It’s a particularly light slate Friday with just three games on tap, each of which features a heavy favorite. The Capitals, Blues and Lightning should be able to win their games, and those are the teams DFS players should load up on. The Blues are a very attractive option because the Canucks will be playing their second game in two nights, and in their previous matchup the Blues were outshot 50-19 in a 3-0 loss.
Defending against speedy teams has always been a problem for the Canucks, and now more than ever with a decimated defense. Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz don’t have eye-popping career stats against Vancouver, but they’re two of the Blues’ best wingers and will get the most chances to score.
The Islanders and Devils have a chance to upset, but a lot has to go right. For the Islanders, defending against a balanced Lightning attack and trying to solve Ben Bishop will be a tough task, especially given their poor play of late. The Devils are feisty and should give the Caps some fits, but the Caps are so much better and deeper. They’ll have to be the ones making mistakes if the Devils want to come out on top.
Braden Holtby, WAS at NJ ($36) - Picking a winning goalie shouldn’t be difficult with a light schedule and three teams that are clear favorites, but the NHL’s wins leader is the cheapest of the bunch. The Devils won’t go quietly, but really the only way they should win is if the Caps fail to show up. Holtby is 9-3-1 in 13 career appearances against the Devils with a 2.15 goals-against average and .922 save percentage.
Goalie to Avoid:
Thomas Greiss, NYI at TB ($30) - He may have a slightly better chance of winning than Jacob Markstrom ($29) or Keith Kinkaid ($25), but he’s just not worth the pick. Other than a 3-1 win against the Sens, the Isles just haven’t looked very good of late and are quickly losing ground in the playoff race. The Lightning have also won 22 of 36 games at home, best in the Atlantic Division. Markstrom’s an interesting option; he’s playing well and he’ll be seeing a lot of pucks, which means lots of saves, but the Canucks are one of the worst teams in the league right now and haven’t scored a goal in three games.
Nicklas Backstrom, WAS at NJ ($18) - There’s no real logic talking up Backstrom because he’s already one of the league’s top centers, but at that price he’s a bargain. Of the top five centers based on fantasy points per game, he is the cheapest option. Kinkaid has allowed 13 goals in his past three games, and even if he puts in his best effort, the Caps shouldn’t have a problem beating him. The Devils' defense isn’t deep enough to lock down both Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov ($21), and Backstrom gets more ice time, which means more opportunities.
Center to Avoid:
Henrik Sedin, VAN at STL ($13) - The former Hart Trophy and Art Ross Trophy winner seems like a real bargain, but the truth is, he hasn’t played that well this season. Though he’s battled injuries and remains one of the Canucks’ top scorers, he hasn’t been very effective in other aspects of the game, particularly in the faceoff circle (45.9 percent), and faces a tough 1-2 punch with David Backes (51.7 percent) and Paul Stastny (56.8 percent). He’s also been guilty of trying to do too much recently, sometimes resulting in turnovers, and the Sedins just aren’t fast enough on the back check to bail themselves out.
Devante Smith-Pelly, NJ vs. WAS ($18) - The crash and bang winger had a minor hiccup in the first game of a home-and-home series against Columbus with zero points and a minus-1 rating, but he then bounced back in a big way with a goal and four shots on net in the second game. He’s been a spark plug for the Devils, and the Caps will be a tough opponent, but DSP doesn’t back down from anybody and should be one of the Devils’ best players.
Andre Burakovsky, WAS at NJ ($14) - The talented forward has 26 points in his past 30 games, putting him at the same scoring pace as Backstrom and Kuznetsov. He was one of the few Caps who were productive in a 6-2 loss to the Penguins, and though he gets limited ice time and didn’t score in his previous game against the Senators, he’s an absolute bargain.
Wings to Avoid:
Daniel Sedin, VAN at STL ($18) - He’s been the Canucks’ best forward all season and is four goals shy of hitting 30, but the rest of his team just isn’t at the same level. He accounted for seven of the team’s 19 shots in their previous game against St. Louis, but he can’t do it all himself with brother Henrik struggling offensively and the entire team going through a cold streak during which they were shut out three straight games before losing 3-2 on Thursday. He’s just not a sure thing anymore.
Kyle Okposo, NYI at TB ($23) - The Lightning have allowed two goals in their past two games and should be able to keep Okposo at bay despite his recent hot streak with three goals in six games. The Islanders are struggling at the worst time, though through no fault of their own with No. 1 goalie Jaroslav Halak out at least until the playoffs. Among wingers priced at least $20, Okposo is the riskiest bet.
Kevin Shattenkirk, STL vs. VAN ($25) - He’ll be the best offensive defenseman of the night even if Alex Pietrangelo ($24) plays more minutes. The Blues outshot the Canucks heavily in their last meeting and if anyone from the Blues' blue line is going to score, Shattenkirk is the best bet. The Canucks don’t take many dumb penalties, which hurts Shattenkirk’s power-play opportunities, but if the game is anything like their previous matchup, the Blues are going to dominate anyway.
John Carlson, WAS at NJ ($15) - His status for Friday is questionable, but there’s a chance he plays, and if he does, he will be the best bargain. He may be rusty because he hasn’t played in a month, but the Devils shouldn’t be a particularly tough test.
Defensemen to Avoid:
Anton Stralman, TB vs. NYI ($21) - Stralman isn’t flashy and doesn’t possess any kind of elite offensive skill, but he’s steady and consistently makes good plays. That makes him a coach’s favorite but a non-entity in fantasy. Avoid the hefty price tag and choose someone who is a little more dynamic, even if they can be hit-or-miss.
Brooks Orpik, WAS at NJ ($14) - Orpik's another one of those guys who’s invaluable in real-life hockey but a near non-factor in fantasy, especially DFS. He doesn’t score very often – just nine points this season – despite logging lots of ice time for the Caps. Matt Niskanen ($14) and Dmitry Orlov ($13) are much better options if a Caps defenseman is preferable, but Nick Leddy ($13) or even Ben Hutton ($12) are better plays.
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