Fantasy Corner: Defense and Goaltending Fantasy Picks – 05/11/22

Most playoff series have become a best-of-three, with only one team punching their ticket into the second round. The Pittsburgh Penguins are one win away from joining the Colorado Avalanche as second-round teams. Also, who will take a commanding series lead between Calgary/Dallas and Florida/Washington? This betting guide will give good value picks to boost your daily fantasy lineups for today’s trio of games.

Defense: John Carlson, Washington Capitals

While the Washington Capitals have all the offensive tools they need to match the Florida Panthers, their blue line can chip in thanks to the magic of John Carlson. He was quiet in Game 1 but has since earned at least a point in the following three meetings. He’s averaging around 24 minutes of ice time and is showcasing monster value for his team. The Capitals have made it out of the first round just once in the last three years following their Stanley Cup win in 2018, where Carlson shined.

John Carlson Washington Capitals
John Carlson, Washington Capitals (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Carlson’s four points not only lead all defensemen on the team but are more than the remainder of their blue line combined. When he gets going, so does the team, and their power play needs his efforts to continue clicking. He had two points in three games against Florida during the regular season, and he’ll be a player to watch for as the series tightens up.

Defense: Aaron Ekblad, Florida Panthers

Carlson’s counterpart at the other end of the ice is Aaron Ekblad, the Panthers’ ace on the blue line. He was quiet in Game 1, ending with a minus-1 rating and two shots on net. Since then, he’s fired up his play and registered four points in three games. The Panthers need his consistency as the series edges closer to a seven-game affair. He eats up a ton of minutes, is dangerous offensively, and adds excellent value when healthy.

In three games during the regular season, Ekblad put up four points against the Capitals. He knows the team well and loves playing a fast-paced style that matches Washington’s offense. He won’t fire too many shots on net as the series goes on, but with how many weapons the Panthers have upfront, it’s not necessarily a requirement. If you’re looking for a point producer down the stretch, Ekblad is as good a fit as anyone else.

Defense: Miro Heiskanen, Dallas Stars

The Dallas Stars are surprising pundits and turning heads with a tied series against the Calgary Flames, and Miro Heiskanen is a big part of it. Despite his stats only showing two assists in four games, he’s been one of the best defensemen in the series. He played nearly 30 minutes in Game 1 and then registered two assists in Game 3 while playing just under 27 minutes. He’s stabilized the Stars’ blue line, keeping the series extremely tight and helping his goaltender out.

Miro Heiskanen Dallas Stars
Miro Heiskanen, Dallas Stars (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

In three games against the Flames this season, he put four points on the board. He’s very comfortable when it comes to playing against a fast Calgary team and counters their offense well with his gap control and quick puck-moving ability. He’s also a capable point producer with 32 career points in 44 playoff games. He may be a dark horse pick with a best-of-three series on the horizon, but he’s one you should feel good about.

Goaltender: Jacob Markstrom, Calgary Flames

Jacob Markstrom had a season to remember in 2021-22, enjoying a .922 save percentage and nine shutouts. He was heavily relied upon to carry the team, and he made good on his ability to keep the puck out of the net. Remarkably enough, his efforts are replicated by Stars’ goaltender Jake Oettinger, who has been just as outstanding. The series is extremely close, and both goaltenders give their team a great chance to win. Markstrom has the benefit of playing within a more-potent offensive structure, and his defense in front of him matches the Stars quite well.

The surprising factor heading into this series was that Markstrom was 1-2-0 against the Stars during the regular season. Despite his brilliance, he conceded seven goals in two defeats, and the team in front of him struggled to put up enough production. Heading into this year’s postseason, Markstrom boasted a career 8-6 record, with one shutout. He was phenomenal during the regular season and into the postseason, and his .952 SV% gives the Flames a fighting chance every game. Down the stretch, the odds of him continuing this pace are greater than Oettinger maintaining his .960 SV%.

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