NHL Puck Picks

The previous two “pucks to pick” I have been advocating that you stack your roster with mid-range salary players because the big-ticket players have been struggling or they weren’t on the slate. But with March madness upon us and the match ups for tonight, I am leaning more in favor of chalk tonight.

Here are a couple of repeat offenders that play too well to ignore.

Alex Galchenyuk, Center, $10,300 @Montreal

Stats: 8 Goals – 1 Assist – 18 Shots on Goal = 6 Games Played

He has two goals in four of his last six games. I actually have some “intuitive” concerns that tonight may not be his night, but the facts are the facts, you better have a really good rational reason for benching him while he is on this run.

Zack Smith, Center, $8,500 @Ottawa Senators

Stats: 5 Goals – 3 Assists – 16 SOG = 7 GP

He has a goal in five straight games and a point in eight while remaining at complete steal of a price.

I’ve voiced my belief that you should avoid stacks of four or more players and that sticking with mini-stacks was the smart way to go.

Here are a couple stacks I like on the slate tonight.

Stacks to Stick

Tyler Johnson, Center $11,700

Stats: 1 Goal – 5 Assists – 14 SOG = 6 GP

Ondrej Palat, Wing $10,300

Stats: 5 Goals – 2 Assists – 14 SOG = 6 GP

It isn’t a bargain stack but neither player would be considered a big-ticket item either. They face a Toronto Maple Leafs defense that has allowed 33 goals in their previous 12 games, ranking eight worst in goals allowed over that period. A goal and an assist along with four shots on goal seem like a safe expectation with a chance for more. It’s difficult to argue with 26 points and a chance for a huge night in a prime match up.

I really like the Kings tonight and have two different stacks for you to consider in their match up with the goal-friendly Dallas Stars.

Milan Lucic, Wing $9,800

Stats: 3 Goals – 5 Assists – 8 SOG = 6 GP

Anze Kopitar, Center $13,200

Stats: 3 Goals – 4 Assists – 15 SOG = 6 GP

Jeff Carter, Center $12,500

Stats: 3 Goals – 2 Assists – 20 SOG = 6 GP

Lucic and Kopitar play together on both the first line and first power play while Carter is on a hot streak. The Dallas Stars have allowed 41 goals and 322 shots on goal in their last 11 games. A three-player stack is acceptable in a match up this good, but if you want to stick to two players drop Carter and start Kopitar and Lucic or my bargain basement stack I discuss next.

The Stars allow goals and shots on goal and because of that I also like a bargain stack in this one. I can’t recommend using a four or five man stack, but this game is awful close to justifying it and I won’t eat your lunch if you decide to do it. Here is the bargain stack.

Tanner Pearson, Wing $7,100

Stats: 1 Goal – 3 Assists – 9 SOG = 6 GP

Vincent Lecavalier, Center $6,400

Stats: 3 Goals – 1 Assist – 11 SOG = 6 GP

The match up as well as their recent performance justifies they get a look and when you consider that you can start them both for just $300 more than Anze Kopitar ($13,200) costs on his own, that’s how I define a bargain. If you want to add Carter to this twosome I won’t hate you for it or if you want to substitute Carter I would go with Lecavalier and bench Pearson.

Bargains

I mentioned a few bargains already (Smith, Pearson, and Lecavalier) but here is another.

David Pastrnak, Winger $8,400

Stats: 4 Goals – 15 SOG = 7 GP

Pastrnak is playing more and his production is increasing with more minutes. Claude Julien sits the youngster from time to time to punish him for mental mistakes so he is a player to monitor but for now, he is a bargain salary with goal scorer ability.

Affordables

Jason Spezza, Center $12,900

Stats: 7 Goals – 1 Assist – 22 SOG = 6 GP

The Los Angeles Kings are a tough match up, but Spezza is hot and the Stars are averaging just fewer than 3 1/2 goals per game in their last 11.

