By Daniel Dobish
The National Hockey League has a seven-game slate for Sunday. If your bracket is busted and you need to recoup some money from those losses, you’ve come to the right place. Plus, hockey is way more important anyhow. If you’re reading this on a Sunday morning, you already know. As I like to tell anybody who will listen, and I have likely already shared in this space before, everyone can run but not everyone can skate.
Let’s get started.
Scott Darling, CHI vs. COL ($42): After the Blackhawks went to overtime in Toronto on Saturday night, with Corey Crawford tested in that victory, it’s likely head coach Joel Quenneville turns to Darling to face the lowly Avalanche at home. Darling will cost you a pretty penny against the team with the NHL’s worst goal differential, but he’ll be worth every DFS cent. Darling enters with a 5-0-0 record, 1.21 GAA and .963 save percentage over his past five outings, and it’s hard to see this one going off the rails against Colorado. Take the sure thing.
GOALIE TO AVOID
Cam Ward, CAR at PHI ($24): If you’re investigating the low end of the goaltender spectrum and trying to save a few bucks, avoid Ward. For whatever reason the Hurricanes have not matched up well with the Flyers over the years. Carolina is 8-22-2 in their past 32 trips to the City of Brotherly Love. With the home team winning five of the past six meetings in this series, Ward is a very risky DFS play even if the Flyers have a losing overall record.
Eric Staal, MIN at WPG ($18): Staal will skate in his 1,000th NHL game Sunday at MTS Centre in Winnipeg, and the approaching milestone hasn’t bothered him in the least. Staal has lit the lamp five times over the past five games, scoring at least once in four of the outings. Despite the hot streak he is a relative bargain. While Arizona’s Radim Vrbata failed to score in Saturday’s game when he reached the 1,000-game mark, don’t bet on Staal getting blanked against the defensively challenged Jets.
CENTER TO AVOID
Jeff Carter, LOS at CGY ($25): Carter has managed no goals, one assist and a minus-2 rating over his past three outings, and now he’ll be trying to solve one of the hottest goaltenders in the league in Brian Elliott. That’s not a good combination. Carter also has no goals and just one assist over his past four road games, although that lone helper did come in a loss at Calgary back on Feb. 28. Still, he is well overpriced for the type of stat lines he has been posting over the past few weeks.
Artemi Panarin, CHI vs. COL ($24): Panarin posted a helper with a plus-1 rating in Toronto on Saturday, extending his point streak to five games. He has managed at least eight fantasy points in each of his past four outings, which makes him quite the DFS bargain. Panarin will be weaving in and out of the leaky Colorado defense, a squad which ranks dead last in the NHL with a minus-93 goal differential. He has a goal and two assists in three meetings against the Avalanche this season, and he’ll add to his offensive totals in this one as the Avalanche are also ranked 29th in the league in high-danger save percentage at just .847.
Conor Sheary, PIT vs. FLA ($22): Sheary has returned with a bang after a prolonged absence due to an upper-body injury. He has managed three goals and nine points over the past seven outings, posting 10 or more fantasy points in five of those contests. Sheary squeezes off plenty of shots, he logs power play time and he’ll also chip in with occasional blocked shots. Using players on winning teams is key in Yahoo!, as a positive plus-minus rating is invaluable at two points per increment.
WINGS TO AVOID
Brandon Saad, CLM at NJD ($21): Saad was extremely productive at the start of the season, but he has tailed off lately. However, you’re still paying premium DFS prices for him based on what he did months ago. Don’t waste the money. Over his past seven games he has managed no goals and just three assists with a minus-1 rating. He still sees plenty of time on the power play, but he hasn’t been doing much with the opportunity.
Jakub Voracek, PHI vs. CAR ($21): Voracek hasn’t lit the lamp in eight games in the month of March and he has an even or negative rating in 11 consecutive games since a plus-1 mark Feb. 19 in Vancouver. The winger has a minus-11 rating during that stretch to nullify any meager offensive production he has cobbled together. The Hurricanes have actually allowed just 2.0 goals per game over the past three, playing good defense. That also doesn’t bode well for Voracek.
Erik Karlsson, OTT at MON ($30): Karlsson is the gold standard in DFS among rearguards, as he averages 1.6 fantasy points per game more than any other defenseman on the board Sunday. He is also one of just three skaters with 10-plus fantasy points per game. He posted a goal, an assist and a plus-1 rating with two blocked shots in the front end of the home-and-home in Ottawa on Saturday, racking up his third game of 20-plus fantasy points in the past five outings. The league leader in blocked shots also extended his streak of two or more blocks to nine consecutive games in the 4-3 loss against the Habs.
Trevor van Riemsdyk, CHI vs. COL ($16): Van Riemsdyk is a blocked shot specialist who chips in with occasional offense. However, even if he is held scoreless Sunday he’ll simply need a few blocked shots and a positive plus-minus rating, and he’ll more than pay for himself. Last time he faced the Avalanche on Jan. 17 he posted an assist, plus-2 rating and four blocked shots for a total of 13 fantasy points. You can expect similar production in this one.
DEFENSEMEN TO AVOID
Brent Seabrook, CHI vs. COL ($17): While picking on the Avalance has been a popular theme due to their poor goal differential, Seabrook isn’t a Blackhawk you’ll want to target. He is working on a streak of 24 straight without a goal. Ironically it was a game Jan. 17 at Colorado when he last lit the lamp, but you won’t want to roll the dice on it happening again. He has an even rating over his past eight games and you won’t want to spend this type of salary for just blocks and a shot on goal or two.
Ryan Suter, MIN at WPG ($16): While Suter faces a favorable matchup against the very generous defense of the Jets, he is averaging just 2.7 fantasy points over his past six games. The veteran hasn’t lit the lamp in over a month (last scoring Feb. 16 against the Stars), and he has just five total blocked shots over his past 11 games with a minus-3 rating across the past 12 outings. Suter isn’t doing anything really well lately and he should be avoided despite the fact that Sunday’s game appears to be a favorable matchup.
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