By: Steve Koziel
When considering your options or strategies for building and managing your NHL fantasy team one aspect that I have found to be a very useful tactic is Line Combinations.
While nothing is ever set in stone during a game or from one NHL team to another, however knowing who usually plays with who will help when considering who to draft or even who not to draft in your hockey pool. The other factor is the planning of when to draft these players or in auctions, when to bid for them. (That will come in another strategy session.)
So what do I mean by all this? Take a team that is considered a high scoring team or for arguments sake a team that really only has one top line that gets most of the scoring for their team. Drafting two players from that same line can be very beneficial in your fantasy team. When the team scores, and the points come from the line you have two players from, you are gaining that double advantage in your pool as opposed to have say having one player from each team and you only gain only one point on any scoring play.
Let me use a player example: Take the Sedins who always play together (when not injured). If you were fortunate to have both players on your fantasy team, you know majority of the time, that when the team scores they are going to be involved because they are on the top line on the team. Furthermore, they are usually on the first line power play unit, so they are going to get as many opportunities to score, including in over time.
Before you tell me there is another factor, the flip side to all of this is when a team gets shutout, so do both of your players in your pool for that game which is obvious. However if you have players from the top line who are scoring a point or more per game then the odd shutout against isnít going to be factor come the end of the season. The only time this may impact you is in a head to head weekly pool or if you are in some wild daily pool.
Now depending on how big or deep your fantasy team is I would never recommend having all three players from one line. Having that one extra player is putting too much stock into that line and team to score points for your fantasy team on game by game basis. There will be times when it can pay off huge, but more often you are still only earning two points on any goal instead of all maximum three points available because you havenít considered the defenseman contributing on the scoring play or another player put on that isnít usually on the line during five on five play.
Can we take all this and equate it to defenseman pairing, in some cases you can, but for this purpose I have not, and would only focus on the Forwards. Someone once told me Forwards are going to get more opportunities and shots on net then a defenseman will in over the course of a game.
Bottom line, when drafting multiple players from the same team, strongly consider who they play with using the Line Combo strategy and what line do the they usually play on, and what is there average ice time per game. A lot of this is easy to figure out but if you are part of a deep draft or deep fantasy team, the more information you know and have readily available will be beneficial to your success in your pool, injuries aside.
One last aspect as part of your planning is to find a website or magazine that takes line combinations into consideration. While in most cases it is easy to figure out who plays with whom, as the season goes along line combos can change especially when players get hurt or go through a slump, or the player is demoted to a second or third line. There is really only one magazine that comes out monthly that does the whole team, but more of a depth chart that seems to work out to line combinations. You can also find a lot of this data on various Hockey Fantasy Websites like Dobbers Frozen Pool
Follow Steve on Twitter: @KoziFantasyGuru