By Chris Morgan
Ten teams kicked off their quest for the Cup on Wednesday. Now, on Thursday, the remaining six playoff teams start postseason play. This fresh batch of teams gives you another daily fantasy opportunity, so here are some players to target and avoid…
John Gibson, ANA vs. CGY ($33): First off, the six goalies in action Thursday are priced between $32 and $35, so matter what, you’re splitting hairs from a price perspective. Gibson had a fine season, posting a 2.22 GAA and a .924 save percentage. The Ducks also only allowed 29.6 shots on goal per game, while the Flames averaged a middling 2.71 goals per game and a mere 28.7 shots on goal. Anaheim is also at home, another point in Gibson’s favor.
GOALIE TO AVOID
Frederik Andersen, TOR at WAS ($34): No disrespect to Andersen, but this is a particularly tough matchup. Washington averaged 3.18 goals per game, which was third most in the NHL. The Leafs, meanwhile, gave up 32.6 shots on goal per contest. Additionally, in his last six games of the regular season, Andersen had a 2.99 GAA and a .903 save percentage. The margins are thin in the postseason, but it’s hard to see the Leafs putting too much fear into the Capitals.
Evgeny Kuznetsov, WAS vs. TOR ($19): The Maple Leafs allowed 2.85 goals per game, which is the most of any playoff team. Their 32.6 shots on net allowed on average was tied for the most in the league, as well. On the season, Kuznetsov tallied 59 points, including 14 on the power play.
CENTER TO AVOID
Auston Matthews, TOR at WAS ($29): On one hand, I don’t want to put too much emphasis on the whole “playoff experience” thing. On the other, this is Matthews’ first playoff game, it’s on the road, and he’s squaring off with the top team from the regular season. Plus, the Capitals had the best team GAA in the NHL (2.16) and allowed 27.8 shots on net per tilt. Matthews is the most expensive center Thursday, and it’s probably worth giving him a game or two in the postseason before you spend big bucks on him.
Viktor Arvidsson, NAS at CHI ($22): If you played fantasy hockey this season, you’re probably already amiliar with Arvidsson. Just in case, though, you should know that he notched 31 goals on 246 shots on net. The Blackhawks allowed 31.4 shots on goal per game, and after the All-Star break, that number went up to 31.9. Arvidsson showed he can put the puck on net with ease, and that’s a big reason why he averaged an impressive 7.9 fantasy points per game.
Marian Hossa, CHI vs. NAS ($17): In his final 13 games of the regular season, Hossa notched eight points and 30 shots on goal. His power-play minutes also went up to 2:17 per game. Overall, he tallied 11 points with the extra man in 73 games. After the All-Star break, the Predators allowed 2.78 goals per game and had an ugly team save percentage of .906.
WINGS TO AVOID
James van Riemsdyk, TOR at WAS ($21): As previously mentioned, Washington allowed a mere 2.16 goals and 27.7 shots on net per game. The Caps were even better when Braden Holtby was in net, as he had a 2.07 GAA and a sparkling .925 save percentage. Washington also has the seventh-ranked penalty kill. Nineteen of JVR’s 62 points came with the extra man, and it will be likely be hard for him to find power-play success against the Capitals.
Craig Smith, NAS at CHI ($17): The Blackhawks may have given up a fair amount of shots, but they only gave up 2.59 goals per game. Smith only took 155 shots on goal in 78 games, and he also only notched three power-play points. Chicago had the 24th-ranked penalty kill this season, but Smith isn’t the guy to take advantage of that given his lack of power-play prowess. Considering he averaged 4.2 fantasy points per game this year, Smith’s upside is quite limited.
Matt Niskanen, WAS vs. TOR ($17): Niskanen isn’t as offensive-minded as Kevin Shattenkirk or John Carlson, but he did manage to average 5.9 fantasy points during the regular season. He tallied 39 points in 78 games and put 154 shots on goal. However, Niskanen also blocked 93 shots. The Maple Leafs attempted 60.5 shots per 60 minutes, which was third most in the NHL. Washington didn’t block a lot of shots this season as a whole, but Niskanen has the potential to get in front of a few pucks.
Brent Seabrook, CHI vs. NAS ($17): Seabrook started 36.4 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone, a high number for a defenseman, and the most of any of Chicago’s regular blueliners. He also played 2:42 per game on the power play, notching 14 points in that time. The Predators had the 15th-ranked penalty kill, but after the All-Star break, that rank dropped down to 20th. On top of that, Seabrook blocked 147 shots in 79 games, and Nashville finished eighth in shot attempts per 60 minutes (58.6), which could provide Seabrook with some shot-blocking opportunities.
DEFENSEMEN TO AVOID
P.K. Subban, NAS at CHI ($21): Subban had a fine year, but it wasn’t up to his usual standards. He averaged 6.5 fantasy points per game and only took 142 shots on goal in 66 games. Since the beginning of March, he only has 27 shots on goal in 19 contests. The Blackhawks have allowed 2.59 goals per game, and their netminders have a collective .918 save percentage. It seems unlikely that a road playoff game in Chicago will be the one where Subban breaks out.
Dougie Hamilton, CGY at ANA ($19): Over his last eight games, Hamilton only has two points, and he doesn’t have a power-play point in his last 14 contests. The Ducks have the fourth-ranked penalty kill, and they were also third in team GAA (2.40). Anaheim was even better with Gibson in net, as he had a 2.22 GAA. Additionally, at home, the Ducks’ team GAA dropped even further to 2.00.
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