Line Matching: October 12th

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

Line Matching – October 12th, 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 seven-game slate!

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

  • – Tampa has been dominant to open the season from a scoring perspective but have struggled getting shots off (31/game) relative to the rest of the league. At 5v5, they lost the possession battle badly to Florida in their two games to open the year (38% and 33% CF) and only managed 28 scoring chances for compared to 58(!) against. It was the TB1 line that kept the Lightning from getting completely wiped out, as Jon Cooper tried to match them up against FLA2, and they managed to stay even in Corsi and scoring chances.
  • – With the aforementioned NamestnikovStamkosKucherov line also matching up against WSH2 in their home game, it looks like that’s the deployment Cooper will use again tonight, pitting TB1 vs. PIT2 of MalkinKesselHagelin. The PIT2 line has been very high-event, losing possession badly in every game so far this season except last night against an awful WSH1. Expect lots of fireworks with these two going head-to-head.
  • – That will leave PIT (CrosbyGuentzelRust) to get Brayden Point. Normally the expectation would be that Tyler Johnson would take the tougher matchup as he’s a more proven centre, but through the first two home games, Point saw WSH1 and FLA1 far and away the most. Point has put some …points… up this season, but has performed terribly shots-wise: out-chanced 22-16, out-shot 28-14, and a CF% of 39.44% (43-28 shot attempts).

Florida Panthers vs. St. Louis Blues

  • – For a team that spent the summer getting laughed at, the Panthers looked very strong in their first two games against Tampa Bay – as mentioned above, 58-28 in scoring chances at 5v5, and 106-60 in shot attempts. In their second game (the home game), there wasn’t much matching to speak of from the top line: FLA1 saw almost equal minutes of TB1 and TB2 and even a touch of TB3. BarkovHuberdeauDadonov more interestingly tried to escape a tough D matchup against Victor Hedman and succeeded in doing so, but with the Blues having Pietrangelo on one pair and Parayko on the other, there’s not much advantage given to FLA1 tonight.
  • – FLA2 took more time against the Stamkos line in that game, with Vincent Trocheck seeing 26 minutes overall. They got the clear tougher minutes – which should mean STL1 tonight – and acquitted themselves nicely, and against a Paul Stastny-led line, the Cats’ second line should get some good looks.
  • – STL1 as mentioned has a tough line assignment tonight, so once again it’s the second line of the Blues that jumps out. Jaden SchwartzBrayden Schenn have looked dominant through their four games, posting 35 5v5 scoring chances (61.4%) and winning every possession metric available. With FLA1 also being a dominant possession line, this matchup could be a wash, but STL2 should get some good ice time against FLA3/4 as Barkov doesn’t really match with anyone.

Nashville Predators vs. Dallas Stars

  • – The Preds went with NSH1 against lesser opposition at last season’s close, but in their home opener matched the Johansen line against the first line of the Flyers (Giroux) which was unexpected. That could mean something for tonight’s game against Dallas, or it could be a one-off, it’s tough to tell with such a small sample. It could have been a function of having the “big” Preds line split up against Philly, with Filip Forsberg on a second line seeing a mix of every Flyers line.
  • – With that big line back together, the expectation for tonight will be that coach Laviolette reverts to last year’s matchup style, putting NSH1 out against softer competition and leaving his 2/3/4 lines to deal with the high-powered first line of the Stars. If that’s the case, NSH1 doesn’t seem like a good option tonight – the bottom nine of Dallas are all very good from a puck possession standpoint, and DAL1 is the higher-event line both offensively and defensively.
  • – This game is very hard to get a read on, matchup-wise, so look more to special teams if looking for players from this game.

