The goalie is an enigma of a position in NHL DFS. Some would compare it to pitchers in MLB DFS, but it is actually far more variant. Pitching is actually quite projectable, even more than hitting in the MLB. Goalie DFS scoring almost amounts to a bit of a crapshoot. It is probably most similar to defense in NFL DFS.
Of course, you can look at projected shot volume against and the goalie’s stats and skill level. You can also consider Vegas lines and totals and which goalies are likely to win the game and not give up many goals.
However, the NHL is a very unpredictable sport, and you really don’t want to get too over the field on apparent high-owned goalie picks. Very often, a random goalie that isn’t projected to do well can have a huge night and be the difference-maker in GPPs.
You have to get the goalie at least somewhat correct, or it’s tough to win a large-field GPP. Yet, goalie scoring is so random that it can be challenging to pick the right one. Often people look for value so they can jam in the best plays elsewhere in their lineups. Other times people just choose the goalie they see as the safest.
If the goalie in your lineup does not receive the win bonus, you are almost definitely not winning a GPP. It accounts for such a substantial portion of a goalie’s overall score that you really need it for your lineup to have tournament-winning upside. How can we ensure our goalie gets the win bonus, assuming the rest of our lineup does well enough to win a tournament?
Correlating Your Goalie With Your Line Stack
In DFS, in general, one of the most prominent mistakes players make is overthinking picking the players who will do well. We don’t have a crystal ball. Despite informed player projections existing, it is tough to truly predict outcomes in sports. We’d all be rich from player prop parlays if we could predict individual player outcomes independent of correlative factors.
This is why we look to stacking in sports like NHL, MLB, and the NFL. What you want to do in DFS is win when you get the fewest things right as possible. So, in NHL, that is why we look to stack two lines of forwards who skate together from two different teams. We often correlate a defenseman as well. This is so that if those two lines go off for multiple goals, we are likely to get goals and assists from two or more of the skaters each time they happen. We correlate a defenseman so that when a defenseman is in on the scoring, we also get those fantasy points.
How tilting is it to get your line stacks correct and be sitting pretty, but have your goalie lose the game, therefore not getting the win bonus. On top of it, if they lost, they often gave up multiple goals. Also, goalie scoring is so unpredictable that there’s little reason to feel confident with any goalie choice as a sure thing winner.
This is where correlating comes in. If you connect your goalie with one of the lines you are stacking, you give yourself an excellent chance of a win from the goalie. That is assuming your line stack does well enough to win a GPP. You take the guesswork out of choosing your goalie and simply correlate with one of your stacks. If you connect a defenseman with your other stack, you basically have to get two things right. There is only one independent part of your lineup (one defenseman).
Correlating Your Goalie With A Defenseman
In hockey DFS, we often try to differentiate our lineups from the field, considering that optimal construction is so prominently 4-3 or 3-3 with a correlated goalie. One way to still correlate your goalie but be a little different is to connect with a defenseman. So, you would have two stacks of three forwards who skate on the same line, one defenseman correlated with a line stack (or a one-off defenseman). Then the other defenseman connected with your goalie.
Not only can this make your lineup more unique and allow you to possibly roster a high-upside goalie that doesn’t happen to be part of one of your stacks. It also enables the possibility of a game stack with lines from both sides of the same game. Especially on smaller slates, this can sometimes be the construction that goes off when one game is a shootout. This is a way of not locking yourself into stacking your goalie with a full-stack but still having some correlation rather than a goalie one-off.
There are many ways to succeed at NHL DFS, and winning lineups happen all the time that don’t correlate the goalie with other parts of the lineup. However, we are looking for a consistent formula that gives us the best odds of success in DFS. We are also looking for ways to simplify the process and only focus on the things that matter. Correlating our goalie takes that part of our lineup construction out of the equation and, by and large, gives us the best chance to hit GPP winning lineups.