Under the Analytical Hood: Some Relativity
Hot streaks can leave many DFS players chasing yesterday’s points, and a cold spat for a couple of games leaves great players owned much less than they should be, even in good matchups. We’re all guilty of this type of thinking. We have to examine our own mental biases when constructing lineups.
Hockey is a unique game for DFS because great things can happen for your team when the players you selected for your lineup are not on the ice. Each team has different strengths of lines and deploy them according to their impact on what matters most–scoring goals. Some teams like Detroit can really spread their scoring among three lines; with guys like Nyquist and Tatar technically on the third line in Detroit. Meanwhile teams like Vancouver have been buoyed by the Sedin line while everyone else shuffles along waiting for the Sedin’s to get back on the ice.
An the individual level some players playing on poor teams may in fact have fine Corsi or scoring chance numbers but surveying their team results lead us to discount their potential for our lineups. While looking at specifically who drives play on each team will lead us to selecting the right players.
With the rise of hockey analytics, we are supplied with a wealth of new statistics to analyze the game. A few of these are good at identifying who’s playing well but not getting the results, and which players are little more than fool’s gold. I’ll go through five different statistics and highlight some players who I think merit some recognition for each of them.
Taylor Hall is Really Good: To put it bluntly good things happen when Taylor Hall is on the ice. Early in the season when the McDavid line had a few good games and Nail Yakupov turned into a DFS relevant player, the Hall line was under owned.
Since McDavid’s injury and Leon Draisaitl’s recall the Oilers first line has been tremendous. Their success has been strung together for too long to call it a hot streak. Hall and Draisaitl combined on a first period goal last night against the Sharks and connected later for the OT winner; but since it’s the Oilers and not Connor McDavid, Taylor Hall remains under owned.
The scoring chances for the Oiler’s first line are between six and eight percent higher per player when their first line is on the ice. Their SCF/60 is good but not elite in the league through the first twenty five games or so; but they are much better than anyone else on the team. Taylor Hall’s individual SCF is 84, which is second in the league at even strength behind only Alex Ovechkin. Dont discount Hall because he’s an Oiler. He’s every bit as good as any superstar in the league.
Evander Kane Drives Play: Evander Kane has taken off this season in Buffalo. While the results haven’t been completely recognized on the ice, when Kane is out there for the Sabres, they are getting 56% of all shot attempts at even strength. Kane is 12.8% higher relative to his teammates. He is making things happen with his speed. The Sabres just need to do a better job finishing plays.
Whether Kane plays better with Ryan O’Reilly or Jack Eichel is what remains to be seen. Coach Dan Bylsma is slotting Kane with Eichel tonight. They’ve had some good chemistry in the past, maybe he’s trying to use Kane to get Eichel going.
Jason Zucker Is Getting Chances: Zucker has 26 more individual scoring chances than any other player on the Wild, which includes more individual scoring chances per 60 than Zach Parise. He’s largely carried his linemates Mikko Koivu and Nino Niederreiter along with him. Niederreiter (42) and Koivu (37) have had far less individual scoring chances than their linemate Zucker. If you are ever picking a single bullet from the Wild it needs to be Zucker. His 70 individual scoring chances rank 10th in the league among forwards.
The Carter Line is Always In Play: The top three players in the league in CF/60 is the Carter line for the Kings. Los Angeles has a well deserved reputation as a defensively sound team, and they credited with having favorable Corsi numbers because of their defensive structure, but there is no line in the league that has as many shot attempts on net per sixty minutes than the Carter line. Since the Kings play a responsible game in the defensive end, and are seen as a boring team, the Carter line is usually under owned, unless they are playing at home in an unusually strong matchup. Never count these guys out.
R-E-L-A-X on Dylan Larkin: By that I mean don’t play him so often. The next hot-shot Calder Trophy candidate always makes for good speculation. Especially when it’s a Michigan born homegrown talent playing as a teenager for the Detroit Red Wings; anathema to how the Wings dynasty was built. Larkin’s PDO sits at just below 110; the highest in the league among forwards with over 200 minutes played. He’s shooting 16.4% himself. He’s a joy to watch play, but the regression is coming. The results for the Red Wings first line are a little overcooked. Get off the #PDOExpress before it derails!