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Monday Daily Puck: The Struggling Eight

Dustin Nelson

Dustin Nelson is a writer based out of NYC. His fantasy team is full of loafers.

With yet another goalless game behind him, Alex Ovechkin is officially on the longest goal drought of his career. Even into his 30s, Ovechkin is the owner of staggering statistics. His goal-scoring prowess is entirely unparalleled in the modern era.

That's why it's impressive that a 10-game drought is the longest of his career. Ovechkin scores a crazy amount. As impressive as it is that this has never happened to him, it's definitely a drag for owners. He's one of the few players you can draft and expect to see consistent production all season.

It's clear that he's starting to feel the pressure too. He's taken 21 shots in the last four games. Though, to be fair, Ovechkin has always been a volume shooter.

However, after getting held without a shot in two of the first three games during the slump, he looks close to normal again. He grabbed an assist Sunday and it's only a matter a time before one of these shots hits the back of the net.

In daily formats, it's fair if you don't want to pay the high price for Ovechkin until he busts out. However, in season-long formats, there is absolutely no reason to consider parting with Ovechkin. He's in a slump, not in decline.

Featured Matchups
Lightning (PP: 4, PK: 16) at Rangers (PP: 18, PK: 14), 7:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Andrei Vasilevskiy (16-13-6, 2.58, .917), Magnus Hellberg (0-0-0, 0.00, 1.000)
Key Injuries: Jesper Fast (shoulder), Dan Girardi (ankle), Kevin Klein (back), Henrik Lundqvist (lower body), Ryan Callahan (hip), Tyler Johnson (lower body), Vladislav Namestnikov (lower body), Cedric Paquette (lower body), Steven Stamkos (knee)

Injuries will play a role in this game. With Lundqvist sidelined for a couple weeks and the Rangers on the back-end of a back-to-back, Hellberg is expected to get the start. He's played three NHL games over the last four years. While Hellberg has had success in the AHL previously, he's only put up a .902 save percentage through 31 AHL games this season.

If he gets the start, that could be a good news for the Lightning who desperately need a win. They're without some key players, but the players who are still around are on fire. Nikita Kucherov has goals in seven of his last nine games with a total of 10 goals and eight assists over that stretch. Ondrej Palat has points in back-to-back games.

There are good things happening in Tampa as they push toward the playoffs. However, even with a couple defensemen and their starting goaltender sidelined, the Rangers aren't pushovers. There are depth options for your roster on both benches. Especially with Michael Grabner returning to the lineup for the Rangers.

Additionally, both Chris Kreider and Kevin Hayes are playing well. Kreider is carrying a three-game point streak and has three goals and two assists in the last five games.

Penguins (PP: 3, PK: 19) at Flames (PP: 14, PK: 15), 9:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Matt Murray (26-8-3, 2.33, .925), Brian Elliott (20-13-3, 2.51, .910)
Key Injuries: Michael Stone (shoulder), Matt Cullen (undisclosed), Trevor Daley (knee), Carl Hagelin (lower body), Patric Hornqvist (concussion), Kris Letang (upper body), Olli Maatta (hand), Bryan Rust (arm), Tom Sestito (suspension)

This game could be a bit of a trick if you're glossing over it with so many games taking place. The Pens are a great team, but they're ailing. With Cullen, Hagelin and Hornqvist on the shelf, the forward corps are a little thinner than usual. Though, no one is going to call their forward depth chart tepid. The biggest problem for the Penguins is the blue line. Trades added depth, but they're still without Daley, Letang, and Maatta.

Calgary hasn't been the highest-scoring team this season, but they're on the brink of the making team history with the longest winning streak in franchise history. A win Monday would be their tenth straight.

They're averaging 3.78 goals per game over the winning streak. That's enough to put up some wins on its own. However, they're playing well at both ends. They met the Penguins after posting shutouts in the last two games. Over the last eight games, they're giving up just 1.25 goals per game. They're dangerous and the shorthanded Penguins could pretty easily be surprised by the young team from Alberta.

Among the players thriving over the winning streak, Sean Monahan is on a four-game point streak and has three goals and eight assists during the winning streak. Johnny Gaudreau has three goals and 10 assists during the streak. Mikael Backlund has six goals and nine points in nine games. Michael Frolik is on a four-game point streak and Dougie Hamilton has two goals and eight assists during the streak. There are many players on the Calgary depth chart who are worth rostering.

Other Matchups
Blue Jackets (PP: 6, PK: 10) at Flyers (PP: 10, PK: 22), 7:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Sergei Bobrovsky (36-13-4, 2.07, .930), Steve Mason (19-18-7, 2.74, .906)
Key Injuries: Josh Anderson (lower body), Matt Calvert (oblique), Ryan Murray (hand), Lukas Sedlak (oblique), Michael Raffl (lower body)

Columbus may not have the gaudy numbers they had at midseason when they were challenging for the longest win streak in NHL history and had the undisputed no. 1 power play in the league. But they're still formidable.

They've been knocking off top teams with aplomb and continue to be defensively stout, shutting out opponents in five of their last nine games. With the Flyers floundering, you may want to steer clear of their depth. While Buffalo found the secret in a back-to-back against Columbus over the weekend, not many teams are finding a way to run up the score on the Blue Jackets.

Hurricanes (PP: 21, PK: 5) at Islanders (PP: 26, PK: 20), 7:30 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Cam Ward (22-20-9, 2.66, .905), Thomas Greiss (23-14-4, 2.60, .916)
Key Injuries: Phil Di Giuseppe (upper body), Brock McGinn (upper body), Valentin Zykov (upper body), Johnny Boychuk (lower body), Casey Cizikas (upper body), Mikhail Grabovski (concussion), Shane Prince (lower body), Alan Quine (upper body)

While the Islanders recent record doesn't look outstanding, it's not bad when you consider they've been on a nine-game road trip that has pitted them against the streaking Flames, the Blackhawks, a resurgent Blues team, the Blue Jackets and the Canadiens. All things considered, going 5-3-1 on the road trip wasn't too bad.

