Playoff Puck Picks

With two games on the hockey slate tonight it is going to take some savvy selecting to out fox your fellow DFS competitors. If you roster a group of the best players then you will end up with the same team as many of your tournament competitors and win or lose could come down to who picked that one different player. If you decide to go down the completely contrarian path and roster a lineup filled with second tier players then you are likely to end up missing out on a high scorer or two and fall short on points. The strategy for today is to mix and match the two approaches. Pick a select few big-ticket players and then fill in the rest of your roster with “outside the box” plays.

Lets start on Defense where the scorers are in short supply. I discussed in my last column but it should be mentioned again. Playing it safe is not the traditional way to build a DFS roster, but when you have limited choices because of a limited slate of games then safe points isn’t the worst way to attack a roster and on defense that means targeting blocked shots.

Cal de Haan: Islanders Defense – $8,000

Opponent: Tampa Bay Lightning

Stats: 20 Blocked Shots – 2 Assists – 4 SOG – 7 GP

The offensive upside is minimal even though he does have two assists, but he has averaged almost three blocked shots per game that translates to six Fantasy points alone. Salary isn’t a huge issue today with the limited slate, but he is also extremely affordable at $8,000.

Thomas Hickey: Islanders Defense – $6,800

Opponent: Tampa Bay Lightning

Stats: 1 Goal – 2 Assists – 17 SOG – 7 GP

While I mentioned that playing it safe is a strategy that can be used in very specific situations, offensive upside is still the better way to go when possible and that makes Hickey the better play today. He has more of a roll in the Islanders offense and he has been one of the leading shot takers for them in these playoffs. Adding to that, he isn’t a household name and he comes extremely cheap, which should make him a contrarian pick that sets your lineup apart from your competitors today. Hickey is my best blue line play today.

Kris Letang: Penguins Defense – $14,900

Opponent: Washington Capitals

Stats: 1 Goal – 5 Assists – 15 SOG – 6 Games Played

He is one of the elite scoring defenseman in the game and I won’t tell you not to roster that kind of talent, but he isn’t high on my list partially because he is likely to be high on many others.

Trevor Daley: Penguins Defense – $9,400

Opponent: Washington Capitals

Stats: 3 Assists – 15 SOG – 6 GP

Daley is another player with a low profile and a viable number of shots on goal for a nice salary. He isn’t a must-start, but he is an option to consider if the budget dictates.

Jason Garrison: Lightning Defense – $7,700

Opponent: New York Islanders

Stats: 3 Assists – 14 SOG = 6 GP

He is sixth in shots on goal for the Lightning in the playoffs to go with three assists and regular shift ice time. You aren’t going to find him rostered anywhere but he has produced at a productive level so far in these playoffs.

If you are going to be a contrarian as a strategy today there are a fair amount of players to choose from, but before you go there, you need to select your big-ticket players to be your foundation.

These stars are going to have a high percentage of ownership, but if you don’t own shares of the players most likely to score then you are putting yourself in a position to lose before your contrarian choices have a chance to weigh in. The key is to limit how many you run with today and which ones you choose.

Here are the big-ticket items of the day.

Alex Ovechkin: Capitals Winger – $18,400

Opponent: Pittsburgh Penguins

Stats: 3 Goals – 3 Assists – 33 SOG = 7 GP

Ovechkin’s shots on goal are ridiculous and it makes him one of the safest plays in DFS, not to mention he is one of the best snipers in the game. The Penguins have one of the worst goalies in the playoffs and their defense allows both goals and shots on goal.

Nicholas Backstrom: Capitals Center – $13,100

Opponent: Pittsburgh Penguins

Stats: 2 Goals – 5 Assists – 16 SOG = 7 GP

I would like to see a few more shots on goal, but he carries the play and is always involved when the Capitals put up points. He is the facilitator of most of what the Capitals are able to do on offense.

