By Chris Morgan
Monday may be about Gonzaga and North Carolina for most sports fans, but there are also three NHL games on the slate. That’s not a lot, but it’s enough for you to play daily fantasy hockey. Here are some players to target, and some others to avoid, in your quest for fantasy hockey glory.
Craig Anderson, OTT at DET ($35): Anderson has had a stellar season when he’s been available, as he sports a 2.38 GAA and a .925 save percentage. That’s a good enough reason to like him for fantasy purposes, but there’s more reason to choose him in this matchup. The Red Wings have only managed 2.41 goals and 28.4 shots on net per contest. Additionally, while Anderson may be on the road, Ottawa is 21-16-1 away from home, while Detroit is 15-17-6 at Joe Louis Arena in the rink’s farewell season.
GOALIE TO AVOID
Anders Nilsson, BUF vs. TOR ($26): The top four goalies available Monday are hard to make an argument against, which leaves Nilsson as the priciest goalie to avoid (and he’s far from pricey). He has a 2.73 GAA, and the Sabres have allowed a league-high 34.2 shots on net per game. Meanwhile, Toronto has averaged 3.08 goals per game, so this won’t be an easy night for Nilsson.
Mitch Marner, TOR at BUF ($17): I just mentioned that Buffalo has allowed a league-worst 34.2 shots on goal per contest. The Sabres also have the 26th-ranked penalty kill, and they will be on the second night of a back-to-back. Marner, who has started 39.7 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone, also has 19 power-play points in 72 games. The rookie has been quite impressive, and he has 11 points in 15 games since the beginning of March.
CENTER TO AVOID
Jean-Gabriel Pageau, OTT at DET ($17): The Red Wings have had their defensive struggles, but they mostly came while Jimmy Howard was out with injury. Now, Howard is back, and he has a 2.10 GAA and a .927 save percentage. That’s a reason for concern when it comes to Pageau, who has averaged only 5.0 fantasy points per game. On top of that, you can’t ask for power-play help from him, as he’s only averaged 0:22 per game with the extra man.
Connor Brown, TOR at BUF ($17): Brown may fly under the radar on the Maple Leafs, but the rookie has 19 goals to his name. His play has also picked up recently, as he’s tallied eight points, including three on the power play, in his last 12 games. As noted, the Sabres will be on the second night of a back-to-back, and on zero days rest Buffalo has allowed 3.24 goals and 34.4 shots on net per contest.
Brendan Gallagher, MON at FLA ($16): At the moment, it appears the Panthers will be stuck starting Reto Berra (3.54 GAA, .870 save percentage) in net. That obviously would be beneficial to the Canadiens, including Gallagher. He has struggled with injuries (and an incredibly low 5.7 shooting percentage), but he’s finally getting some puck luck. Since the beginning of March, he’s tallied 10 points and 51 shots on goal in 14 games.
WINGS TO AVOID
Jonathan Huberdeau, FLA vs. MON ($22): Huberdeau has had a solid, if truncated, season, although he doesn’t have any points in his last three games. That’s a small sample size, but there’s a much better reason for skepticism Monday. In his last 17 games, Carey Price has a 1.57 GAA and a .943 save percentage while overall on the season, he has a 2.20 GAA and a .924 save percentage. Huberdeau is the third most expensive wing Monday, and it will be hard for him to earn that price against… Price.
Gustav Nyquist, DET vs. OTT ($18): Nyquist, like many Red Wings, has struggled a bit offensively this season. He’s only averaged 5.2 fantasy points per game, and he only has 11 goals in 72 games. As mentioned previously, Anderson has a 2.38 GAA and a .925 save percentage this season, so it seems unlikely this will be a breakout game for Nyquist.
Jake Gardiner, TOR at BUF ($16): Gardiner has tallied 39 points in 77 games, and he’s averaged 5.7 fantasy points per contest. On top of that, he’s averaged 2:30 per game on the power play, notching 12 goals in the process. Buffalo, as previously noted, has the 26th-ranked penalty kill. Add on the fact the Sabres have allowed the most shots on goal per game in the league, and there are a couple reasons to like Gardiner on Monday.
Andrei Markov, MTL at FLA ($15): Markov has averaged 6.1 fantasy points per game, and to find a defenseman averaging more Monday you have to get all the way up to Rasmus Ristolainen, who will cost you $21. He’s started 32.6 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone, which is the most of any of Montreal’s regular defensemen, and he’s played 2:35 per game on the power play. He’s tallied 12 points with the extra man, and while Florida has a strong penalty kill, usually they aren’t stuck with Berra in net.
DEFENSEMEN TO AVOID
Cody Ceci, OTT at DET ($17): Ceci is tied for being the fourth most expensive defenseman Monday, which seems odd. He’s only averaged 4.4 fantasy points per game, and he only has two goals in 77 games this season. Ceci only has one power-play point, and a lot of his fantasy value has come from his 157 blocked shots. However, Detroit has only attempted 51.1 shots per 60 minutes, third fewest in the NHL. Ceci might not have many opportunities to register fantasy points in that category.
Keith Yandle, FLA vs. MON ($17): Florida is the one team that has a particularly bad matchup Monday, making it hard to make a case for any Panther. As noted earlier, Price has a 2.20 GAA and a .924 save percentage. A lot of Yandle’s fantasy value has come on the power play, but the Canadiens have the fifth-ranked penalty kill since the All-Star break. He also only has 74 blocked shots on 78 games, so don’t expect much fantasy impact there.
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