Puck Picks: The Playoffs

The DFS regular season is over and the playoffs have begun. One of the great things about hockey is the intensity level and how the players give maximum effort whether it’s the fifth game or the seventy-fifth, but the playoffs are another gear.

There are some differences to consider when compiling your DFS rosters in the playoffs than the regular season.

  1. It’s always a shrunken slate in the playoffs. With fewer bargains, fewer players to choose from and the lack of great matchups makes stacking, and super-stacking specifically, become more intriguing considerations. It is more difficult to set yourself apart from your competitors so targeting one game and one group of players can limit your ceiling, but if you draft wisely you will have a better chance to cash.
  1. There is less scoring in the playoffs. The competition is better and the intensity level and stakes are higher, which often results in great game action and less scoring. This increases the importance of shots on goal for forwards and blocked shots for defenseman, while making more Team G’s viable.
  1. Top Defenseman is even more valuable. I have come to believe that its good strategy to spend top dollar on the top-ticket defenseman, and I believe that’s even more true in the playoffs. The checking and fourth lines play much fewer minutes in the playoffs than in the regular season and therefore the top lines play even more minutes and that is even truer of the top defenseman. They play extra shifts at full strength, but they also play extra shifts on the power play and the penalty kill. More minutes don’t guarantee more DFS points, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. FantasyDraft.com does not use plus/minus in its scoring system so ice time is an entirely positive factor.

Looking at the slate tonight I only see one game that I would consider a great match up and that’s the Dallas Stars versus the Minnesota Wild. The Stars dominated the play in game one and it should continue to be one of the more lopsided series of the playoffs. Zach Parise is out for the foreseeable future and the Stars Tyler Seguin could be back for tonight’s game.

I don’t like the reports about Seguin’s status for game two so I recommend that you play it safe and avoid him until he is a sure thing, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Stars are a good stack, or super-stack, tonight.

Jamie Benn: Stars Winger – $17,200

Opponent: Minnesota Wild

Stats: 1 Goal – 2 Assists – 3 Shots on Goal = 1GP

Benn finished the season strong and lit the lamp with goals and assists in game one and I see no reason to run from success. He will be a popular pick so you aren’t separating yourself from the pack with this one, but scoring is scoring and that’s what DFS is all about. The price is high but he is an elite player.

Jason Spezza: Stars Center – $12,900

Opponent: Minnesota Wild

Stats: 1 Goal – 1 Assist – 5 SOG = 1 Game Played

Spezza was quietly one of the best scorers on the Stars team in March with Seguin being out and that should continue in the playoffs. His shots on goal are good and his salary is a bargain compared to the Ovechkins and Benn’s of the DFS world.

Patrick Eaves: Stars Winger – $7,800

Opponent: Minnesota Wild

Stats: 1 Goal – 1 Assist – 5 SOG = 1GP

There aren’t as many bargains to feel good about in the playoffs because third and fourth line players that are common contributors in the regular season play sparingly in the playoffs. Eaves had the third most ice time and second most shots on goal of Stars forwards in game one. At $7,800, its difficult not to be excited by Eaves and with Seguin possibly out or his ice time limited, Eaves salary and ability to put up points makes him a strong link in a stack and a must start.

Ales Hemsky: Stars Winger – $8,200

Opponent: Minnesota Wild

Stats: 1 Assist – 16:02 Ice Time – 4 SOG = 1 GP

I have been high on Hemsky as a bargain play all season and I like him even more in this match up and at this salary. He has offensive potential; he is getting the ice time and the shots on goal. I like him in a super-stack scenario and I like as a stand-alone play because of the low salary. If you plan to start a lot of big-ticket plays today then Hemsky provides you the budgetary relief to afford it as well. I like Patrick Eaves better, but Hemsky is a close second.

John Klingsberg: Stars Defense – $13,000

Opponent: Minnesota Wild

Stats: 26:10 Ice time – 4 Shots on Goal = 1 GP

I am not as high on Klingsberg as I am on the other Stars options because his salary isn’t as much of a discount as I would like to see compared to Shayne Gostisbehere and Ryan Suter for the Wild is a viable play at a similar price. But, his salary is in line and so are the shots on goal, making him a viable start in the strong match up. I am not high on him as a stand-alone play, but I am in favor of using him in a stacking strategy.

While I am high on the Stars super-stack approach tonight there are a lot of viable alternatives if you aren’t comfortable putting all your DFS eggs in one basket. The Flyers really struggled against the Capitals in game one of their series, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have viable options and the Kings/Sharks game has a chance to be a high scoring affair, making a lot of their players viable starts.

Shayne Gostisbehere: Flyers Defense – $13,400

Opponent: Washington Capitals

Stats: 19:32 Ice Time – 1 SOG = 1 GP

It was an ugly game for the Flyers and Gostisbehere’s lack of stats illustrates that point very well. The Capitals and Braden Holtby are as tough a matchup as you are going to find but defense is a tough spot to fill and I can’t ignore how explosive a season the rookie blue liner had. I think they get back on the horse and score some goals and Gostisbehere is involved when that happens. I like the salary and the potential in this one.

