We have a relatively small Thursday slate this week, with just seven games, and most of these matchups don't exactly stick out as potential goal fiestas. That's "most," because there's one really intriguing game -- Buffalo at Calgary in a matchup of two teams that are capable of putting up a lot of offense, but don't necessarily play a ton of defense. Some Sabres and Flames should be among the stars of the show in terms of upside for Thursday's Yahoo Daily Fantasy Hockey contests.
Brian Elliott, STL vs. PHI ($30) - It seems like the price tag could be better, but with most of the evening's most promising goalies clustered in the mid-to-high 30s, Elliott sticks out with a few bucks of savings against a Flyers team that is next-to-last in the league in scoring. The Flyers have been a great source of stats for goalies this year, as they've taken the fifth-most shots in the NHL, but have the league's worst shooting percentage. There's some bad puck luck in there that's started shifting the other way a little lately, but they make for an appetizing matchup nonetheless. For his part, Elliott's looked better lately after yielding the starting role to Jake Allen early on; already announced as Thursday's starter, the veteran's coming off a one-goal effort in a shootout loss to the Isles.
Goalie to Avoid:
Ben Bishop, TAM vs. OTT ($38) - It's always a risk going up against big-name guys like Bishop, but he welcomes Ottawa's fifth-ranked offense into Amalie Arena in this one. The Sens' top line tends to put up a lot of crooked numbers, and it's developed further since the last time Bishop saw them (last season). Meanwhile, Tampa's offense still isn't really getting it going. Bishop's not here because I expect him to get bombed, but because he's going to have a tough time coming away with a win, and that makes 38 bucks a scary-big investment.
Jack Eichel, BUF at CGY ($19) - You had to know this name would be here. Eichel's thrived against bad defenses this year, and Calgary's about as bad as it gets. Yeah, he's been a little cool lately, with just four points in his last nine games, but that's depressed his price by a couple bucks, and this game is all about being the first to hit on the hot streaks. Eichel provides just such an opportunity -- it'd be no surprise to see him crack double-digit goals Thursday night. I remain an unabashed fanboy.
Center to Avoid:
Steven Stamkos, TAM vs. OTT ($24) - Oh, man, I'm really asking for it now, aren't I? But there's no denying it -- we have not seen the same Stamkos this season, and the Tampa offense has suffered for it. Stammer hasn't scored a goal since Nov. 21 and as a result has the uncharacteristic line of three assists over his last six games, but this is no mere statistical blip. The guy has taken a total of two -- two shots on goal in the last three games, including zero in Sunday's loss to the Kings. To put that in perspective, Stamkos has averaged 3.22 shots per game over the course of his career and averaged 3.92 last season. Ottawa does sport the worst defense in the division, but Craig Anderson has been running well lately, while Stamkos needs to do more to inspire fantasy players' confidence.
Jiri Hudler, CGY vs. BUF ($15) - Hudler's price bottomed out during his 12-game goal-scoring drought, but he's come out of it with three points in the last two games and represents an attractively cheap way to take advantage of this goal-friendly matchup. It would be nice to see Hudler shoot more, but high volume's never been his game, and he's still seeing a ton of minutes on the power play, often enjoying the company of guys like Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan. You can have all that in a good matchup for a price in the neighborhood of guys like Brian Gionta, Drew Stafford and Dave Dziurzynski. ("Who?" you ask. "Don't worry about it," I answer.)
Jaromir Jagr, FLA vs. WAS ($14) - Yes, he's been mired in a slump lately (two points in the last six games, and we're coming up on three weeks without a goal), but Thursday night provides the perfect opportunity for Jagr to regain top form. Jagr's last multi-point game came Sunday against the Devils; his last goal was Nov. 21 against the Rangers. What do those teams and the Capitals have in common? Well, they're his former employers. At this rock-bottom price, Jagr can let you fit a more elite goalie into your lineup while offering some upside served with a side of vengeance.
Wing to Avoid:
Jakub Voracek, PHI at STL ($18) - The price-to-2014-points ratio here is quite appealing, but Voracek has been anything but "Score-achek" this year, and a road game in St. Louis seems like an unlikely place for that to change. He's still stuck on one goal, and he's only cracked 10 points in Yahoo Daily Fantasy scoring once in the last 10 games. The lone appeal of Voracek has been power-play assists, which account for nine of his 15 points, but the Blues have the second-best penalty kill in the NHL.
T.J. Brodie, CGY vs. BUF ($17) - It's well known that the Flames generate a lot of their offense from the blue line, and Brodie's among their chief catalysts. He also comes at a blissfully low cost thanks to an injury-affected start to the year -- that price doesn't give enough credit to Brodie for his point streak (five in the last four games), nor his 11-goal, 41-point campaign last year. Take advantage in the friendly matchup against Buffalo that you may have noticed me mention a time or two.
Defenseman to Avoid:
P.K. Subban, MON at DET ($21) - Here's another stud who can't get out of first gear -- though Subban's been on the ice for quite a lot of Montreal's goals, his plus-minus has been suffering mightily lately, and he owns only one goal for the season. The Habs' offense as a whole has hit the skids recently, and Subban has just one lonely assist in the last five games. A matchup on the road in Detroit with a backup goaltender (Dustin Tokarski) on Subban's side and emerging young goalie Petr Mrazek on the other isn't a prime opportunity to spend all those bills on Subban, even though the value relative to other name-brand blueliners does have its appeal.
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