Round One of the NHL Playoffs has provided plenty of strangeness so far, if nothing else, with two multi-overtime games and one that actually delayed the start of the subsequent game until the following day. Those teams will have their Game 2’s on Thursday, along with two others, as the Blue Jackets, Blackhawks, Hurricanes, and Stars all attempt to even up their series at a game apiece. The action gets going at 3 p.m. E.T., starting with the Blue Jackets and Lightning, who played into the fifth overtime in their previous game.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Oliver Bjorkstrand ($5,100), Alex Texier ($2,900)
The Blue Jackets were a part of one of the most historic hockey games in recent memory, but unfortunately wound up on the losing side of a 3-2, five overtime thriller to the Tampa Bay Lightning. There’s not a lot of precedent for how teams might shake up their roster following a game of this sort, as it might make some sense to swap in some fresh legs at least at the lower tier of the roster to give the tired players a break. Nonetheless, there is at least one line combination to monitor that changed earlier in Game 1.
The Blue Jackets opened Game 1 with a top line of Pierre-Luc Dubois ($4,900), Texier and Liam Foudy ($2,700), but pivoted from Texier to Oliver Bjorkstrand early on in the game. It’s not clear why this took place, but Texier slotted in with Alex Wennberg ($2,600) and Cam Atkinson ($5,400) for the remainder of the game. Since the Jackets ultimately lost it’s possible that they switch things up again, but there’s a decent chance that Game 2 will see them stick with the lines that they used for the majority of Game 1.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Steven Stamkos ($6,800), Mikhail Sergachev ($3,900)
Stamkos missed Game 1 of the series after not being able to play in the Round Robin games either, and his status is still in doubt ahead of Game 2 against the Blue Jackets. Stamkos is a pivotal player for the Lightning, especially on the power play, and the team’s scoring potential will continue to take a hit for as long as he remains out. In the meantime, Tyler Johnson ($3,400) will continue to fill his spot on the top power play.
One other interesting note on the Lightning is that Sergachev, who had filled in for Viktor Hedman ($5,600) on the power play during his absence through the Round Robin games, actually saw the majority of the time on the point with the first unit even with Hedman back in the lineup during Game 1. Sergachev would become an extremely viable DFS option if this were to stick in Game 2, but it’s also possible that the Lightning were simply easing Hedman back into his usual role.
Patrice Bergeron ($7,400), David Pastrnak ($8,000), Brad Marchand ($6,500)
The Bruins didn’t exactly switch their lines in their Game 1 double-OT victory over the Carolina Hurricanes, but they did do something interesting that could make for some unique DFS strategies if it continues in Game 2. Bergeron, Pastrnak, and Marchand were all double-shifted periodically during the game, slotting in specifically on the Bruins’ second line of David Krejci ($3,800), Ondrej Kase ($3,700), and Jake Debrusk ($4,000). Playing your best players on multiple lines isn’t all that uncommon for NHL teams, but doing so in place of second-line players is a bit more unusual.
If this trend continues in Game 2, it basically means that the Bruins’ top line players will be sharing the ice far more often with their second line players, and they’ll have more chances to contribute points in unison. These guys don’t actually share power play correlation across lines, as Charlie Coyle has been the fourth forward on the first power play unit, but the cross-line correlation could exist at even strength due to this double-shifting.
Tyler Seguin ($5,600), Jamie Benn ($5,100), Alexander Radulov ($4,700)
The Stars began Game 1 against the Calgary Flames with balanced forward lines, with their usual top line center Seguin actually down on line three. The Stars got off to a rough start and trailed 2-0 in the 1st period, but stuck with those line combinations until late in the game when they trailed 3-2 and were looking for the tying goal. Seguin played with Benn and Radulov at the end of the game, as he often does, but this isn’t generally an indication of line combinations to come.
During the 2019-2020 regular season, the trio of Seguin, Benn, and Radulov was the Stars’ most common top line wide by a substantial margin, but they did often start the game with those players playing separate from each other. We’re in the playoffs now and the decisions could be different as a result, but a best guess would probably be that the Stars open Game 2 in a similar fashion to that of Game 1, and end up making similar adjustments as well.
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