Brooks Orpik: Capitals Defense – $8,700

Opponent: Philadelphia Flyers

Stats: 1 Assist – 4 Blocked Shots – 1 SOG – 20:15 Ice Time

In the playoffs, with less scoring, you need to look at opportunity and you have to look at blocked shots for defenseman. At two points per block that’s eight points for Orpik in game one before a puck even touched his stick. Add in an assist and any shots on goal and the extended ice time to a bargain salary and while Orpik is a mediocre offensive player, he has a high floor.

Jake Muzzin: Kings Defense – $11,600

Opponent: San Jose Sharks

Stats: 1 Goal – 4 SOG – 25:57 Ice Time – 3 Blocked Shots

Muzzin is a better offensive player than Orpik, he played more minutes in Game one and he blocked three shots as well. The salary is considerably higher than a lot of the bargain defenseman, but he is cheaper than the big-ticket items at the position. He is a good balance of ability, opportunity and salary along with a match up that I suspect could be high scoring. He is one of the stronger defensive plays tonight.

Anze Kopitar: Kings Center – $13,900

Opponent: San Jose Sharks

Stats: 1 Assist – 1 SOG – 21:59 Ice Time

Kopitar is the straw that stirs the Kings drink and in a game that could be one of the higher scoring affairs of the slate, I want some shares of their best player. The downside here is that he is more of an assist’s man than a scorer, which is why I like him in a stack strategy even more than as an individual play.

Jeff Carter: Kings Center – $13,300

Opponent: San Jose Sharks

Stats: 1 Goal – 2 SOG = 1 GP

Carter was one of the Kings best scorers at the end of the season and while Kopitar is their most important player and led the team in goals for the season, Carter isn’t far behind. I like the idea of stacking against the Sharks and Carter has to be in the mix in that strategy. I wouldn’t be afraid to stack Milan Lucic with either Kopitar or Carter, or both.

Evgeny Kuznetsov: Capitals Center – $13,600

Opponent: Philadelphia Flyers

Stats: 15:43 Ice time – 7 SOG

The low ice time bothers me while the huge shots on goal has me drooling. He led the Capitals in shots on goal and in a game that could be a blowout I like Kuznetsov to be in the middle of it. I am buying on Ovechkin as well and if you want to attack with an expensive mini-stack Kuznetsov and Ovechkin is the pair for me tonight.

BIG TICKET PLAYS

Brent Burns: Sharks Defense – $17,800

Opponent: Los Angeles Kings

Stats: 1 Goal – 1 Assist – 4 SOG – 22:23 Ice time

Burns is a beast and in a game that could be high scoring its difficult not to start him, especially when you believe as I do that paying for the big-ticket defenseman is the best strategy. Burns could be one of the best producers of the night and I want shares of that when it happens. The salary is enormous but I am paying for the luxury Cadillac in a shot slate of games in a huge game for both teams.

Alex Ovechkin: Capitals Winger – $18,300

Opponent: Philadelphia Flyers

Stats: 3 SOG – 19:22 Ice Time

Ovechkin played hurt at the end of the season and he didn’t log any points in game one of the series. But, he is the best scorer in hockey and the Flyers are struggling, which could result in a big night for the flashy sharp shooter. You are spending big for the ceiling and I understand the concerns, but he is viable start every night out and in the playoffs when the stars make the difference, Ovechkin is as good a play as any to carry you to the cash.

Team G

Playoff hockey is hard fought, bruising battles of will that typically result in low scoring games and often over time, which is great for shots on goal. Getting the puck to the net from anywhere is a common approach which also results in a lot of shots with limited chance of going in, also good for Team G’s. It also means that you can start almost any Team G and have a strong night as long as you don’t pick the goalie that gets blown out. I am concerned that that could be San Jose and it could be Philadelphia of the games tonight.

Dallas Stars $15,200 vs. Minnesota Wild

The Wild are playing without Zach Parise and against one of the best scoring teams in the playoffs. The Stars allowed only 22 shots on goal in game one while pitching a shut out. Normally you want high shots on goal totals and that’s less likely in this game than the others, but a low scoring game and a win at the cheapest salary on the slate makes this one appealing. The Stars are a lower ceiling – higher floor option tonight.

Washington Capitals $17,200 vs. Philadelphia Flyers

With Sean Couturier out and the Capitals the potential favorite to win the Stanley Cup it isn’t a surprise that Braden Holtby and the Capitals Team G are the most expensive choice of the night and justifiably so. This game could get ugly and could result in an easy win. The downside is that the Caps allowed only 19 shots on goal in game one and with Couturier out the total could end up even lower. The ceiling is that you get a shut out and a Win. Their salary is only $2,000 more than the cheapest Team G, the Dallas Stars, so it isn’t like you are saving a huge amount of salary by taking a chance elsewhere so go with the gold standard and avoid the risk all together.

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.

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