It might not be the most popular daily fantasy sport, but hockey is still rife with earning opportunity for DFS enthusiasts.
The challenge in daily fantasy hockey as opposed to other sports is that it's much more difficult to pinpoint which players will break out on a given night. Even the best players in the game will go through multi-game slumps in which they might record a big, fat zero for your daily fantasy roster - and that will only serve as a drain on your bank account.
Here are 10 tips to help you maximize your point potential - and your profit:
1. Goalies first. Nearly every successful daily fantasy hockey roster has rock-solid goaltending. For one thing, you probably aren't going to make much money if you don't snag the whopping 12-point bonus you get for a goaltender victory. That's as many points as you get for 15 saves - so keep a close eye on the Vegas odds and consider taking goalies on the most heavily-favored teams. A shutout is worth an additional eight points, so key in on teams with poor offenses and consider the opposing netminder.
2. Busy is (mostly) better. Even with the benefit of a 12-point boost for a victory, you still want your goalie to be at least a little busy. At 0.8 points per save, every puck that hits your netminder scores you points. Just be sure to find the right balance between comfortably busy and helplessly overwhelmed: you take a four-point loss for every goal your netminder allows, so it doesn't do you any good to land a goalie who allows three or four to get past him, no matter how many saves he makes.
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3. Don't chase the shorties. While it's nice to see that two-point bonus for a shorthanded goal, predicting which players will record them is a fool's errand. Only two players managed to record more than six short-handed points all season - Victor Arvidsson (five goals, two assists) and Kevin Hayes (one goal, six assists). That's 14 bonus points apiece across the entire season. So don't spend too much time researching which teams score or give up the most shorthanded goals. It just won't do you any good.
4. Do chase the PP points. It's a little easier to identify which players are most likely to strike on the power play - and with a nice 0.5-point bonus for man-advantage points, those special-teams tallies can really add up. The approach here can go one of two ways: You can either load up on teams with potent power plays, or you can pinpoint teams with poor penalty-killing units and target players on the opposing power play. Either way, you will put yourself in good position to earn bonus points.
5. Line stacking is optimal. You might consider the tactic a little too "putting your eggs in one basket-y", but stacking members of the same line is the easiest way to rack up the kind of fantasy totals you'll need to bring down a large-field tournament. Stacking is a popular roster-building method in daily fantasy baseball for the same reason: When one player scores, others benefit. There's an obvious element of risk, but the payoff is immense - particularly in GPP play.
6. Spread the wealth in cash games. The points in item No. 5 are salient, but not necessarily transferable to all situations. In cash games, you want to lean toward a safer roster-building approach - and even stacking players from high-scoring lines or teams isn't without peril. Look for players in good position to generate some kind of fantasy scoring, even if not simply from goals and assists; we'll get into the other contribution methods in the next tip.
7. Supplement with shots and shot blockers. Once you have added a superstar goaltender and some elite scoring options as the base of your lineup, you'll probably be left with a pittance in salary to fill out the rest of your roster. In this case, you should target players who either take a lot of shots, block a lot of shots, or do both. At 1.6 points per shot on goal and 1.6 points per blocked shot, you can get tournament-winning contributions from your roster fill-ins even if they don't hit the actual scoresheet.
8. Follow the morning skates. You don't have to glue yourself to the internet all afternoon, but it is important to understand what happens at teams' morning skates and be willing and able to alter your lineup as a result. You'll often find that lines are shuffled, injury updates are provided - and occasionally, goaltending switches are made. All of this information is vital to ensuring that you optimize the potential of your roster come game time.
9. All teams are (sort-of) created equal. On the surface, an underdog in a game with a high Vegas total is a team to be avoided in daily fantasy. But you don't lose points for negative plus-minus in FanDuel - so don't be scared off of skaters even if their teams aren't expected to win. Points are points whether they come from winning or losing sides - and there is plenty of contrarian value to be had in players on the wrong side of a 7-5 loss.
10. Avoid the biggest-ticket players. Guys like Connor McDavid, Sidney Crosby and Brent Burns will often see exorbitant price tags - and while they occasionally return value, more often than not, you're left with a giant hole in your salary cap and not enough fantasy points to justify it. You're better off opting for lower-priced linemates, affordable second-tier stars and mid-range top-six options who see some power-play time. One player alone can't win you a tournament - but he can certainly lose it for you.