By Chris Morgan
It’s a light load Wednesday, as there are a mere two games on the NHL slate. However, as the days left in the regular season dwindle, why not try and make the most of it anyway? Here are some players to target and avoid for Wednesday’s diminutive docket.
Carey Price, MON at BUF ($39): Sure, Price is the most expensive netminder Wednesday, but with only four goalies in action, there aren’t many to choose from. Why not go with the outstanding goalie with the relatively easy matchup? Montreal has won five in a row, while Buffalo has lost three straight. The Sabres have also only scored 2.47 goals per contest. They aren’t likely to concern Price, who has a 1.57 GAA and .942 save percentage since the beginning of March.
GOALIE TO AVOID
Robin Lehner, BUF vs. MON ($30): On the flip side, Lehner has a .920 save percentage, which is good. He also has a 2.70 GAA, which is bad. The reason for that poor GAA? Buffalo has allowed a league-high 34.3 shots on net per game. Montreal has been middle-of-the-road offensively (2.75 goals per game), but the Canadiens seem likely to win this game, and that would severely limit Lehner’s fantasy potential.
Alex Galchenyuk, MON at BUF ($19): As was just noted, the Sabres have allowed 34.3 shots on net per game, and their expected starter has a 2.70 GAA. Buffalo hasn’t been much better on the penalty kill, as the team ranks 26th in that regard. Galchenyuk has tallied 43 points in 58 games, including 15 on the power play.
CENTER TO AVOID
Mika Zibanejad, NYR at WAS ($18): The Capitals will be on the second night of a back-to-back, but they have also saved Braden Holtby for this game. That would be the same Holtby who has a 2.11 GAA and a .924 save percentage on the season. Overall, Washington has allowed a league-low 2.22 goals per game, and the Capitals have also only given up 28.0 shots on net per contest.
Alexander Radulov, MON at BUF ($19): Radulov has averaged 2:49 per game on the power play, notching 16 points with the extra man in that time. His power-play success is encouraging heading into a matchup with the 26th-ranked penalty kill of the Sabres. Radulov is also currently enjoying a four-game point streak.
Andre Burakovsky, WAS vs. NYR ($16): Since returning from an injury, Burakovsky has six points and 24 shots on goal in nine games. That’s a decided increase in production. Perhaps we shouldn’t be that surprised, though, because Burakovsky has started 36.8 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone, which is third most on the Capitals. On top of that, Henrik Lundqvist has been really struggling for the Rangers recently. In his last four starts, he’s posted a woeful 3.92 GAA and .873 save percentage.
WINGS TO AVOID
Evander Kane, BUF vs. MON ($21): Price, as previously mentioned, has been outstanding since the beginning of March. Overall, he has a 2.20 GAA and a .924 save percentage, and it’s not like Price doesn’t have a track record of success. Kane is having a good season, but he’s facing quite the difficult matchup Wednesday.
Chris Kreider, NYR at WAS ($21): Kreider has taken only 20 shots on goal in his last 11 games, including five separate outings with none. Now he’s facing a Washington team that has only allowed 2.22 goals and 28.0 shots on net per contest. Washington also has the seventh-ranked penalty kill, so the Capitals will make things hard for Kreider when New York has the extra man as well.
Rasmus Ristolainen, BUF vs. MON ($21): This may not seem like a great matchup, but Ristolainen is almost matchup-proof. He’s averaged an impressive 7.0 fantasy points per game, and 26:37 of ice time, including 3:17 with the extra man. He’s also tallied 180 shots on goal and 158 blocked shots in 76 games. That last number is the most encouraging heading into this matchup, as Montreal has attempted 60.0 shots per 60 minutes, fourth most in the NHL.
Jeff Petry, MON at BUF ($13): Ristolainen is on the pricier side, so here’s a chance to save a little cash on the blue line. Petry has cooled down as the season has gone on, but overall he’s averaged 5.9 fantasy points per game. He’s put 165 shots on net in 77 games, and he’s blocked 143 shots as well. In his last four games, Petry has tallied 11 shots on goal. Now he’s facing a Sabres team that has allowed more shots on net than anybody. At this price, it won’t take much for Petry to turn into a nice value play.
DEFENSEMEN TO AVOID
Nathan Beaulieu, MON at BUF ($16): There are no Buffalo defensemen other than Ristolainen worth mentioning, so picking one of them for this section is unnecessary. To avoid just going with two Rangers, here’s a Canadien who is questionable at this price. Beaulieu does have 11 power-play points, but he’s only averaged 1:40 per game on the power play. In his last 27 games, he only has one point with the extra man. Beaulieu will cost you the same as Matt Niskanen or his teammate Andrei Markov. In that case, why not just go with one of them?
Brady Skjei, NYR at WAS ($15): With only four teams in action, the defensive options dwindle pretty quickly. Skjei has had a solid season, but his 5.0 fantasy points per game are not terribly impressive. He’s only taken 125 shots on goal in 78 games, and he’s also only blocked 66 shots, which is low for a defenseman. Heading into a matchup with the team that has allowed the fewest goals per game, it’s hard to trust Skjei.
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