Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche vs. Tampa Bay Lightning ($16,200 CP; $10,800) Given how game one went, I don’t have an issue in paying up for MacKinnon again as a captain. The Avalanche center has averaged 5.75 shots on net over his last three games and dominated for stretches of game one, landing an assist and 15.5 DKFP. The Avalanche are again decent home favorites at -150 favorite on the DraftKings Sportsbook and have a 3.4 implied goal total for game two.
MacKinnon is also a player we should be looking to when at home as he recorded a 1.43 points per game average in 39 home games this season, compared to just 1.27 on the road. The last shift factor remains in Colorado’s favor tonight and that should get MacKinnon in a few better matchups again that he can take advantage of. Look for more of a breakout in game two.
Darcy Kuemper, Tampa Bay Lightning at Colorado Avalanche ($15,600 CP; $10,400) With everyone expecting a higher scoring game after seven goals were scored in game one, the contrarian move would be to look for a lower final score and spend up on goalies. Most of the talk in this series has been about the playoff exploits of Andrei Vasilevskiy, but it’s worth noting that Darcy Kuemper has proven himself to be a very high upside goalie for daily fantasy hockey purposes this season. Kuemper recorded five shutouts in 62 starts this year and had an amazing 25-5-3 record at home.
He should be more comfortable in game two after sustaining a layoff between series (and due to injury) so don’t be shocked if he surprises in game two and ups his play. The Avalanche defensively also dominated Tampa Bay for large portions of game one and if that continues, we could easily see Kuemper end the game with a big fantasy total as well.
Steven Stamkos ($13,200 CP; $8,800) If Tampa Bay is able to get to Colorado tonight and even the series, it’s very possible we see Stamkos break out for a multi-point effort. He’s been terrific in these playoffs, landing five goals against the Rangers and has posted a multiple goal effort in each of the last two series. If you’re not down with my Kuemper call, or just want to play for the scenario where the underdog Lightning actually win, then Stamkos is a player who should benefit — especially if Colorado’s net-minding takes a turn south. Kuemper has posted save percentages under .900 in four of his last five games so this scenario is certainly worth building around in GPPs and Stamkos’ cheaper salary makes him a great upper tier value on his own, as well.
Valeri Nichuskin, Colorado Avalanche vs. Tampa Bay Lightning ($6,800)
If we are playing Nathan MacKinnon in the Captain’s spot then Valeri Nichuskin is a player we almost need to stack him with in the flex. The former Dallas Star has now hit the shots on goal bonus in two of his last three games and is playing some great hockey as a member of the top line for Colorado. Nichuskin has turned into one of the most reliable Colorado forwards and gets us better exposure on special teams where he recorded seven goals (two short-handed) this year. If you were looking down the rosters for a cheap captain’s pick then you could likely consider him there too, but having him ride shotgun for cheap in lineups alongside MacKinnon likely provides the best upside. Any big night by his center means Nichuskin would likely prosper himself, and at under $7,000 he will help keep your overall salary down.
Mikhail Sergachev, Tampa Bay Lightning at Colorado Avalanche ($6,400)
These playoffs have been somewhat of a coming out party for Sergachev, who has now played over 22 minutes in each of his last three games. The Russian has two goals and two assists over his last four games and was one of the catalysts for a Tampa Bay comeback in game one. Given his recent blocked shot ratio, paying down for Sergachev makes a ton of sense off of the more expensive Victor Hedman ($8,600), who carries better pure upside but comes at a premium. Hedman has also only landed two or less shots on net in each of his last four games. The more efficient player right now is Sergachev, who is still relatively cheap at under $6,500.
Darren Helm, Colorado Avalanche vs. Tampa Bay Lightning ($3,800)
If we’re playing for a tighter, lower scoring game than Helm’s $3,800 salary is something we should be interested in. The veteran has played 13.3 and 15.3 minutes in his last two games for Colorado, and with Nazim Kadri still out I wouldn’t expect those minutes for Helm to go down anytime soon. He managed four shots on net in game one which is a huge boon given how cheap he is, and is also a player who can fit into a variety of roles for Colorado. This is obviously more of a volume play as Helm’s ice time is giving him better opportunity than most of the Colorado bottom six. If we don’t get many goals in game two, that volume by Helm will become uber valuable given his salary. Don’t be afraid to use him as a punt as any real life point would mean he’d likely end the night as one of the best values from under $4,000.
Darcy Keumper ($15,600) — Nathan MacKinnon ($10,200) —
Valeri Nichuskin ($6,800)
We need to dream big for GPP builds in showdown formats and one scenario I like playing for today is a dominant Colorado win. Expect to see Tampa Bay fire a few more shots on net tonight out of desperation, and give more upside to Kuemper who (as alluded to above) does boast a high ceiling.
If we’re playing for Tampa to be limited in on the scoreboard than we can also bypass their studs and stack MacKinnon and Nichuskin, who may have been Colorado’s best two forwards in game one. This starting trio would (in theory) give us exposure to most of the fantasy scoring in that scenario and allow us to round out with cheaper plays, while looking for higher shot volume and blocked shot ratios in our punt plays.
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