By Chris Morgan
Here are some players to target and to avoid for a combined Wednesday/Thursday playoff slate…
Craig Anderson, OTT vs. PIT ($32): Anderson had a 2.28 GAA and a .926 save percentage in the regular season, and he’s been almost as good in the playoffs. He has the same 2.28 GAA, and his save percentage is a still impressive .920. In this series, he’s only let in one goal in both games. Now the series is moving to Ottawa, where the Senators only gave up 2.32 goals per contest this year.
GOALIE TO AVOID
John Gibson, ANA at NAS ($30): Yes, Gibson is the least-expensive goalie, but he’s really the only choice here. Obviously, Anderson wasn’t going to be the choice and Pekka Rinnehas been the best goalie in the postseason. Marc-Andre Fleury has a 2.32 GAA and a .931 save percentage in the playoffs. That just leaves Gibson, who had a 2.80 GAA and a .911 save percentage heading into Game 3.
Jake Guentzel, PIT at OTT ($22): Guentzel may not have a point yet in this series, but he has 22 points in his last 19 games extending back to the regular season. That includes a whopping 14 goals, nine of which have come in the playoffs. He’s also played 2:01 per game on the power play in the playoffs, and after the All-Star break the Senators had the 27th-ranked penalty kill. With the injuries the Penguins are dealing with, it’s also possible Guentzel’s power-play time will increase.
CENTER TO AVOID
Jean-Gabriel Pageau, OTT vs. PIT ($24): Yes, Pageau has had a fine postseason, including a four-goal game, but it’s surprising to see him as the fourth most expensive center. After all, this is a guy who had 12 goals in 82 regular-season games, and he hasn’t tallied any power-play points in the playoffs. He also started 27.0 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone, the lowest of any Senator. This price seems like a bit of an overreaction to Pageau’s eight even-strength goals in the playoffs.
Mark Stone, OTT vs. PIT ($17): In his last four games, Stone has four points and nine shots on goal. The Penguins allowed 32.6 shots on net during the regular season, third most in the NHL, and that number has climbed to 34.4 in the playoffs. Additionally, Stone has averaged 2:25 on the power play in the postseason.
Colin Wilson, NAS vs. ANA ($12): Wilson only has two points in eight playoff games, but he does have eight shots on goal in this series. Additionally, in his six games before Game 3 he averaged 2:59 on the power play. Wilson is as cheap as any player Wednesday, and his average of 4.4 fantasy points suggests he could be a bargain at this price.
WINGS TO AVOID
Phil Kessel, PIT at OTT ($25): In three of his last five games, Kessel has been held to only one shot on net. As previously noted, Anderson has a 2.28 GAA, and the Senators only allowed 2.32 goals per game at home. Kessel is the most expensive wing Wednesday, and with how low-scoring this series has been, it may be hard for Kessel to pay off at this price point.
Corey Perry, ANA at NAS ($19): Perry scored a goal from a funky angle in Game 3, but in the two games prior he didn’t record a point or shot on net. Additionally, he’s no longer skating alongside Ryan Getzlaf on the top line. Rinne has been outstanding in the playoffs, leading the league in GAA and save percentage, which is also a strike against Perry.
Olli Maatta, PIT at OTT ($16): Maatta has tallied four points in his last nine games, including an assist in Game 2. He’s also a top-pairing defenseman for the Penguins, playing over 20 minutes a night in his last four games. On top of that, with Justin Schultzbanged up, Maatta could end up seeing more power-play time. He also blocked 102 shots in 55 games, so he could add fantasy value on that end.
Cody Ceci, OTT vs. PIT ($14): Speaking of blocked shots, Ceci had 159 of those in 79 games. In the playoffs, he’s added 41 more blocked shots in 14 contests. The Penguins ranked sixth in the NHL in shot attempts per 60 minutes (58.8), so Ceci should have plenty of opportunities to get in front of the puck. That could be enough for him to be a good fantasy value at this price, but he also has seven shots on goal in his last three contests.
DEFENSEMEN TO AVOID
P.K. Subban, NAS vs. ANA ($20): On the plus side, Subban put three shots on goal Tuesday. That’s notable because in his seven previous games he had one shot or fewer in every contest. However, he didn’t get a point in Game 3, and he still only has one goal in the postseason. While Ryan Ellis and Roman Josi have continued their regular-season excellence in the playoffs, Subban just hasn’t been quite able to keep pace with his teammates.
Kevin Bieksa, ANA at NAS ($15): Bieksa started the playoffs hurt, but even now that he’s healthy he hasn’t gotten placed back in the lineup. Bieksa has yet to play, and there is no indication that’s going to change. This is as much a warning not to mistakenly put Bieksa in your lineup as anything else.
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