Make the Best Picks For Daily Fantasy Hockey Playoffs

Exploiting Statistical Trends Will Give You a Decisive Edge

Daily Fantasy hockey is all about making informed decisions. Even so-called gut decisions are founded in prior conceptions and opinion. Continually expanding your knowledge and understanding of the sport is vital to success. NHL Hockey’s ongoing analytical and statistical movement offers powerful and innovative ways with which to make sound daily fantasy hockey picks; it’s in exploiting these statistical trends that you’ll find your edge against the competition.

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1) Consider Puck Possession

A rule of thumb for any NHL Hockey playoff pool is to make fantasy selections within contending teams. The most productive player won’t serve much purpose once his team has been eliminated from the playoffs. What’s unintuitive here is that a team’s final placement in the regular season standings is not always the most accurate predictor of post-season success.  Goal differential, particularly at even-strength play, is another oft-used evaluator for NHL teams. Unfortunately, this metric also falls short as a predictive tool for NHL playoff success. As it happens, it’s a possession metric called Fenclose that holds the most predictive power. Fenclose, a derivative of Fenwick (and by extension, corsi) is much simpler in nature than its reputation would indicate. In essence, it’s a shot differential that considers both those on goal and those missed at even-strength. Fenclose acts as a proxy for puck possession and correlates very well with scoring chances. As the following chart plainly shows, it also has staggeringly good predictive power.

Puck Possession Stats

As you follow that chart in a counter-clockwise fashion starting from the top right, you see a marked increase in playoff appearances as well as success in the later rounds. What’s perhaps the most telling is, since the 2007-2008 season when these data were first made public, only one team has made the finals sporting a sub-50% rating.  The Fenclose analysis is a good stat to look at if you want a better idea of a team’s chances of going deep in the NHL playoffs.


(+) Los Angeles Kings

The Kings currently lead the league in Fenclose. They might not crack the top-five in the standings, but they’ve got as good of a chance as anybody to make a cup run.

(-) Anaheim Ducks

The top team in the NHL isn’t even in the top half of the league in possession. Their 50.5% rating has them at 16th behind the Predators. It’s going to be a fantasy feeding frenzy to grab Ducks players, but they’re far from a lock to make the third round.


2) Spot Overachievers

NHL Hockey, perhaps to an even greater extent than other major sports, is a game of luck. Over 60 minutes of game time, randomness and chaos are dominantly influential towards the outcome. Over an 82-game season these effects tend to wash out quite a bit, but in the short post-season they’re particularly important. While it’s not entirely productive to simply attribute all success to “puck luck”, there are ways to identify overachievers using basic statistics. One of those leading the way in hockey’s analytical revolution is Eric Tulsky and in the graphic below, shows how irreproducible on-ice shooting percentages are at 5-on-5.

NHL Playoffs

I decided to plot in Excel the correlation between NHL regular season and NHL playoff on-ice Sh% for players having made 17 or more appearances in the post-season in any of the last two years. Here’s what I found:

NHL Playoffs Graph

This graph indicates that a team’s Sh% while a player is on the ice is extremely unlikely to remain consistent from the regular season going into the playoffs. It is an unequivocal truth that shooting percentages are primarily driven by luck, and given how reliant a player’s production is on the latter there is a huge advantage to be gained through the ability to identify overachievers. The league average 5 on 5 Sh% varies between 7.0-8.0%. Players with on-ice scoring rates exceeding this mark by a substantial margin are not likely to carry over their inflated production into the post-season.

(-) Ryan Getzlaf

While it’s unfair to dismiss Getzlaf’s production this season, it’s clear he’s benefitted from unsustainable puck-luck. He’s a good choice for any playoff pool, but I wouldn’t use my first few picks on him

 (-) Dion Phaneuf

With Dion Phaneuf on the ice, the Leafs are scoring on 11.6% of their 5 on 5 shots and saving 94.6% of shots against. Given what we know about repeatability, I wouldn’t expect that to persist.


3) Emphasize Special Teams

Special teams, while crucial to success in the regular season, are of particularly vital importance in the NHL fantasy hockey playoffs. Capitalizing on this fact can really provide an advantage over other fantasy players. In each of the last four NHL hockey seasons, the playoffs have seen a larger number of power play opportunities per game than during the regular season. As such, you should place additional emphasis on special teams. Known PP producers will thrive in these conditions. Additionally, teams with poor penalty kill efficiency could find themselves at a disadvantage. Be sure to take this into consideration when making your fantasy hockey picks.

(+) Patrick Sharp

In addition to playing on a powerhouse Blackhawks squad, Patrick Sharp ranks second on his team in PP time allocation and PP points behind only Patrick Kane.

(-) Brad Marchand

Despite being a reliable even-strength point producer, Marchand only features in 11% of the Bruins’ PP time and hasn’t registered a single powerplay point all season.

Written by Manny – @MannyElk

Thanks for reading!


When To Draft The Backup Goalie In Daily Fantasy Hockey

If you’ve been playing in Daily Fantasy Hockey contests at sites like Draftkings or Fanduel, then you likely already know how important the goalie position is to your daily fantasy roster. Quite simply the goalie will make or break your fantasy team.

