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LineStar's 2021 NHL Season Preview & Strategy Guide 🏆


LineStar® Hat Trick

January 11 · Issue #240 · View online

Official LineStar NHL Newsletter

Written by LineStar Fantasy Wizard @ZeroInDenver. Got NHL DFS questions or want to see something covered in this newsletter? Hit me up in LineStar Chat.

Welcome to the NHL Hat Trick. After a weird and extended 2019-2020 season, the 2021 season finally opens Wednesday. However, keep in mind that the season has started with players getting roughly two weeks of training camp and no preseason games. It wouldn’t surprise me if we see the NHL season develop in a similar way to the NFL and NBA. To me, that means that any given night there could be some surprise scratches or performances. Be sure to hang around chat before lock for any updates.
All that said, let’s dive into it. To help get you prepared for NHL DFS, I’ve put together this 15-minute read with a few nuggets of info and strategy, but my focus is providing you with the info you need to make viable NHL lineups.
Lineup Changes
FanDuel made a significant change to their NHL lineup in that there are now 2 utility spots. This is going to open a lot in terms of stacking and overall lineup construction. How you’ll want to fill those utility spots will depend on the slate and players, so I’ll be sure to touch on that and my thoughts in the newsletter for that day and how I plan to approach this.
Scoring Changes
In case you missed it, DraftKings made dramatic changes to their scoring for last season. DraftKings’ scoring is much more like FanDuel’s now, so expect top scores in the high 100s this season (and maybe some low 200s). DraftKings has increased the points awarded by 3x or more for certain events. Goals are essentially 10 points now (8.5 points for the goal plus 1.5 points for the shot on goal). So just like baseball and targeting home run hitters, you’re going to want to target skaters that have multiple goal upside.
On the other hand, goalies now lose 3.5 points with every goal allowed. What this means is there will be a wide range of outcomes for goalie scores. Consider a goalie that gets a 30 save shutout and the win. That’s 31 points. Now compare that to a goal that gets 30 saves, lets in 2 goals, and doesn’t get a win. That’s only 14 points. It will be interesting to see how important goalies will be to lineups, but I think they’ll be significantly more important than before.
New DraftKings scoring
New DraftKings scoring
FanDuel Scoring (unchanged)
FanDuel Scoring (unchanged)
General Strategy
For those of you who play a lot of MLB DFS, you’ll find that NHL strategy is very similar. Selecting goaltenders is very similar to picking a pitcher. I’m going to overgeneralize, but most nights you’re going to look for a goaltender that’s going to get 30+ saves, give up 2 goals or less, and get the win. The win bonus can be huge and sometimes the difference between cashing and not cashing.
With your skaters, you’re looking for players with a good chance to get a goal or assist. Goals are to NHL what homeruns are to MLB. I think this makes NHL exciting like MLB in that a goal can move you up in a hurry and if you have players in your lineup that get an assist, it can move you up that much more. So how does this translate to DFS lineup construction? In a nutshell, this means looking for players who get a lot of ice time and take a lot of shots on goal (or play with a skater who does).  Line stacking (focusing on players that skate on the same forward line or power play line) is a common strategy, especially in GPP. The reason for this is you have a potential of 20 fantasy points on each goal on DraftKings (29.6 points on FanDuel) if you have the player that gets the goal in your lineup and each player that picks up the assist.
Selecting Forwards
Let’s discuss selecting forwards. Keeping in mind that there are (hopefully) a bunch of you new to NHL DFS and maybe to hockey in general, I’m going to overgeneralize a bit. You can get pretty deep into hockey analytics, but I’ll save that for another day. Instead, what I want to focus on is the data presented in LineStar.
In a nutshell, I’m looking for skaters that check as many of these boxes as possible:
  • Skates on one of the power play lines
  • Gets at least 18 minutes of ice time per game
  • Averages 3 or more shots per game
  • Averages 10 fantasy points per game on DraftKings (12 fantasy points per game on FanDuel)
  • Vivid green for FPPG to Line under “Skaters vs Opp Team”
You can find this under the stats for each player on the site or app:
As you can see, players won’t typically check all boxes, but you’ll notice that in the app and on the LineStar site, green is good and the more vivid green is even better.
So again, this is a starting point. We’ll get deeper into analytics as the season goes on, but for people new to NHL DFS, I hope it gives you a starting point for what to look for in LineStar when building your lineup.
Selecting Defensemen
Next, I want to discuss selecting defensemen. Again, keeping in mind that there are (hopefully) a bunch of you new to NHL DFS and maybe to hockey in general, I’m going to focus on the data presented in LineStar.
In a nutshell, I’m looking for defensemen that check as many of these boxes as possible:
  • Skates on one of the power play lines