John Carlson: Capitals Defense: $12,400

Opponent: Pittsburgh Penguins

Stats: 3 Goals – 4 Assists – 30 SOG = 7 GP

I know how I said I like Hickey on defense, but Carlson has been a beast for a blue liner. He isn’t as popular a play as Letang or Hedman while he has performed just as well if not better and the salary is reasonable. If you are going to spend your dollars on defense Carlson is the play.

Nikita Kucherov: Lightning Wing – $15,500

Opponent: New York Islanders

Stats: 6 Goals – 3 Assists – 22 SOG = 6 GP

Kucherov has been one of the leading scorers in these playoffs without as high a profile as the leagues stars like Ovechkin and Seguin and Sidney Crosby.

Now that you spent on your more popular choices, here are a few contrarian picks to set your roster apart from the swarm. Contrarian doesn’t have to mean obscure or that a player isn’t a popular play, it just means that they aren’t likely to be 40% or 50% plays in tonight’s slate like Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin.

Alex Killorn: Lightning Center – $11,700

Opponent: New York Islanders

Stats: 3 Goals – 3 Assists – 11 SOG = 6 GP

Killorn’s production justifies reason for some excitement. Killorn is not one of the most obscure plays tonight and he isn’t a backbench flier, but he is a nice mix of low profile, salary and point potential.

Valtteri Filppula: Lightning Center – $6,800

Opponent: New York Islanders

Stats: 1 Goal – 12 SOG – 20:04 Ice Time = 6 GP

I like the peripherals on Filppula and the salary confirms that he is a rare play. He has received more ice time than some of the higher profile Lightning forwards in the playoffs because he plays on the second power play and his shots on goal benefit because of it (5th in the playoffs for the Lightning).

Jonathan Drouin: Lightning Winger – $8,900

Opponent: New York Islanders

Stats: 5 Assists – 15 SOG = 6 GP

The name alone tells you that his press agent lives in a cave somewhere, but the production is there and the shots on goal elevate his floor and limit his risk. He is tied for first on the Lightning in assists in the playoffs with Tyler Johnson.

Jay Beagle: Capitals Center – $6,000

Opponent: Pittsburgh Penguins

Stats: 2 Goals – 12 SOG = 7 GP

Beagle doesn’t play a regular shift and he isn’t on the power play, but he has found a way to produce with a couple goals and shots on goal. He is a bargain reach and a guy nobody will be starting tonight.

Ryan Strome: Islanders Center – $7,800

Opponent: Tampa Bay Lightning

Stats: 1 Goal – 3 Assists – 10 SOG = 7 GP

Strome doesn’t shoot as much as I would like but he has scored a goal and three assist. He receives some shifts on the second power play unit, which is a meaningful part of his appeal.

The Islanders have a group of players that could be considered contrarian and Strome is one of the more appealing ones. If you want to mini-stack him with Frans Nielson ($11,400), Alan Quine ($6,400), or Nick Leddy ($9,500) I won’t eat your lunch for it. They are all likely to be rare plays on the slate with a chance to produce.

TEAM G

There isn’t a major difference in your choices at Team G tonight with the exception of the Penguins, whom I would avoid. Braden Holtby is a beast and the best goalie of the crew, but Ben Bishop and Thomas Greiss can hold their own as well and both the Islanders and Lightning have the same salary -$17,200.

I like contrarian plays on offense from both the Islanders and Lightning so the best strategy would be to focus your offense around one of them and use their Team G as well. It is bad strategy to play your offensive players against your Team G, so load up on one or the other and go to battle.

Washington Capitals $17,500 vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

An alternative strategy, the one I like, is to load up on both Islanders and Lightning scorers and then start the Capitals Team G against the aggressive Penguins offense. It’s a risk because the Penguins can light the lamp with the best of them, but Holtby will be peppered with a high volume of shots on goal with a good chance for the win. There is a high ceiling for the Capitals Team G with some risk. A lot of saves, a low scoring affair and a win could be a difference maker.

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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