Stanley Cup Finals Game 1 Draftkings Preview
Puck drops Monday night at 8pm eastern for game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals, the Lightning look to repeat as champions against the team nobody thought would be here and trying to complete a dream playoff run with their first cup in 28 years, the Montreal Canadiens. This is basically hockey’s version of Rocky 1, the Lightning are Apollo Creed, the defending champs, The Dancing Destroyers, The Kings of Sting etc etc and the Canadiens are Rocky Balboa, the team that doesn’t even belong in the same rink as the Lightning but here we are. From a bird’s eye view of this matchup some quick observations can be made, first the goalies are incredible and have been all year, Andrei Vasilevski has 4 shutouts this postseason including shutouts in each series clinching win for the Lightning. On the other end is Carey Price who is definitely the Canadiens MVP and has a real shot the be the NHL’s postseason MVP should Montreal pull off another upset. The second observation is that the Lightning win with high skill and talent at the top of their lineup led by Brayden Point, Nikita Kucherov and Victor Hedman, whereas in true underdog fashion the Canadiens have depth up and down their line up getting at least 3 goals from 9 different players and no player has more than 5. Those are the popular narratives, we’ll start there to find our edge on the competition. Since it’s the finals and there will only be one game a night that means every contest will be a showdown lineup and the most important decision we make will be our captain. For those unfamiliar with showdown contests your captain cost 1.5 times more than their normal salary but have their points tallied at 1.5 times the rate, so getting your captain right and still being able to build a balanced lineup is vital to success. As always we chase volume and opportunity over specific results and attempt to be contrarian in order differentiate our lineups from the field. Popular lineups are going to revolve around the goalies and Tampa’s top stars, captaining Price or Vasilevski will cost a pretty penny with their salaries coming in at $14,700 and $15,900 respectively. Point and Kucherov both check in over 15k as well making them high priced options to captain too. Point and Kucherov are immensely talented and two of the best forwards in the game but they’ll have to contend with Phillip Danault a man who has faced Austin Matthews, Mitch Marner, Mark Scheifele, Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone over the Canadiens 17 playoff games and has only allowed 5 even strength goals. Also the Canadiens penalty kill unit in the playoffs is on a record setting pace at 93.5% and guess who carries that unit, Danault. I’m not saying Point and Kucherov won’t get theirs at some point during this series but I’m willing to fade them in game 1 and let that price point drop a bit. Now another popular line up build will be to captain Price and build out your lineup with a few affordable Canadien skaters and pay up for one of the Lightning’s stars, hoping to hit on the Montreal goal scorers and hoping for a low scoring Canadiens victory. Truthfully, I like that strategy, Tampa has the star power and the high end talent, going with Price as your captain will be eating some chalk but he won’t be as popular as Vasilevski and might even come in behind Point and Kucherov in ownership as well. So you captain Price at $14,700 then use a combination of Gallagher, Caulfied, Petry and Weber they’re all in the 7k range and play across both power play units. You’ll have to mix in a semi cheap option like Corey Perry who comes in at 5k but does play on the power play or maybe Eric Staal who despite his lower ice time (11:30 ATOI) still has 8 points in 16 games. That’ll leave you enough money for mid range Tampa Bay options like Killorn, Palat and maybe even Stamkos who has been relatively quiet and checks in at $8,600. There is another strategy I like for this game, it’s completely contrarian and definitely has potential to blow up in your face but the Canadiens have allowed 4 or more goals 3 times this postseason and they have scored 4 or more goals 4 times, so nearly half their games have featured at least one team scoring 4 goals. The Lightning on the other hand have allowed 4 or more goals 4 times and have scored 4 or more goals 7 times, nearly two thirds of their games feature a team that scored at least 4 goals. Nobody is predicting a shootout, not with these goalies and Montreal’s penalty kill. Now this lineup is going to require some very calculated decisions, starting with the captain slot. If we’re fading the goalies because we believe the game will be a shootout and we’re fading Point and Kucherov because of Danault and ownership concerns, that leaves us with mid range Lightning stars or trying to guess which Canadiens player is going to go off that night. The choice comes down to Stamkos or Killorn and I like Killorn. Stamkos has the name recognition but he comes in at $12,900 for the captain’s price while Killorn checks in at $10,200, those savings will be key for the depth of our lineup and Killorn’s ice time, usage and advanced stats are all comparable to Stammer. They both play on the second line and they’re both on the top power play unit, Killorn actually gets a slight bump because he also plays on the penalty kill which leads to blocked shots. They both have 17 points and Stamkos lead in shot attempts 76-58, however Killorn leads in high danger shot attempts 10-3 and trails Stamkos by just 1 in combined high and medium danger shot attempts 24-23. I mentioned that Stamkos and Killorn play together on the same line and the top power play unit so even though we’re taking Killorn for the savings at the captain spot, we’re still going stack him with Stamkos in one of the flex spots. We’re going to round out the rest of the Lightning part of our lineup with Victor Hedman ($8,800), he quarterbacks the power play unit, leads the team in ice time logging over 24 minutes a game, leads the team in shot attempts (75) and is third in blocked shots (35). Hedman has a safe floor and always the potential to put together a multipoint night. With the Killorn (CPT), Stamkos, Hedman stack has the heart of your lineup, you have the salary free to choose from almost any 3 Canadiens you want for the other half of your lineup and watch the fireworks happen.