Fantasy Corner: Defense and Goaltending Fantasy Picks – 05/15/22

There is nothing quite like a Game 7, and tonight holds two of them. The New York Rangers and Dallas Stars evened up their series, but do they have enough to wrap it up? Will the Pittsburgh Penguins be able to get by without their captain? Will the Calgary Flames solve Jake Oettinger? This betting guide will give good value picks to boost your daily fantasy lineups for today’s trio of games.

Goaltender: Igor Shesterkin, New York Rangers

Although he got off to a strong start, Igor Shesterkin’s 2022 Stanley Cup Playoff run was quickly derailed. His .952 save percentage (SV%) posted in Game 1 was immediately disrupted when he allowed 10 goals in the next two games. After dropping Game 4, Shesterkin and the Rangers collectively regrouped and bounced back, tying the series at 3-3. Despite allowing three goals in each of the Rangers’ last two wins, his SV% bounced back to .906, and he’s looked more confident too.

Igor Shesterkin New York Rangers
Igor Shesterkin, New York Rangers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Penguins are in a tough spot without their captain, and their defense hasn’t played up to the calibre it did earlier in the series. Shesterkin is getting the goal support from several Rangers players stepping up, and he’s been sharp when called on. He’s facing north of a dozen scoring chances each game, with the majority coming in the high-slot area, but his confidence has rebounded well enough. With many factors playing in, expect him to out-duel Louis Domingue at the other end.

Defense: Kris Letang, Pittsburgh Penguins

In Game 4, Kris Letang played a big part in the Penguins taking a commanding 3-1 series lead. His two-assist performance brought him up to three points in four games, and he showcased the same poise from five years ago. Not factoring in his ice time from Game 1, where he played over 46 minutes due to several overtimes, Letang is averaging around 25 minutes per game. Even at 35 years of age, his decision-making isn’t hindered by stamina levels, and the Penguins have continued to rely on him to carry possession up the ice.

His regular season against the Rangers wasn’t remarkable, with only two assists in four meetings, but he’s found an extra level in the postseason. As part of the Penguins’ winning history in the past, Letang knows what it takes to win big games. He’ll look to overcome suffering the same fate nearly 10 years ago when a 2013 Rangers team eliminated the Penguins in seven games.

Goaltender: Jacob Markstrom, Calgary Flames

It didn’t come as a surprise to anyone that Jacob Markstrom would have a spectacular postseason. His regular-season numbers were out of this world, with a .922 SV% and nine shutouts, and were a big reason why the Flames made headway in the standings. The new coaching regime put a lot of faith in him, and it has paid off extremely well for them thus far. His 3-3 record becomes comical when you notice his .945 SV% and nine goals surrendered in six games.

Jacob Markstrom Chris Tanev Calgary Flames Marian Studenic Dallas Stars
Jacob Markstrom and Chris Tanev of the Calgary Flames keep an eye on the puck while Marian Studenic of the Dallas Stars looks on (Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The unfortunate news is that he’s being matched by the Stars’ Oettinger, who is putting up numbers similar to Markstrom. The series packs a lot of star power and scoring, yet both teams have focused on defensive-minded strategies and have two goaltenders standing on their heads. Calgary’s firepower gives them the slight edge over Dallas, and if they can figure out a way to solve Oettinger in Game 7, Markstrom will be up to the task of shutting the door and sealing up a first-round series win.

Defense: Miro Heiskanen, Dallas Stars

Miro Heiskanen is having a very underrated postseason so far. He’s been held off the scoresheet in four of six games, but it’s the complete game he’s providing the Stars that is putting him into the spotlight. With or without the puck, he’s playing with tons of confidence and improving with each game. Sure, he has just three points thus far, but given his ability to move the play up the ice and utilize a strong transition game, he’ll get his looks. He’s averaging over 24 minutes of ice time and making the most of it.

During the regular season, Heiskanen had four assists in three games against the Flames. He matches up well against Calgary’s offense, predicting their zone entries and playing the gap control to his favour. The Stars should hope for more of his defensive abilities in Game 7 if they wish to keep the game close. It may come down to a greasy goal, as the goal-starved series has been tight since Game 1.

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