Game of the Day: New York Rangers (34-24-8) at Carolina (35-27-5) — as easy as Avery, Babchuk, Cole, Ruutu, Staal, Backes, Ott, O’Brien

New York Rangers left wing Sean Avery tallied one assist and two PIMs in yesterday's 4-3 home win vs. the Boston Bruins

New York Rangers left wing Sean Avery tallied one assist and two PIMs in Sunday's 4-3 home win vs. the Boston Bruins. Still, there are better fantasy options.

In fantasy terms, New York Rangers left wing Sean Avery has always been a PIM source with just enough peripheral stats — roughly one point every two games — to merit a roster spot.

Tonight at 7:00pm ET the Rangers take their three-game winning streak to Raleigh to face the Carolina Hurricanes, who are also going for their fourth straight and who have scored 20 goals in their last three.

This match-up is a must-watch for fantasy owners. Specifically, there are three under-owned players who can help your roster down the stretch.

1. Avery (81 percent available in Yahoo!, 39.2 percent available in ESPN). The only area he’ll help you is PIMs. Pick him up for no other reason. And be warned: as a left wing, Avery is not an ideal player to add for aid in only one category.

If you’re hurting in PIMs, there are three better guys to add: (1) St. Louis Blues RW David Backes (59 percent available in Yahoo!, 68 percent in ESPN); (2) Vancouver Canucks D Shane O’Brien (78 percent available in Yahoo!, 85.5 percent in ESPN); (3) Dallas Stars C Steve Ott (85 percent available in Yahoo!, 86 percent in ESPN).

Why are these gents preferable to Avery? O’Brien is a No. 4 defenseman, so in starting him you won’t be sacrificing the offense that you would by deploying Avery at one of your LW spots. The same logic applies to Backes: there simply aren’t as many goal scorers at RW as there are at LW. Moreover, Backes has three goals in his last four games. As for Ott, he has emerged as more than a mere pugilist. He has seven points in his last six and is now a viable No. 2 center.

2. Hurricanes D Anton Babchuk (95 percent available in Yahoo!, 93 percent in ESPN). Let me quote the spin: “Perhaps you already have a roster full of rearguards, each of whom has eight points in nine games. If not, and you haven’t paid attention to Babchuk’s sudden offensive surge, now would be a good time to do so.” Here I’ll underscore that Babchuk’s statistical spree was underway long before Carolina’s 20-goal burst. I’ll also add this: of Babchuk’s eight points, five were goals.

3. Hurricanes RW Erik Cole (60 percent available in Yahoo!, 27.8 percent in ESPN). With as much trade-deadline fanfare as Cole received, you would think he’d be a more widely owned fantasy entity, especially following his four-assist gem in Carolina’s 9-3 road thumping of the Tampa Bay Lightning on March 7. But Yahoo! players especially have been hesitant to add Cole. Likewise, teammate LW Tuomo Ruutu — skating with Cole and center Eric Staal on Carolina’s alpha line — remains 84 percent available in Yahoo! and 63.9 percent in ESPN. Ruutu had two goals and three assists in the March 7 game.

photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons


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