By Chris Morgan
There are four games Thursday, and two teams are facing elimination. The Blackhawks are trying to avoid getting swept, while the Blue Jackets will try to prolong their series for another game. Here are some players to target and avoid…
Carey Price, MON vs. NYR ($35): In four games against the Rangers, he has a 1.65 GAA and a .942 save percentage. This comes after a regular season where he posted a 2.23 GAA and a .923 save percentage. Now the Habs are back at home, where the Canadiens allowed a scant 2.12 goals per game during the regular season.
GOALIE TO AVOID
Marc-Andre Fleury, PIT vs. CLM ($33): In his last two games, he’s allowed nine goals, and that’s after a regular season that featured a 3.02 GAA and a .909 save percentage. Fleury is only in net because Matt Murray got hurt, and it’s hard to trust to trust him in playoff games when he was the backup all season.
Jake Guentzel, PIT vs. CLM ($20): Guentzel is the embodiment of the joys of playing on a line with Sidney Crosby. In his last three games, he’s tallied six points, including five goals on 13 shots. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised, as in his last 11 regular season games he notched a whopping 16 points. Sergei Bobrovsky has been replicating Fleury’s regular season in miniature, as in this series he’s posted a woeful 3.61 GAA and a .891 save percentage. This comes after he registered a 3.33 GAA and a .875 save percentage in his last four regular-season contests.
CENTER TO AVOID
Connor McDavid, EDM vs. SAN ($35): McDavid has won the Art Ross, and he’s going to win the Hart more than likely, but he’s a long way from winning a Conn Smythe. He has two points in this series while registering exactly two shots on goal in all four games against the Sharks. Perhaps we shouldn’t be too surprised, considering San Jose only allowed 27.7 shots on net per tilt on average this season, which was third fewest in the NHL. McDavid is tied for being the most expensive center with Sidney Crosby, but only one of them has really produced as expected in this postseason thus far.
Filip Forsberg, NAS vs. CHI ($20): Forsberg tallied 31 goals on 234 shots during the regular season, and his bountiful production has continued in the playoffs. He’s tallied a point in all three games, including two goals in Game 3. He’s also put 11 shots on goal, and during the regular season, the Blackhawks ranked in the bottom 10 with 31.4 shots on net allowed per game. The Blackhawks have not impressed during this series, which is why they are on the verge of getting swept, and during the season they gave up 2.83 goals per contest on the road.
Patrick Marleau, SAN at EDM ($17): Let’s not overreact to the fact the Oilers allowed seven goals in Game 4, as a loss is still a loss in the playoffs regardless of the margin. However, Marleau did score a power-play goal and dished out an assist in that game. More notably, he’s averaged a whopping 5:43 on the power play in this series after averaging 3:18 during the regular season. After the All-Star break, the Oilers had the 25th-ranked penalty kill, as well.
WINGS TO AVOID
Artemi Panarin, Chi at NAS ($25): The Blackhawks finally managed to solve Pekka Rinnein Game 3, although Panarin wasn’t a part of that, as he’s still pointless in the series. Nashville gave up 2.46 goals and 28.9 shots on net in home games this year, and in his last 12 games, Rinne has a 1.30 GAA and a .953 save percentage. At this price, and with how this series has gone for Panarin and his teammates, he’s too risky.
Chris Kreider, NYR at MON ($21): The Rangers winger has yet to earn a point, and he only has eight shots on goal in four games. Of course, that latter number doesn’t have anything to do with Price, but it still speaks to the relatively lackluster series Kreider has had. The Canadiens only allowed 2.41 goals and 29.6 shots on net this season, and as previously noted, Price has been particularly impressive in the playoffs after having yet another excellent year.
Jack Johnson, CLM at PIT ($16): With Zack Werenski (face) out, it figured that Johnson would see an uptick in minutes. Indeed, he played 24:26 in ice time in Game 4, but more notably he played 3:09 on the power play — minutes that would have largely gone to Werenski. He also scored a goal and has taken nine shots on net in this series. Additionally, Johnson blocked 134 shots this season, and the Penguins ranked sixth in shot attempts per 60 minutes (58.8). On that front, he has 11 blocked shots in this series.
Ron Hainsey, PIT vs. CLM ($12): If you want a nice bargain option, consider Hainsey. He’s not a big-time point producer traditionally, but he has two points in his last two games while recording seven shots on goal. He’s also blocked nine shots. As previously mentioned, Bobrovsky and the Jackets have really struggled defensively, and Hainsey doesn’t need to do much to be good value at this price.
DEFENSEMEN TO AVOID
Duncan Keith, CHI at NAS ($21): With the way Rinne has played in this series, it seems unlikely that Keith will find much luck on the goal front, as Rinne has only allowed two goals in three games, one of which went into overtime. Also, as previously noted, the Predators only ceded 2.46 goals and 28.9 shots on net per game at home in 2016-17..
Andrei Markov, MON vs. NYR ($18): Markov has yet to register a point in the series. He’s taken six shots on goal in four games for an average of 5.9 fantasy points. Additionally, Markov shouldn’t plan on having more luck at home, since the Rangers actually tied for allowing the fewest goals per game (2.37) on the road this year.
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