This article is part of our FantasyAces NHL series.
Two of the eight games on Tuesday's schedule grab my attention for very different reasons.
I look at the Dallas visit to Montreal as an opportunity to stack the Stars' lineup in my daily picks because they appear to be coming out of a funk with a pair of wins to right their ship and resume their run at the top rung in the very competitive Central Division. They visit a Montreal club that has lost four in a row and looks like a team that can't wait for this dreadful season to end. The potential for a big crooked number on the visitors' side of the scoreboard is high tonight at the Bell Centre.
The Bruins play the second of back-to-back games in their Florida swing with a visit to Tampa, and they have quietly turned the chase for the Atlantic Division race into a three-headed monster. Both teams are playing extremely well of late, combining for a 15-4-1 mark in their last 10 games. Something has to give on a night when these division rivals meet with a lot at stake.
Here are my recommendations for games on March 8, 2016:
C: Sidney Crosby, PIT at NYI ($6,150 ): He's the most expensive center on the board for one reason. Over the past 28 games, he's been playing like the Sidney Crosby who has been a perennial Art Ross candidate, amassing 38 points. Crosby has been the biggest key in pushing the Pens from the fringe of playoff contention, as they now look like a tough out in the upcoming playoffs. It will be a playoff atmosphere in Brooklyn Tuesday night, and that should bring out the best in him. This is about betting on the biggest player in the big game.
C: Jordan Staal, CAR vs. OTT ($4,850): The rangy center is finally out of his brother's shadow with first-line minutes and team leadership now on his shoulders. He's looking comfortable with the added responsibility, including anchoring the top power-play unit as part of his 20-plus minutes of nightly ice time. Staal also gets a nice matchup against an Ottawa club that gives up the most shots per road game in the NHL.
W: Steven Stamkos, TAM vs. BOS ($5,500): That notion of the big player in the important game also applies here, with the added advantage that Stamkos has the home-ice edge and will be able to avoid Patrice Bergeron's unit. He's been very focused and instrumental in the Lightning's surge toward the top of the Atlantic Division and is wielding a hot stick, scoring four goals and two helpers in his last five games.
W: Chris Kunitz, PIT at NYI ($4,650): Even though he's been moved off the Crosby line, Kunitz has landed on an equally imposing unit next to Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel. He's produced an amazing plus-28 rating this season while remaining a scoring threat, explaining in part why he's moved over to help a pair of linemates who are not known for their defensive acumen. Kunitz has four points in his last five games and comes in at an attractive price Tuesday.
W: Calle Jarnkrok, NAS at WPG ($4,000): My roster flexibility Tuesday is made possible because of the underrated opportunities provided by my next two winger choices. I see this price as a nice value play for a guy who will see a regular shift next to Ryan Johansen and James Neal. He's seen a spike in playing time and improved his attack with seven shots on goal and two points in his last three starts. I thinking Jarnkrok is warming up to this assignment.
W: Brett Ritchie, DAL at MON ($3,100): Off the top of this piece, I highlighted the chance to stack the Stars, and Ritchie should definitely be a part of that focus. He gets the plum assignment of working with first-liners Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn against a stunned Montreal team. If he plays almost 16 minutes, as he did in his last start, this should be an excellent value pick.
D: Keith Yandle, NYR at BUF ($4,750): Yandle is an underrated offensive defenseman who gets a good matchup against a Buffalo team that does not match the Rangers' depth and overall quality. Buffalo also played last night, while the Rangers got to rest up for this game. Yandle has quietly gone about his business to retain his ranking as a top-scoring blueliners who does not get the accolades of other players in his class. He's a strong value play tonight.
D: Alex Goligoski, DAL at MON ($4,600): While he has been overshadowed by teammate John Klingberg, the 30-year-old remains a solid offensive defenseman whose game favors the Stars' attack-oriented playing style. He has taken up the slack of late while Klingberg has been injured, producing five points in his last four games while seeing up to 25 minutes of ice time and anchoring the Dallas power play.
G: Kari Lehtonen, DAL at MON ($7,300): This looks like an easy pick, as the deck looks stacked against a bad Montreal team. They simply do not match the Stars' skill players, and their defense probably won't contain the visitors in this one. Lehtonen should have an easy workload along with the best seat in the house to watch this tilt.