By Chris Morgan
After four days of mainlining college basketball, perhaps hockey is what you need to serve as a palate cleanser. There are five NHL games Monday, and if you want to know which players you should target, or avoid, you can find that information below.
Pekka Rinne, NAS vs. ARI ($25): Rinne’s numbers are respectable this season, if nothing to write home about, with a .915 save percentage and a 2.54 GAA. The Coyotes, on the other hand, have only scored 2.34 goals per game. Nashville is also 20-8-7 at home, while Arizona is 10-20-4 on the road, so it seems like Rinne’s got an excellent chance of picking up a win. To find him at such a cheap price is a bit of a surprise, and one you should jump on.
GOALIE TO AVOID
Tuukka Rask, BOS at TOR ($35): Rask has had an up-and-down season, and he seems to be on one of his “down” swings at the moment. While he has picked up 11 wins in his last 17 games, he only has a 2.82 GAA and a .892 save percentage in that time. Toronto has scored 3.01 goals per game and notched 32.3 shots on net per contest. The Maple Leafs should keep Rask busy, and considering he’s the most expensive goalie Monday that could be a problem for fantasy player.
Ryan Johansen, NAS vs. ARI ($16): Johansen is a prolific playmaker, as he’s notched 43 assists in 71 games. Overall, he’s tallied 55 points, including 20 on the power-play. On top of that, he has been enjoying a strong run of play, as he’s registered 15 points in his last 13 contests. The Coyotes have allowed 3.17 goals per game, and they also have the 27th-ranked penalty kill. That bodes well for Johansen.
CENTER TO AVOID
Tyler Seguin, DAL vs. SAN ($27): No knock here on Seguin, but he’s got a really tough matchup on his hands. The Sharks have allowed the second fewest goals per game (2.31) in the league, and they’ve allowed the third fewest shots on net per contest (27.6). Seguin is a pricey player and with good cause, but he’s also facing arguably the toughest matchup Monday. You’d be better off grabbing a player in a better matchup, and ideally one at a lower price point. However, even at the exact same price ($27) you can get Joe Pavelski who has a much easier matchup from the other bench, and who has been a better fantasy player as well (8.8 fantasy points per game to 8.5 for Seguin).
Tomas Tatar, DET vs. BUF ($16): Tatar has enjoyed a fine stretch of play, as in his last seven games he’s notched nine points and 20 shots on goal. He’s now tallied 20 goals on the season. The Sabres have allowed a league-high 34.3 shots on net per contest, and they’ve allowed 2.83 goals per game as well. Additionally, Buffalo has the 29th-ranked penalty kill. While Tatar only has four power-play points, he has averaged 2:27 minutes per game with the extra man, so the opportunity is still there.
David Backes, BOS at TOR ($15): Toronto plays a brand of hockey that is conducive to offense for both teams. The Maple Leafs have allowed 2.86 and 32.8 shots on net per game, and that latter number is third most in the NHL. Backes has seven points in his last 12 games, and in 63 games this season he’s notched 152 shots on goal. His 9.9 shooting percentage is the second worst of his career, so perhaps he will find a little more puck luck down the stretch. Going up against Toronto could definitely help Backes on that front, and since he’s on the cheaper side of things he doesn’t need to do much to be a fantasy value.
WINGS TO AVOID
Tanner Pearson, LOS at EDM ($19): The Oilers have only allowed 2.55 goals per game and 29.8 shots on net per contest, and they’ve been even better with Cam Talbot in net, as he has a 2.35 GAA and a .921 save percentage. Pearson is having a pretty good season, but he hasn’t scored a goal in his last seven games, and Los Angeles is also the only team Monday that will be playing on the second night of a back-to-back.
Jordan Eberle, EDM vs. LOS ($18): Whether or not they will be fatigued, the fact remains Los Angeles has allowed a league low 26.0 shots on net per game. Additionally, now that the Kings have Jonathan Quick and Ben Bishop as their goaltenders, the fact they had a game Sunday becomes less of a negative factor. Eberle has only averaged 5.9 fantasy points per game, and he’s only managed three goals in his last 22 contest.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic, SAN at DAL ($18): Vlasic may not be known for his offensive game, but you don’t need to be Brent Burns to have a good game against Dallas. The Stars have allowed a league-high 3.27 goals per game, and their penalty kill is the worst in the NHL. On top of that, Dallas has attempted 59.7 shots per 60 minutes, which is fifth most in the NHL. Vlasic has blocked 128 shots in 66 games, so he should be pick up fantasy points on both ends of the ice against the woeful Stars.
Ryan Ellis, NAS vs. ARI ($15): You can get excited about Roman Josi and P.K. Subban, but overlook Ellis at your own peril. He’s averaged 6.6 fantasy points per game in his own right, and he’s tallied 12 goals and 20 assists in 61 games. Ellis has averaged 24:04 of ice time per game, which is on par with the top defensemen in the league, and he’s contributed on the power play as well, where he’s notched 11 points. Arizona has given up 3.17 goals and 33.7 shots on net per game, making this a very favorable matchup for him.
DEFENSEMEN TO AVOID
Drew Doughty, LOS at EDM ($22): Doughty has averaged 6.5 fantasy points per game, which is quite good, but is a bit below the elite level for fantasy defensemen. It’s also below the aforementioned Ellis, who has a much easier matchup. Doughty, meanwhile, is tied for being the third most expensive defenseman Monday. As noted earlier, Talbot has a 2.35 GAA and a .921 save percentage for the Oilers, and the Kings will also be on the road on a second night of a back-to-back.
Jake Gardiner, TOR vs. BOS ($18): Rask may not have been up to his usual standards this season, but the Bruins have only allowed 26.6 shots on net per game, second fewest in the league. The Bruins also have the second-ranked penalty kill, and 10 of Gardiner’s 34 points have come with the extra man. Additionally, he has zero goals in his last nine games, and he’s only notched 10 shots on goal in those contests.
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