up frequently with the Wings' top line, but Detroit's defensive struggles this season have included a lot of High Danger Chances (10.7 per game at even strength). Hoffman is a starting point if you're utilizing FLA2 as a value stack, since he offers up exposure to Jonathan Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov and Evgenii Dadonov on the top power-play unit. Borgstrom is a highly-regard prospect currently centering this line due to Nick Bjugstad's upper-body injury, but at least on FanDuel, the small price increase to use Vatrano is probably worth paying for.
STL2 vs. NYR: Alex Steen-2 ($4,500 FD, $4,200 DK), Ryan O'Reilly-1 ($5,700 FD, $6,000 DK), David Perron-2 ($4,500 FD, $4,600 DK) - Just as Hoffman is the clear-cut starting point for the FLA2 stacks, O'Reilly is that player for STL2. In addition to time he sees on the Blues' top power-play unit, O'Reilly is a good distributor capable of finding the back of the net on his own. The matchup at home against the Rangers is an excellent one, as the Rangers are among the worst defense teams in play Monday (51.3 DR...only the Senators are worse). Perron is heating up recently, with two multi-point efforts in his last three games and five goals in his last eight contests. Steen has struggled over the last 10 games since returning to action following a concussion, chipping in just four assists and being held without a goal during that span.
Also in play: ANH1 vs. TB, CAR1 vs. PHI (DK only), NYR2 at STL, LA1 at COL
Solo Forward Options
Patrik Laine-1, WPG2 at EDM ($7,800 FD, $6,800 DK) - Laine snapped a five-game goalless drought in Saturday's loss to the Wild. His price is significantly deflated on DraftKings, but he's an excellent one-off play on both sites Monday. Since the start of last season, 31 of his 68 goals have come on the power play. While he's skating on the Jets' second line at even strength, he remains a fixture on the top power-play unit.
Alexander Radulov-1, DAL1 vs. MON ($6,400 FD, $6,800 DK) - The Stars are skating Tyler Seguin ($7,500 FD, $6,800 DK) on the second line, but you could consider pairing him with Radulov ($6,400 FD, $6,800 DK) to get top power-play correlation in a favorable spot at home against Montreal. If you're only playing one of the Dallas forwards Monday, Radulov offers slightly better value on FanDuel given the $1,100 price difference, but there is little that separates them on DraftKings, where they carry the same price.
Timo Meier-2, SJ1 at CGY ($5,300 FD, $6,400 DK) - Meier is just two points away from matching his total from last season (his first full NHL campaign). He's been quiet lately, with an assist on Dec. 22 serving as his only point in the last six games, but he's still seeing plenty of power-play time, and the Sharks continue to create a lot of High Danger Chances at even strength.
Ondrej Kase-1, ANH1 vs. TB ($4,300 FD, $6,100 DK) - Kase is a free square on FanDuel until the price increases by about $1,500. He's fired 41 shots while picking up eight goals and five assists over 12 games in December, while skating on the Ducks' top line at even strength and on the top power-play unit.
Colin White-1, OTT1 at CLS ($4,300 FD, $4,300 DK) - The Sens have been leaning on White in a larger role in December, as he's averaged 17:46 per game over 13 contests while chipping in three goals and six assists. He's an affordable filler in a top-line role and with a place on Ottawa's top power-play unit, though it's worth noting that the Sens' power play might take a hit without Thomas Chabot.
Brock Nelson-1, NYI1 at BUF ($4,900 DK) – Once again, we're left with an option that is only available on DraftKings because of the unusual early lock on FanDuel. Nelson projects as favorably as some centers that cost $1,500-$2,000 more on this slate.
Mark Giordano-1, CGY vs. SJ ($6,200 FD, $6,100 DK) - Thanks to an excellent top line and an improving group of top-six forwards as a whole, Giordano has been an assists machine with 30 helpers in 37 games along with six tallies of his own. He's playing a ton of minutes, averaging just under 25 per game including more than three minutes per game on the power play.
