Hockey Players are Creatures of Habit

I played hockey in college with a guy who every home game blew his nose with four squares of toilet paper from the same bathroom stall at exactly 6:26 PM regardless of whether the stall was already occupied. He plays for the Los Angeles Kings now and blocks a lot of shots, so maybe his pre-game quirks had some merit.

Hockey players may be weird, but routine matters to them, and their routines are less likely to be disrupted when they play at home, where they’re more comfortable.

Does that comfort translate to daily fantasy production? Let’s use our Trends tool to look at home/road splits as well as some other splits (and combinations of splits) to see if we can uncover hidden value.

Let’s start with forwards (centers and wingers combined — that clarification was for Editor-in-Chief Matthew Freedman, who knows less about hockey than he knows about women). [Editor’s Note: That’s a factually accurate statement. I know a lot about women.]

The Plus/Minus Metric

Our signature metric at FantasyLabs is Plus/Minus, which shows how players perform in the context of their salary-based expectations. Note that scoring is typically lower for daily fantasy hockey than for other sports, so NHL Plus/Minus values are relatively small.

When determining the NHL DFS value of a particular situation, we’ll be using Plus/Minus as our gauge.

Comfort Zone and Routine

Unsurprisingly, DraftKings forwards tend to provide more NHL DFS value at home, where they’re in their comfort zone:

forwards at homeForwards on the Road

They’re barely more expensive at home, and they more than cover the extra salary needed to roster them. (Keep in mind that the only forwards considered in this study are those who play on the power play.)

Other Significant Splits

Division/Non-Division

In the NHL, every team plays four to five games against each team in the division. That’s a total of 29 or 30 divisional games in an 82-game season. Divisional games are tough. They mean more because they doubly impact the divisional standings. And the teams are familiar with each other, so they scoring tends to be lower. As we see, forwards on the power play perform better in non-division games.

fwds FW non divisional games

Favorite/Underdog

“Point night” is a lot of fun, and guys tend to score more points (and provide more DFS value) when they’re Vegas favorites:

favdog fws

Combining Splits to Find an Edge

These three broad splits are relatively straightforward and not necessarily groundbreaking. DFS sites likely take them into account with their pricing.

The real edge is likely to be found in combining the splits.

The following chart combines trends of all three splits for power play forwards and is sorted from highest to lowest Plus/Minus:

combined fw splits

Let’s unpack this.

• Targeting forwards at home is generally a productive move.

• Non-divisional home underdogs have historically provided the most DFS value. It’s possible that they could also have reduced ownership in guaranteed prize pools, as they’re neither full chalky (home favorites) nor fully contrarian (road underdogs). Note that non-divisional underdogs provide strong value at home and no value on the road.

• Home forwards are at their worst as divisional underdogs.

• Road forwards are best when favored. They’re collectively the worst in the entire study when underdogs.

• Non-division forwards are preferable, but divisional forwards can still do well, especially when they are favored or at home. They are literally the worst subgroup in the study they they underdogs on the road.

Conclusion

Targeting players at home is a productive strategy, and they provide the most value when they are non-division dogs.

Division/non-division splits matter — but not nearly as much for forwards as home/away and favorite/underdog splits.

Road forwards are most productive as favorites: Point night, baby.

Keep an eye out for Part 2 next week!