By Andrew Fiorentino
The postseason is a time of uncertainty when skill and luck and motivation interweave in small samples, creating winners and losers who will be remembered for all time. Well, the winners get remembered, anyway. The losers get to go home and plan their family trips to Disneyland, not to be confused with the triumphant “I’m going to Disneyland!” of the champions. No, if you lose now, all you’ll have is the precious refuge of the sports bar at Downtown Disney (I’m guessing they have one of those), where you can escape your responsibilities and watch the remaining teams duke it out for the Cup. So you should probably just go ahead and win if you can.
Actually, “you should probably just go ahead and win if you can” is pretty good advice in all areas of life, including Yahoo! Daily Fantasy Hockey. Let’s try to follow it for Tuesday’s three-game slate.
Henrik Lundqvist, NYR vs. MON ($30): Maybe I’m just looking at this through Rangers-fan-tinted glasses, but King Henrik didn’t come this far just to see his Stanley Cup dreams die in the fourth game of the playoffs — a home game, to boot. After a Game 1 road shutout, he proceeded to give up seven goals en route to a pair of losses, but Lundqvist is a battle-tested playoff goalie who won’t be demoralized by that. Despite his tough regular season, when the chips are down, I trust him to come through and produce a hell of a lot more than I trust any given Rangers skater to do the same. If the Rangers go down 3-1, it’ll probably be the offense’s fault (and perhaps the defense’s), but Lundqvist is a good bet to turn in solid stats. Montreal’s offense also just isn’t all that good — if the Blueshirts can just keep their top line in check, they’ll be in a good place.
GOALIE TO AVOID
Marc-Andre Fleury, PIT at CLM ($33): Fleury’s situation is a near opposite to Lundqvist’s — he’s up 3-0 heading into this road Game 4 against Columbus. The second-most-expensive goalie on the slate, Fleury has a .945 save mark through the first three games of this series, but the league’s sixth-best offense has to bust out at some point. With the Jackets fighting for their lives, this isn’t the best time to assume Fleury will keep his hot streak going, especially coming off a career-worst campaign.
Jake Guentzel, PIT at CLM ($19): Even though I don’t necessarily like the Pens to win this game, there’s a place for Guentzel. With four goals and an assist over the course of the series thus far, including a Game 3 hat trick, he’s loving life on the top line with Sidney Crosby, skating major minutes and contributing in all categories (including blocking at least one shot in six straight games going back to the regular season). As you might expect based on the outcomes of this series’ first three games, opposing goalie Sergei Bobrovskyhas looked anything but Vezina-worthy despite his sterling regular-season stats.
CENTER TO AVOID
Leon Draisaitl, EDM at SAN ($25): The fourth-most-expensive center on the board — trailing three superstars in Crosby, Connor McDavid and Evgeni Malkin, and tied with Joe Pavelski — Draisaitl has been an absolute disaster in his first taste of the playoffs. His team’s leading the series 2-1, but you wouldn’t know it from the vanishing act the German winger has pulled following a 77-point regular season. He has no points and just a single shot on goal despite having spent close to 10 minutes on the ice with the man advantage; his hits (12 in the series) don’t count for our purposes. We all know Draisaitl’s explosive upside, but there’s no need to gamble on him at such a high price.
Cam Atkinson, CLM vs. PIT ($24): You’ll have to pay up to secure his services, but Atkinson’s in a good spot to produce Tuesday. Desperation is on his side with the Jackets’ backs to the wall, and he’s coming off a two-goal effort in Game 3, not to mention a 35-goal regular season. Fleury shouldn’t scare you away, and the Penguins tend to give up a lot of shots on goal, so this is a good spot for him to continue producing.
Alexander Radulov, MON vs. NYR ($18): Yes, I believe in Lundqvist, but Radulov has absolutely terrorized the Rangers over the last two games (five points), and if the Canadiens get anything done on offense Tuesday, his line will likely be responsible. This price is just too appealing to ignore for such a talented top-liner.
WINGS TO AVOID
Mats Zuccarello, NYR vs. MON ($21): I love Zucc. Terrific playmaker, fun to watch, infectious grin — what’s not to love? But we need to look at some hard evidence here. Exhibit 1: Zuccarello has a mere 25 points in 51 career playoff games, including a lonely goal in three games during this series. Exhibit 2: in 17 career regular-season games against Montreal (mostly with Carey Price in net), he has just one goal and six points. The Rangers have to count on him and hope he turns things around, but DFS players can just look for better value elsewhere.
Patrick Maroon, EDM at SAN ($19): Are you really going to spend more of your budget on this guy than on a legitimately talented winger like Radulov? Of course not; you’re a reasonable person, I’m sure. Maroon’s last point was an assist on April Fools’ Day — that was more than two weeks ago now — and the magic of playing alongside Connor McDavidonly manifests itself in fits and starts. McDavid’s presence gives Maroon instant upside, but you can’t ignore the downside, as he’s basically a jumped-up enforcer.
Shea Weber, MON at NYR ($25): There’s no money-back guarantee here, but Weber is about as good a bet as any blueliner on Tuesday’s slate to both hit the scoresheet and contribute in other areas. He’s got two points in the first three games of this series, but Weber’s point production is always juiced up by the floor he generates with shots (11) and blocks (10). With the Rangers desperately trying to claw out a win in this one, he should have plenty of opportunities to rack up both.
Seth Jones, CLM vs. PIT ($18): With Zach Werenski (face) done for the playoffs, Jones is by far the most prominent producer left standing on the Columbus blue line. He’s exceeded 26 minutes in each of the first three games of this series, and it’s more than likely that he’ll do so again in this one, with the Jackets counting on him to help them skirt elimination on home ice. A well-rounded fantasy performer, he’s good for shots and blocks as well as points.
DEFENSEMEN TO AVOID
Brent Burns, SAN vs. EDM ($36): Who has a huge beard and no playoff points? This guy. Burns has gone unrewarded for 13 shots, and while he’s an excellent bet to bounce back, that bet will cost you dearly. As in, $1 more than Crosby or McDavid, and $11 more than the next-most-expensive blueliner. As mentioned, there aren’t a lot of sure things on the blue line, so the extremes of pricing are understandable, but this is a lot of eggs to put in one basket.
Justin Schultz, PIT at CLM ($25): With all due respect to the 26-year-old Schultz, I know Kris Letang (okay, well, I’ve watched him on television), and Schultz is no Kris Letang. He’s managed just a lonely assist with a minus-1 rating and seven shots in three games against Columbus, and while you can count on Schultz for some shots and blocks, you can buy those cheaper. Schultz’s extensive power-play time is well and good, but it’s the Penguins’ forwards who have been carrying the offense.
MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY: