There are nine games on the schedule on Thursday, meaning 18 teams are playing – quite the selection. There are going to be some great games on the schedule as well, such as a Pacific Division battle between the LA Kings and the San Jose Sharks, a big game between Atlantic Division rivals Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, and a Western Conference matchup that could prove to have huge playoff implications involving the Anaheim Ducks and the Nashville Predators.
But let’s get to the one that everyone is going to really want to see – the first rematch of the Canadians and Chara… err the Bruins since the much talked about and highly controversial Zdeno Chara hit on Max Pacioretty. On top of all of that, this should be an important game regarding playoff standings as well. This game will almost certainly see a bevy of penalty minutes and should make for a highly entertaining game. And let’s go ahead and start the Pick Six with the man of the night himself…
Zdeno Chara, D, BOS – start
If I owned Chara, you’d better believe I’d be starting him on Thursday. Not only would he have a plethora of reasons to perform well with all of the press he has been receiving, especially now that he is facing Montreal again, but Chara is sure to get some decent penalty minutes in the game. It’s almost guaranteed that Big Z is going to have to stick up for himself at least once, and with all of the hot air out there, I’d be surprised if he had to stick up for himself only once. In leagues that use PIM as a positive stat, I’d definitely get him out there.
Patric Hornqvist, RW, NAS – start
Hornqvist has been playing some better hockey lately, so playing against the team that he has done the best against this season bodes well for him on Thursday. He has collected 3g-2a-5pts, a +4, and 13 SOG in three games against Anaheim so far this year, scoring a goal in each game. Combine that with his decent play of late (1g-2a-3pts, a +2, 2 PPP, a GWG, and 8 SOG over his past three games), he should make for a nice play on Thursday.
Saku Koivu, C, ANA – start
While Hornqvist has scored a goal in every game against the Ducks, Saku Koivu has done the very same against the Predators. In three games against them, he has scored four goals, at least one in each game. Also like Hornqvist, he has also been playing decently lately. He has 1g-4a-5pts over his past six games. If you are needing some help in the goals department, Koivu and Hornqvist seem like they should be able to provide some.
Marc-Andre Fleury, G, PIT – sit
With 17 other goalies starting, it may be best to sit Fleury against the Flyers. Marc-Andre has not won a game against Philly yet this season, going 0-3-0 with a 3.06 GAA and .898 in three appearances so far this year. This also makes for it very possible that Brent Johnson will actually end up getting the call in goal. I would look for another option out there. Ray Emery or Al Montoya might actually make for a couple of better options that will be available on the waiver-wire if you are desperate for another starter.
Milan Hejduk, RW, COL – sit
Hejduk started off the season really nicely, looking like he was going to get back into form after regressing a bit in 2009-10 thanks to injuries. Well, not even The Duke could survive the treacherous spiral that overcame the Avalanche during the second half of the season. Since a two-goal game on February 3rd, Hejduk only has 2g-2a-4pts in the 17 games since, including a terrible (-17) and only 4 PIM. He was able to collect an assist three games ago on March 8, but since then he is a (-8) with only three SOG while also missing four games in between. Mix his huge slump with the fact that he has only played one game since returning, and I think you know what to do with him on Thursday.
Ryan Smyth, LW, LA – sit
With Justin Williams now out for the rest of the season, someone is going to have to step up in that first-line right wing slot, which probably doesn’t bode well for the already slumping second-line winger. Ever since Dustin Penner came to town and snagged his spot on the top line alongside Anze Kopitar, Smyth has struggled mightily. In the 10 games since the Penner trade, Smyth has only two assists, a (-9) and only 13 SOG. You should definitely be able to find some better options out there for what is most likely going to be a tough, low scoring matchup versus the Sharks.
Three up – three down today. There were plenty of options out there that I didn’t get into, so good luck with the rest of your decisions.
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