Early NHL Season Trends And Stats

When you are playing Fantasy sports it would appear to be common sense that the better you know the league you are playing the more success you will have, but common sense and reality don’t always dance hand-in-hand. Being new to hockey, and therefore less knowledgeable about the NHL on the whole, just might be a benefit in DFS hockey. Follow me along here.

Lets use Peyton Manning and Fantasy football as our example. We all know that Manning is struggling, but struggling would be a compliment at this point. He has scored fewer Fantasy points than Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota and even Brian Hoyer who has only played in five games, hasn’t started them all, and he is Brian Hoyer!? If Peyton Manning wasn’t Peyton Manning and he wasn’t talking about Chicken Parmigiana sandwiches and selling cars on every other commercial then he would probably be owned in closer to 45% of leagues like Teddy Bridgewater or possibly 9% of leagues like Nick Foles rather than the 91% of leagues he is currently owned in. Manning is being STARTED in 36% of leagues while Marcus Mariota, who has outscored him by nine points this season, is only OWNED in 36% of Yahoo! leagues.

The more you know the players and their legacies the more susceptible you are to making decisions based on career accomplishments or reputation rather than recent performance or the best matchups.

There are a few stats and information that can help you  to evaluate the strength or weakness of a matchup. Here is a checklist.

     1. What line are they on and whom are they playing with.

Changes in lines and pairings can drastically alter the potential of a player to produce and it provides a great opportunity for value in the short term, making it one of the most important things to watch on the news wires.

Recent Players benefitting from a change:

• Ottawa Senator forward Curtis Lazar was moved up to the second line to play with Mika Zibanejad and Bobby Ryan in early October, boosting his potential considerably while he still maintains a low salary.

• Detroit Red Wings forward Dylan Larkin was recently moved up to the first line to play with Henrik Zetterberg.

• Edmonton Oilers rookie center Leon Draisaitl was promoted to Edmonton to play with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall.

• Florida Panthers center Nick Bjugstad is centering a line with Jaromir Jagr and Jonathan Huberdeau while Aleksander Barkov is out.

     2. Who is the opposing goalie?

This is obvious. Cary Price is a goalie you want to avoid while facing the Columbus Blue Jackets backup goalie Curtis McElhinney, who is allowing over three goals a game and has a save percentage of .891, is one you may want to stack against.

Those are two basic pieces of information having to do with players and personnel that can be helpful in making the right decisions on a nightly basis, but where your research time might be best spent is on team statistics. Here are a few team stats to look at to help you decide what matchups you should target and which ones you should avoid as well as some teams doing well or poorly in these categories.

Goals Against

Some teams are more defense-oriented while others are loaded with snipers and players that are more focused on putting the puck in the net than stopping it from going in the back of their own. Some teams have bad defenseman or bad goalies and then there are some teams that allow a lot of goals because they are just plain bad.

Here are the five worst teams in Goals Against per Game:
• Columbus Blue Jackets: 4.10 GA/G<
• Calgary Flames: 3.90 GA/G
• Boston Bruins: 3.63 GA/G
• Toronto Maple Leafs: 3.25 GA/G
• Buffalo Sabres: 3.22 GA/G

Goals For

I have said in previous columns that when building a lineup it is more important to focus on specific players rather than teams when it comes to goal scorers, but that applies to the elite players like Alex Ovechkin or Tyler Seguin more so than the more affordable ones. When you need to find budget-friendly players to fill out your roster, looking at what teams score more is a good place to find values. Often times mid-level roll players are interchangeable so choosing a player from a higher scoring team can be a higher percentage play when the matchups are comparable.

Here are the five highest scoring teams in Goals For per Game

• Boston Bruins: 4.13 GF/G
• Washington Capitals: 3.75 GF/G
• Montreal Canadiens: 3.60 GF/G
• New York Islanders: 3.44 GF/G
• Dallas Stars: 3.44 GF/G

As you can see, the Boston Bruins are the only team that is both scoring a lot of goals while also allowing a lot of them. High scoring games are the best ones to have shares in and so far Bruins games average over seven goals a night. It would be a wise strategy to strongly consider starting or stacking Boston Bruins players and some nights it might make sense to pick players from both teams in Bruins matchups.

     3. Penalties

Having a man advantage is just that, an advantage. Selecting a player from a team whose opponent commits more penalties raises the chances that your starter will have power play opportunities. This stat is best used when choosing your stars, but you can find values too. Having Tyler Seguin or Alec Ovechkin in a game where they are likely to have a couple of opportunities with the man advantage is great. But, Patrice Bergeron of the Bruins is tied for the lead with Jaime Benn of the Stars with four power play goals this season, while Reilly Smith of the Panthers has three.

Here are the five most penalized teams in the NHL

• Florida Panthers: 46 minor penalties
• Ottawa Senators: 45 minor penalties
• Arizona Coyotes: 43 minor penalties
• Los Angeles Kings: 41 minor penalties
• Columbus Blue Jackets: 41 minor penalties
• Winnipeg Jets: 41 minor penalties

As you can see, the Columbus Blue Jackets are ranked top five in both goals against per game and penalties. These are two categories that a quality team is unlikely to be ranked so high on, but two lists that a team that makes for a very good matchup for DFS purposes is. Stacking your DFS lineup with a couple players from the Boston Bruins and against the Columbus Blue Jackets isn’t a bad place to start when putting together your DFS lineup.

These are some very basic ways along with some early season trends to help you succeed and cash in DFS Hockey. In the coming weeks we will continue to keep you informed of relevant changes in the league as well as give you more strategies for building your winning lineups. Good luck this weekend.

Chris Mitchell

Chris Mitchell

Chris Mitchell has been playing Fantasy sports for over twenty years. He contributed to RotoWire.com in their early days before contributing as a writer and doing Fantasy sports Podcasts for Seamheads.com. Three seasons ago he brought his writing and his Fantasy sports Podcast to RotoExperts.com and the Fantasy Sports Television network and this past season he wrote a weekly Fantasy sports column for BaseballAmerica.com. He also writes about Minor League prospects for RotoExperts. Chris has no more access to the site than the typical user. Follow him at Twitter @CJMiitch73.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply