By Chris Morgan
The Easter Bunny has gone back to his giant warren. Eggs will be left undyed for another year. However, the NHL playoffs are still going strong. There are four games Monday. Here are some players to target, and to avoid, from those eight teams.
Craig Anderson, OTT at BOS ($29): It’s the playoffs, so the margins are thin, and there are no great matchups. Anderson averaged 13.9 fantasy points per game this season, which is the most of any goalie in action Monday. He posted a 2.28 GAA and a .926 save percentage as well, but he’s also the cheapest goalie available. Anderson is as good as anybody you can get, and you’ll save a few bucks, which makes opting for him worthwhile.
GOALIE TO AVOID
Corey Crawford, CHI at NAS ($34): Crawford has gotten zero goals of support in this series and now his team is on the road already down two games to none. Last time out, he let in five goals on 29 shots. In fact, in his last five games, in which he is winless, Crawford has posted a 3.23 GAA and a .877 save percentage. Meanwhile, Scott Darling had a .924 save percentage this season. The Blackhawks are going to be desperate, and Crawford could find himself on a very short leash in this one.
Ryan Johansen, NAS at CHI ($17): Johansen has already had an impressive series, as he’s tallied four points in two games. During the regular season, he averaged 2:58 per game with the extra man, and he notched 23 points on the power play. The Blackhawks gave up 31.4 shots on net this season, and their penalty kill ranked 24th.
CENTER TO AVOID
Auston Matthews, TOR vs. WAS ($29): The Capitals have perhaps not been as stout as expected defensively, but the fact remains that during the regular season they allowed a league-low 2.16 goals per game. Washington has also been able to keep Matthews more or less in check so far. He has zero points, and while he has five shots on goal, four of those came in Saturday’s double-overtime game. Perhaps the story will be different at home, but Matthews is still a rookie in his first playoffs, and he’s the most expensive center on the slate. You’d like to see more from him before paying that kind of price.
Patrick Eaves, ANA vs. CGY ($18): Eaves is currently slotted onto Anaheim’s top line, and he’s averaged 4:20 of power-play time in two games. He’s made the most of that action with the extra man, as he already has two power-play points. That is a carryover from the regular season, as Eaves now has a seven-game point streak. Brian Elliott may have improved his numbers after the All-Star break, but he’s allowed three goals in both games in this series, and in his last 11 contests he has a 2.93 GAA and a .906 save percentage.
Marcus Johansson, WAS at TOR ($15): The Maple Leafs may have earned a win in Washington, but it wasn’t because of their defense. In two games, Frederik Andersen has faced 94 shots, and the Maple Leafs gave up 32.6 shots on net per game this season. Johansson started 36.6 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone, and he notched 24 goals this year. He also had 19 power-play points, and after the All-Star break Toronto had the 20th-ranked penalty kill.
WINGS TO AVOID
Artemi Panarin, CHI at NAS ($25): As you have probably heard, the Blackhawks have failed to score a single goal in their series with the Predators thus far. That’s probably not going to last for the rest of the series, but in his last 11 games Pekka Rinne has a 1.27 GAA and a .954 save percentage. With Chicago’s offensive struggles, and with how pricey Panarin is, you would be wise to wait until the Blackhawks prove they’ve decided to show up for this series before you spend this kind of money on a Chicago winger.
Mark Stone, OTT at BOS ($17): Stone scored 22 goals this year, but he did that on a mere 134 shots on goal in 71 games. He had a 16.4 shooting percentage, which is high, but it used to be much higher. Stone has failed to score a goal in 17 straight games, and Tuukka Rask had a 2.23 GAA this season. The Bruins also had the league’s best penalty kill, so don’t expect Stone to find any luck with the power play.
John Carlson, WAS at TOR ($21): Carlson is on the pricier side, but he’s worth it. He’s averaged 7.0 fantasy points per game, and in this series he’s picked up a goal on seven shots while adding four blocks. On the season, he notched 180 shots on goal in 72 games, but he also blocked 127 shots. As noted previously, the Maple Leafs gave up 32.6 shots on net, but they also averaged 60.5 shot attempts per 60 minutes, which was third most in the NHL. Carlson should be able to help your fantasy lineup at both ends of the ice.
Ryan Ellis, NAS vs. CHI ($18): Ellis actually has had an even better season than Carlson, as he’s averaged 7.2 fantasy points per contest. He tallied 16 goals in 71 games, and he registered 14 points with the extra man. Chicago, as noted, had the 24th-ranked penalty kill, and Ellis has been in excellent form in this series thus far. He’s scored a goal on six shots, and he’s also blocked six pucks. Also, after averaging 23:57 per game this regular season, he’s averaged 25:10 in ice time in this series.
DEFENSEMEN TO AVOID
Duncan Keith, CHI at NAS ($21): Not to pile on high-priced Blackhawks after two games, but Keith is another struggling Chicago player. His scoring issues extend beyond this series, though, as he has one goal in his last 26 games. Additionally, Keith isn’t the kind of blueliner that is likely to add a ton of value defensively. He blocked 107 shots in 80 games, which is a middling total, especially for a player who sees as much ice as Keith does.
Dougie Hamilton, CGY vs. ANA ($19): John Gibson had a 2.24 GAA and a .924 save percentage during the regular season, and he’s kept that form in the postseason. In two games, he’s made 65 saves on 69 shots, good for a .942 save percentage. Anaheim only allowed 2.40 goals and 29.6 shots on goal, and they also had the fourth-ranked penalty kill, leaving few opportunities for Hamilton to justify his salary.
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