In case you missed it, the NHL is back. With NBA preseason still light and no NFL until Thursday, it is the perfect opportunity to check out the action on the ice. We are treated tonight with a full 12-game slate which brings plenty of enticing matchups and lots to consider. From a strategic approach I tend to worry less about ownership on a slate this large, particularly when I’m unsure if it will be a bunch of regular NHL minds playing or if it will draw in more of the public. That isn’t to say we still shouldn’t get creative with our roster construction. With a large slate we’ve got some good GPPs going on both sites, so in this article I’ll call out some of my favorite spots to attack for tournaments.
The Washington Capitals vs. a Tired Colorado Team
The Caps are overwhelmingly large favorites facing a Colorado team who played an overtime game in Pittsburgh last night before traveling to Washington to play on a back-to-back. As I called out last year, back-to-backs do have an impact on teams but only slightly more so than a standard road game. Regardless, the Caps leap off the page as a team to target in all formats. The top line of Alex Ovechkin – Evgeni Kuznetsov – TJ Oshie will be the most popular line and are my highest projected line stack of the night by nearly 2 full DraftKings points. Individually I expect them to carry ownership but surprisingly many medium and low stakes players still aren’t utilizing full stacks. Regardless of where Ovechkin’s line ends up, the 2nd line of Marcus Johansson – Nicklas Backstrom – Andre Burakovsky will have somewhere in the neighborhood of 1/4th the level of ownership and put up 6+ DK points in 1 in 10 games last season versus 1 in 5 from the top unit on average. In a larger field GPP you can balance the ownership with the odds of success and at their price the WSH-2 line is my 2nd favorite value line on the night. Another creative way to attack Washington would be to pair up Ovechkin with Nicklas Backstrom (the power play pivot) and defenseman John Carlson (the most likely player to assist on Ovechkin’s one timers). Given that half of Ovechkin’s goals came on the power play last year this is a high upside low owned stack that can differentiate you from others in the field. Phillip Grubauer is getting the start for Washington tonight and has the highest likelihood of getting a win. He averaged 4.8 DK points per start last season, but seems unlikely to register a shutout and has lower upside if he faces fewer shots. That said, I think he’s been more than serviceable at the NHL level and makes for an okay play. If you want to take a stand against this popular attack, Semyon Varlamov is in a really tough spot, but had 13 games last season where he turned aside 35+ shots in 1 in 5 games and is capable of stealing a game at 2% ownership against a very popular offensive attack. If you are looking for a large field play in a top heavy format you could do worse.
The Arizona Coyotes’ Cheap Price Tags in a Game that Could Shootout
One of the under-the-radar spots to attack from a fantasy perspective are road teams who face off against a home team on a back-to-back. Given the money line in favor of the Senators, this play won’t be popular with your average player. The Coyotes 1st line of Martin Hanzal, Max Domi and Radim Vrbata looked dynamite opening night – piling up 13 shots, 1 goal and 3 assists as a unit. I would have been on Arizona anyways and the opening night production is a blessing and a curse as it reinforces our belief in their potential, but also brings in some ownership. They can be run out either alone or with either defenseman, Oliver Ekman-Larsson or Alex Goligoski. OEL is an elite blue-liner that comes at a relative discount tonight and should see 30 minutes of ice. Goligoski carries a much cheaper price tag and saw loads of power play time opening night (7 minutes!). I like Arizona in this spot against an Ottawa team that was 2nd worst in the league in Corsi Against per 60 metrics last year and hasn’t shown signs of improving early on this season.
On the opposite side, Arizona was a bottom 5 defensive club last season and I don’t mind a game stack here. Erik Karlsson is always in play and is my top rated defenseman, even after factoring in tired legs. The challenge with Ottawa is that last night we started to see the lines thrown into a blender, but Mike Hoffman, Mark Stone, and Derrick Brassard each eclipsed 6+ DK points in more than 10% of their games last year and are the preferred plays for me, depending how they are lined up.
The Montreal Canadians Home Opener vs. a Backup Netminder
If you haven’t caught onto a theme, yet…