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Fantasy: Players to watch on second playoff weekend

Jaroslav Halak, Mathieu Perreault among underrated options 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 defeat 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.

Five teams (MIN, NJD, NYR, PHI, VAN) play Saturday/Sunday back-to-back sets this weekend, two teams (NYI, SJS) play Friday/Saturday back-to-backs, and five teams (ANA, DAL, DET, PIT, WPG) play Friday and Sunday. The other 18 teams play one game the rest of the week.

MORE FANTASY COVERAGE: TOP 100 'F' | TOP 50 'D' | TOP 25 'G' | SCHEDULE GUIDE

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.

 

GOALS

There are plenty of 20-goal scorers floating around on the waiver wire these days. Patrick Eaves (RW, 28 percent owned; 25 goals) has goals in back-to-back games for the Anaheim Ducks and a plus rating in each of his past five games on a line with Ryan Getzlaf and Rickard Rakell. Eaves does not have a power-play point in 11 games since being traded from the Dallas Stars to the Ducks on Feb. 24, but has a high shot volume (33 shots on goal) in the span. Eaves and Tomas Tatar (LW/RW, 30 percent owned; 21 goals) of the Detroit Red Wings each play Friday and Sunday. Andrew Ladd (LW, 42 percent owned; 20 goals) of the New York Islanders and Patrik Berglund (C, 5 percent; 21 goals) of the St. Louis Blues are top-six forwards and goal-scoring specialists with one game left this week.

Video: EDM@ANA: Eaves squeezes a wrist shot by Talbot

 

 

ASSISTS

With Jake Guentzel day to day after being concussed Tuesday, the Pittsburgh Penguins have gone back to the drawing board to fill in his spot on Sidney Crosby's line. Tri-eligible forward Scott Wilson (C/LW/RW, 1 percent owned) skated up top with Crosby and Conor Sheary against the Ottawa Senators on Thursday, making him an intriguing deep-league flier with the Penguins playing Friday (vs. NYI) and Sunday (vs. PHI) at home. Chris Kunitz (LW, 38 percent owned) is another candidate to step in next to Crosby with plenty of past chemistry between the two. Sixteen of Wilson's 23 points have been assists, and don't be surprised to see him end a six-game point drought this weekend playing with Crosby, who is the NHL leader in goals (41) and tied for second in points (81). Another rising point producer with two games in the next three days is Islanders rookie Josh Ho-Sang (C/RW, 5 percent owned), who is playing top-six minutes and has seven points in his first 11 NHL games.

 

PLUS/MINUS

Nick Schmaltz (C/LW, 9 percent owned) of the Chicago Blackhawks has a three-game point streak and has combined for 17 points and a plus-12 over his past 18 games. With Artem Anisimov (lower body) sidelined, Schmaltz offers coveted exposure to elite forwards Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin. If Schmaltz is already owned, it can't hurt to add his teammate John Hayden (C/RW, 1 percent owned) for a day. The former Yale University forward has three points, 11 SOG and is plus-5 in his first five NHL games. Playing with Jonathan Toews will lead to such results. The Blackhawks visit the struggling Florida Panthers on Saturday. Jason Zucker (40 percent owned; 98th in Yahoo) of the Minnesota Wild has had a rough past few games but is plus-29 ahead of two weekend games (vs. VAN, at DET).

Video: CHI@MIN: Schmaltz wires in a wrister through traffic

 

PENALTY MINUTES

Matthew Tkachuk (LW, 48 percent owned) of the Calgary Flames has seen his ownership dip after a two-game suspension this week, but has high fantasy upside upon his return to the lineup against the Blues on Saturday. He ranks sixth among rookies in points (46 in 68 games) and will return to his favorable spot on the second line with Mikael Backlund and Michael Frolik. He's 11th League-wide in PIMs (96) with respectable coverage of SOG (131) and PPP (12). If you're looking for a one-day flier, Tkachuk is a well-rounded option worth pursuing, as is Brandon Dubinsky (C, 35 percent owned) of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Dubinsky has totaled 20 points, a plus-17, 38 PIMs and 43 SOG in his past 24 games. Miles Wood (LW, less than 1 percent owned) has two home games this weekend for the New Jersey Devils and is a sneaky PIMs specialist (70) who has 16 points, four PPP and 92 SOG in 52 games.

