The NHL has a full slate with 12 games on the schedule Thursday. Four teams will be on the back end of playing two games in a row including the Toronto Maple Leafs trying to break a three-game losing streak and the Western Conference-leading Chicago Blackhawks right back in action for a second straight road game. A lot of eyes will be on the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight as they try to extend their winning streak to eight in a road game against the recently improving Ottawa Senators. Here are some players to target.
Henrik Lundqvist ($8,700) – While it’s not always necessary to select the most expensive goaltender every night, there is a good reason why players like Lundqvist are priced high. Frugal owners can certainly save a bunch with well-performing bargain picks like the New York Islanders Jaroslav Halak ($7,700) or either of the Anaheim Ducks goalies priced similar to Halak, but the King is always a good play on any given night. Lundqvist is coming off four days of rest including celebrating his 34th birthday with twin brother Joel yesterday and is 8-2-0 with a 1.70 goals-against average in the past 10 games. The Rangers veteran goalie has a four-game winning streak against the Pittsburgh Penguins including three wins in a row to close out their first-round series in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs and a rare shutout at Pittsburgh earlier this season.
Jonathan Quick ($8,400) – Back-to-back road games out west is never easy for an Eastern Conference team and especially for the struggling Montreal Canadiens who should be facing Quick tonight in Los Angeles. The Canadiens won their first five road games this season but have gone 8-17-3 on the road since then. Quick has done well recently despite just 1.8 goals per game by the Kings over the past five games; the veteran goalie is 3-1-1- with a 1.80 GAA in that span. Owners can always go the value pick route but spending good money on Quick against a poor-performing team is rarely a bad thing.
Others to Consider: Roberto Luongo ($8,300), Jaroslav Halak ($7,700), Devan Dubnyk ($7,500), Cam Talbot ($7,100)
Victor Hedman ($6,100) – Owners might want to go with just mid-priced defenders on the busy game night and a contrarian pick like the Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman could pay off big. The Swedish veteran is mired in a six-game pointless streak but the fact that he scored a goal and added two assists when he broke a six-game drought earlier this season in a 3-2 win at the Edmonton
Oilers on Jan. 8 should be reason enough to take Hedman as your top option tonight. Players of Hedman’s talent have to eventually break free from their cold spell and it is certainly possible to happen tonight when Tampa Bay tries to extend its winning streak with Ottawa in town.
Rasmus Ristolainen ($5,800) – The Buffalo Sabres’ top defender solidified his standing as a blue chip blueliner this season leading all team defensemen with eight goals, 27 assists and 153 shots on goal through 64 games. Ristolainen is another contrarian pick due to a four-game stretch without a point but owners’ skepticism should be tempered by the Finnish defenseman’s three goals in a 4-3 loss at the Calgary Flames on Dec. 10. If owners choose to go with Ristolainen at home against Calgary and pair him with a lesser-priced player tonight then they could spend their money on other positions while still getting good production from their defenders.
Others to Consider: Brent Burns ($8,000), Roman Josi ($7,000), Shayne Gostisbehere ($5,800), Aaron Ekblad ($4,800), Travis Hamonic ($4,500)
strong>Patrick Kane ($8,700) – Selecting the NHL leader in points comes at a cost but it’s advisable to go with Kane due to the deep player pool. The Blackhawks have an exciting Original Six matchup at the Boston Bruins tonight and Kane is a great choice no matter the situation. Kane has 12 points (five goals, seven assists) and 33 SOG in the past eight games including a goal and two assists at the Detroit Red Wings last night. There are a myriad of draft strategies to employ on the packed game night but considering Kane has eight points (four goals, four assists) and 33 SOG in 10 career games against Boston should make the All-Star part of any owner’s recipe for success.
Eric Staal ($4,900) – Many critics of the New York Rangers trade with the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday argued that all of Staal’s best moments are behind him and that is probably true. But daily fantasy players know that a change in scenery can temporarily have an impact on a player’s production and they will want to take the elder of the famous Staal brothers at the low price tonight against Pittsburgh. While Staal was a non-factor in his debut with New York against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday, he has been very dependable against the Penguins throughout his career with 46 points (19 goals, 27 assists) and 164 SOG in 46 games.
Others to Consider: Steven Stamkos ($7,200), Wayne Simmonds ($6,900), Evander Kane ($6,400), Kyle Okposo ($5,600), Jaromir Jagr ($5,500), Mikko Koivu ($4,600)