The race for the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs is nearing the finish line, as the NHL features nine games on the schedule Tuesday. The surging Pittsburgh Penguins have a home game against the Buffalo Sabres and can continue keeping pace with the New York Rangers for second in the Metropolitan Division. The Detroit Red Wings play for a second straight night while trying to get back into playoff position and avoid ending an unprecedented 24-year postseason run when they visit the Montreal Canadiens. Fantasy owners will have a diverse player pool to draw from tonight with contributors from all over the pricing scale. Here is who to target.
Pekka Rinne – NSH vs. DAL – $8,200 – The Nashville Predators began their surge to the top of the Western Conference Wild Card standings shortly after the All-Star break and have been clicking offensively as well as receiving quality goaltending by Rinne. The veteran goalie is 13-2-3 with a 2.15 goals-against average since Feb. 6 and comes into the game in Dallas tonight riding a five-game winning streak. Although the playoff-bound Stars have the lead in the Western Conference to protect, the urgency related to the Preds should be enough to make Rinne a good choice.
Martin Jones – SJS vs. VAN – $7,300 – The San Jose Sharks can still catch either the Los Angeles Kings or Anaheim Ducks for tops in the Pacific Division, so owners shouldn’t hesitate selecting Jones if he gets the start at the Vancouver Canucks. Jones remains a bargain pick in DraftKings contests despite 36 wins, a 2.25 GAA and five shutouts in his first season as an NHL starting goalie. Jones was victorious in two career starts against Vancouver, including a 3-2 win at the Canucks on March 3rd.
Others to Consider: Brian Elliott ($8,500), Roberto Luongo ($8,300), Petr Mrazek ($8,000), Scott Wedgewood ($7,100)
Kris Letang – PIT vs. BUF– $7,000 – Always a cornerstone of any effective fantasy lineup, Letang could help put your team over the edge against the Sabres. The veteran defender has 9 points (4 goals, 5 assists) with 16 blocked shots and 31 shots on goal in the past 11 games and has been dependable at home this season with 31 points (five goals, 26 assists) in 32 games. Letang had three assists and five SOG in a 4-3 win at Buffalo on February 21st.
Aaron Ekblad – FLA vs. TOR – $4,800 – Owners usually need a handful of players in the $5,000 range to come through in order to have a successful night, and Ekblad should help against the lowly Toronto Maple Leafs. The Florida Panthers top defender at regular strength and the power play, Ekblad leads all Florida defensemen with 14 goals, 29 points and 162 SOG through 71 games this season. The last-place Maple Leafs have given up 2.93 goals per game this season, and so, any fair-priced player from the Panthers has a good chance at providing tremendous return on investment tonight.
Others to Consider: Kevin Shattenkirk ($6,800), Duncan Keith ($6,000), Johnny Boychuk ($5,500), Ryan Ellis ($4,200), Brian Campbell ($4,000)
Patrice Bergeron, C – BOS vs. NJD – $7,300 – The Boston Bruins are part of a four-team battle for three available playoff spots, and the margin for error is thin at the New Jersey Devils. If the Bruins are going to take care of business tonight, then Bergeron is likely to be a key contributor. The veteran center has 27 points (11 goals, 16 assists) and 95 SOG in 35 career games against New Jersey.
Vladimir Tarasenko, RW – STL vs. COL – $7,300 – If owners don’t spend so high for a top center, then they should have no problem fitting Tarasenko into the budget as their lead winger. The young forward can top his career high of 37 goals achieved just last season and has already improved upon his SOG production with 268 through 74 games this season. The sky is the limit for the young Russian, and he remains an affordable fantasy favorite on any given night. Tarasenko has done well against the Colorado Avalanche with 11 points (6 goals, 5 assists) and 44 SOG in 14 career games.
Others to Consider: John Tavares ($7,500), Phil Kessel ($6,700), Artemi Panarin ($6,300), Logan Couture ($5,700), Justin Abdelkader ($4,900), Brock Nelson ($4,000)