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Fantasy: Players to watch on first playoff weekend

Elias Lindholm, Oliver Bjorkstrand among underrated category specialists on waiver wire

by Pete Jensen @NHLJensen / NHL.com Senior Fantasy Editor

If you're locked into a head-to-head fantasy playoff battle, you may need to improvise ahead of a crucial weekend to beat your competition.

Depending on your league format, you only may be able to add players Friday for use Saturday and Sunday. In such leagues you need to know who's playing weekend back-to-back sets. If you are able to make same-day roster additions, then you have three days to work with before your weekly matchup concludes.

[MORE FANTASY COVERAGE: TOP 100 'F' | TOP 50 'D' | TOP 25 'G' | DFS: MARCH 17]

Seven teams (CAR, CHI, COL, CBJ, MIN, MTL, OTT) play Saturday/Sunday back-to-back sets this weekend. Two teams (ANA, NYR) play Friday/Saturday back-to-backs. Four teams (CGY, FLA, NJD, PIT) play Friday and Sunday.

Sixteen teams (ARI, BUF, DAL, DET, EDM, LAK, NSH, NYI, PHI, SJS, STL, TBL, TOR, VAN, WSH, WPG) play one game the rest of this week. The Boston Bruins do not play any games this weekend; their next game is against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday.

Here are some low-ownership, short-term fliers who can help your team get over the hump in some key categories the next three days.

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GOALS: Jake Guentzel, C/LW, PIT (FRI vs. NJD, SUN vs. FLA) -- With Evgeni Malkin (upper body) out Friday because of an upper-body injury and two favorable opponents on the horizon, the Pittsburgh Penguins will rely even more heavily on Sidney Crosby's line the rest of the week. Guentzel (18 percent owned in Yahoo) has 10 goals in 32 games this season and has put together a strong stretch of nine points and 29 shots on goal alongside mostly Crosby and Conor Sheary in his past 10.

Video: PIT@VAN: Guentzel buries Sheary's feed in front

 

ASSISTS: Elias Lindholm, C/RW, CAR (SAT vs. NSH, SUN at PHI) -- Lindholm (7 percent owned) is making a case to be a part of the Carolina Hurricanes' top-six forward corps for seasons to come. His 25 primary assists leads the Hurricanes and are tied for 10th in the NHL. He has one goal, four assists, a plus-4, four penalty minutes, one power-play point and 14 SOG during a five-game point streak. His low shooting percentage (5.4) could even out at any time.

Video: NYI@CAR: Lindholm forces turnover, finishes break

 

PLUS/MINUS: Nick Schmaltz, C/LW, CHI (SAT at TOR, SUN vs. COL) -- With Artem Anisimov (lower body) injured, Schmaltz (10 percent owned) likely will center Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin this weekend. The Chicago Blackhawks' offense can erupt at any time, especially when they host the last-place Colorado Avalanche on Sunday. Schmaltz has 13 points (three goals, 10 assists) and a plus-14 rating in his past 14 games.

Video: ARI@CHI: Schmaltz celebrates 21st birthday with goal

 

PENALTY MINUTES: Andrew Shaw, C/RW, MTL (SAT at OTT, SUN vs. OTT) -- The Montreal Canadiens play a home-and-home set against the Ottawa Senators this weekend, and fantasy owners should not hesitate to pick up Shaw (19 percent owned) to make up ground in the PIMs department. He has minor penalties in his past two games, putting him fifth in the NHL with 103 PIMs. He sees some power-play time (six power-play points) and contributes in points (24), plus/minus (plus-4), SOG (106) and hits (118). 

Video: MTL@NYR: Shaw grabs rebound, nets wraparound goal

 

POWER-PLAY POINTS: Teuvo Teravainen, C/LW/RW, CAR (SAT vs. NSH, SUN at PHI), or Kris Versteeg, CGY (FRI vs. DAL, SUN vs. LAK) -- Roster flexibility is key this time of season, and the Hurricanes' Teravainen (13 percent owned) provides three-position eligibility and significant power-play usage (2:10 per game; 12 PPP). Teravainen also has shown more consistency with points in seven of his past 10 games, including two PPP. Versteeg has 11 PPP and sees time on the Calgary Flames' first man-advantage unit with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan. Versteeg has four points in his past six games, with two on the power play. 

Video: TOR@CAR: Teravainen nets PPG on favorable deflection

 

SHOTS ON GOAL: Oliver Bjorkstrand, RW, CBJ (SAT at NYI, SUN at NJD) -- Bjorkstrand, a relatively unknown name in fantasy circles, has emerged on the Columbus Blue Jackets' third line with productive veterans Sam Gagner and Scott Hartnell during the past month. Bjorkstrand (2 percent owned) has been recalled multiple times this season from Cleveland of the American Hockey League, but appears to have stuck for good with nine points, 38 SOG and a plus-7 in 14 games since Feb. 15.

Video: CBJ@BUF: Bjorkstrand, Gagner combine for nifty goal

 

DEFENSEMAN OUTLOOK: It's a slim market for defensemen these days in most leagues, but there still are some category specialists to consider adding. David Savard (16 percent owned) is plus-26 this season and has two games this weekend. He has added value in leagues that count blocked shots (106). Deep-league owners also should consider riding the hot hand with Jakob Chychrun (2 percent owned), who has five points, two PPP, a plus-3 rating and 12 SOG in his past four games for the Arizona Coyotes, who host the St. Louis Blues on Saturday. Alex Petrovic (3 percent owned) of the Florida Panthers plays Friday and Sunday and is a PIMs (66) specialist.

Video: CBJ@BUF: Savard buries quick wrister past Nilsson

 

GOALIE OUTLOOK: Beyond Jonathan Bernier, who has won four straight for the Anaheim Ducks and has seen his ownership spike to 37 percent in the absence of injured John Gibson (lower body), there are a number of backup goalies to consider adding this weekend based on the matchups they could draw. The Ottawa Senators' Mike Condon (36 percent owned) could face the Montreal Canadiens, his former team, twice this weekend with Craig Anderson (lower body) uncertain. Scott Darling (23 percent owned) has 17 wins, a .933 save percentage and two shutouts and is worth adding in case he starts against the Avalanche on Sunday. Other viable backups for contenders include Darcy Kuemper of the Minnesota Wild (5 percent owned) and the Blue Jackets' Joonas Korpisalo (3 percent), who could start for their respective teams in either end of their weekend back-to-back sets.

Video: CHI@OTT: Darling turns away Brassard's chance

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COMPLETE SCHEDULE OUTLOOK: MARCH 17-19

FRI only: Buffalo Sabres, Dallas Stars
FRI/SAT B2B: Anaheim Ducks, New York Rangers
FRI/SUN: Calgary Flames, Florida Panthers, New Jersey Devils, Pittsburgh Penguins
SAT/SUN B2B: Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Columbus Blue Jackets, Minnesota Wild, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators
SAT only: Arizona Coyotes, Detroit Red Wings, Edmonton Oilers, Nashville Predators, New York Islanders, San Jose Sharks, St Louis Blues, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, Washington Capitals
SUN only: Los Angeles Kings, Philadelphia Flyers, Winnipeg Jets
No games FRI-SUN: Boston Bruins

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