 

POWER-PLAY POINTS

If you're looking for a player who has multiple games the rest of the week, significant power-play usage and strong category coverage, Mathieu Perreault (C/LW, 19 percent owned) of the Winnipeg Jets is your best bet. He has seven points, 10 SOG and is plus-5 in his past four games, playing mostly on a line with Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler. He also has a PPP in three straight games. Mika Zibanejad (C/RW, 32 percent owned) of the New York Rangers is another high-upside add with two games this weekend; he plays on the Rangers' first power-play unit and has four points (three on the power play) in his past seven games with 19 SOG in that span. Sebastian Aho (LW/RW, 37 percent owned) of the Carolina Hurricanes, even with only one game this weekend, is also worth reminding you about with such low ownership despite being a top 25 player in Yahoo over the past 30 days and a top 10 player over the past two weeks.

 

SHOTS ON GOAL

There are some higher-ownership players with high shot volumes who are being dropped in many leagues. Nino Niederreiter (LW/RW, 58 percent owned) is stuck in a rough stretch with three points in his past 12 games, but could easily bounce back this weekend considering he has 31 SOG in that span. Brendan Gallagher (40 SOG in 10 games) of the Montreal Canadiens, Teuvo Teravainen (36 in 13) of the Hurricanes, Boone Jenner (32 in 12) of the Blue Jackets, Daniel Sedin (32 in 11) of the Vancouver Canucks and Jaden Schwartz (32 in 11) of the Blues have underachieved based on preseason expectations but are among the League's top shot producers in March. Sedin is the only player of that bunch with two games this weekend.

 

DEFENSEMAN OUTLOOK

If popular defensemen additions such as Matt Dumba (60 percent owned) of the Wild and David Savard (19 percent) of the Blue Jackets are already owned, you should play it straight and address your specific category need(s). If you need plus/minus support, look the way of either Hampus Lindholm (35 percent owned) of the Ducks or Brady Skjei (26 percent) of the Rangers; each has two games left this week. Mark Streit (24 percent owned) of the Penguins or Damon Severson (13 percent) of the Devils can help your power-play cause in their somewhat favorable matchups at home, and Josh Morrissey (4 percent owned) has been logging big minutes and covering categories for the Jets in the absence of injured defensemen Jacob Trouba and Tyler Myers.

Video: EDM@ANA: Lindholm, Rakell connect to tie the game

 

GOALIE OUTLOOK

Jonathan Bernier of the Anaheim Ducks (50 percent owned; two games this weekend) should be owned in all formats at this point, and there are plenty of other viable goalie options on the wire ahead of this crucial fantasy playoff weekend. Jaroslav Halak (24 percent owned), a once-proud NHL goaltender who had strong numbers for Bridgeport of the American Hockey League (17-7-3, .925 save percentage, two shutouts), will have a lot to prove when he starts at the Penguins on Friday. Aaron Dell (18 percent owned; B2B at DAL, at NSH) of the San Jose Sharks and Darcy Kuemper (5 percent; B2B vs. VAN, at DET) of the Wild are valuable backups worth streaming over the weekend.

Video: EDM@ANA: Bernier stones Draisaitl after turnover

 

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COMPLETE SCHEDULE OUTLOOK: MARCH 24-26

- FRI only: Tampa Bay Lightning

- FRI/SAT B2B: New York Islanders, San Jose Sharks

- FRI/SUN: Anaheim Ducks, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Pittsburgh Penguins, Winnipeg Jets

- SAT/SUN B2B: Minnesota Wild, New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Vancouver Canucks

- SAT only: Arizona Coyotes, Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Columbus Blue Jackets, Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers, Los Angeles Kings, Montreal Canadiens, Nashville Predators, Ottawa Senators, St Louis Blues, Toronto Maple Leafs, Washington Capitals

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