We have four games on the schedule tonight as the last two Western conference and Eastern conference playoff series begin play. The Capitals take on the Islanders, who looked very solid in an easy defeat of the Panthers in the play-in round. The big news there will center around John Carlson ($6,400), who is questionable to play as of writing. In the Vancouver/St. Louis series, Tyler Toffoli ($5,500) will also have a questionable tag attached to his name.
The Flyers looked great in the round robin portion of the bubble and will likely be getting Jakub Voracek ($5,400) back for Game 1 against the Canadiens, who are coming off a massive upset of the Penguins. There’s not much to report on the injury front for Colorado and Arizona, although it’s worth noting the Coyotes come in as the second-biggest series underdogs of the first round at around +235.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Wednesday’s rescheduled Bruins-Hurricanes game is not on the slate and will not accrue stats.
Top Line Stacks
PHI vs. MTL
Sean Couturier ($7,600) – Claude Giroux ($6,900) – Joel Farabee ($3,500)
The Flyers could still juggle their top line a bit prior to puck drop but the top unit should make for a great target in Game 1 of this series, regardless. The Flyers won all three round-robin games handily and didn’t have to rely much on the team’s top duo of Couturier and Giroux, who combined for just two assists in those games. Philadelphia goes up against a much weaker team tonight though in the Canadiens, who possessed only the 19th-best penalty kill in the league last season.
Farabee had a great round robin, landing a goal and an assist against Tampa Bay in the Flyers’ final game. The 20-year-old played up on the top line due to an injury to Voracek and while those two could switch roles if Farabee stays on the top unit for Game 1 he’ll be an easy stacking target. While Giroux and Couturier only played 14 and 16 mins in their last game, expect those minutes to rise substantially here as the Flyers won’t be taking the Canadiens lightly after Montreal ousted the Penguins so easily. I’d expect this unit to get off to a quick start as the Flyers look to assert their dominance early over an inferior team.
Superstar to Target
Nathan MacKinnon ($8,500), COL vs. ARZ
You hardly need me to tell you that rostering McKinnon is generally a good idea in NHL DFS. After all, the Avalanche captain picked up right where he left off in the play-ins, scoring points in all three games and playing over 23 mins in two of the Avalanche’s three round-robin contests. The only question here is whether or not he’s worth paying up for over the other $8K player on this slate, Alex Ovechkin ($8,300). When we look at the matchups these two have though, it’s hard not to lean McKinnon. Arizona featured a solid penalty kill during the regular season but allowed the Predators’ top line to go ballistic versus them in the prior round as the combo of Victor Arvidsson and Filip Forsberg scored six times in four games. Arizona also allowed the ninth-most SOG per game this year, making this a great upside spot for McKinnon, who won’t be going up against another shutdown center all series. Even in these lower-scoring playoff series, this feels like a monster spot for Nate the great and one where he’s worth paying up for.
Value on Offense
Phil Kessel ($4,400), ARZ at COL
Kessel was moved onto the Coyotes’ top line during the play-ins and provided instant offense for Arizona, collecting four points during the series while playing over 18 minutes in each of the final three games. The Coyotes obviously have a tougher matchup in this series, but it’s not like the Avalanche are impenetrable either. Colorado allowed the 15th-most SOG per game in the regular season and the team’s penalty kill ranked outside of the top 10, making this a neutral to decent matchup for Kessel. Given that his salary didn’t go up much and he should continue to get big minutes on the top line, he makes for a great Game 1 value target here.
Vladislav Namestnikov ($3,800), COL vs. ARZ
On the flip side of this game is another good value winger who is getting a shot with his team’s first unit. Namestnikov came over from the Senators at the trade deadline and has played all over the lineup for the Avalanche since then, but looks set to be one of Nathan McKinnon’s wingmen during the first game of this series. The versatile Namestnikov saw his ice time rise in each game of the round robin and has now scored three times in his past six games. Given how poorly the Coyotes were at stopping the Preds’ first line, his under $4K salary here on DraftKings looks too good to pass up and makes him an easy stacking target with McKinnon.
Semyon Varlamov ($7,200), NYI at WAS
Varlamov is an obvious revenge spot in this series, going up against his old team the Capitals. While his new team enters as +122 underdogs as of writing, this series should be hotly contested as the Islanders looked quite adept in dispatching the Panthers during the play-ins. One of the bright spots in the play-ins for New York was Varlamov, who posted a .929 save percentage or better in three of the four games. Given how good the Capitals are at getting pucks on net, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see his save totals go up in this series either. He’s a solid GPP target here and looks primed to produce a couple of big nights in this series
Jacob Markstrom ($7,500), VAN at STL
Markstrom started slowly against the Wild but picked things up toward the end, winning three games in a row for Vancouver to close out the series. The Blues looked anything but good during the play-ins, losing all three round-robin games. St. Louis also showcased a bit of lethargic offense, scoring more than one goal just once in three games. Markstrom’s a goalie who can withstand a ton of shots against if he’s in form and St. Louis’ offense isn’t exactly scaring anyone at the moment. The chances of the Swede frustrating the Blues further here and posting a big game seems solid enough to take a shot with him at a price cheap enough to let you stack in other areas.
Value on Defense
Shayne Gostisbehere ($3,900), PHI vs. MTL
Gostibehere made his return for the Flyers in the final game of the round-robin series. The offensive-minded defenseman had minor knee surgery over the hiatus to repair an injury that had been hampering his production. He only played small minutes in his first game back but looked solid, landing two assists, two SOG and two blocked shots in just 15.6 minutes of ice time. Gostibehere used to be the Flyers’ main power-play QB and has recorded as many as 13 goals in a season, so buying low here on a player who looks rejuvenated and fully healthy again makes sense for DFS. Don’t expect huge minutes but if he starts getting even a little power-play time against a weaker team like the Canadiens, he could become a must-play during this series if his salary stays at these levels.
Cale Makar ($6,000), COL vs. ARZ
Makar averaged just under a point per game during the regular season and should handle the majority of the man advantage situations for the Avalanche against the Coyotes. While Arizona posted good penalty-kill numbers during the regular season, the Coyotes were dismal in that regard in the play-ins. Arizona allowed the Preds to score on just under 30% of their chances with the man advantage. Colorado’s power-play wasn’t elite during the regular season but it rated out much better than Nashville’s suggesting a big series could be in store for Makar. He makes for a nice target on defense and good stacking target with McKinnon if you can find room to fit both in.
Quinn Hughes ($5,200), VAN at STL
I don’t mind paying up for some of the Canucks’ offensive players tonight as the Blues certainly had some issues during the play-ins, allowing 10 goals against in three games. St. Louis can be dominant defensively but also featured just the 18th-best penalty kill in the league which should help out a player like Hughes, who plays big minutes with the man advantage for the Canucks. Hughes was terrific during the play-ins, scoring six points in his last three games and the matchup against St. Louis here means his price still hasn’t risen at all. He’s a great upper-tier value and nice target for those who want to stack what should be a lower-owned Vancouver PP1.
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