Seth Jones-1, CLS vs. OTT ($5,900 FD, $5,900 DK) - Like Giordano, Jones is a workhorse (averaging 26:18 TOI/G) who brings a lot to the table, shutting down opposing teams and blocking plenty of shots, but also helping to create scoring chances at the offensive end at even strength and on the Blue Jackets' top power-play unit.
Alex Pietrangelo-1, STL vs. NYR ($5,000 FD, $4,900 DK) - It's tempting to pair Pietrangelo with Ryan O'Reilly, and ignore the two wingers on the STL2 line. The Rangers allow plenty of High Danger Chances at even strength (10.1/gm), and their penalty-killing units have allowed the third-most goals per 60 minutes on Monday's slate (8.7).
Darnell Nurse-1, EDM vs. WPG ($4,600 FD, $5,400 DK) - Since Oscar Klefbom has been out with a finger injury, Nurse has been soaking up a huge volume of minutes, averaging nearly 28 per game and just under three per contests on the power play as a member of the top power-play unit. The price is creeping up on DraftKings, but he's still a very good value play on FanDuel, while offering exposure to Connor McDavid at a bargain price.
Max Lajoie-1, OTT vs. CLS ($3,600 FD, $3,900 DK) - Thomas Chabot has been placed on IR, which likely hurts the Sens' power play in a big way, but it opens the door for value with Lajoie priced under $4K on both sites. Make no mistake, this is a feast-or-famine play for tournaments, but the 21-year-rookie appears to be in line for a chance on the top unit with the man advantage, where he's tallied eight (4 G, 4 A) of his 13 points through 35 games this season.
Also in play…
As always, make sure your goalie is starting, these articles are posted well before many teams announce their starter for the evening.
Semyon Varlamov, COL vs. LA ($8,300 FD, $8,300 DK) - The Kings' woeful offense is projected to be the lowest-scoring unit on the board Monday, which is frequently the case when they're on a particular slate. After Columbus, the Avs are the biggest moneyline favorite on the board with a good home matchup, giving Varlamov a high win probability and a chance at a shutout. The only concern is that the Kings might not put enough shots on goal to prop up Varlamov's save total, which is the same concern that is limiting my interest in Sergei Bobrovsky at home against Ottawa on Monday.
Ben Bishop, DAL vs. MON ($8,700 FD, $7,900 DK) - The reduced price on DraftKings makes Bishop particularly appealing, and perhaps the $800 spike on FanDuel will keep ownership rates low enough to play him in tournaments. Montreal is a good offensive team, but not to a point where I'm steering away from using a high-end goaltender against them, especially at home, where Bishop is 8-3-1 this season. Based on Russ' projections, Bishop is the highest projected goalie on the slate, edging out Varlamov, albeit with slightly more risk.
Jimmy Howard, DET vs. FLA ($7,600 FD, $7,600 DK) - Howard is only an option for tournament lineups, but the Wings' matchup with Florida is more like a pick 'em than a situation where the Panthers should be favored on the road, as was the case when the lines opened. With just two wins in December, Howard is viable in tournaments because Detroit's porous defense allows him to see a lot of rubber. For the season, he's ranked eighth in save percentage (.921) among goaltenders with at least 20 games played.
GPP Punt: Marcus Hogberg, OTT at CLS ($7,100 FD, $7,100 DK) – Hogberg made 21 saves in a 3-2 loss against the Caps at home Saturday in his first NHL start. Sens coach Guy Boucher is giving him another turn in a difficult spot Monday night on the road in Columbus, where he'll likely see a ton of shots given the Sens' horrendous Defensive Rating (58.6) and propensity to yield plenty of High Danger Chances at even strength (9.9). If you want to fade the Columbus chalk in a tournament, Hogberg will provide a lot of salary cap flexibility to load up elsewhere in your lineup. Prior to his promotion to Ottawa, Hogberg spent most of the season with Belleville (AHL), compiling a 2.32 GAA and .916 save percentage in eight games.