  • Gets at least 23 minutes of ice time per game
  • Averages 3 or more shots per game
  • Averages 2 or more shots blocked per game
You can find this under the stats for each player on the site or app (using Alexander Edler as an example):
In case you didn’t know, there is an advanced sorter for Shots+Blocks/G. When looking for defensemen, this is usually my starting point, as this usually provides for a solid floor. Of course, in DFS, nothing is certain and any player can put up a 0 on any given night. But like I said, this is a good place to start.
Advanced Sorters are available on the site and app.
Advanced Sorters are available on the site and app.
Selecting Goaltenders
Finally, I want to get into selecting a goaltender. It’s basically a mix of looking at numbers and a little wizardry. Really, for those of you who played MLB DFS, it’s going to feel a lot like selecting a pitcher in MLB. You can oversimplify it (like we’re going to do here) or you can dive down into more advanced analytics (like we’ll do another day). Like I’ve mentioned in past issues of the newsletter, I really want to help those who are new to NHL DFS learn what to look for in the LineStar app.
Hindsight is 20/20, but let’s look at Frederik Andersen from a game last season and I’ll explain what in the numbers I liked, and what concerned me.
For starters, I almost always want a goalie who can get me 30 saves or more. Check. Next, I’m looking to see if the opposing team is averaging 30 shots or more. Check. Now this is important. Pay attention to the number of goals allowed and the number of goals the opposing team is scoring. Do the math to get the save percentage. For example, if Andersen made 31 saves and let in 3 goals on average over his past five games, he’s made 31 saves on 34 shots. That makes for a 0.912 save percentage. That’s favorable. If it’s under 0.900, I’ll typically avoid that goalie or stack against him. Notice how the Goals/G numbers are highlighted in red underneath the last 5 and last 10 for Opp Team vs Goalie? That’s not ideal. Is it a reason to fade? Not always, but it depends on the slate and what other options are available.
Like most things in DFS, there are no sure things. Top-tier goaltenders can get chased. In that case, if you really like your lineup but are unsure about goaltenders, do a second lineup with a different goaltender.
Line Stacking
I love stacking more than most things. If you know me, you know I live and die by stacking in GPPs. Remember, on each goal, you have the goal scorer and up to two other players picking up an assist. That means a total of three players in your lineup that can pick up points on a goal. That translates to a potential 20 points on DraftKings and 29.6 points on FanDuel. Keep in mind that not every goal will have two assists, and some goals may have no assists at all.
There are several different ways you can stack in NHL DFS:
(Note: DraftKings allows a max of 6 skaters from a team. FanDuel allows a max of 4 skaters from a team.)
Full Forward Line - Example: Stacking the first line of Edmonton, which consists of Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Zack Kassian.
Full Forward Line + Defenseman - Example: Stacking the first line of Colorado, which consists of Nathan MacKinnon, Andre Burakovsky, and Mikko Rantanen PLUS Cale Makar (who also shares ice time with them on the top powerplay unit.
Powerplay Unit - Example: Stacking the first powerplay unit for Colorado, which consists of Nathan MacKinnon, Andre Burakovsky, Nazem Kadri, Mikko Rantanen, and Cale Makar.
Of course, besides the risk of a stack not scoring any points, there is the potential that you might not be able to fit a stack into lineups due to salary constraints. In my example above, you’ll see that after stacking COL PP1, that leaves $4700 per player and I still need to fit in a goalie.
All that said, there are several things that I look for when selecting stacks:
  • High FPPG to Line under Skater vs Opp Team
  • High Goals/G under Goalies
  • High Value in Stack Finder
  • High Vegas in Stack Finder
You’ll find that picking stacks is part looking at numbers/matchups and part sorcery. One last tip I’ll add is that if I think a certain team is going to be popular, I might stack the second or third line instead in GPP to differentiate.
Cash Lineups vs GPP Lineups
If you’ve been around the NHL DFS block once or twice, you’ll know that line stacking is a common practice in GPP contests. You’ll often see 3-3, 3-3-2, and 4-3 stacks. What this means is that in a 3-3 stack, you’ll get 3 players from one team and 3 players from another team. However, this is an incredibly risky strategy and should really only be used when playing multiple lineups.
For cash games, one of my favorite strategies is loading my favorite 2 or 3 player stack, pick a solid goalie with a high probability to pick up a win, and fill the rest of my lineup with solid one-offs. I’ve found that this tends to give me a solid floor which I think is something that you really want for cash games.
Keep in mind, this is my strategy. You should all do your own research and testing. You might (and probably should) disagree with me in some spots. Don’t be afraid to go your own way.
Good luck! Tag me in the LineStar Chat @ZeroInDenver if you have any questions or feedback. Follow me on Twitter @ZeroInDenver.
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