Beat the Cap: The New-Look NHL

Beat the Cap: The New-Look NHL

This article is part of our Beat the Cap series.

The trade deadline came and went with predominately minor moves and depth acquisitions. While the drama left many underwhelmed, the impact for daily players couldn't have been more evident than the outcomes of the games Tuesday night.

There were four screaming mismatches, and all four of the games went as projected: The Blue Jackets, Sabres, Coyotes and Oilers all shipped out players from their lineups before the deadline Monday, and they all weakened their already-struggling teams.

Here is a rundown of the results:

Washington beat Columbus 5-3 with Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom registering multi-point games.

Tampa Bay beat Buffalo 3-0, nine different Lightning found the score sheet, and Andrei Vasilevskiy rewarded with a 28-save shutout.

Anaheim beat Arizona 4-1, and though it was the secondary scorers providing the offense, Frederik Andersen saved 28 of 29 shots and confirmed the favorable goalie spot.

Los Angeles beat Edmonton 5-2 with Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty leading the way and 10 Kings landing on the scoresheet.

The gap has widened between the basement dwellers and contenders significantly, but the teams pushing for a late-season surge and playoff berth have beefed up, too. There really are few teams left in the middle ground. These were easily-identified mismatches, and daily players who leaned heavily on them fared well.

The Ebb

Determining the teams to target can be a lot easier than identifying which players to utilize in these favorable matchups, something Tuesday's results highlighted. When and where to spend up is one of the most difficult aspects of daily sports, and the returns of similarly-priced wingers Corey Perry and Alex Ovechkin illustrate the complexity.

It is encouraged to build from the net out in daily hockey, so it would be appropriate to begin in the crease. All four goalies won their games in the favorable matchups Tuesday, and half of them – Vasilevskiy and Andersen – had excellent outings. Holtby and Quick benefited more from the three-point win bonuses than their save totals.

The circumstances of Vasilevskiy's start were a little murky, and he became the starter of the night after news broke of Ben Bishop's injury. Still, had Bishop started, the four starters were better cash game plays than tournament options. Plus, their ownership was likely high.

The most telling outcome Tuesday was the value of secondary scorers. There are plenty of fantasy assets who only need to register a point to return value, and 11 Capitals, 10 Kings and nine Lightning landed on the score sheet. As mentioned, the Ducks received all their contributions from the lower ranks.

There are a few things to note about this. First, when these basement-dwelling teams unloaded talent, it left their depth susceptible. Every team has capable core players they've identified as building blocks going forward. The mismatches don't always present themselves at the top of the depth chart. Instead, it is the second or third line which lands in the biggest on-ice mismatches.

Inferior talents will be forced to climb the depth chart and play unfamiliar minutes for Buffalo, Arizona, Edmonton, Columbus and a few other teams going forward.

One other important note is a two- or three-goal lead is viewed as an opportunity to lean on the lower ranks. The luxury of rolling four lines for half a game doesn't present itself nightly, and there isn't a coach who would suggest it isn't the goal from the outset. This also leads to more opportunities for secondary scorers, obviously.

The numbers indicate this, too. Just two Capitals, one Lightning and one Kings player failed to top 10 minutes Tuesday. Andrew Cogliano's 11:40 minutes of ice time were the lowest total on the team, and he scored a goal, registered two shots on net and finished with a plus-1 rating. The Capitals were unable to fully pull away from Columbus, which is why they had two forwards with minimal minutes. The other three teams rolled four lines for the majority of their games.

This is in no way an endorsement to fade star power in favorable matchups. As mentioned, Kopitar and Ovechkin posted contest-winning performances. Instead, it is another avenue to finding cap relief, which is an integral part of being able to roster high-end talents and top goalies. If you paired an Alex Killorn, Marcus Johansson or Trevor Lewis with Ovechkin or Kopitar in your lineup Tuesday, you cashed.

Often, first-line players will carry a cap-friendly price and land in a favorable matchup, and they're very much in play. However, weighing the option of greater savings with a second-line winger in a plus-matchup is also advised. Perhaps, the cap space is there to roster an elite defenseman, or your No. 1 goalie choice of the night.

Hone in on those exploitable matchups, especially when plus/minus is a category. The results Tuesday, while a small sample size, highlight the upside of secondary scorers and reliability of favorable goaltending matchups.

The Flow

Looking forward, there are nightly mismatches for daily players to target:

Thursday, March 5
Maple Leafs at Lightning
Canucks at Coyotes

Wednesday, March 6
Oilers at Blackhawks
Sabres at Senators

Saturday, March 7
Blues at Maple Leafs
Canadiens at Coyotes
Sabres at Capitals

If you have additional questions or would like to see anything specifically covered in Beat the Cap, contact me in the comments below or via Twitter @naparker77.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. Neil Parker plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: FanDuel: naparker77, DraftKings: naparker77.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Neil Parker
A loyal Cubs, Cowboys and Maple Leafs fan for decades, Neil has contributed to RotoWire since 2014. He previously worked for USA Today Fantasy Sports.
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