Saturday's three-game NHL slate features a pair of potential elimination games as well as a pivotal Game 5 contest in Anaheim. While Penguins and Blues players have been the more effective fantasy commodities in leading their teams to series leads, it should be noted that the Rangers came back from this exact series deficit against the a Penguins in 2014, while the Blackhawks haven't lost a series to a Central Division team since the league realigned prior to the 2014 season. Balancing those factors reveals the players below as the ones most likely to deliver value or disappoint Saturday.
Frederik Andersen, ANH vs. NSH ($34): Andersen has been tremendous since being called upon to replace John Gibson in net after Game 2, holding the Predators to one goal on 57 shots in two subsequent starts. It's hard to imagine the Dane playing any better, but he was markedly more effective at home in the regular season with a 1.90 GAA compared to a 2.61 mark on the road. Considering all the factors working in his favor, Andersen makes for a tremendous investment at $34.
Goalie to Avoid:
Pekka Rinne, NSH at ANH ($31): Rinne's hot start to the postseason seems like a distant memory, as the Finnish netminder has managed a total of just 5.5 fantasy points in consecutive defeats. The Ducks are just too hot right now, and Rinne's poor regular season road splits provide all the more reason to avoid him.
Evgeni Malkin, PIT vs. NYR ($28): Malkin has been a major force since returning from an extended injury-related absence, registering at least a point in each of his three appearances for a total of two goals and four assists. The depleted Rangers simply aren't deep enough on defense to contain three separate Pittsburgh scoring lines with Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel and Malkin separated, while New York's 26th-ranked penalty kill has no answer for the three of them together on the power play. He's been getting better with every game back, so don't let the Russian's high price tag deter you from getting one of the world's most gifted scorers in your lineup while he's hot.
Center to Avoid:
Derek Stepan, NYR at PIT ($24): Stepan had been firing on all cylinders with 26.0 fantasy points in less than six periods when he took a cheap shot from Ben Lovejoy in the third period of Game 2. He has just 11.0 fantasy points since taking that hit from behind, and it wouldn't be surprising to find out his decline in production is injury-related.
Chris Kreider, NYR at PIT ($18): The Rangers have scored one goal total in their last four home playoff contests, which is why it's a good thing that they're on the road for this pivotal elimination game. Kreider opened the scoring in Game 5 of New York's 2014 comeback from a 3-1 series deficit against the Penguins, and he will need to play a big role once again if history is to repeat itself. Pittsburgh has kept the speedy power forward fairly contained thus far, but his 19 goals in 64 career playoff goals prove the Boston College product is more than capable of returning value on his $18 price.
Jaden Schwartz, STL at CHI ($19): If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Schwartz has lit the lamp in three straight, and gotten on the scoresheet in four straight. Keep riding the young winger, as his ice time has risen in each of the last three contests while his price remains miniscule for a player delivering this level of consistent production
Wings to Avoid:
Carl Hagelin, PIT vs. NYR ($17): Hagelin has been a non-factor this series, totalling just 3.0 fantasy points in four games. New York's fast defensive corps has successfully neutralized the speedy winger's primary asset, and he lacks the hands and skill to succeed otherwise.
Jakob Silfverberg, ANH vs. NSH ($21): Silfverberg has failed to rekindle the magic of his 2015 postseason, registering just two assists for an average of 5.0 fantasy points per game so far against the Predators. At this point, he just isn't demonstrating the scoring ability expected of a $21 forward.
Duncan Keith, CHI vs. STL ($23): Keith continues to impress since returning from suspension, averaging 13.3 fantasy points per game in four appearances. The all-around blueliner has contributed three goals, a plus-5 rating, and 16 shots on goal over that span, so he can be relied upon to contribute even without necessarily getting on the scoresheet. With Chicago's back against the wall, he'll surely see a tremendous amount of playing time again, too.
Alex Pietrangelo, STL at CHI ($24): With five assists and 51.0 fantasy points in five games, Pietrangelo has been delivering consistently for both owners and the Blues this postseason. He's not the flashiest pick, but the talented blueliner is skilled enough in all phases of the game to provide a high likelihood of outplaying his price tag. The Blues coaching staff must think so too considering Pietrangelo has yet to play less than 26:52 in a game this series.
Defenseman to Avoid:
Sami Vatanen, ANH vs. NSH ($19): Even with the Ducks dominating, Vatanen only totalled 15.0 fantasy points in Games 3 and 4 combined. If those performances represent the extent of his upside, the Finnish defenseman isn't worth a $19 commitment.
Get a FREE RotoWire 10-day trial (no credit card required) at RotoWire.com