The end of the second round of the NHL Playoffs is approaching and today’s slate brings us two teams who are already on the brink of elimination. The Boston Bruins and the Colorado Avalanche were both among the best teams in the NHL this season but both are down 3-1 in the second round and could be packing their bags after today’s games. The slate locks at 7 p.m. E.T., as the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Dallas Stars both look to close it out in Game 5.
Nathan MacKinnon ($8,500), Mikko Rantanen ($6,900), Gabriel Landeskog ($5,900)
The four teams on today’s slate all have elite first lines but there are reasons to prefer the Avalanche over each of the other three teams. The most notable point of separation is playing time, as Colorado is much more inclined to rely heavily on their top-end players than the average team and they have done so throughout the second round. This was especially true in the Avs’ Game 4 loss, where MacKinnon, Rantanen and Landeskog each got around 20 minutes of ice time. Additionally, the Avalanche tend to stick to just one power-play unit when trailing, so these desperate times should continue to increase their power-play share as they did in Game 4.
The other element that favors the Avalanche is matchup and while all four teams today are solid defensively, the Stars are pretty clearly the least challenging of these teams. The Stars have been involved in high-scoring games throughout the playoffs, so while they’ve obviously had enough success to be on the cusp of their second series win, they’ve also shown a propensity for allowing a decent amount of goal scoring. The Stars have given up 32 goals in their 10 playoffs games and the Avalanche appear well-positioned to keep that trend going in Game 5.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Tyler Johnson ($3,400), Anthony Cirelli ($3,500), Alex Killorn ($3,800)
Barclay Goodrow ($2,700), Yanni Gourde ($3,000), Blake Coleman ($4,300)
Keeping with the theme of ice time, the Tampa Bay Lightning are at the opposite end of the spectrum from the Colorado Avalanche and have been very willing to give even playing time to their top three forward lines. In the Lightning’s past three games, which have been three straight wins, Tampa Bay has actually played the second line at even strength more than the first line, with the third line not too far behind either. The first line has carried Tampa Bay’s production so far and while those guys pose a much larger threat than the second and third lines, these depth lines should be able to start finding the net more and are strong values at their low price tags.
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