With only four weeks left in the regular season, we’re finally starting to get a better idea of the playoff picture in the NHL. While the playoff puzzle may be slowly coming together, there are still plenty of battles for both home-ice advantage and, in some cases, a playoff berth. It’s a very busy night in the NHL this evening, with 22 teams lacing up their skates; here are my top fantasy picks.
Marc-Andre Fleury – Pittsburgh Penguins – $8,800 – The Penguins may not be rolling along quite as easily as we’ve grown accustomed to, but it certainly hasn’t been due to the play of Fleury in net. Since the All-Star break, Fleury owns an 8-5-2 record with a ridiculous 1.72 GAA and .935 SV%. Tonight, he’ll take on an Edmonton Oilers team that has dropped five straight games and who he posted a 22 save shutout against in their only other meeting this season. Fleury has owned teams from the Western Conference this season, going 10-3-3 with a 1.47 GAA and .947 SV% (with 6 shutouts), and there’s no reason to believe that he’ll have any problems this evening.
Other Options: Carey Price, Jimmy Howard, Corey Crawford
Pavel Datsyuk – Detroit Red Wings – $5,900 – The Magician was at work on Monday night; scoring a goal and adding an assist against the Edmonton Oilers. Over his last 12 games, Datsyuk has racked up eight goals and added nine assists while averaging 20 minutes of ice-time per game. Datsyuk’s offensive creativity has helped vault Detroit to owning the league’s #1 power-play this season, where he should have plenty of scoring opportunities tonight against Columbus’ 25th ranked penalty kill. Columbus has allowed the 4th most goals against per game in the NHL since the All-Star break (3.19 GA/G), making Datsyuk’s $5,900 price-tag look like quite the bargain.
Craig Smith – Nashville Predators – $5,200 – For reasons unknown to me, Craig Smith habitually seems to fly under the DFS radar. Over his last 13 games he’s scored seven goals, added five assists, and fired 3.62 shots on goal per game. He plays alongside Mike Ribeiro and Filip Forsberg on the Predator’s top scoring line and logs a healthy dose of playing time on the wing of the team’s second power-play unit. San Jose owns an ugly 75.5% penalty kill since the All-Star break, and Smith lit the lamp twice in Nashville’s 5-1 beat down of the sharks last month last month.
Other Options: Henrik Zetterberg, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, David Desharnais, Jori Lehtera, Jonathan Toews, Anze Kopitar
Vladimir Tarasenko – St. Louis Blues – $8,000 – With back-to-back multi-point games, I’m finding it very tough to fade Tarasenko tonight, when the Blues host the Philadelphia Flyers at the Scottrade Center. Tarasenko is riding a four game point streak and has been a machine on home ice; posting 18 goals and 19 assists (and a +21) in 33 home games. He’s a destructive weapon on the wing of the team’s top power-play unit and should thrive against this abysmal Philadelphia penalty kill. These two teams are trending in opposite directions right now, and the Blues should be highly motivated tonight, as they’re finally within striking distance of the Nashville Predators for first place in the Central Division.
Gabriel Landeskog – Colorado Avalanche – $7,400 – Landeskog has had a rather disappointing start to the 2014-15 campaign, but he’s now making up for lost time in a hurry. He’s only been held off the score-sheet twice over his last 13 games and has racked up nine goals and seven assists during that time frame. He’ll welcome the New Jersey Devils to the Pepsi Center tonight, where he’s been far more productive this season; netting 11 goals and adding 17 assists in 34 home games. He picked up an assist against the Devils in their only previous meeting this season and is well worth consideration tonight for both cash games and GPP’s.
Other Options: Max Pacioretty, Eric Staal, Marian Hossa, Alex Steen, Chris Kunitz, Tomas Tatar, Ryan O’Reilly, Filip Forsberg, T.J. Oshie
Duncan Keith – Chicago Blackhawks – $4,900 – While the Buffalo Sabres may garner most of the attention as the NHL’s worst team, it’s been the Arizona Coyotes who sport the league’s worst goal differential (-1.43 goals per game) since the All-Star break. Keith has had a disappointing season by his standards, but is still consistently logging 25+ minutes of ice-time for the Blackhawks and is a staple on the point of the team’s top power-play unit. The Coyotes enter tonight’s game having dropped 12 of their last 13 games and sport an ugly 78.4% penalty kill, so enjoy the Keith’s discounted price tonight.
Tyson Barrie – Colorado Avalanche – $5,200 – Barrie lit the lamp against the Kings on Tuesday and has now picked up four goals and eight assists over the last nine games. Erik Johnson’s injury has forced Patrick Roy to trot him out there as often as possible, and Barrie has made a rather seamless transition onto the Av’s top power-play unit. The New Jersey Devils are allowing 3.13 goals against per game on the road this season and have struggled mightily on the penalty kill. While his rising price-tag is starting to soak up some of his value, it’s impossible to ignore his recent production.
Other Options: Kris Letang, Justin Faulk, Alex Pietrangelo, Niklas Kronwall, P. K. Subban, Brent Seabrook, Marek Zidlicky
Best of luck tonight!
JMBWngFn (@JBritt2 on Twitter)