Strategy Round Table: Goalie Selection

Our “Strategy Round Table” segment will take periodic looks at topics such as lineup construction, stacking options, game theory and more. For each piece of this series our NHL team will offer up their advice on what it takes to create winning NHL lineups with a consistent; sound process.

Strategy Round Table: Goalie Selection

Adam Jazdzewski:

When I choose a goalie for the night’s games the projections data is vital for me in my choices. Below is our goalie projections for tonight. The first few columns are self-explanatory. Shown first is the goalie, which team he’s on, who the opponent is and which team is the home or road team. WinProb is The next column over based off of Vegas opening lines. EPA is expected pace against. This is how many shot attempts the opposing team is likely to have. OES is opponent expected shots; how many of those attempts are likely to reach the net. OEG is opponent expected goals. The next column over evaluates goalies compared to the league average in expected save percentage. Positive numbers are good and negative numbers are bad. They aren’t huge adjustments to the totals but they do exist. 

Next site by site (DraftKings, FanDuel, Fantasy Aces, Draft Day, Fantasy Draft) these data points are all calculated into totals for each site. EFP is expected fantasy points. EFP+W is how many points they’d get with the win. Each goalie’s salary and value are on the next few columns. So now that I have all that data what to do with it?

Ideally I want to maximize the value of my goalie choice. I’m really looking at three things: should their team win the game, how many goals are they expected to allow and how many shots can they expect to face? I want a goalie who will return a nice point total for a price I’m willing to pay.

I know that’s vague but I don’t always choose the cheapest goalie expected to win, nor do I choose the most expensive goalie who’s most likely to win. I almost always choose a mid-priced play unless roster construction dictates I can pay more. I very rarely pay up in net but am willing to take one of the top choices depending on the expected return.

DFS Datalytics Goalie Projections for Thursday October 20th 


The column to the right of the teams is the Vegas odds. The heaviest favorites for tonight are Minnesota, Tampa, Dallas and Calgary. As of this writing I dont have a line for the SJ @ PIT game or the ARI @ MTL game. The Sharks-Pens line should be pretty tight, and I’d expect the Yotes-Habs line to be a little more skewed toward the Habs. Rask, Allen, Holtby, Markstrom and Mason are all favored.

Now that I have the data, how so I choose a goalie? The first thing I look at is OEG (opponet expected goals) I want to know how many goals the are expected against my goalie. I don’t always choose the goalie with the lowest expected total because there are far too many reasons that goalie might not always be the best play.

Just looking at opponent expected goals there are five goalies under 2.50 expected goals (Dubnyk, Price, Mason, Nilsson and Bishop) Carey Price may not be starting tonight, it’s still unconfirmed; and although he’s the best goaltender in the world, I’m not really considering him because I don’t take goalies in their first game back from injury (or the flu). That leaves us with Dubnyk, Price, Mason and Nilsson by looking simply at expected goals allowed.

To add to our point totals from our goalies, we’d ultimately like them to see a fair amount of volume. We don’t necessarily want to see the guy get peppered with 42 shots and try to hang on for dear life, because that’s a recipe for disaster; nor do we want a game like one usually turned in by Corey Schneider where he might only have to make 19 saves and even one goal allowed drastically reduces the value of that play.

Let’s go through the goalies we are left with (Dubnyk, Mason, Nilsson and Bishop). Visually Colorado looks better under Jared Bednar, but early on in the season they are still getting out possessed and are in the bottom half of the league in CF. Although I expect the Bolts to win 22 saves and two goals allowed is no bueno, so let’s cross him Bishop off.

I’ve tried picking on Vancouver. That team is smoke and mirrors to date. I don’t have any idea how St. Louis only scored once. I was high on Markstrom for years and think he can be a good goalie for Vancouver, but a backup goalie for Buffalo on the road? I dont mind the Nilsson play although they are underdogs, but there are better bets out there. I wouldn’t be surprised if Buffalo wins, they are a better team.

So now we’re down to Dubnyk and Mason. Last season the Wild were 9th best in the league at GA/60 at home at 2.48. Bruce Boudreau is behind the bench so I expect them to be better this year than last year. In comes Toronto playing back to back after giving up a 4-0 lead last night in Winnipeg.

This Leafs team can FLY and can score; in fact they highest score adjusted CF/60 in the league at 70.0! I’ll be writing about them later in the day as well in my “Data Mining” article. None the less I don’t mind Dubnyk and expect a solid performance from him; but the data we have to project goalies of courses uses some data from last year as well, and so far so good for the Leafs at least in terms of goal scoring ability.

Dubnyk is not the goalie I’ll be using tonight (at least on DraftKings) I’ll be using Steve Mason. He’s only a 54% favorite but I think Vegas is giving the Ducks too much credit. The Flyers expected shots against is 30.8, which is a nice total. Mason’s expected goals allowed total is 2.37 which is the third lowest on the schedule. His expected fantasy point total is 6.80 with the win, which is about middle of the road, but I am expecting the win from him, and hopefully under two goals allowed, so he’s my guy.

Here are some other interesting data points to consider. If we look at the projections solely on expected points, some good and low owned plays in that range would be Martin Jones on the road in Pittsburgh, John Gibson on the road in Philly and Antti Niemi at home in Dallas. The only one of these goalies who will be favored is Niemi.  I wouldn’t touch the Ducks with a ten foot pole right now and with Jones’ price tag there is really no need to go there even in GPP’s

DFS Datalytics Goalie Projections for Thursday October 20th (Sorted by Total Expected Points)


The last way to really look at the projections is to sort them by sheer value. At times I’ve taken the highest value goalie who projects to win. ThNis often times gives you a goalie on the road. The highest value goalies of the night are Jones, Gibson. Zatkoff, Niemi and Domingue. If we select the highest value goalie who’s expected to win we’re back to Niemi.

DFS Datalytics Goalie Projections for Thursday October 20th (Sorted by Value)


Last note, I never really worry about goalie ownership. The only thing I ever really care about is who the chalk goalie will be and if there is any reason to play the skaters against him. Goalies usually perform in a pretty tight window of possible outcomes, this is some why sites like Fantasy Aces and even DraftKings if you look at it have been pricing goalies closer together. This is why paying up for a goalie is almost never a good idea unless you get the shutout to go with it.

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Photo: John Crouch/Icon Sportswire

Adam Jazdzewski

I am the founder and owner of DFS Datalytics. I've been stats minded even as a kid. I used to write down my own stats in NHL '95, I've played season long fantasy sports since the mid 90’s and have made the jump to DFS three seasons ago. I specialize in NHL and NASCAR. Catch my on twitter @LedgerSko and @DFSDatalytics #DataForWinning

ledgersko has 223 posts and counting.See all posts by ledgersko

One thought on “Strategy Round Table: Goalie Selection

  • October 22, 2016 at 11:26 AM

    An interesting read, especially a couple days after this DFS slate has finished. The process that you follow is similar to one that I use. I actually ended on Mason in most of my GPP LUs and all of my cash LUs(questionable cash game play, but I still cashed, so idc).
    I think, if anything, this highlights the volatility of NHL DFS. Varlamov was the GPP winning goaltender in most tourneys and the contrarians won the night.


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