By Chris Morgan
Friday is St. Patrick’s Day and the second day of March Madness, so you can be forgiven for overlooking the NHL. However, there’s still good hockey to be played and good DFS matchups to be exploited in this four-game docket. Here are some players to target and others to avoid in Yahoo! Daily Fantasy Hockey.
Antti Raanta, NYR vs. FLA ($32): It’d be nice to be able to go with Brian Elliott ($35) against Dallas, but Elliott missed Calgary’s last game after coming down with an illness, so I’ll go with Raanta instead. He’s had a strong year backing up Henrik Lundqvist, posting a 2.29 GAA and .921 save percentage. The Panthers are 2-7-1 in their last 10 games, and they will also be on the road on the second night of a back-to-back. If they finally end up biting the bullet and giving Reto Berra a start with Roberto Luongo out, that’s even better from Raanta’s perspective.
GOALIE TO AVOID
Anders Nilsson, BUF at ANA ($27): Nilsson has a decent .917 save percentage, but he has a much less acceptable 2.84 GAA. This is in part because Buffalo has allowed 34.2 shots on net per game, and the Sabres will be on the second night of a back-to-back Friday. Buffalo also has the 29th-ranked penalty kill, which doesn’t bode well for Nilsson. He’s not that expensive, but it’s hard to expect a win, so you’ll still want to look elsewhere.
Sean Monahan, CGY vs. DAL ($17): Dallas has allowed the most goals per game in the league (3.29) and will also be on the second night of a back-to-back. Of course, it doesn’t really matter who’s in net for the Stars, as their goalies have a collective .892 save percentage, also worst in the league. Speaking of being worst in the league at something, the Stars are also at the bottom in penalty-killing percentage. For his part, Monahan has started 40.9 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone, and he’s averaged 3:05 per game on the power play.
CENTER TO AVOID
Ryan O’Reilly, BUF at ANA ($19): With John Gibson day-to-day, Jonathan Bernier may be in net for the Ducks. However, that may not be as concerning as it would have been a couple weeks ago. Over his last six games, Bernier has a 1.66 GAA and .947 save percentage, and the Ducks have strong season stats on defense: 2.47 goals and 29.6 shots on net allowed per contest. They also have the third-ranked penalty kill. Finally, O’Reilly’s playing a road game on the second night of a back-to-back, which is just another reason to be skeptical.
Conor Sheary, PIT vs. NJD ($22): It’d be great to get a few Penguins against the lowly Devils, who are on the second of back-to-backs as well. The sticky wicket there is that most of the top Penguins are among the most expensive options. Even Sheary isn’t cheap, but at least you can save a couple bucks; you won’t lose much potential, as he’s tallied eight points and 24 shots on goal in his last six games, and he’s skating alongside Sidney Crosby on Pittsburgh’s top line. Now he’s going up against a New Jersey team who will be playing on the second night of a back-to-back.
Jakob Silfverberg, ANA vs. BUF ($18): As mentioned previously, the Sabres have allowed the most shots per game in the NHL (34.2) and own the 29th-ranked penalty kill. Granted, Silfverberg doesn’t get a ton of power-play time (1:50 per game on average), but he does have seven power-play points in 67 games. He’s done plenty at even strength, though, averaging 6.8 fantasy points per game. Over his last nine tilts, Silfverberg has seven points, and he’s tallied 43 shots on goal over his last 12.
WINGS TO AVOID
Jonathan Huberdeau, FLA at NYR ($24): Huberdeau got off to a scorching start upon his return from injury, but he’s since come back down to Earth. He’s now averaging 6.6 fantasy points per game, and he only has six shots on goal in his last six games. As noted earlier, Raanta has a 2.29 GAA for the Rangers, and the Panthers are on the road playing their second game in as many days. Huberdeau is the fourth-most-expensive winger Friday; you can find better values even on a small slate like this one.
Kyle Palmieri, NJD at PIT ($17): There aren’t a lot of bad options Friday, which is good for fantasy owners. It also means that our standards for a players to avoid are stricter. Palmieri’s going to take shots on Pittsburgh goalie Matt Murray, who has a 2.37 GAA and .924 save percentage. Although he and Taylor Hall have accounted for most of the Devils’ bright spots on offense, this might not be a game in which the Devils get a lot going — they might still be basking in the glow of hanging six goals on the Flyers in Thursday’s game, but the Pens are a much tougher opponent.
Dougie Hamilton, CGY vs. DAL ($19): Hamilton has averaged a robust 7.4 fantasy points per game, and it certainly wouldn’t be surprising to see him at least equal that against the Stars. After all, Dallas is at the bottom of the league in goals allowed per game and penalty-kill percentage. Hamilton has 14 power-play points and 195 shots on net in 69 games. Additionally, Dallas has registered 60.0 shot attempts per 60 minutes, fifth-most in the NHL. That means there’s a really good chance Hamilton will add to his 86 blocked shots as well.
Mark Streit, PIT vs. NJD ($13): Since becoming a Penguin, Streit has four points (three on the power play) and 12 shots on net in seven games. His role isn’t as big as it was in Philly, but it’s big enough to make him interesting in this matchup. The Devils have allowed 2.87 goals per game, and their penalty kill ranks 19th in the league. Streit is quite cheap, so it won’t take much for him to return value, and this is the kind of matchup that could make that happen.
DEFENSEMEN TO AVOID
Rasmus Ristolainen, BUF at ANA ($23): The Ducks have only allowed 29.6 shots on goal per game, and Bernier has given Anaheim great goaltending recently. Even if Gibson surprises us and starts, he has a 2.28 GAA and .921 save percentage. Ristolainen is having a good season, but he’s on the pricier side, which means you really need to believe in him to spend what it takes to acquire him. He may end up living up to that cost, but you should aim higher.
John Klingberg, DAL at CGY ($17): If Elliott gets over his illness in time to start this game, Klingberg and company could be in trouble. Over his last eight games, Elliott has a 1.35 GAA and .956 save percentage. Additionally, the Flames have only allowed 28.8 shots per game this season. Based on the looming specter of Elliott, it’s probably best to steer clear of Klingberg even at this relatively friendly price.
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