The Hurricanes look a little undervalued here as slight home favorites. Carolina won the division this year and finished the season fourth in xGF% and second in power-play efficiency. They’re just as deep as the Lightning and split the season series with them 4-4. Carolina’s odds look to be affected by the close series they had with Nashville, but the long layoff for Tampa could affect them negatively as well. The Carolina ML here is worth a bet.
I like targeting the under here, especially with Colorado coming off a long rest. The Avs and Golden Knights played each other eight times in the regular season and six of those games resulted in scores with totals of five or less. Despite struggling at times in the series against the Wild, Marc Andre-Fleury has always had a penchant for showing up in tough situations and both these teams ranked in the top three in goals against this year.
Top Line Stack
Colorado Avalanche vs. Vegas Golden Knights
Nathan MacKinnon ($8,600) — Gabriel Landeskog ($5,800) — Mikko Rantanen ($7,500)
It’s pricy, but paying up for the Colorado first line tonight will provide you a really solid floor on what could be a very low-scoring slate. We have four of the top-six teams from the regular season in terms of goals allowed per game in action here, so the SOG and volume that this Colorado top-line plays could be critical. All three of these forwards average well over 3.0 SOG per game and are also now averaging over a point per game on their own as well.
They won’t be facing the same kind of team as they were in the first round, but they will be getting a Vegas team that was taken to their limit by Minnesota in round one and likely won’t be fully rested for this first game. Regardless, with MacKinnon available at a reasonable price here and Landeskog — despite having nine points in five games now — still available under $6K in price here, stacking this first line feels like a near must on this short two-game slate.
Superstar to Target
Sebastian Aho, Carolina Hurricanes vs. Tampa Bay Lightning ($6,900)
Aho had a fantastic series against the Preds, scoring five goals and nine points, and also single-handedly launching them into the second round with his Game 6 performance. The center didn’t post the same kind of flashy numbers as some of the other centers in the league this year, but he has 29 goals now in 62 games and comes into this series averaging 4.2 SOG over his past 10 games. Despite Tampa Bay being a solid defensive team, Aho did manage to score multiple points against them in two games this year and Carolina as a team managed four or more goals three times in the season series. Aho’s on a roll right now and I’d expect him to be a big part of the game here. At under $7K, he’s a must roster in core lineups today.
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Value on Offense
Alex Killorn, Tampa Bay Lightning at Carolina Hurricanes ($4,000)
Killorn has thrived in these playoffs while playing on a line with Steven Stamkos ($6,200) and continues to look far too cheap on DraftKings not to consider here again. He’s now averaging over a point per game and 2.4 SOG over his past 10-games and collected four goals in the first-round series against Florida. Carolina is a tough defensive team, so don’t expect the same kind of outbreak with saw against the Panthers, but on what could be a very low-scoring slate Killorn’s volume could be essential and he has recorded multiple SOG in seven of his past eight games.
Martin Necas, Carolina Hurricanes vs. Tampa Bay Lightning ($4,400)
The Canes’ depth is well exemplified by the fact that Necas plays on their second line. The versatile Czech winger now has 46 points in 59 games this season and eight over his past 10 games. Necas plays alongside the underrated Vincent Trocheck ($5,400) most games on the second line, but also will see some power-play time as the Hurricanes will mix up their rotation if they feel like it. Carolina’s power play was second in the league this year and could be a pivotal part of this series. Targeting the cheap Necas, who is well entrenched in the rotation here and has averaged over 18 minutes per game over the past 10 games, is a good idea tonight.
Alex Nedeljkovic, Carolina Hurricanes vs. Tampa Bay Lightning ($7,800)
Nedeljkovic comes into this game as the favorite on DraftKings Sportsbook (as mentioned above), but likely won’t be a popular play today as many will likely choose to take the cheaper Andrei Vasilevskiy ($7,500) over him here. Vasilevskiy is coming off a big Game 6 win over Florida where he stopped 29 or 29 SOG faced, but I wouldn’t overlook the Canes’ rookie netminder. Nedeljkovic posted a .922 save percentage in round one (better than Vasilevskiy’s) and had a 1.97 GAA average in the regular season. He stood his ground when the Hurricanes needed him to in the first round and I wouldn't be shocked if he comes out with a big game at home to start the series. He posted a ridiculous .938 save percentage in 13 home games this year.
Value on Defense
Jaccob Slavin, Carolina Hurricanes vs. Tampa Bay Lightning ($3,800)
Slavin’s always a decent value target when he’s available under $4K in salary on DraftKings. He plays on the Canes’ top-pairing with Dougie Hamilton ($6,300) and played over 25 minutes in Games 5 and 6 after returning from injury. Slavin notched three assists in those final two games and he’s always been an underrated offensive player, even though he now takes a bit of a back-seat to Hamilton in that regard. Expect him to play monster minutes in this series and for him to step up the blocked shot production as well now that he’s fully healthy.
Mikhail Sergachev Tampa Bay Lightning at Carolina Hurricanes ($4,100)
Sergachev’s a good, cheap way to get some exposure to the Tampa power play today. The Russian got a little banged up in the first series against Florida, but still managed to grab a couple of assists in the last three games of the series while averaging well over 20 minutes of ice time against them. He managed multiple SOG in four of the six games against the Panthers and the rest should do whatever injury he’s dealing with a world of good. Expect to see a little more of him against Carolina and potentially even see him bumped up onto the PP1 if it struggles a bit early.
Cale Makar, Colorado Avalanche vs. Vegas Golden Knights ($5,700)
Makar and the Avs could have an opportunity to take advantage of a tired Vegas squad here in Game 1 and I like targeting his sub-$6K salary as result today. The Colorado special teams ace didn't have to do much against the Blues, but still grabbed three points in the sweep and had multiple SOG in each of the four games. With this only being a two-game slate, the upside with Makar could be enough to ensure a good fantasy night on its own. He grabbed 22 power-play points this year, which was fourth amoung defenseman, and has hit double-digit fantasy points now in five of his past 10 games. Look to him for upside tonight on defense at what is a very reasonable price.
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