NHL Puck Picks: The Playoffs

We have ourselves two games tonight, and one is a win-or-go-home sudden death playoff tussle. Both games should be extremely intense, hard fought, and more often than not low scoring since it is the NHL playoffs.

DFS players don’t like low scoring games because that puts that much more pressure on selecting the goal scorers and that shrinks the margin for error, but we play the cards we are dealt.

I hate goose eggs and while you normally want to target upside for tournament contests, when it comes to low scoring games, ensuring some kind of production isn’t a bad approach in all formats. There are a few ways you can raise your floor by playing it cautiously.

One is to target the shot takers. That’s never a bad thing, but there are some players that shoot a lot but don’t score a lot. In a two game low scoring slate we want the shots on goal for the points and we will hope the goals come with them.

John Tavares: Islanders Center – $16,500

Opponent: Tampa Bay Lightning

Stats: 5 Goals – 4 Assists – 30 Shots on Goal

He has been one of the biggest difference makers in these playoffs and he averaged five shots on goal per game in round one too boot. He doesn’t come cheap but he comes with a high floor and a high ceiling, something in short supply on a short slate. He is one of the best plays on the schedule.

Kyle Okposo: Islanders Wing – $13,200

Opponent: Tampa Bay Lightning

Stats: 1 Goal – 5 Assists – 28 Shots on Goal

He isn’t putting the biscuit in the basket as much as you would like to see but it isn’t for a lack of trying. His five assists help and the fact that he is more affordable than some of the top salary wingers tonight brings confidence in the play. The Lightning isn’t an ideal match up so I am lukewarm on Okposo, but he is certainly viable.

A second strategy is to roster a shot blocker. Most players that consistently block a lot of shots are defensive minded with limited offensive upside. It’s not the traditional strategy for tournaments to select low ceiling players, but on a two game slate that are expected to be hard fought defensive battles it’s a sound plan of attack.

Also, there aren’t many offensively threatening defenseman on the slate so saving salary and targeting cheaper production in the form of blocked shots makes a lot of sense.

Roman Josi: Predators Defense – $14,900

Opponent: Anaheim Ducks

Stats: 3 Assists – 19 Blocked Shots – 15 SOG

Josi has some offensive potential for a high volume shot blocker, which might explain why he is the highest salary defenseman on the board. If either of the two games is going to be high scoring the Ducks/Predators feels to me to be the one. Game sevens aren’t traditionally that way, but the Predators lead the playoffs in goals allowed.

Calvin de Haan: Islanders Defense – $8,000

Opponent: Tampa Bay Lightning

Stats: 1 Assist – 4 SOG – 18 Blocked Shots

Another offensively challenged defenseman with blocked shots and a cheap salary as his savior. The Islanders allow a ton of shots and de Haan blocks more than his fair share of them.

A third strategy is to target the teams that allow the most shots on goal and roster that Team G. Shots are worth half a point so a 35-40 save night with the hopes of a low scoring affair and possibly a win, that could result in 10-15 more points than other Team G’s.

New York Islanders $17,200 vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

The Islanders allowed an average of just fewer than 40 shots on goal per game in the first round. The Lightning weren’t as effective at taking shots in round one, but the Islanders defense should up their totals this series. The Islanders allowed 14 goals in six games while the Lightning only scored 12 in five, so the stars have aligned. The Islanders provide a high floor and a high ceiling. They are the underdog to the Lightning, but as we see in the playoffs a lot, anyone can win. I really like the chances of a bushel of saves by the Islanders Team G in this one.

Anaheim Ducks $16,900 vs. Nashville Predators

The Ducks are heavy favorites to come away with this one against the underdog Predators. Nashville has only scored 12 goals in six games while taking 163 shots (27 shots on goal per game). The chances of 30-35 saves with less than two goals allowed and a win is better in this game than the other. This is my Team G of the night.

Now that we have covered the niche ways to strategize your way through tonight’s two game slate lets take a look at a few players to target.

Ryan Getzlaf: Ducks Center – $14,000

Opponent: Nashville Predators

Stats: 2 Goals – 3 Assists – 16 Shots on Goal

Getzlaf has five points and 16 shots on goal while being $2,500 cheaper than John Tavares. When goals are at a premium going chalk is a solid tact to take and Getzlaf fits that description. If there is going to be a high scoring team tonight I am putting my salary on the Ducks and that’s Getzlaf.

Thomas Hickey: Islanders Defense – $6,900

Opponent: Tampa Bay Lightning

Stats: 1 Goal – 2 Assists – 16 SOG

That kind of production at that salary makes Hickey the best bargain of the night and it allows you to roster additional star players in the hopes that you snag yourself a goal or two. I have never started two defenseman in the same contest, but with Hickey at this salary and Calvin de Haan blocking shots at his affordable number I am very tempted to do it. Its one of the stranger mini-stacks of the year, but it is the NHL playoffs. At the very least, Hickey is a must start.

Frans Nielsen: Islanders Center – $11,700

Opponent: Tampa Bay Lightning

Stats: 3 Goals – 1 Assist – 16 SOG

He is the second leading scorer for the Islanders and his salary is very affordable. I would like to see a few more shots from him, but if you need a player in this price range he is one of the better plays. He isn’t a must start, but a solid consideration when you begin to supplement your lineup after you have chosen your stars.

Jonathan Drouin: Lightning Wing – $8,900

Opponent: New York Islanders

Stats: 4 Assists – 13 Shots on Goal

Drouin is intriguing because of his salary, he plays on the number one power play unit and the Islanders allow a lot of shots on goal. That kind of Salary is difficult to ignore. He hasn’t scored a playoff goal but he is involved in the offense and he allows you to roster the high-end stars you like.

Nikita Kucherov: Lightning Wing – $15,400

Opponent: New York Islanders

Stats: 5 Goals – 3 Assists – 15 SOG

He has produced goals and assists with a relatively low amount of shots on goal, which is nice to see. The Islanders are a strong match up and Kucherov is the best play for a Lightning team that I am a bit smitten on tonight. If you want to stack Tyler Johnson ($12,100) and Alex Killorn (11,800) with Kucherov tonight I may just come over and watch the game with you. It’s a strategy I like tonight.

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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