So with that being said, should you spend the biggest chunk of your allotted salary on the top tier goalies? Well – yes and no.

How much you spend on a goalie really depends on the type of contest you are playing in and what the schedule looks like on any given night. If you are playing in a Head to Head match-up or a small player field contest, then by all means the best bet is to look at the top tier NHL goalies (ie. Rask, Price, Lundqvist) playing vs. weaker teams. However, if you are in a large GPP tournament, then knowing when to take a chance on a backup goalie might just give you the winning edge over the competition.

You see, many rookie fantasy hockey players will instantly look elsewhere when the backup goalie gets the start because they just don’t know the name and will draft a high-priced star instead. The truth is – on a good defensive team, having the backup goalie start really doesn’t hurt their chances of winning at all…in fact they might play tighter because of it. A goalie is only as good as the players in front of him and that’s why teams like Chicago, Anaheim and Boston can shuffle through goalies and still not take a step back.  It is rare in today’s NHL that a team can rely on their goalie to truly steal games night in and night out.

This doesn’t mean you should always select the backup goalie for your Daily Fantasy Hockey roster. You need to know when the opportunity is right. Here are the top strategies for when to draft a backup fantasy hockey goalie:

Wait For Great Defensive Teams

Like I mentioned earlier, defense rules when it comes to goalies. A strong defensive team can propel most backup goalies to a win. Some teams even play better when the backup is in, because they are more cautious, tending not to pinch their defenseman too much throughout the game. Teams that you can get away with the backup goalie in net are:

  • Boston Bruins
  • Chicago Blackhawks
  • Los Angeles Kings
  • St. Louis Blues
  • Minnesota Wild

Back To Back Games

When teams play in back to back scenarios is when you will see the backup goalie the most. Now in most cases, the coach is going save the starter for the tougher match-up, therefore inserting the backup goalie vs. the weaker team. This is where it’s important to know those strong defensive teams and you should be drafting the backup in these scenarios for incredible value. Be cautious with some weaker teams who will insert the backup goalie in games they know will be a tough one. For example, if Toronto is playing Boston on Friday and Buffalo on Saturday, you might see the Leafs backup on Friday as they save their starter for an easier match-up because after all their chances vs. a much stronger team are slim to begin with. Every season is different and you got to pay attention to the standings.

The Shared Job

Every season there are a handful of teams that don’t have a clear-cut number #1 goalie. The coach will tend to split the games between the 2 goalies until someone steps up and claims the job. This, however, doesn’t always happen and you end up having both goalies sharing the netminder duties for the bulk of the season. This can provide good value to you because most sites will still set the salary pretty high for the unofficial #1 in most people’s eyes with the backup, who really isn’t a backup, offering some much needed cap relief to your fantasy team. The St.Louis Blues, Anaheim Ducks and Washington Capitals are notorious for splitting goalie duties. Teams that might use this scenario for 2014-2015 NHL season are:

  • Anaheim Ducks
  • Carolina Hurricanes
  • Edmonton Oilers
  • St. Louis Blues

So remember – drafting the backup goalie in daily fantasy hockey can be an absolute steal of a pick, but know when to draft them and when to pick on them.


Top 5 Tips To Help You Win Your Daily Fantasy Hockey Game

Here are the top 5 tips to help you win your daily fantasy hockey games.

They don’t apply to Fantasy Hockey, ESPN Fantasy Hockey or TSN Fantasy Hockey – they apply to daily fantasy sports sites like or, where you can play in free games to make some cash, or use your skills to play real competition and cash in on some HUGE cash prizes!

1. Focus On Your Goalie

Fantasy goalies will get you the most points – research goalies the most, as usually the best goalie of the night is what wins the big GPPs (Guaranteed Prize Pools).

2. Ignore Defence

Try to spend the least amount of your salary cap money on defensemen. They are unpredictable for points and your salary cap room is better served elsewhere.

3. Create A Power-Play Unit

20-25% of the goals scored in the NHL come on the power play (PP). Each team has a PP unit of forwards and defensemen, try to stack your fantasy hockey lineup with guys that play the power play. They will have the most chance for points, and get a lot of shots on goal – a stat that you can get a ton of fantasy points from.

4. Play 50/50 Games

You won’t win big money, but if you have a good team, you only need to beat out half the competition to cash in. Many DFS “Grinders” will make 75% of their income in 50/50 games.

5. Focus On High Over-Under Games

If the Vegas bookmakers think a game will be high scoring…so should you! Check odds on sites like Bookmaker and get an idea of which games the oddsmakers think will be high scoring, then try to stack players from both teams (except the goalies of course) to improve your chances.


Strategies To Win Your Daily Fantasy Hockey League

NHL fantasy hockey leagues or pools are BIG! Maybe not as big as your traditional football or baseball but make no mistake, there is a lot of money to be made in daily fantasy hockey.

So, having played in hockey pools all your life, you think you have what it takes to win money playing DFS hockey?

