Tuukka Rask, BOS vs. COL ($36) – Rask didn’t exactly start the season on the right foot, but the Avalanche have mustered just five goals through two games this season, and scored just one against Cory Schneider. Rask is a legitimate No. 1 goalie who quietly posted his fourth straight 30-win season with a 2.23 GAA last year. Among the teams playing Monday night, Colorado’s top scorers seem like the least daunting bunch.
GOALIE TO AVOID
Corey Crawford, CHI at TOR ($32) – The Blackhawks have allowed just two goals all season and Crawford never gets enough credit for how good he is, but that Leafs offense is downright scary. They have a balanced attack that can beat you by capitalizing on turnovers or simply by going one-on-one, and they’re tied with the Blackhawks for the league lead with 15 goals scored. The most likely scenario is that Crawford gets the win, but it comes at a big cost to his GAA.
Connor McDavid, EDM vs. WPG ($32) – That Jets defense looks great on paper, but they’ve been atrocious to start the season. Paul Maurice has very little time to fix his porous defense against the league’s scariest player on open ice. After being frustrated by a surprisingly resilient Canucks squad, McDavid should be looking to bounce back in a big way.
CENTER TO AVOID
Steven Stamkos, TB vs. WAS ($29) – It’s only a matter of time before Stamkos scores his first goal, but the Caps are off to a great start and they’ve been getting excellent goaltending from Braden Holtby. Stamkos and the Lightning’s top line looks very good, but the primary triggermen for the line seems to be wingers Nikita Kucherov and Vladislav Namestnikov.
Alex Ovechkin, WAS at TB ($34) – All aboard the Ovi train! With seven goals through the first two games of the season, Ovechkin is on a historic scoring run, and Andrei Vasilevskiy has not looked very good in net for the Bolts. After some worrying performances during the preseason, Ovechkin and the Caps offense are clicking, and they’ll be a much more formidable opponent than the Panthers, who still managed to score eight goals in two games against the Lightning.
Evander Kane, BUF vs. NJ ($22) – Kane is a fantasy machine, the rare position player who can provide scoring and a lot of peripheral stats, including hits and shots on goal. He’s scored points in back-to-back games and registered a league-high 19 shots on goal, which makes him an ideal candidate to score against Cory Schneider. Buffalo’s problem this season won’t be scoring, as long as Kane and the rest of the team can stay healthy.
WINGS TO AVOID
Taylor Hall, NJ at BUF ($22) – If Kyle Palmieri (knee) doesn’t play, it makes Buffalo’s job a lot easier if they only have to focus on one scoring winger. Despite his reputation as a sniper, Hall has actually never scored more than 30 goals a season, and last year finished with only 20 goals despite taking 238 shots. His shooting efficiency is at career lows in New Jersey, and his reputation is riding on his status as a former No. 1 overall pick rather than his superior skill.
T.J. Oshie, WAS at TB ($28) – There are a lot of other equally good options available at a much lower price. Oshie’s fantasy value is derived from his ability to contribute in all categories, but he doesn’t offer much upside potential because he’s not always the go-to scoring option. It’s likely that Barry Trotz will ask Oshie’s line to play a more defensive role against the Lightning’s deep offense, especially given how well Ovechkin’s line has been scoring recently.
Charlie McAvoy, BOS vs. COL ($17) – Last year’s playoff hero proved his performance was no fluke, scoring a goal and an assist in the season opener while playing 22 minutes. He’s second only to Zdeno Chara in ice time, and along with Brandon Carlo represent the future of Boston’s blue line. The Avalanche allowed four goals in their last game and would’ve allowed even more had their goalies not made some desperation saves.
T.J. Brodie, CGY at ANH ($15) – After a horrible 3-0 loss to the Oilers to start the season, the Flames got right back on track with a come-from-behind win against the Jets in which Brodie contributed two goals and four points. His all-around versatility makes him indispensable, and he’s averaging over 24 minutes per game and playing big roles on special teams. The Ducks are in a very vulnerable position early in the season with a slew of injuries to their key players.
DEFENSEMEN TO AVOID
Victor Hedman, TB vs. WAS ($26) – Despite being a frontrunner for the Norris Trophy before the season, Hedman and the Lightning have really struggled on defense. They now face a Capitals offense that’s on a historic pace thanks to Ovechkin, and even if they manage to keep him at bay Tampa may not have enough defensive depth to cover the remainder of the Caps’ lines. Hedman’s a great player, but a poor matchup doesn’t warrant an expensive price tag.
Morgan Rielly, TOR vs. CHI ($18) – Rielly’s a fantastic defenseman, but not the type to really fill up the stat sheet. Like Drew Doughty, he does all the things you want in a defenseman, but often gives up offensive opportunities to make the better defensive play. He’ll need to do plenty of that against the Blackhawks, whose offense already looks much better and deeper than last year’s.