By Chris Morgan
There aren’t many days left in the NHL regular season, and there are also not many games on the NHL slate Wednesday (four). It’s a limited player pool, but some options are still better than others, so here are some players to consider — and avoid.
Philipp Grubauer, WAS at COL ($36): Braden Holtby started Tuesday, which means Grubauer gets the gift of taking on the lowly Avalanche. No team in the NHL is worse than Colorado, as the Avalanche have scored fewer (1.96) and allowed more (3.36) goals than any team in the league. Gruabuer also has a 2.10 GAA and a .925 save percentage, making him look like an even better pick Wednesday.
GOALIE TO AVOID
Ben Bishop, LOS at CGY ($33): The Flames aren’t world-beaters offensively, as they’ve only averaged 29.4 shots on net per game, and Los Angeles has allowed a league-low 25.9 shots on net per contest. Bishop, despite his poor .910 save percentage, might not be all that busy. However, the odds of him getting a win also don’t look great, since the Kings will be on the second night of a back-to-back, and they are only 14-18-5 on the road. Meanwhile, the Flames are 7-3-0 in their last 10 games, and 23-15-0 at home.
Evgeny Kuznetsov, WAS at COL ($20): It was noted earlier than the Avalanche have given up a league-high 3.36 goals per game. Colorado has also allowed 31.9 shots on net per contest, and their penalty kill is ranked 29th. Kuznetsov has started 37.8 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone, second most of any Capitals forward, and he’s also notched 12 power-play points.
CENTER TO AVOID
John Hayden, CHI at PIT ($18): You would be forgiven for not recognizing Hayden’s name on sight. He’s a 22-year-old rookie who has played in a mere seven games this season. While he’s notched three points in that time, he’s only averaged 13:02 of ice time — including 22 seconds on the power play. Now he has to go up against Matt Murray, who has a 2.40 GAA and a .923 save percentage, and has quite done enough to trust him in this matchup.
Alexander Steen, STL at ARI ($18): Steen racked up four assists in his last game, but overall in his last 11 contests he’s tallied 10 points. Now he gets to square off with a Coyotes team that has allowed 3.18 goals per game, and also 33.8 shots on net per contest. Both of those rank 29th in the NHL. Their penalty kill ranks a comparatively ugly 24th, which bodes well for Steen, who has tallied 15 power-play points in 69 games. Steen has also blocked 62 shots, which is a lot for a forward.
Andre Burakovsky, WAS at COL ($15): Since returning from an injury, Burakovsky has notched two points and 14 shots on goal in five games. As has been mentioned a couple times previously, the Avalanche have allowed the most goals in the league, and their goalies have a collective .894 save percentage — the worst in the NHL.
WINGS TO AVOID
Johnny Gaudreau, CGY vs. LOS ($21): Gaudreau has had some impressive hot streaks this season, but overall he’s averaged 6.9 fantasy points per game. That’s good, but it’s below the elite level for a forward. Additionally, in his last seven games Gaudreau hasn’t had more than two shots on goal. The Kings have been excellent at preventing shots, as they’ve allowed a league-low 25.9 shots on net per contest. Los Angeles also has the sixth-ranked penalty kill, which limits Gaudreau’s potential with the extra man.
Tanner Pearson, LOS at CGY ($18): The Flames have only allowed 28.6 shots on net per contest, and netminder Brian Elliott has been outstanding recently. In his last 13 games, he’s posted a 1.66 GAA and a .944 save percentage. That doesn’t bode well for Pearson, who only has two points in his last 11, and he will also be on the second night of a back-to-back.
Kevin Shattenkirk, WAS at COL ($20): Since becoming a Capital, Shattenkirk has tallied nine points and 31 shots on goal in 12 games. He’s also been prominently featured on the power play, as he’s averaged 4:03 per game with the extra man, tallying five points. Colorado’s 28th-ranked penalty kill should be no match for Shattenkirk in this one.
Mark Streit, PIT vs. CHI ($16): Speaking of blueliners who got traded this season, Streit has also found quite a bit of power-play success with his new team. Streit has notched five power-play points in 13 games as a Penguin, and the Blackhawks have the 25th-ranked penalty kill. Plus, Streit has started 39.9 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone with Pittsburgh, which is quite high for a defenseman. The Blackhawks have also allowed 2.71 goals and 32.1 shots on net per game in March.
DEFENSEMEN TO AVOID
Justin Schultz, PIT vs. CHI ($25): So why is Streit a player to target, while Schultz is a player to avoid? Well, it comes down to price. Schultz costs $9 more than Streit, and in fact, Schultz is the most expensive defenseman available Wednesday. Schultz also only has two points in his last nine games, both assists.
Jake Muzzin, LOS at CGY ($18): As mentioned earlier, Calgary has only allowed 28.6 shots on net per game, and Elliott has been excellent over his last 13 outings. Muzzin has only averaged 4.9 fantasy points per game, and it’s unlikely he’ll be able to improve upon that in this difficult matchup. That’s especially true considering this is a road game on the second night of a back-to-back.
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