By Chris Morgan
There’s no NBA action Friday, but you hoops fans out there still have some hockey available for your enjoyment – and to get your DFS fix. The NHL has three games on the schedule, and here are the players worth targeting and avoiding to kick off the weekend on Yahoo Daily Fantasy Hockey.
Sergei Bobrovsky, CLM vs. PIT ($27): The Penguins have been outstanding at home, but they’re a middling 12-10-4 on the road; meanwhile, the Jackets are 20-8-1 in their home arena. Additionally, Pittsburgh will be on the second night of a back-to-back, which tends to have a negative impact on a team’s play. Bobrovsky hasn’t been as insanely good as he was earlier in the season, but he still has a stellar 2.19 GAA and .925 save percentage. He’s the second-cheapest goalie projected to start Friday (only Colorado’s Jeremy Smith is cheaper), meaning that if he picks up the win, he’ll be a tremendous steal.
GOALIE TO AVOID
Roberto Luongo, FLA at ANA ($29): Luongo has been slumping mightily over the last couple of weeks. In his last eight games, he’s put up a 4.19 GAA and .885 save percentage. Meanwhile, Luongo’s skaters haven’t given him much goal support, as they’ve only scored 2.49 goals per game. The Ducks, on the other hand, have only allowed 2.50 goals per contest. If Luongo keeps playing like he has been, the odds of him picking up a win are slim.
Matt Duchene, COL at CAR ($14): Colorado’s offense is woeful, but Duchene has a much better track record than many of his teammates. After all, he scored 30 goals just one season ago, and he’s notched at least 200 shots in his last three campaigns. He’s off that scoring pace this year, as he has 15 goals on 116 shots in 50 games. Duchene has started 31.6 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone, which is the sixth-most on the Avalanche. Carolina’s Cam Ward got off to a hot start, but his save percentage is down to .905 and he’s allowed at least four goals six times in his last nine starts. Getting a player like Duchene this cheap, especially in a matchup like this, certainly is intriguing.
CENTER TO AVOID
Jonathan Marchessault, FLA at ANA ($17): This is going to be a tough one for the Panthers, as Anaheim’s John Gibson has a 2.30 GAA and a .921 save percentage, while the Ducks have only allowed 29.4 shots on net per game. Marchessault has been a pleasant surprise, but he’s averaged 6.4 fantasy points per game, which falls short of spectacular. He also hasn’t registered a multi-point game in his last 19 contests. On top of that, 11 of Marchessault’s 33 points have come on the power play, and the Ducks have the seventh-ranked penalty kill.
Corey Perry, ANA vs. FLA ($20): Perry’s bad luck is well-established at this point. While he’s now 58 games into his season, the fact that he has a career 13.2 shooting percentage in comparison to his 7.0 shooting percentage this year makes it easy to believe that eventually his puck luck will turn around. The Ducks are still putting him in favorable situations, as he’s started 35.8 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone, and he’s averaged 3:04 with the extra man. Sure, Florida has the fourth-ranked penalty kill, but with Luongo’s recent struggles, there’s still reason to believe in Perry.
Sebastian Aho, CAR vs. COL ($16): It’s a little surprising it has taken this long for a Hurricane to make this article, considering they’re facing the lowly Avalanche, who have allowed more goals per game than any team in the NHL. Colorado will also be playing the second of back-to-back games, which could mean 27-year-old rookie Jeremy Smith will be in goal. Aho has been impressive recently, as he’s notched nine points and 29 shots on net in his last 10 games. There’s no reason to expect Colorado will be the team that slows Aho down.
WINGS TO AVOID
Brandon Saad, CLM vs. PIT ($22): Yes, the Penguins will be playing their second game in as many nights, but they did decide to save Matt Murray for this matchup. Murray currently ranks in the top five in the NHL with a .926 save percentage, which is certainly foreboding. Saad, for his part, has zero goals in his last seven games. Additionally, while Pittsburgh does rank 24th in penalty killing, Saad only has two power-play points, so it doesn’t seem like that’ll help him much.
Josh Archibald, PIT at CLM ($18): Archibald scored two goals in his season debut last weekend, but he’s also only played in three NHL games, and those goals are his only points. In fact, he was actually a scratch Thursday. It seems like a stretch for him to cost $18 already, regardless of the matchup. The fact that the Blue Jackets have only allowed 2.45 goals per game is just another point against the unproven Archibald.
Justin Faulk, CAR vs. COL ($18): As noted previously, the Avs have allowed a league-worst 3.39 goals (not to mention 32.3 shots) per game. Faulk, meanwhile, has registered 140 shots on net in 46 games, notching 11 goals in the process. He has a point in four of his last five games, and he’s the main blue-line offensive weapon for Carolina by a wide margin. Faulk has averaged a healthy 6.2 fantasy points per game, and he should at least match be able to that against the woeful Avalanche.
Aaron Ekblad, FLA at ANA ($14): This is as much about the price tag on Ekblad as anything else. The first overall pick in 2014 has had a rough season by his standards, but the ceiling is still there. The shots are still there as well, as he’s tallied 171 in 55 games. He’s also averaged 22:05 per game with 3:01 on the power play, and he’s started 39.4 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone. For the price you have to pay for Ekblad, there’s little risk in buying into his talent and his propensity for putting the puck on net.
DEFENSEMEN TO AVOID
Keith Yandle, FLA at ANA ($18): Unlike Ekblad, Yandle isn’t priced at bargain-basement level even though he only has three goals on the season. Like Ekblad, he’s been shooting a lot — 128 in 55 games. That’s a healthy number, but it isn’t on Ekblad’s level, so he’s more likely to be hindered by the Ducks, who have done pretty well in terms of shot prevention. Yandle also isn’t as offensively focused as Ekblad, as he’s only started 31.9 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone. It’s not a great matchup for Yandle, and his price is too high to roll the dice.
Ian Cole, PIT at CLM ($17): Kris Letang and Justin Schultz have both been top notch, so it’s hard to bet against them entirely, but Cole is not in the same boat. Cole only has two points in his 11 games, and he hadn’t notched more than one shot on goal in any of those before managing four on Thursday. Columbus has only allowed 2.45 goals per contest, and that solid defense combined with Cole’s lack of power-play time makes him a risky, low-upside way to spend your DFS dollars.
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