Playoff Puck Picks

We’ve got another two game slate on the night’s agenda, but we do have three of the higher scoring teams in the playoffs in the San Jose Sharks, St. Louis Blues and Dallas Stars. We also have three of the best shot blocking defenseman which plays well in cash games and it is a viable strategy in tournaments when you have a short slate of games that could be tightly played, defensive, low scoring contests.

In tournament contests during the playoffs especially, where defense is at a premium and goals are in short supply, you can cover all of your bases by entering a multiple of lineups and own shares across a wide swath of players or you can try to target the best plays and then fill in the rest with low ownership or contrarian plays.

Lets look at the safe plays, the contrarian plays and a slightly unconventional approach tonight – loading up on defenseman.

The Sharks have averaged slightly more than three goals per game while the Blues have averaged three goals, the Stars just slightly fewer than three while the Predators have averaged 2 1/4 goals in these playoffs, but they have averaged the most shots per game of the teams on tonight’s schedule.

If you want to put all your biscuits in one basket I don’t have a problem with that and if that’s the case then you want to stack the Stars or the Sharks. Jamie Benn ($16,800) has been a beast while Logan Couture ($12,900) has quietly been just as disruptive with a significantly cheaper price tag. Brent Burns ($17,700) is far and away the best scoring blue liner and you pay a premium for that fact, but if you want a guarantee Burns provides shots on goal and a lot of scoring chances for that big salary. To complete the stack you have Joe Pavelski ($16,400) and Jason Spezza ($12,500). All of these go-to scorers bring scoring chances and the ice time to cash you in a contest and they also provide the shots on goal to raise their floor in the oft chance they don’t put one in the net.

Couture is the best bargain while I like Burns the least because of the quality of the alternative defenseman.

Lets get into the safe plays, the contrarian selections, the bargains and the “defenseman” stack.

THE DEFENSEMAN STACK

While I like the Stars and the Sharks for a traditional stacking play, I like Blues and the Predators defenseman because of the combination of scoring potential and blocked shots. Alex Pietrangelo ($12,000) and Roman Josi ($15,200) have averaged three blocked shots per game in the playoffs while also contributing shots on goal, goals IN THE GOAL and assists on OTHERS GOALS as well. That triple threat raises their floor and provides an appealing ceiling at salaries significantly more affordable than Brent Burns. I also like Kevin Shattenkirk ($14,000) who has two goals; seven assists and ranks fifth on the Blues in shots on goal for the playoffs. Add to that, Shattenkirk owned the Stars to the count of three goals and two assists with 22 shots on goal during the regular season. He likes facing the Stars and the Stars don’t really know how to handle him.

I have never heard of stacking defenseman in a contest, but I expect eight blocked shots (16 points), eight shots on goal (16 points) and at least two assists (12 points) from this stack. If a goal or two pop on to this stat sheet then you have yourself a monster night. I like the ceiling and I love the floor in this contrarian stack strategy.

GO-TO PICKS

I have discussed the need to be contrarian in limited game contests, but you need to combine that with your reliable scorers too. Here are mine for tonight.

Vladimir Tarasenko: Blues Wing – $16,100

Opponent: Dallas Stars

Stats: 6 Goals – 5 Assists – 41 Shots on Goal = 12 GP

He is in the middle of everything and racking up the points and shots on goal to prove it. How you can watch the Blues and not have him in your DFS lineup is beyond me – I can’t do it.

Jamie Benn: Stars Wing – $16,800

Opponent: St. Louis Blues

Stats: 5 Goals – 9 Assists – 31 SOG = 11 GP

He has been a stud in these playoffs and he has done it without Tyler Seguin to occupy defenders. Benn has been better than Ovechkin and Crosby and that’s saying something.

Logan Couture: Sharks Center – $12,900

Opponent: Nashville Predators

Stats: 5 Goals – 8 Assists – 27 SOG = 10 GP

It’s difficult to say anything bad about Jamie Benn, but Couture has been better for a cheaper salary. He has one fewer assist and four fewer shots on goal in one fewer game at $3,900 cheaper in salary. He is a must-start.

CONTRARIAN PICKS

Colin Wilson: Predators Wing – $7,100

Opponent: San Jose Sharks

Stats: 4 Goals – 8 Assists – 22 SOG = 12 GP

I have been hyping Wilson all playoffs long so I am hesitant to continue to call him contrarian, but his bargain basement salary suggests he is.

Ales Hemsky: Stars Wing – $8,500

Opponent: St. Louis Blues

Stats: 1 goal – 3 Assists – 34 SOG = 11 GP

Hemsky is an explosive skater that can create his own offensive opportunities, which has led to being second on the Stars team in shots on goal in the playoffs.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic: Sharks Defense – $10,200

Opponent: Nashville Predators

Stats: 32 Blocked Shots – 5 Assists – 24 SOG = 10GP

Vlasic isn’t a cheap salary and that is probably because of his high blocked shots total, but I consider him contrarian because I don’t see many DFS’ers starting him or analysts hyping him. He also contributes more shots on goal than most forwards, a value-add for one of the elite shot blockers.

TEAM G

San Jose Sharks $16,600 vs. Nashville Predators

The Predators lead tonight’s playoff teams in shots on goal (358 shots in 12 games) while scoring the fewest goals. We like combining a lot of shots with very few goals, making the Sharks the play of the night for team G’s.

Dallas Stars $15,500 vs. St. Louis Blues

The Blues take a lot of shots and the Stars are the cheapest Team G on the slate – $1,800 less than the Blues. They top the list of tonight’s teams in goals allowed, but they have a shot at a win. There is plenty of risk here with the one reward being the discounted salary. I don’t recommend choosing the Stars over the Sharks, but it is a viable play if you are a riverboat gambler type.

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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