Tournament play strategy varies by person, and everyone has their own theories on what works and what doesn’t work. Often times I see the extreme value play goalies in tournament lineups. The advantage for the rest of the field is this; if you fade the expected value play, which last season was pretty much any goalie against the Buffalo Sabres, and that goalie blows up, you have a chance at a pretty good day.
I recall one game from last season where the Sharks were on the road at Buffalo. The Sharks were playing a get-away game, which I’ll only allude to now. Well the Sharks started one Troy Grosenick in net, who just two days before started on the road at Carolina and posted a 45 save shutout. Buffalo seemed like easy picking right? If Grosenick wasn’t minimum priced, he was pretty close to it.
San Jose played pretty well on the defensive end allowing just 13 shots to the Sabres on the night. The problem is three of those thirteen shots found the back of the net. Grosenick took the loss and posted a negative score on every site out there.
If you faded Grosenick here, good move. One theory on tournament plays is to take a top-flight player, even if the match-up isn’t great. With only a four game schedule for opening night, if you want to go contrarian, the plays are harder to come by because there are only eight goaltenders to choose from. Looking at the matchups you can expect Carey Price to be highly owned, because Toronto. A good percentage of players will be on which ever goalie starts for the Flames, but after that there will likely be slim ownership totals for either of the four goalies in the Sharks-Kings and Blackhawks-Rangers games.
That’s why I say go right after the defending Stanley Cup Champions on home ice. Here’s a few reasons why. They aren’t the same team that won the Cup. Saad is gone, Kane has well publicized off-ice issues and outside of Toews, Hossa and Kane their scoring lines are largely unproven. Nevermind the Stanley Cup hangover and all the ceremonies that will surely take place on opening night. Does anyone remember what the Sharks did to the Kings last season on opening night?
Other than hunches, there is some actual data behind this pick as well.
Henrik Lundqvist’s Expected Numbers Against Chicago
Despite his reputation Henrik’s adjusted save percentage sits squarely at the league average. It’s not bad, it just might not be as good as we’d expect. The model projects Chicago’s CF to be 59.4 which is above league average, with an expected 37 shots finding the net (the “OES” column). If you look under the “OEG” column that’s Opponent Expected Goals you’ll see 2.33. This of course is how many goals the model projects the Blackhawks to score. The “DKEP” column is the amount of points expected on DraftKings and the “DKEP+W” column is that same number plus three points for the win.
The model does project the Rangers to score just 2.21 against Crawford, so even the model expects the Rangers to lose, but the Rangers are largely in-tact from last season and the Blackhawks are not. Throw in the pre-game ceremonies and I like the Rangers here. Lundqvist is a good GPP play, with the highest projected point total with a win at 8.09. Toss in the fact that he will likely have low ownership numbers, you see why you can roll with Lundqvist. If one of the road underdogs win, especially in Montreal or Calgary, you’ve separated yourself from the pack. Thats the idea in winning GPP’s.