By Chris Morgan
There are nine games on the slate Thursday. Here are some players to consider rolling with, and others to avoid.
Tuukka Rask, BOS vs. DAL ($31): Rask’s own performance has slipped a bit this season, but he still has a 2.35 GAA. He owes that to the fact the Bruins have allowed a mere 26.5 shots on net per game, keeping him from getting too busy. However, Rask should also get plenty of offensive support in this game. Dallas has allowed 3.16 goals per game, and Boston has put 33.6 shots on net per contest. Plus, the Stars are a mere 11-22-5 on the road, further increasing Rask’s chances of getting a win. At this price, he’s well worth it.
GOALIE TO AVOID
Steve Mason, PHI vs. NYI ($35): Mason has only averaged 9.9 fantasy points per game. He’s posted a 2.70 GAA and a .907 save percentage. It’s not like he’s turned things around recently either, as he has a .909 save percentage in his last eight games. The Islanders haven’t been bad offensively, as they’ve averaged 2.89 goals per game. Despite all that, Mason is the third most expensive goalie Thursday, which is too steep a price.
Kyle Turris, OTT at MIN ($17): Since returning from a three-game absence, Turris has gone on a tear. In eight games, he’s notched seven points and 30 shots on goal — five of which have come on the power play. Overall, he’s tallied 17 power-play points, and he’s also started 35.6 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone. By this point, you are probably aware that the Wild aren’t the same team they were earlier this season. In March, they’ve given up 3.20 goals per game, and this month Devan Dubnyk has a .889 save percentage in 14 outings.
CENTER TO AVOID
Aleksander Barkov, FLA at MON ($22): The Canadiens have been on the opposite end of the spectrum of the Wild in March, as they’ve only allowed 2.08 goals per game. Carey Price has been on a tear, as in his last 15 games he has 1.58 GAA and a .942 save percentage. While Barkov has had a fine season, you could quibble with the fact he has registered two shots on goal or fewer in eight of his last nine games. However, this is as much about the particularly tough matchup Barkov is facing than his own performance.
Corey Perry, ANA at WPG ($19): Perry is out of time to turn his shooting percentage around, but he does have five goals in his last 10 contests. He’s put plenty of pucks on net, as he’s tallied 204 shots on goal in 76 games, and Perry has still managed to notch 18 power-play points. Luck is easier to come by against the Jets, as they’ve allowed 3.16 goals and 31.0 shots on net per game. They also have the 29th-ranked penalty kill, another point in Perry’s favor.
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James Neal, NAS vs. TOR ($15): Neal has averaged 6.0 fantasy points per game, so it’s surprising to see him at such a cheap price. He’s tallied 23 goals on 193 shots in 67 games, and he has five in his last 11 contests. Additionally, Neal has averaged 2:40 per game on the power play, and he’s tallied 12 points with the extra man. Toronto has given up 32.8 shots on goal per game, which is third most in the NHL, and has also allowed 2.84 goals per contest. On top of that, while the Leafs have the ninth-ranked penalty kill overall, since the All-Star break, their penalty kill is ranked a decidedly worse 22nd.
WINGS TO AVOID
Patrik Laine, WPG vs. ANA ($29): Much like how it is too late for Perry’s shooting percentage to climb to a typical number, Laine’s 18.0 shooting percentage doesn’t have much time left to regress to the mean. Of course, that doesn’t mean Laine’s puck luck will remain, and he does only have two points in his last nine games. Meanwhile, the Ducks have only allowed 2.41 goals and 29.6 shots on net per game, and Anaheim has the fourth-ranked penalty kill. Jonathan Bernier has been particularly excellent as well recently, as he’s posted a 1.65 GAA and a .946 save percentage in his last 12 contests. Laine is the second most expensive wing Thursday, and it will be hard for him to live up to this price against the Ducks.
Jeff Skinner, CAR vs. CLM ($23): There’s arguably no tougher matchup for a forward than the Blue Jackets at the moment. Sergei Bobrovsky leads the league in both GAA (1.97) and save percentage (.935). In March, Bob has been almost impeccable, as he’s put up a sterling 0.99 GAA and .971 save percentage. With 18 teams in action, there’s no reason to risk going with Skinner in this incredibly tough matchup.
Torey Krug, BOS vs. DAL ($18): Krug has tallied 198 shots on goal in 76 games, and while he only has seven goals, he’s added 41 assists to that. He’s also averaged 3:21 per game with the extra man, tallying a whopping 23 power-play points in that time. That last number is particularly pertinent in this matchup, as the Stars have the league’s worst penalty kill. The Stars are also sixth in shot attempts per 60 minutes (59.3), and while Krug only has 76 blocked shots, he could add a little more fantasy value on that end of the ice.
Ryan Ellis, NAS vs. TOR ($16): Ellis has enjoyed an under-the-radar breakout season, as he’s already set career highs in goals (15), points (37), and ice time per game (24:01). He’s also tallied 11 power-play points in 66 games. Recently, he’s remained just as impressive, as he’s registered seven points in his last six contests. As previously noted, the Maple Leafs have allowed 32.8 shots on net per game, and post All-Star break their penalty kill is ranked 22nd. Additionally, the Leafs have attempted 60.5 shots per 60 minutes, which is third most in the league. Ellis has blocked 128 shots, making him look even better, especially at this price.
DEFENSEMEN TO AVOID
Jared Spurgeon, MIN vs. OTT ($20): Spurgeon has tallied a few points recently, but in his last 16 games he’s notched five points, including only one goal. Now he has to go up against Craig Anderson, who has a 2.30 GAA and a .927 save percentage. The Senators’ penalty kill has been middling, but Spurgeon isn’t likely to help you much there, as he only has five power-play points in 72 games.
Oscar Klefbom, EDM vs. SAN ($20): Klefbom has two points in his last 13 games, and it’s unlikely he’ll find much better luck against the Sharks. San Jose has allowed 2.43 goals and 27.6 shots on net per game, both of which rank in the top four of the NHL. Again, you have a lot of options Thursday, and there are many defensemen with much more favorable matchups.
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