Line Matching: October 11th

Updated: October 31, 2017 at 7:51 am by Adam Daly-Frey

Line Matching – October 11th, 2017

Note: There will be one Line Matching article every day this week leading up to Saturday, when a video tutorial will be posted on how to pull the information on your own. They’ll be focused purely on even strength matchups, ignoring players’ work on the power play. Enjoy today’s five-game slate!

Toronto Maple Leafs vs. New Jersey Devils

  • – Toronto has a very potent offense with their centre depth of Kadri, Matthews, and Bozak, which gives the Leafs many different options in how to deploy their lines. With this game being at home, Mike Babcock will most likely match his lines the way he typically does: TOR3 (Kadri) will take on the top line, while TOR1 (Matthews) and TOR2 (Bozak) split time against NJ2/3 with the 4s meeting each other.
  • – With Connor Brown on the 4th line for Toronto, he makes an interesting play off a good game against Chicago; he plays on the second power play alongside Matthews, but will be playing even strength minutes against Blake Coleman and Miles Wood. Coleman has only spent 290 minutes on the ice at 5v5 but has a CorsiFor of 43.9% for his career, while Wood is even worse at 41.5% in ~700 minutes.
  • – One of the interesting matchups in this game will be on the Leafs’ defensive side; Babcock likes to get his ostensible #1 D-man out against the opposition’s top lines, and to start this season his choice has shaded towards Morgan Rielly. Against both the Rangers and the Blackhawks, Rielly matched up for 7 minutes of 5v5 hockey against the top lines (Zibanejad and Toews respectively). That should place Rielly – a positive possession player last year who’s crushed through three games this season with a 59.18% SF% – against Taylor Hall and company.
  • – Given Hall’s line will already be facing Nazem Kadri (no worse than 53% CF% in the last three seasons), they’ll be in tough to score at even strength. This doesn’t affect Hall’s worth as a play tonight, as he’s still one of the best power play performers in the league, but it’s definitely worth noting.
  • – The line of Nico HischierMarcus JohanssonJesper Bratt for New Jersey has acquitted itself quite well through their first two games, combining for 13 scoring chances at 5v5 while allowing 9. It’s clear that the Leafs are a much better team than either Buffalo or Colorado, but with a 57.14CF% for the Hischier-Johansson pair, they should have some scoring chances tonight. They’ll face GardinerZaitsev on defense, and split time against TOR1 and TOR2; they’ll be relevant by virtue of avoiding Kadri.

Washington Capitals vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

  • – In their first home game of the year (a 6-1 shellacking of Montreal), the first line of Washington (OvieKuznetsovVrana) saw very mixed minutes at even strength, seeing all lines at some point. The line they matched up against the least often however was MTL1, playing less than 2 minutes against Jonathan Drouin and co.
  • – That left the second line of BurakovskyBackstromOshie to play the bulk of their time against the Drouin line. This deployment makes sense from a common-sense perspective, as Backstrom is the better two-way centre than Kuznetsov (53CF% for Backstrom vs. 51% for Kuz); what that presumably means in a game at home is that Kuznetsov will get the Malkin line while Backstrom will face the Crosby
  • – Beyond the Malkin line, Barry Trotz will work to get WSH1 out against the softer Penguins competition: Carter Rowney in a 4th line role has been excellent this season from a Corsi perspective, but has been on the ice for 8 scoring chances against when paired with Ryan Reaves, and 5 high-danger chances against. With WSH1 putting lots of points on the board but getting crunched in EV puck possession, seeing time against these lesser lights of the Penguins will be key for even strength scoring.
  • – On the Pittsburgh side of the puck, the Malkin-Kessel duo have created lots of scoring chances (19) in 33 minutes together, and get to face the worst possession line of the Capitals. PIT2 has also been poor possession-wise though but are firing lots of pucks at the net, so expect high-event hockey when they’re on the ice.

