The Pittsburgh Penguins have been unbelievable lately. They have won nine consecutive games after their matinee victory against the Boston Bruins Sunday afternoon, but they aren’t just getting it from their top contributors.
Everyone knows LW Chris Kunitz is a good player, but did you think he was elite? Did you know from a Fantasy perspective, he is actually outperforming C Sidney Crosby over the past three weeks? It’s true. Kunitz has 11 goals, 19 points and an amazing plus-15 rating. That includes four power play goals during the span, and, perhaps most importantly, just four penalty minutes (PIM) over the past 11 games. Kunitz entered the league as a young, talented player who took a lot of dumb penalties. The Regina, Saskatchewan native has really matured over the years, especially since touching down in Pittsburgh. Playing alongside Sid the Kid certainly helps the offensive, but a cooler head and better decision making has really propelled him to stardom.
Kunitz is just one of the players performing well above expectations for the Pens. LW James Neal has managed five goals, 12 points and a plus-10 rating over his past 12 games. Neal has been a good player for a couple of years, but how many people saw LW Pascal Dupuis as a must-start Fantasy option at the beginning of the season? Dupuis has managed seven goals, eight point sand a plus-12 rating over the past 11 games. He sees time with the top scoring unit, and gets in on the action with the No. 1 power play unit. He has well exceeded expectations, and is actually performing at a higher Fantasy level than guys like Anaheim Ducks RW Corey Perry, Minnesota Wild LW Zach Parise, and Tampa Bay Lightning RW Martin St. Louis, just to name a few.
Here is the breakdown, team-by-team, for the upcoming week:
Team with five games (1): Vancouver
Teams with four games (11): Anaheim, Calgary, Colorado, Dallas, Florida, Los Angeles, N.Y.
Islanders, N.Y. Rangers, Tampa Bay, Washington, Winnipeg
Teams with three games (15): Boston, Buffalo, Carolina, Columbus, Detroit, Minnesota, Montreal,
Nashville, New Jersey, Ottawa, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, San Jose, Toronto
Teams with two games (3): Chicago, Edmonton, Philadelphia
TV Time (national broadcasts in the upcoming week):
MON: Philadelphia at Tampa Bay (NBCSN, 7:30pm ET)
TUE: Washington at Pittsburgh (NBCSN, 7:30pm ET)
WED: Minnesota at Detroit (NBCSN, 7:30pm ET), Dallas at Colorado (NHLN, 9:30pm ET)
THU: Carolina at New Jersey (NHLN, 7:00pm ET)
FRI: Pittsburgh at N.Y. Islanders (NHLN, 7:00pm ET), Washington at Winnipeg (CBC, 9:00pm ET), Detroit at Anaheim (NHL, 10:00pm ET)
SAT: Vancouver at Los Angeles (NHLN, 4:00pm ET), Boston at Toronto (NHLN, 7:00pm ET), Buffalo at Montreal (CBC, 7:00pm ET), St. Louis at Edmonton (CBC, 10:00pm ET)
SUN: Philadelphia at Pittsburgh (NBCSN, 7:00pm ET), Washington at N.Y. Rangers (NBCSN, 7:00pm ET)
Pittsburgh Penguins C Evgeni Malkin (upper body) was able to participate in the morning skate Sunday, but he did not play against the Bruins. He has been sidelined for four games since being crunched into the Air Canada Centre boards March 9 by Toronto Maple Leafs LW James van Riemsdyk. Keep Geno reserved heading into the upcoming scoring period, and let him prove his health in one full game before plugging him back into the active Fantasy lineup.
Pittsburgh Penguins D Kris Letang (lower body) suffered a lower body injury Sunday against the Bruins, but the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that teammates say Letang did not suffer a cut to the back of his leg. That’s a good sign, as a skate could sever tendons, similar to how Ottawa Senators D Erik Karlsson (Achilles’) left and is out for the season. Still, Letang should be reserved heading into the upcoming week.
In that same game, Boston Bruins C David Krejci (leg) needed assistance to leave the ice after being struck in the leg blocking a shot in Sunday’s loss in Pittsburgh. The severity of Krejci’s injury is not yet known, but it’s a good idea to reserve him for the upcoming week just to be on the safe side.
Minnesota Wild RW Devin Setoguchi has posted six goals with 11 points and a plus-8 rating over his past 10 games. He is owned in just one-third of all Fantasy leagues, so there is plenty of opportunity to pick him up. He has at least one goal, and four total goals, over his past three games. … Phoenix Coyotes W Shane Doan has lit the lamp four times in the past seven games. If you need offense, Doan is available in about 35 percent of all Fantasy leagues. … Buffalo Sabres C Steve Ott has been extremely helpful to Fantasy owners in advanced scoring systems, posting 121 hits in 28 games. That’s second-best in the NHL. Ott also has three goals, 14 points and a respectable plus-5 rating with 49 PIM. … If you need blocked shots, take a look at Anaheim Ducks D Francois Beauchemin. His Fantasy ownership has shot up in recent weeks, but he is still available in about 20 percent of all formats. He has 60 blocked shots and 44 hits in 27 games this season, and he has also managed two goals, 16 points and a tremendous plus-17 rating.
Photos via Getty