The NHL Playoffs have left us with only two games for the Thursday DFS slate with a handful of teams already getting eliminated from the first round. As a result, the slate start time has been pushed all the way back to 8 p.m. ET, kicking off with Game 5 between the New York Islanders and Washington Capitals and ending with Game 6 between the Dallas Stars and Calgary Flames. Two of the teams continue to face injury question marks, and both of those status updates figure to be extremely significant for tonight’s slate.
Matthew Tkachuk ($5,900)
After leading this series against the Dallas Stars 2-1 after three games, the Flames now trail 3-2 after losing two games in a row. The most notable reason for their struggles has been the extended absence of forward Matthew Tkachuk, who suffered a leg injury in Game 2 and hasn’t been able to play since. Tkachuk is listed as a game-time decision for tonight’s Game 6, and while that sounds promising for a potential return, he had the same designation for the three previous games and didn’t play in any of those.
If Tkachuk plays, it’ll be a big boost to the Flames chances to win this game and this series, and will make for a potentially interesting low-owned DFS option depending how late the news breaks. If Tkachuk sits again, the Flames will likely continue to mix and match their line combinations to account for his absence. The top line of Sean Monanhan ($5,400), Johnny Gaudreau ($6,300) and Elias Lindholm ($5,400) was broken up during Game 5, with Tobias Rieder ($2,900) moving into Lindholm’s spot on the first line. This could be what we see again in Game 6, but obviously Tkachuk’s status will have a huge impact on any of those decisions.
Nicklas Backstrom ($5,100)
Just like the Flames, the Capitals are dealing with a significant injury to a key forward who was injured earlier in the series. Backstrom left Game 1 after a hit to the head and has been going through the concussion protocol. His status for today’s Game 5 remains in doubt. Backstrom is also a game-time decision and, like Tkachuk, his presence in the lineup would go a long way in helping the Capitals get back in their series against the New York Islanders. The Caps currently trail 3-1, and will be hoping to stay alive in Thursday’s game.
If Backstrom plays, he likely will supplant Evgeny Kuznetsov ($5,700) on the top line, moving Kuznetsov back to his usual role on the second line. This would also bump Tom Wilson ($5,100) off the top power play unit, though he still would be a viable DFS option while playing on the first line with either Backstrom or Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin ($8,500). The other notable beneficiary if Backstrom continues to sit is Lars Eller ($4,00), who has moved up from the third line to the second line, and would likely continue to do so if Backstrom doesn’t play. Additionally, Kuznetsov has been taking extra shifts with the Caps’ fourth line in an effort to make up for the loss of Backstrom.
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