Colorado Avalanche vs. Boston Bruins

  • – Finding Colorado’s deployment means looking at 16-17 stats, as this will be the Avs’ home opener. Last season, Nathan MacKinnon got the tougher minutes at home against opposition scoring lines – not necessarily the “best” line, but MacKinnon was used more as a high-event player. That should equate to a matchup against MarchandPastrnak, which will be an incredible mismatch in Boston’s favour especially if Patrice Bergeron returns – make sure to check the site and/or @DailyFaceoff for the updated lines.
  • – Last season with Bergeron on his line, Pastrnak put up a 57% CF, and even more impressive, a 57.85% SCF. That number has dipped in his 2 games without Bergeron to 55% and 47% respectively, but that’s in a small sample and with two different centres. Facing MacKinnon who has only topped 50% CF once (50.65% last season) and been pasted early in the year is a prime matchup for the Boston 1s tonight.
  • – Matt DucheneNail YakupovAlex Kerfoot have been the scoring line for the Avs through their first few games, but will be in tough against another dominant possession centre in David Krecji. Krecji has never dipped below 50% CF in his career and although he’s playing with two rookies in Jake DeBrusk and Anders Bjork, he’s crushed scoring chances (one every two minutes with the rookies alongside him) this season.
  • – Although Duchene has been performing well for a team that doesn’t want him, he’s been lined up against soft competition for a lot of his minutes so far: he pounded Ryan Spooner in the Avs’ game against Boston (+7 Corsi) and saw decent minutes against the third line of New Jersey, beating that line in the possession battle as well. Looking at how he performed against tougher competition (NYR1, BOS1), Duchene’s line either was very low-event – 4 shot attempts against BOS1 – or got out-shot. He played under a minute against the BOS2s, so that can be safely ignored.

Anaheim Ducks vs. New York Islanders

  • – The Ducks are still in their home stand against New York, which means there’s a good three games of data from this season to look at; unfortunately, Ryan Getzlaf missed the first two games (…and it’s three games…) so it’s not a perfect sample, but there are still some takeaways. As was mentioned when the Ducks played Calgary, coach Randy Carlyle likes to match his scoring lines against the shutdown lines of the other team, going strength vs. strength.
  • – With the Islanders not having a clearly defined “shutdown” line, expect John Tavares to face the Getzlaf line. The line of Tavares-Anders LeeJordan Eberle got shut down against Columbus in their season opener, but individually JT has been the stud centre he always is: 56.96% CF and 19 5v5 scoring chances in 39 minutes. Against Getzlaf-Corey PerryOndrej Kase, who were no match for the 3M line of Calgary, the advantage in this line match should go to the Islanders.
  • – That will leave the RakellSilfverbergCogliano line, who have been dominant through three games, against the likes of Mathew Barzal and Brock Nelson. Barzal doesn’t have enough sample (only five NHL games played) to know what type of player he is, but he’s been on the ice for 18 scoring chances against in 33 minutes and seven high-danger chances. Nelson isn’t much better, sitting at a sub 47% SCF over his last three seasons. Expect Rakell and his linemates to take full advantage of their soft matchups in this game.
  • – One note on these lines: Kase was hurt in the game against Calgary. If he’s unable to go, Cogliano was brought up to the first line and Dennis Rasmussen was brought up to the Rakell line. Rakell/Silfverberg is still a dominant pair, but having Cogliano up on the first line is a small tick down for NYI1. Patrick Eaves may also make his season debut, but is listed as a game-time decision.

Los Angeles Kings vs. Calgary Flames

  • – The Kings shut out Philadelphia in their only home game of the year so far, mostly thanks to a solid performance from Jonathan Quick. Los Angeles lost the possession battle at 5v5, getting outshot 24-19, and out chanced 28-22. The biggest disappointment on the night came from the Kings’ first line (Kopitar), who got outshot 5-9 playing with Dustin Brown and Alex Iafallo. Those shots against came against their primary opposition, Philly’s first line of GirouxCouturierVoracek.
  • – LAK1 should spend most of their time on ice against the first line of Calgary, which is a line in flux at the moment with Jaromir Jagr making his Flames debut tonight. Whatever that ends up being (presumably GaudreauMonahan), it should be a fairly even matchup at even strength; the Kings’ first line is much better than that first game indicated, but Iafallo doesn’t generate much confidence. Gaudreau and Monahan are both plus-players possession-wise, so it will be a power-on-power matchup that should cancel out an advantage for either side.
  • – The second line for the Kings will end up getting the tough minutes against the 3M (TkachukBacklundFrolik) line, so temper expectations for Jeff Carter and his linemates. The key to this game will be special teams or bottom-six scoring, so consider using Adrian Kempe (57.68% CF last season) or Nick Shore (seasons of 52, 61, 54% CF since coming into the league) against the softer Flames lines. Unfortunately, there’s not much star power from Kempe and Shore’s linemates, but Trevor Lewis and Mike Cammalleri are both capable wingers in their own right. Both LA3 and LA4 will spend some time against one of the worst lines in the league (GlassStajanBrouwer) and will have sub 2% combined ownership even on a five-game slate.
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Adam Daly-Frey

Adam is a Daily Fantasy player from Ottawa that plays every sport, with a focus on hockey followed by PGA. He started writing hockey full-time in the 2016 season, and playing DFS full time in September 2017. You can find him on Twitter at @adalyfrey

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