T.J. Oshie, Wing $11,700

Stats: 4 Goals – 4 Assists – 18 SOG = 7 GP

A point per game in his previous seven games in a neutral match up makes Oshie a viable option at an affordable salary.

Reilly Smith, Wing $10,300

Stats: 4 Goals – 3 Assists – 20 SOG = 7 GP

Smith is on a scoring run against a Montreal Canadiens team that allows just fewer than three goals per game and 32 shots on goal per game. The salary is reasonable, especially considering his recent performance.

Big-Ticket Picks

Patrice Bergeron, Center $15,100

Stats: 5 Goals – 3 Assists – 24 SOG = 7 GP

A safe, consistent play every night it is difficult not to endorse Bergeron even though the Sharks are a tough match up (24 goals allowed in last 11 games).

Sidney Crosby, Center $16,400

Stats: 4 Goals – 6 Assists – 21 SOG = 7 GP

Crosby is riding a run and the Penguins are leading the NHL in scoring over their last 12 games. The Islanders aren’t an easy match up, but you play your studs when they are getting it done, which Crosby has been recently.

Brent Burns, Defense $17,000

Stats: 4 Goals – 4 Assists – 23 SOG = 6 GP

That kind of production from a defenseman is too good not to at least consider. It’s an expensive salary but it’s buoyed by almost six shots on goal per game. When you can guarantee 12 points from a defenseman before he participates in the scoring you have yourself a solid backbone for your nightly lineup.

DEFENSEMAN

I don’t love the defenseman tonight but there are a few bargains if you choose to save some salary at the position.

Alex Goligoski, $9,700

Stats: 0 Goals – 7 Assists – 10 SOG = 6 GP

Goligoski has averaged 25:28 minutes of ice time with an assist per game average over the last six games at an affordable salary. The Kings isn’t a great match up but he profiles well tonight.

Nick Leddy, $9,500

Stats: 1 Goal – 6 Assists – 10 SOG = 7 GP

Another defenseman producing at the blue line at an affordable salary.

Johnny Boychuk, $11,000

Stats: 2 Goals – 1 Assist – 23 SOG = 7 GP

I love how many shots on goal Boychuk is taking. It has to result in some goals but most importantly, it makes him a reliable nightly producer and that’s a good thing to have if you don’t want to spend a lot of salary to ensure scoring from the roster spot.

TEAM G

The Washington Capitals (17,200) and Pittsburgh Penguins ($16,800) are the biggest favorites of the night and their salaries reflect that fact.

San Jose Sharks ($15,200) vs. Boston Bruins

The Bruins average almost 31 shots on goal per game while the Sharks have allowed just over two goals per over their last 11. The Sharks Team G are slight favorites at home in a game that should result in a lot of saves. James Reimer has been pretty effective since being traded to San Jose. The shots on goal allowed along with the chance of a Win at this salary have me anxious to take the risk. The Bruins are playing well and they score so this isn’t a slam-dunk, but I like the risky pick tonight.

Tampa Bay Lightning ($16,200) @ Toronto Maple Leafs

The Lightning have allowed more than 31 shots on goal per game while the Maple Leafs have averaged 30 shots on goal per game over the last 12 games. Tampa Bay has been playing great and it looks like a high save night with a significantly better than average chance they get a Win and it is a middle-of-the-road salary. Andrei Vasilevsky will get the start and is 3-0 with a 1.65 goals against average against the Maple Leafs this season. This is my best Team G pick of the night.

Chris Mitchell

Chris Mitchell

Chris Mitchell has been playing Fantasy sports for over twenty years. He contributed to RotoWire.com in their early days before contributing as a writer and doing Fantasy sports Podcasts for Seamheads.com. Three seasons ago he brought his writing and his Fantasy sports Podcast to RotoExperts.com and the Fantasy Sports Television network and this past season he wrote a weekly Fantasy sports column for BaseballAmerica.com. He also writes about Minor League prospects for RotoExperts. Chris has no more access to the site than the typical user. Follow him at Twitter @CJMiitch73.

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