The NHL is a game of coordinated scoring. What does that mean? That means that when one person on a team scores, a lot the people who are on the ice with him also get points. It’s like baseball, where if you stack a high scoring team you get a lot of coordinated points because one of your guys will bat in another one of your guys, so you’ll get a hit, a run, and an RBI all from one play.
Only instead of 9 batters, there are only 5 people on the ice at one time.
And two of them are defensemen.
Not to say that defensemen don’t get involved with the offense, but outside of the top two or three in the league, the elite ones are only scoring 10 goals max. That’s on par with about the 150th best forward.
So this means that when a goal is scored, it’s usually scored by one of three guys on the ice.
A goal is worth 3 points.
An assist on a goal is worth 2 points.
Know how many goals are assisted?
EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM! And some of the time, one goal will have TWO assists. They just throw points at anyone who LOOKS at a puck if it goes into a net. Let’s look at yesterdays preseason games (note: I typed this part up on Sat or Sun). In six games, there were 24 goals. Of those 24 goals, only one was unassisted. Of the 24 goals, there were a total of 39 assists.
So when a goal is scored, a little over 6 fantasy points, on average, get awarded. Amongst 5 skaters. But really, most of the time it’s spread amongst the three forwards on the line. In addition to this, if you are on the ice when a goal is scored and you aren’t on a power play, you get +1 from the +/-. That means that everyone on the ice gets a bonus point, just for being there. And if you are on the power play, and you don’t get a +1 from the +/-…you get a bonus point for having a PP goal or PP assist.
So as you can see, it is likely if one person scores a lot of fantasy points, for the two other people on his line to also score a lot of fantasy points. So all we have to do is identify a line that has a + matchup, and statistically we’re going to do well often enough to at least beat the rake, because we’ll score points in bunches and GPPs are all about risk/reward.
So you find teams that are likely to score a lot of goals (use Vegas lines and o/u), and stack lines that also play a high % of the PP time, since that is when a lot of goals are going to be scored. We are looking for players that are on the ice a high % of the time, WITH EACH OTHER! Both of those things are very important, since the goal of this is to have coordinated scoring (otherwise we are just wasting roster spots).
That leaves Defensemen and Goalies left to round our team out. I tend to pick goalies that are huge favorites in low scoring games (use Vegas odds to see which games fit this) and also use the goalie scoring system on leftwinglock.com (this is also where I look up who is on the same line currently). For Defensemen, I just use players on high scoring teams that skate on the first PP line and ideally the first reg strength line (although skating on the 2nd line is fine, as long as they spend a good amount of time on the ice). Obviously with D, just like everything else, keeping your ear to the ground and monitoring injuries and demotions is key. It’s not uncommon to find someone new skating on the first line with a couple of superstars for min price and you’ve obviously got to plug them in.
“Show me an example of how this kind of lineup creation wins!”
So we have high scoring lines. On a good night (obviously not every night, or a majority of the nights), we want both of our lines to be responsible for two goals each. Even if each of these goals is only assisted by one other player on our line, we are getting 3(goal) + 2(assist) + 3(+/-) + .4 (shot on goal) = 8.4 points per goal. Two goals per line = 16.8 points per line. Two lines = 33.6 points from our forwards. A good goalie will get you ~10 points on a good night. That’s 43.6. The defensemen can be counted on for 3-5 points each, assuming good +/- lines, blocks, and especially since you are playing them on 1st PP lines, it increases their odds of getting involved in the scoring. So even on the low end, 3 each, that’s 6 more to bring us to 49.6. Add in shots on goal from the forwards, and penalty minutes and we have > 50 point potential when things are working in our favor. Know how many points it takes to win an average NHL GPP?
Now, obviously, we aren’t hitting 50 points every night, or most nights. But we have that potential, AND because our points come in bunches, we need less things to go right for us in order to hit that mark. That’s +ev.
So to review, here is how I create my NHL DFS teams: using the Vegas lines, I find the teams that are likely to score a lot of goals (big favorites, high o/u). I stack the LW/RW/C from those teams, from either the 1st or 2nd line, as long as the full line skates on the 1st PP line. If the entire line doesn’t skate on the 1st PP line, I’ll look for a D who does and plug him in instead, and/or only use the two players who skate together on all lines. Do that for, ideally, two teams per lineup. Use D who skate on the 1st PP line on high scoring teams, use G who are highly likely to win a low scoring game. Obviously with salary concerns, you’ll have to mix and match occasionally, plug some low sal high upside guys in, use a more riskier G whose playing against a really bad offense, normal DFS considerations. But using high upside players, and stacking lines has worked pretty well for me and I don’t see why it wouldn’t continue to work well for this upcoming season.