NHL Playoff Puck Picks

The NHL playoffs started methodically, like a heavyweight fight where the fighters feel themselves out for a round or two, but they are roasting hot now. “Win or go home” elimination hockey creates an intensity that can’t be matched. The drama of double over time playoff hockey is like nothing else in sports and we are getting that on a nightly basis, but that means low scoring games.

The Penguins lead the playoffs in goals per game with 15 in four games. Oddly enough, tonight’s slate only has two of the top 10 scoring teams in the playoffs, with the Penguins facing the Rangers and the Blackhawks trying once again to stave off elimination against the St. Louis Blues and Vladimir Tarasenko.

The Nashville Predators and New York Rangers have only scored seven goals in four playoff games and they are both on the slate. The Anaheim Ducks have been on a scoring bonanza in comparison and they only have 11 goals in four games.

With scoring coming at a premium I am recommending that you go chalk as much as you can and that means the Penguins as they try to send the Rangers packing and the top Blackhawks (Kane, Toews) who are fighting for their playoff lives.

Sidney Crosby: Penguins Center – $17,600

Opponent: New York Rangers

Stats: 3 Goals – 3 Assists – 9 Shots on Goal

He is one of the best in the game and he does it by putting pucks in the net and assisting others to do the same. The Penguins can’t let the Rangers hang around and todays 3pm eastern start could be the night they bury them with a big scoring day.

Phil Kessel: Penguins Wing – $14,600

Opponent: New York Rangers

Stats: 2 Goals – 2 Assists – 19 SOG

He leads the Penguins in shots on goal and he plays on their first power play. Malkin ($15,500) and Hornqvist ($15,100) are viable options and if you want to super stack a match up this is a great group to load up with, but Kessel and Crosby are my full-price plays for the night.

Nick Bonino: Penguins Center – $10,300

Opponent: New York Rangers

Stats: 4 Assists – 3 SOG

You will need a few cheaper plays to afford the big-ticket ones and Bonino, at less than a true bargain, fits that description. I don’t like the low shots on goal total but the cheaper salary comes with its warts.

Trevor Daley: Penguins Defense – $9,000

Opponent: New York Rangers

Stats: 2 Assists – 7 SOG

Kris Letang is the easy choice on the high scoring Pens team, but Daley has seven shots on goal in four games at a much more affordable salary. The downside is that he doesn’t get many power play minutes, but he shoots a lot for a discount defenseman.

Vladamir Tarasenko: Blues Wing – $16,400

Opponent: Chicago Blackhawks

Stats: 3 Goals – 2 Assists – 21 SOG

He has been the man for the Blues while tying for the most Blues goals with Jaden Schwartz. With a small sample size in tight, hard fought defensive games that don’t have a lot of scoring you need to trust in the players carrying the play and that’s Tarasenko. He has been one of the best players in the playoffs so far.

Robby Fabbri: Blues Center – $8,500

Opponent: Chicago Blackhawks

Stats: 1 Goal – 3 Assists – 9 SOG

Fabbri has been all over the place in this series and with four points in five games he has been consistent and he is as cheap a salary as you are going to find. He is one of the best values of a limited slate. The shots on goal are there as well.

Andrew Cogliano: Ducks Center – $7,500

Opponent: Nashville Predators

Stats: 2 Goals – 2 Assists – 13:52 Ice Time – 4 SOG

I would feel better about recommending Cogliano if he was playing more minutes or taking more shots, but he is scoring goals and assisting on them at a bargain salary. Cogliano is a cheap salary with efficient, savvy production in a must-win game for the Predators.

Niklas Hjalmarsson: Blackhawks Defense – $7,600

Opponent: St. Louis Blues

Stats: 1 Assist – 3 SOG – 19 Blocked Shots

When scoring comes at a premium some times you need to look to other places for scoring and Hjalmarsson is second in the playoffs in blocked shots with 19. He doesn’t provide much in the offensive side of the game but eight Fantasy points for blocked shots before he touches the puck is a nice floor at a bargain salary. I hate goose eggs and Hjalmarsson will give you something for as close to nothing as you will find in a three game slate. He has a low ceiling, but we are choosing to side with the respectable floor on this one.

TEAM G

St. Louis Blues $17,600 vs. Chicago Blackhawks

They are the highest salary play of the night because they lead the playoffs in shots on goal allowed and the Blackhawks offense has no problem indulging them. It’s a risk/reward play because the Blackhawks could unleash a five-goal game at any time, but that’s where the high ceiling potential comes from. You can’t be rewarded without embracing the risk and this is one of the riskier Team G plays.

Anaheim Ducks $16,600 vs. Nashville Predators

The Predators aren’t shooting a lot and they are barely scoring, both positive factors that suggest the Ducks could get a win in a low scoring night for their Team G and that’s good for Fantasy scoring. The ceiling is low due to the lack of shots on goal, but its a safer play than some of the others.

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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