Think again!

DFS means different research, but don’t worry, our daily fantasy hockey strategies will guide you to making money.

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Goalies Are The Key – Choose Them First

Your biggest point getter of the night will be you goalie so choose wisely. Goalies get points for wins, shutouts and saves so look for a goalie on a good team playing a defensive minded style that doesn’t score a lot. You may not get as many points with the shots, but of your goalie gets a W, SO and only 20 shots I guarantee you’ll still be happy.

Expert Hockey Strategy – Often the backup goalie will play against a weak opponent and they are usually much cheaper for your salary cap lineup allowing you to take bigger priced forwards.

Speaking Of Forwards – Choose Shooters

The big players cost a lot for a good reason – they score a lot of points. But in daily fantasy hockey, you can also get points with stats like blocks, or even shots on goal. Look for the NHL stars that take a lot of shots so that even if they don’t score any points that night, you won’t be left with a goose egg with them.

Expert Fantasy Strategy – Look for players on the power play, most teams will have 4-5 power plays per game and that is 8-10 minutes of increased scoring chances and shots on goal.

Don’t Overpay For Defence – Shot Blockers Rule

Defensemen are hard to count on for points. Most of the high scoring defensive guys still only average a point every 2 games so the chance of the top priced defenseman scoring you a ton of points is unlikely.

Expert Daily Fantasy Hockey Strategy – The guys on the power play are usually higher priced. Find out guys that are on the penalty kill team as they have chances for blocked shots. Look to see which defensemen are tops in the NHL for shots blocked and see if they are worth a play that night.

Check Final Rosters

Make sure your guys are playing and aren’t late scratches. Goalies are announced by mid-afternoon so keep up with who is announced as a starter. If players are questionable with injuries, double check they are playing (NHL players are tough, they usually play through injuries unlike the cry-babies in the NBA that get pulled with muscle cramps).

Expert DFS Hockey Strategy – Once you’ve settled on a lineup, check out team sites or follow beat writers on Twitter to see if there are any last minute lineup changes.

You can win money playing daily fantasy hockey, if you know your stuff. Join today and cash in against players that have no idea what they are doing.


Daily Fantasy Hockey Strategies 101

Daily fantasy hockey is much different from the NHL fantasy hockey pool strategies that many NHL fans started off playing.

There are different factors to take into consideration when creating a daily fantasy NHL lineup and we have broken down for you.

Below are some of the top daily fantasy hockey strategies that a beginner should keep in mind when creating a salary cap lineup at a top daily fantasy hockey site like Fanduel.

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Now, let’s get started…

Build Your Roster Around The Goalie

A goalie in daily fantasy hockey is like a starting pitcher in fantasy baseball – they will be the highest scoring player on your roster most nights. Goalies score points on each save, shutout and of course a wins. A goalie that is peppered for 40 shots and gets a shutout and a win will probably make you rich that night. Find the goalie on a tight defensive team that has the best shot at being #1 that night, then build your team from there.

Know The Scoring System

Every DFS site that offers NHL fantasy hockey has a slightly different scoring system. Some have a basic system, and some will award points for stats you would rarely consider. When you decide on a daily fantasy hockey site to play at, look over the scoring rules and plan your team out around them.

Double-Check To Make Sure Your Guys Are Playing

Don’t make the rookie mistake of setting a lineup in the middle of the day or the night before and then not following up with last minute lineup changes or scratches. If you are serious about making some money playing fantasy hockey, make yourself available to research game day lineups around 30 minutes before the first puck drops that night. This is probably the most important daily fantasy hockey strategy because if some of your players are scratched so is your cash.

Don’t Spend Too Much Salary On D

Some of the highest priced player on defence can end up getting similar point totals as a lower cost defencemen. Check how defencemen score points (or lose points) at your DFS site. Some sites reward points for blocked shots, some deduct points for +/-, and some give extra bonuses for power play goals. Look for guys that will get you the most points for that site’s scoring system – but try to look at the lower end of the salary cap grid and not just the upper end; defensemen are too unpredictable for scoring points on a consistent basis.

Look For High Scoring Games

The average hockey game ends in a 3-2 score, but there are some teams that are better offensive teams and some that are better defensively. Try to look for matchups between 2 offensive teams that are well rested and try stacking your fantasy lineup with players from both teams to take advantage in the increase in shots on goal and the chances for more goals and assist to be spread around.

Identify Which Players Are On The Power Play

Here are some quick stats for you to digest:

  • 21% of all NHL goals that are scored come on the power play
  • On average, 1 goal out of the average total of 5 goals is scored on the PP
  • Every NHL team will have an average of 3.3 power play chances each game

Keep these stats in mind when setting a lineup. Every NHL team has a power play line that will be out there every PP opportunity. This results in more shots on goal and more opportunities to score points. Pick fantasy players that are on the power play unit and in the long run, this daily fantasy hockey strategy pays off big time!


You’ll never win if you don’t play! Sign up to FanDuel now and try out the NHL fantasy strategies that will get you winning money playing daily fantasy hockey.