We head into a very strange part of the schedule that is a little more spread out than usual. First there is a big Saturday with three afternoon games and eight night contests.

Note: The focus is on tonight.

Goalie

This could be a wild slate! Let’s roll!

Brian Elliott ($8,300) – The numbers are too good to pass up. His 1.59 GAA and .943 save percentage over his last nine decisions make him an easy start (6-3 record). Plus, he is facing Carolina which is one of those bottom five teams that create happy times whenever a DFS hockey players just thinks about it. All kidding aside, Elliott is one of those very good goaltenders for fantasy hockey, period. The postseason does not matter now. All that matters is today. Roll the bones!

Jonathan Quick ($7,800) – Every goalie has rough stretches and Quick is in a whopper of one right now as he has had a .900 or above save percentage just twice in his last ten games. Everyone knows that. What everyone does not know is that when you do not face a lot of shots, all it takes is a few defensive breakdowns that you can do little over and down goes your save percentage. This is a very risky play (look for Martin Jones in case) but Winnipeg is struggling a bit. Turning toward LA could work.

Others to consider: Henrik Lundqvist ($8,500), Antti Niemi ($7,000). — We even thought Braden Holtby as a real late reach simply because but keep in mind he has appeared in 23 straight games. Tonight would make 24.

Center

Nicklas Backstrom ($6,000) – Value is the word of the day as we have lots to like on this Saturday slate but Backstrom has 40 points in 40 games, including five goals in his last ten. He even gets goals credited to him later which made a difference the other night in a GPP played. Washington may be tired but with every point counting and a lighter schedule ahead, they will focus heavily on performing well against Detroit. Backstrom and Ovechkin have been magic lately.

Alex Galchenyuk ($3,900) – This is where going a little off the grid pays off. Galchenyuk has nine points in his last ten games and usually Pittsburgh-Montreal games are pretty high scoring. It is where rolling on instinct pays off and at the very least a pick like this can help you afford higher priced talent down the line. Think point per dollar production here and more power play time. That should guide your decision. The center really caused Pittsburgh fits the last time out.

Melker Karlsson ($3,300) – Here has been a nice find in the last week to ten days that is now just starting to gain value. Karlsson has five goals in his last nine contests on just 15 shots. That is a crazy shooting percentage. When Joe Thornton is fully 100%, expect the production to tail off but at the least, he is worth gambling on tonight if you are low on available salary. That even strength top line time is huge as they say and good to one’s bottom line.

Others I like: Sidney Crosby ($8,700), Joe Pavelski ($7,800), Derek Stepan ($5,800).

Value: J.T. Miller ($2,500), Jay Beagle ($2,500).

Winger

Max Pacioretty ($7,200) – Expect high ownership rates on Ovechkin tonight so maybe stay away and drop down a little for Pacioretty who is a great idea against the Penguins, who again often struggle playing defensively sound against the Canadiens. Yes the 11 points in his last ten are great but some are concerned with that paltry power play production. If he hits the net four or five times a night and gets you an assist or goal, do you really care? He had two points his last game against Pittsburgh and could have had more.

Nick Foligno ($6,700) – Both the Islanders and Blue Jackets come off a back to back which means playing Foligno and Ryan Johansen also is pretty smart. The right winger has 12 points in his last ten games and has been dishing out the hits a bit more of late which helps his overall game. There should be more room for him to shoot in this tilt as the Islanders looked quite sloppy. Then again, so did the Blue Jackets. Expect some scoring in this one.

Steve Downie ($3,200) – This may be a bit off the reservation but Downie does have seven points in his last seven. He shoots the puck just often enough and blocks a few shots now and then. Lately, he has been playing with Sidney Crosby and when he stays out of the penalty box, Downie is quite an asset. The player does possess top six skills. Pittsburgh was very disappointed the last time they played Montreal. Downie needs to play more of a physical role to get his linemates on track.

Others I like: Alex Steen ($8,600), Patrick Marleau ($5,000), Jiri Hudler ($5,000). — Hudler keeps clicking with Johnny Gaudreau so you know what to do.

Value: Dale Weise ($2,500), Beau Bennett ($2,500) — Bennett provides incredible value here.

Defence

Kris Letang ($5,200) – Defense never rests here and Letang’s value is again a big reason for his play tonight as much as anything. Letang plays a ton of ice time and has been a bit snake bitten in his last four or five games. That could end tonight as Saturdays were apparently meant for goal scoring in Canada. All kidding aside, it is hard to keep good players down and eventually Letang is going to find a way. That night is more likely to be tonight.

Mike Green ($5,000) – If you want to go a hair cheap and pick up some easy assists then Green is your man. Ten assists in the last ten games along with more blocked shots and shots on goal lately. There may be better plays that are more expensive but not many right now. Ride this run while you can particularly in cash games and some GPP’s. Either way, Detroit is also a bit beaten up and that may ease your questions a little bit also.

Others I like: Kevin Shattenkirk ($6,800), Andrei Markov ($3,900) — Also watch for Alex Edler tonight.

Value: Ryan Murphy ($2,700), Danny DeKeyser ($2,500).

Thanks for reading guys and hopefully the picks help you out. If you have any questions, fire them away at me on twitter @ChrisWasselTHW and i’ll do my best to answer them.

Good luck today!