NHL Strategy - The Hedge Stack


I had a member of the #ScoutArmy last night ask me on Twitter about my Hedge stack line for the Flyers after mentioning Rinne as a goalie in play. So I decided to put together a quick strategy guide on what is a hedge stack and how I approach it in hockey. Also, if you msg me on Twitter that is fine, but try to not throw out players names because you're giving away the content that you paid for to those who didn't pay for it. If there's something you do have a question about regarding strategy in general definitely shoot me that.

Side Note: If you ask me between player X and player Y and player X is in my write-up and player Y is not then I am going to probably yell at you or ignore you. Why would I recommend player Y after player X was in my write-up (injury or massive line change aside). Pet peeve! 


Warning. Your goalie is going to give up a goal. One is fine. But, it's that second goal 4 minutes into the game that causes me to react like this ... "Mother Sh**ter". And immediately you will wonder, should I have played the other side (or hedged your goalie) ...

So what is a "HEDGE" stack/bet? Let's copy and paste from the ole Google machine ...

To "hedge your bet" is to protect yourself against a possible loss. It was a mark of caution to plant hawthorn around a field, or hedge it. Eventually the name of the barrier came to be used in connection with many kinds of safeguards.

Well, we aren't planting hawthorn anywhere, but we are picking players who by themselves can ruin our lineups. And by these players I of course am referring to Goalies. The Keepers. The trolls of the twine. The protector of the cookie jars... You get the general idea. They're weird people. If you ever played in a pick-up hockey league you always knew that there was rarely anyone dumb enough to WANT to play goalie and thus the one person who was likely in goal was a weird fella and always cranky and wanted to yell at everyone else when they gave up a goal (if you played goalie, then that likely explains why you like my reading. I was dumb enough to fill in as a goalie once. Fun times. I had no cup with me.... But I digress...). I mean, do these look like people you want to trust your entire evening of hockey sweat with?

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They're gonna screw up! And like pitchers in baseball, goalies are the ONLY players in your lineup who can get negative points and there is nothing more tilting than having a lineup that is already placing in tournaments go backwards because your goalie gives up two goals on the first two shots he faces.

It's like the old saying in football that when you throw the ball two bad things can happen. In hockey, the only way goalies can rack up points is by putting themselves at risk for giving up goals. They can't get saves if the other team doesn't shoot and the other team can't score if they don't shoot. That's the most Yogi Berra quote I've ever said I think.

Soo... We have established that goalies carry risk with them. And they're going to give up goals, which creates a massive scoring opportunity to get exposure to the other teams skaters. But how do we approach this?

#1 - Decide what lineups and contests you are playing.

As a default, I am almost always playing one main hockey lineup. I use this lineup in cash and single entry tournaments with the occasional multi-entry tournament as well. I feel that I can build one solid lineup regularly with upside and have no problem a line-up in both cash and tournaments for a sport like hockey that is heavily event driven. So this means that I have zero room to play a hedge lineup if doing a SINGLE lineup. If you are someone who only wants to play a SINGLE lineup and take the risk then there's no need to consider a hedge.

However, let's say you are playing multiple tournament lineups. Maybe both the $50 and $100 single entries or a3 entry max? Perfect time to hedge your goalie.

#2 - Should I play skaters with my goalie?

No. God, no man. You get your ass kicked for saying something like that .......

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Someone who is highly regarded as a good DFS player did this in in cash games last year. His name is Saahil Sud. Guess who no longer plays NHL cash games? Saahil Sud. Why? Because everyone, including me, scooped his H2H contests as quickly as we could because he was blind to his lineups and used this approach.

Now. Did it ever work for him? Sure. There were times when he had two skaters against his goalie and one scored with the other getting an assist, and they compiled a ton of shots and the goalie made a ton of saves while only allowing the 1 goal. Using FanDuel scoing, a Goal is 13.6 points and the Goal Against is -4. So technically, it's positive points if your skater scores on your goalie. It's also 2.4 points every time they shoot. Guess what... That is only going to get you to the min cash line. You are killing your upside and 80% of the time you'll find that the goalie gives up a goal to someone else. It's stupid. Don't do it. Don't ask me if you should do it. (Unless its 2 game slate, then ... well... no, just don't do it).

#3 - So how do I hedge?

Honestly... You don't ALWAYS have a good hedge. Because it's not always clear with some teams where the offense might come from. There are also some goalies who rarely get lit up.

  • Braden Holtby is a very solid goalie that doesn't face a ton of shots, but he also doesn't get lit up a ton. So the hedge is unlikely to work.
  • The Vancouver Canucks are a team we will usually target goalies against. But they're not an explosive offense with a dominant line. So guessing the hedge stack is tough not to mention it's unlikely to go off for more than 2 goals.

We want to target goalies in games that appear to be higher scoring. Fast paced games with teams who have strong power play units. The goalie cannot control if his team is taking dumb penalties and he might have a great game in 5v5 but give up 3 power play goals because of bad defense. And so we want to hedge stack with the top Power Play unit for the other team.

Example of Main Lineup.

C-W-D Stack from Rangers

C-W-D Stack from Stars

1 off Winger from Blues

1 off Winger from Red Wings

Pekka Rinne goalie playing vs Flyers

Example of Hedge Lineup against Rinne

C-W-D Stack from Rangers

C-W-D PP1 stack from Flyers -- Basically replacing the Stars stack

1 off Winger

1 off winger

Any other goalie

If you really want to take the hedge theory to the extreme, your hedge goalie could be someone going against the stack you removed from the Main Lineup. But then you're almost for certain killing a lineup.

Hope this helps shed some light on what I mean when I do mention a hedge stack -- which won't be always as lots of times I am banking on the picks being safe. But there are some guys (like Rinne) who just have this knack for letting their guard down and can give up a run of goals in the blink of an eye, or just randomly get bored and do stupid stuff.

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