3 Daily Fantasy Hockey Stacks for Thursday 5/20/21

Auston Matthews and the Toronto Maple Leafs finally start their playoff journey tonight. Which other teams should we stack on Thursday's slate?

In daily fantasy hockey, stacking is a key strategy in tournaments. We want to correlate our lineups with up to four players to maximize our upside, as if one player on a line is scoring goals, it's likely that his linemates are getting assists as well. Ideally, we'll want players that will get a lot of ice time together on an even strength line and a power play line. Two good resources for line combinations are LeftWingLock.com and DailyFaceoff.com, so be sure to check those sites for up-to-date line information.

Another series in the North Division is added to the mix, so we've got a four-game slate again. Let's look at the best stacks for this Thursday slate.

Toronto Maple Leafs

The Toronto Maple Leafs have perhaps their best chance to end their Stanley Cup drought ever. They breezed through the North Division with relative ease and are expected to do the same in the playoffs. Toronto scored the sixth-most goals in the league and were generally a team we liked to target in fantasy. This matchup shouldn't offer a reason to go away from them, so they are a great target tonight.

The Maple Leafs had one of the best top lines in hockey this season. It consisted of two constants and one revolving door at left wing. Auston Matthews ($8,800) led the league with 41 goals and played just 52 games, the kind of pace we haven't seen in the salary cap era. He also led all players in shots on goal, so he provides consistency that many players do not. His running mate all season has been Mitchell Marner ($7,600), who finished the season with one more point than Matthews.

The left winger will be the returning Zach Hyman ($4,700). This was the most effective edition of this line, as their 21 goals as a trio was seventh-best in the NHL, according to Left Wing Lock's line production tool. Hyman also appears to be on the top power play according to reports out of practice, making this line fully correlated.

Toronto drew the Montreal Canadiens as their first-round opponent, which is like drawing the short straw. Montreal had the fewest points of any playoff team and were inconsistent for the majority of the season. They also allowed the second-most goals of any team that made the playoffs. Auston Matthews had no trouble against them this season, with 14 points in 10 meetings with Montreal.

The Leafs have tonight's highest implied team total, and with the firepower the top line provides, it's clearly a line we want to stack tonight.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Now with a 2-0 lead in the series, the Tampa Bay Lightning head back home for Game 3. They look very similar to the machine we saw roll through last year's playoffs on route to winning the Stanley Cup. With their players back and healthy, they are a threat to score a lot of goals and break a slate any time they are on the ice. That's certainly been shown in this series and could be the case tonight.

The return of Nikita Kucherov ($8,300) has been everything the Lightning could have hoped for and more. He has four points in the two games, which were the first two games he's played all season long due to hip surgery. From the 2017-18 season to the 2019-20 season, Kucherov was second in points in the league behind only Connor McDavid. He controls the game from the wing, which not many wingers in the league are capable of doing.

This combined excellently with Brayden Point ($7,700) using his speed as we saw in Game 2. Ondrej Palat ($5,600) was the benefactor of these skilled players he's playing with, as he was able to clean up a rebound for a goal. These three all picked up just the one point on that goal, but playing together on a dangerous power play gives them upside to score a few goals in every game they play.

The Florida Panthers pushed hard in Game 2 but couldn't get the tying goal, and this game was more focused on defense than Game 1. Florida could want to push the tempo more, as it appeared they had a better chance of winning Game 1 than Game 2, and they are also getting their second line center Sam Bennett back in the lineup. This would be good news for the Tampa first line stack, as they had better fantasy production in the first game than the second.

Either way, Tampa's skill makes this stack have upside whenever they take the ice.

Vegas Golden Knights

It took the Vegas Golden Knights a while to get on the scoreboard in this series. After being shut out for three periods and a short overtime in Game 1, they took until the second period of Game 2 to score their first goal. That's pretty shocking considering they were third in the NHL in goals per game, averaging 3.39. People may point to the matchup, but it actually isn't as tough as it may appear.

There are some complications with Vegas' lines that could make it somewhat tricky to stack them tonight. Leading goal scorer Max Pacioretty ($7,800) is listed as a game-time decision once again after missing the first two games of the series. If he is unable to go again, Alex Tuch ($4,500) would slot in on the top line again, after scoring two goals on Tuesday night.

Tuch would play with Chandler Stephenson ($4,800) and Mark Stone ($7,300), who each had an assist in Game 2. If Pacioretty is able to go, he will likely not be popular due to the lack of clarity regarding his availability. A strategy you could use is starting with Pacioretty in your lineup with a low-salary defenseman also from this game, and switching to Tuch and Alex Pietrangelo ($6,700) should Pacioretty be ruled out again.

The second line for Vegas is also in play. William Karlsson ($5,200), Reilly Smith ($4,700) and Jonathan Marchessault ($6,800) have great chemistry from playing together for four straight seasons and all play on the same power play unit. Shea Theodore ($5,800) would be the defenseman to pair with this stack, as he is one of the best offensive defensemen on the slate.

There is a perception that the Minnesota Wild are a lockdown defensive team. It goes back years to when the Wild first came into the league, and that was their style. It's not totally true nowadays, though, as they rank in the middle of the pack in goals against and shots against.

Vegas was able to create chances against them in both of the first two games, and if they are able to do the same, this could be a sneaky stack that goes overlooked on this slate.

Nicholas Vazquez is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Nicholas Vazquez also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username hbyanksman. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his/her personal views, he/she may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his/her personal account. The views expressed in his/her articles are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.