They return home for the first time since Feb. 19 and that may work to their advantage against Carolina, who is allowing a lot of goals and hasn't been able to pull it together against some poor competition lately. They're 3-7-4 over their last 14 games. That includes losses to both Arizona and Colorado in the last eight days.

The Hurricanes defense is solid and there are forwards that can break out any night, however, the circumstances are set for Islanders depth players to be productive. In particular, Brock Nelson, Nick Leddy, Andrew Ladd, and, as always, John Tavares have been producing.

Jets (PP: 23, PK: 28) at Predators (PP: 11, PK: 21), 8:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Connor Hellebuyck (22-18-3, 2.83, .908), Pekka Rinne (25-16-8, 2.55, .915)
Key Injuries: Miikka Salomaki (lower body), Toby Enstrom (concussion), Tyler Myers (lower body), Ondrej Pavelec (knee)

Even if the wins aren't coming, the Jets have been putting up a lot of goals. Over the last seven games, they've lost by scores of 6-5, 7-4, and 5-4 (and also put up a 6-1 win over Colorado). Goals are frequently flowing both ways when the Jets are on the ice.

While that's likely to give Paul Maurice a heart attack, it's great news for fans and fantasy. Both teams should have solid depth options, based on the high-event hockey the Jets are playing.

Bruins (PP: 13, PK: 2) at Canucks (PP: 28, PK: 24), 10:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Tuukka Rask (32-16-4, 2.23, .915), Ryan Miller (17-20-6, 2.67, .917)
Key Injuries: Tim Schaller (lower body), Ryan Spooner (concussion), Derek Dorsett (neck), Loui Eriksson (lower body), Brendan Gaunce (undisclosed), Nikolay Goldobin (illness), Markus Granlund (illness), Erik Gudbranson (wrist), Jacob Markstrom (lower body), Anton Rodin (knee), Jack Skille (groin)

In 2017, the Bruins haven't been great on the road, but they have done quite well against Western Conference opponents. They're 7-4-0 in their last 11 games against teams from the West, including a 4-3 win over the Canucks in February.

If your league somehow hasn't caught on that David Pastrnak is a star, he has to be scooped up. He has points in the last eight straight games. Patrice Bergeron is always a good bet, as is his linemate Brad Marchand. There is one other surprisingly productive player with the Bruins right now, but we'll get to him in a minute.

Blues (PP: 5, PK: 6) at Kings (PP: 15, PK: 4), 10:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Jake Allen (25-18-3, 2.58, .908), Jonathan Quick (4-0-1, 2.38, .917)
Key Injuries: Matt Greene (undisclosed), Jordan Nolan (leg), Nick Shore (upper body), Robby Fabbri (knee), Jori Lehtera (head), Colton Parayko (undisclosed), Paul Stastny (illness)

The Kings are firmly on the playoff bubble and they're playing a bit like the Kings of old. Playoff hockey has started for them. They've dropped some games to tough opponents -- and there have been a couple high-scoring affairs over the last month -- but since coming off a four-day break they've looked determined to make the sprint to the playoffs by playing defensively sound hockey.

That included a 4-2 win over Washington. Yet, the schedule hasn't been favorable for the Kings. Recently they've faced the league-leading Caps, the Western Conference-leading Wild, the Flames, and now the Blues, who are also on a win streak.

Their big players are playing like they know it's now or never. Anze Kopitar has three goals and four assists over the last seven games. Marian Gaborik has two goals and an assist in the two games since that extended break. Since Feb. 9, Jeff Carter has three goals and eight assists over a run of 13 games. Alec Martinez has a goal and five assists in the last four games. They may not have a ton of depth to mine, but the guys you expect production from are getting the job done.

Avalanche (PP: 29, PK: 25) at Coyotes (PP: 27, PK: 26), 10:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Calvin Pickard (12-22-2, 2.92, .908), Mike Smith (17-20-7, 3.00, .912)
Key Injuries: Alex Burmistrov (upper body), Kevin Connauton (upper body), Semyon Varlamov (groin), Nikita Zadorov (ankle)

The rumble of the bungled. The cellar-dwellers clash for a game that has zero impact on the 2016-17 NHL season. When two teams so far down the standings meet during a season where just about everything has gone wrong, it's hard to say how things will play out. This could go either way. It could be a 1-0 shootout win or the final score could be 6-7.

It's hard to say because it's never clear what team is showing up when they step on the ice. In the recent 6-1 loss to the Jets, the Avalanche looked as put together as a bag of confetti. Nothing was working. Other nights recently they've beat Montreal and taken Tampa to overtime.

Similarly, the Coyotes have looked OK at times. Then at other times, they've looked like a team with the second-worst record in the NHL. With an atypically busy Monday in the league, this might be a game worth steering clear of unless you relish the opportunity to grab a star like Matt Duchene against a garbage opponent or want to play a rising star like Max Domi in a game that could be chaotic.

Recommended Pickup
Drew Stafford, RW, BOS It's a small sample, but the 31-year-old's time in Boston has gone quite well since the trade deadline move. He scored just four goals and nine assists through 40 games in Winnipeg. In four games sporting the "B," he has two goals and two assists with an average of four shots per game.

Is he going to become a point per game player? Probably not. But something is clicking for him in Boston and the opportunity is there. He was regularly playing less than 10 minutes a night at the end of his time with the Jets. Now, he's seeing upwards of 14 minutes. It's not a ton of ice time, but it's a respectable amount for a middle-six winger and he's making the most of it.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire.