Connor Hellebuyck, WPG vs. VAN ($35) – The Canucks have had a lot of trouble scoring goals this season aside from Brock Boeser, and they’ll be shorthanded against the Jets without top center Bo Horvat. Even captain Henrik Sedin said they’ll have to find a way to win close games because goals won’t come easy. Hellebucyk is in the midst of a breakout season and he’s shown an ability to bounce back from bad games, something he'll need to do after allowing nine goals over his last two games.
GOALIE TO AVOID
Jimmy Howard, DET vs. FLA ($32) – Howard and the Red Wings have been dreadfully inconsistent, and other than a 5-1 win against the Jets last Tuesday, Howard has just three other wins since the beginning of November. The Panthers have yet to fully play to their potential, but they’ve scored at least three goals in four of their past six games. That’s not mentioning that the Red Wings defense could implode at any time, and in their back-to-back losses to the Habs, Howard allowed 11 goals on 23 shots.
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Mark Scheifele, WPG vs. VAN ($27) – One of the league’s top centers going up against a team that doesn’t have either of their top two shutdown centers available? Sign me up! Even though the Canucks haven’t allowed many goals this season, it’s difficult to see how they can contain a dangerous Jets offense. Scheifele has gone three games without a point but that’s about a long a drought as you’d expect, and on home ice Paul Maurice has the advantage when it comes to matchups.
John Tavares, NYI vs. WAS ($27) – Tavares is slightly better at home than on the road over his career, but that’s especially been the case this season. He’s scored 18 of his 31 points on home ice, and he’s needed just 11 games to do so while riding a shooting at a 29 percent clip, nearly two times more efficient at home than on the road. Despite strong defense and goaltending, the Caps have never really been able to contain Tavares, and now they’ll have to deal with him and rookie Mathew Barzal, who will force Barry Trotz into some different matchup decisions.
CENTERS TO AVOID
Rickard Rakell, ANH vs. CAR ($19) – This matchup is usually great for Rakell, but the Ducks offense has sputtered without some of their top players. He has just one assist in his past five games, and the acquisition of Adam Henrique has pushed Rakell off to the side a little. Over the past four games, Rakell only has four shots on goal. The Ducks are hard to trust this season because every time they seem to get into a rhythm, they’re hit with an injury.
Radek Faksa, DAL at NYR ($17) – He’s more of a two-way center than a scoring threat, so going up against Henrik Lundqvist could prove to be quite the challenge. After a hot stretch where he scored five goals in three games, Faksa’s registered just two assists in his past four games, and continues to hover around 15-16 minutes per game. That makes him difficult to rely on, and Adam Henrique ($17) or Dylan Larkin ($15) may be better picks in this price range.
Blake Wheeler, WPG vs. VAN ($28) – He’s arguably the Jets’ top player, and he’s currently riding a five-game point streak that includes multi-point efforts against the Sens and Golden Knights. The Jets are reeling, losing three straight on the road, but Wheeler has done his part to get on the scoresheet, scoring a goal and two assists. The Canucks defend well and their goaltending hasn’t imploded this season, but Wheeler’s size makes him difficult to contain for a defense that isn’t particularly big or tough.
Jonathan Huberdeau, FLA at DET ($21) – He’s scored five points in his past two games, and he’ll be facing a team that cannot figure out its identity post-Pavel Datsyuk. Neither Detroit goalie should make a difference for Huberdeau, who has really developed into a top-line playmaking threat. With only nine goals on 85 shots, it’s also just a matter of time before the pucks start bouncing Huberdeau’s way.
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WINGS TO AVOID
Patric Hornqvist, PIT vs. COL ($23) – A date against the Avs is usually an enticing matchup, but Hornqvist is prone to the odd cold stretch where he remains active on offense but doesn’t always register any points. He took a puck to the face against Toronto on Saturday, and he’s expected to be a game-time decision.
Jeff Skinner, CAR at ANH ($20) – He’s certainly off last year’s pace and he hasn’t been particularly efficient, either, with just 11 goals on 104 shots. The Ducks aren’t healthy and wins have been hard to come by, but they continue to be tough to play against and their goaltending hasn’t really been a weakness. Skinner is a high-volume shooter who is dangerous in spurts, but he’s scored just two goals in his past five games.
Kris Letang, PIT vs. COL ($27) – He's frustrating to watch in his own zone, but with Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson having disappointing seasons so far, Letang has been one of the league’s best offensive defensemen. He’s on a four-game scoring streak with a goal and five assists, including eight shots on goal against the Leafs in his last outing. The Avs aren’t very good defensively and they’re big underdogs against the Pens.
Brandon Montour, ANH vs. CAR ($17) – He’s just scratching the surface of his potential, and a matchup against Carolina gives him a chance to extend his scoring binge. Montour’s notched three assists in his past four games, giving him 16 points on the season. He averages over 20 minutes per game, although the only drawback is that as a power-play quarterback, Carolina won’t give him many chances on the man advantage because they’re very disciplined and don’t take many penalties.
DEFENSEMEN TO AVOID
Ryan McDonagh, NYR vs. DAL ($18) – Maybe he’ll get to score his first goal of the season against Kari Lehtonen, but otherwise the Blueshirts captain should only be relied on for blocked shots. McDonagh's upside is capped because the Rangers offense is merely average and he’s always been more of a defense-first player, but his floor is at least pretty high, and he offers less standard deviation than some of the top defensemen. He’s scored three points in 10 career games against the Stars.
Johnny Boychuk, NYI vs. WAS ($17) – He didn’t play Saturday with an undisclosed injury, but even if he does play, the Caps aren’t an ideal matchup. They’re good defensively and Braden Holtby is still one of the league’s better goalies even though he hasn’t been in the headlines very much. Boychuk’s value is derived mostly from his peripherals, including 64 blocked shots, with just eight points on the season.