Chicago Blackhawks vs. Minnesota Wild

  • – Bruce Boudreau has said that he’ll be dressing 11 forwards and 7 defensemen for tonight’s game, and only rolling three lines. What effect that will have on line-matches remains to be seen (Boudreau hasn’t announced who is sitting yet), but the Wild have been atrocious in their two games this season at 5v5: 18 scoring chances and 23 shots against in their game vs. the Red Wings, and 30 shots/59 shot attempts against from Carolina (albeit in an overtime game). The worst offenders in the latter game were basically the entire team, excluding MIN1.
  • – In their two home games this year, Chicago has used their top line of ToewsSaadPanik against the opposition’s top line. That should continue tonight, which frees the rest of Chicago up to basically score at will; although every line of the ‘Hawks beyond the first line has looked poor from possession metrics, Minnesota has had even worse play from their bottom nine.
  • – Much like DAL-NSH, this is a game that should come down to special teams and secondary scoring.

Vancouver Canucks vs. Winnipeg Jets

  • – Vancouver’s been awful in their two home games this year – although one of those came against McDavid and the Oilers – allowing 48 scoring chances at 5v5 in those games, 59 shots against, and 95 shot attempts against. The most egregious line for the Canucks in the two games has been the Horvat line, allowing a shot a minute at even strength. The worst part about that for the Canucks is that didn’t come against the top line for Edmonton or Ottawa, but rather against their second and third lines.
  • – Expecting that to continue tonight, WPG2 should be in for a very fruitful night. Little and Perreault are both very strong puck possession players, and combined with Laine’s lethal shot (17.3 S%), that line should handily win the battles against VAN2.
  • – One of the interesting notes from the first two games for Vancouver is that the Sedin line saw most of their 5v5 time against soft competition as well, leaving VAN3 (Sutter) to try and take on the tough defensive minutes. Sutter has been on the ice for 18 scoring chances in 23 minutes of 5v5, so WPG1 is also a very appealing line to consider.
  • – From the Vancouver side of the puck, there’s almost nothing in play; the Sedins will be in tough against a solid unit of LowryPetanMatthias, the Horvat line has the toughest match of the game possession-wise, and VAN3 is a void offensively.

Arizona Coyotes vs. Detroit Red Wings

  • – The Coyotes have been immense disappointments to start the year, losing badly to Anaheim with a late lead and getting stomped by Vegas in the Knights’ first home game. They’ve given up an inordinate amount of scoring chances – 74 in three games, 24 of which were high-danger chances – and have played very high-paced hockey.
  • – In their sole home game, Rick Tocchett used his top line (Stepan) without matching up: 40% of 5v5 time against the third VGK line, and 35% against the first line. It was Christian Dvorak who got the softer minutes, which means against Detroit, Dvorak will mostly see the DET2s.
  • – Dvorak and Anthony Duclair have been on for 19 scoring chances against in a little over 20 minutes of 5v5 time together, while the second line of Detroit has crushed the competition in shot attempts (67.8%) and scoring chances (60%). This matchup favours the ManthaLarkinFrk/Abdelkader line in a big way.
  • – With the second line of each team facing each other being the sole match, that should mean the best puck possession line for each team will end up with soft minutes no matter the competition. For a line of TatarZetterbergNyquist which has that hasn’t performed very well to open the year, this could be their breakthrough game.

San Jose Sharks vs. Buffalo Sabres

  • – San Jose rolled a very balanced team against both Philadelphia and Los Angeles, with no line topping five minutes against any other line. That puts both SJ1 and SJ2 into play, as the sole responsible centre on Buffalo (Ryan O’Reilly) won’t get to shadow either line.
  • – Both the Sharks and the Sabres have been porous this year at 5v5 – SJ allowed 26 shots in only 37 5v5 minutes against LA, while Buffalo did the same in 38 to Montreal – but have played very high-event hockey. The Sabres have combined for 18 high-danger chances in three games for, and a whopping 37(!) against, and the Sharks sit at 17 for/22 against in only two games.
  • – From a line-matching perspective, there’s no clear advantage either way tonight beyond avoiding BUF2. This game should be a shootout on both ends.
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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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