By Sasha Yodashkin
Sunday’s evening slate consists of just two games. All four teams in action have proven capable of beating their opponents already, suggesting that there is value to be found on every roster.
Henrik Lundqvist, NYR vs. MON ($30): After a subpar regular season, Lundqvist has been his vintage self in the playoffs. He has combined for 44.5 fantasy points through two games, posting a shutout in the opener before making 54 saves in Friday’s overtime defeat. With the Rangers having wrested away home ice advantage, it’s fair to expect more of the same from the affordable Swede at Madison Square Garden.
Goalie to Avoid
Cam Talbot, EDM at SJ ($34): This series has swung like a pendulum, with San Jose outshooting Edmonton 44-19 in Game 1 and the Oilers returning the favor 36-16 in Game 2. The Sharks are certainly going to put forth a better effort here at home, making Talbot a risky play compared to the much cheaper Martin Jones ($27).
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, EDM at SJ ($15): With San Jose focusing so much defensive attention on the Oilers’ talented top line, it’s only a matter of time until Nugent-Hopkins gets on the board from the second line after totaling nine points in his final nine regular season contests. That late uptick in form earned him at least 18:54 of ice time in each of this series’ first two games, and Nugent-Hopkins was able to contribute 5.5 fantasy points per contest despite being held off the scoresheet. His $15 price makes the three-time 50-point scorer a quality low-risk alternative to more expensive Oilers centers Leon Draisaitl($24) and Connor McDavid ($35).
Center to Avoid
Alex Galchenyuk, MON at NYR ($18): While coach Claude Julien’s line shuffling ended up giving Galchenyuk a larger role for stretches in Game 2, the possibility of the forward returning to the fourth-line assignment he had in Game 1 still looms large. The risk is too great to invest $18 in him against a hot goaltender.
Rick Nash, NYR vs. MON ($19): Nash’s early postseason struggles have stuck him with an unshakable reputation, but he has stepped up with eight goals and 11 assists in 26 playoff games since the start of the 2015 postseason. The eight-time 30-goal scorer remains New York’s most potent offensive weapon, yet is priced below two teammates at his position. His nine shots through two games suggest Nash is ready to light the lamp once again after doing so in Game 2.
Alexander Radulov, MON at NYR ($18): Radulov has carried over his late-season success into the playoffs, playing a hand in three of four Canadiens goals through two games after posting six points in his final six regular season contests. The talented Russian will be brimming with confidence after scoring the overtime winner Friday, making him the likeliest Monteal forward to beat Lundqvist. He’s a must-have for any owner who believes the team’s offensive performance will more closely resemble Game 2 than the series opener.
Wings to Avoid
Patrick Maroon, EDM at SJ ($19): Maroon’s 5.5 fantasy points per game during the regular season were the fewest of any available winger priced over $15, and that production came without opponents devising specific game plans to slow down his line with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. His 4.0 combined fantasy points through two home games don’t bode well for his chances of stepping up on the road.
Patrick Marleau, EDM vs. SJ ($17): Marleau has shown his age in this series with just 1.0 fantasy point total through two games. The 37-year-old simply doesn’t possess the speed he once had and it’s becoming painfully obvious against this fast-paced young Oilers team. With minimum-priced wingers Jannik Hansen and Mikkel Boedker both skating above him in the lineup, there’s little reason to spend $17 on Marleau even if you anticipate a strong performance from the Sharks.
Shea Weber, MON at NYR ($25): Weber won’t have to get on the scoresheet to make a major fantasy impact in this one. New York’s collapsing defensive scheme leaves the Rangers open to blasts from the point, and the hard-shooting blueliner hasn’t been shy about firing away. Weber already has seven shots on goal, and that’s not including two more that he clanked off the iron. Add in his seven blocks through two games, and you get a player with a tremendous floor and the ability to contribute much more.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic, SJ vs. EDM ($16): Vlasic is another player who’s heating up at the right time. His two points through two games in this series give the defenseman a total of eight in his past nine games to go with an average of 9.7 fantasy points per game. Vlasic’s playing time should continue to stay high with the Sharks predominantly relying on their top two defensive pairings, so he’ll have no shortage of opportunities to maintain his momentum in Game 3.
Defensemen to Avoid
David Schlemko, SJ vs. EDM ($15): The Sharks have demonstrated their lack of trust in Schlemko by giving him under 15 minutes of ice time per contest so far in this series. His grand total of 1.0 fantasy point so far has done little to change that opinion, suggesting the extra $1 required to use Vlasic instead will go a long way for owners here.
Dan Girardi, NYR vs. MON ($15): Girardi should continue to block shots, but he brings almost no other real-life or fantasy skills. The possession anchor finished with just 15 points in the regular season, and his lineup placement alongside Ryan McDonagh alone isn’t enough to justify a $15 valuation.
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