The NHL playoffs are only two games into their first-round series, but it’s been a rollercoaster of momentum swings and unpredictable outcomes, which is why we get so excited about watching the Stanley Cup postseason. So let’s recap how Tuesday’s games went, along with my recommended DFS plays, which had plenty of studs and duds.
The New York Rangers jumped out to a 1-0 series lead on the road against the New Jersey Devils, routing them 5-1 with plenty of production from Artemi Panarin (LW – Rangers), who logged a pair of assists and finished with three shots on goal. Jack Hughes (C – Devils) was given a penalty shot that he cashed in, which boosted his production in an otherwise forgettable performance. Dougie Hamilton (D – Devils) was virtually nonexistent, recording one shot on goal and one blocked shot. At the same time, my other recommended defenseman, Victor Hedman (D – Lightning), exited after only six minutes on the ice due to an injury. Auston Matthews (C – Maple Leafs) was my other blue-chip prospect who couldn’t score a goal but delivered two assists with three Toronto goals during their 7-3 thrashing at home, so he wound up with solid production despite the disappointing outcome for the Maple Leafs. Jared McCann (LW – Kraken) was another quality player who barely showed up on the stat sheet with one shot on goal and a blocked shot, while both recommended goaltenders, Ilya Samsonov (G – Maple Leafs) and Vitek Vanecek (G – Devils), were trounced while attempting to defend the crease.
Since both goaltenders and defensemen were duds, along with Jared McCann hardly producing, only Matthews, Panarin, and Hughes had good outings in DFS lineups. Hopefully, you tailed these three studs and cashed a few contests. If not, don’t worry. I’ve dug into Friday’s matchups and have identified eight of my favorite players to target when constructing DraftKings and FanDuel lineups. Let’s find out why each one deserves to be prioritized in lineups ahead of the four highly anticipated matchups on Friday night’s playoff slate!
Recommended Plays: DraftKings
DraftKings maximum salary is set at $50,000
Leon Draisaitl (C – Oilers): $8,300
Leon Draisaitl has been outplaying Connor McDavid (C – Oilers) through the first two games of Edmonton’s series against Los Angeles, but it shouldn’t be a big surprise. Draisaitl has logged 55 goals and 78 assists this season, averaging 17.1 DK fantasy points per game. The floor is massive, and so is his ceiling, especially $2,100 cheaper than McDavid. Draisaitl has scored three goals and two assists through the first two games against the Kings, and he should continue his rampage on the ice down in Los Angeles on Friday night, so pay up to acquire arguably the most productive player on Friday’s slate.
Carter Verhaeghe (LW – Panthers): $6,200
Florida has a potent offense, and Carter Verhaeghe is a piece on its top attack line. The 27-year-old winger was held without a point in Game 1 against Boston but bounced back with a goal in Game 2, attempting only two shots on goal and averaging 15.3 minutes on the ice. His salary continues to drop the further this series goes, so at $6,200, consider Verhaeghe a reliable prospect to plug in for a double-digit production burst despite a tough matchup against either Linus Ullmark (G – Bruins) or Jeremy Swayman (G – Bruins) in Game 3.
Dmitry Orlov (D – Bruins): $4,500
Boston has enjoyed production from a few trade-deadline acquisitions, including defenseman Dmitry Orlov. He has logged at least one point in three consecutive games and can be a high-volume shooter, attempting five shots on goal during a 3-1 win over Florida in Game 1. With the series migrating to South Beach for Game 3, expect Orlov to continue his consistent production from the blue line, surrounded by talented Bruins personnel. In addition, Orlov is essentially free at just $4,500 on DraftKings, so don’t hesitate to plug him into lineups with confidence as a value salary-saving prospect.
Jake Oettinger (G – Stars): $7,900
We need studs at the goaltender position because DFS rewards goaltenders with several additional points following an outright win, so Jake Oettinger fits the bill here. Dallas is red-hot after a solid bounce-back effort in Game 2 against Minnesota, where Oettinger recorded 23 saves against 26 shots in a 7-3 rout of the Wild. He’s third in terms of most expensive netminders on Friday’s DraftKings slate, which is okay, considering there are eight goaltenders to choose from. So let’s plug Oettinger in against a defensive-centric team like the Wild.
Recommended Plays: FanDuel
FanDuel maximum salary is set at $55,000
Roope Hintz (C – Stars): $7,400
Sticking with Dallas, I have a duty and obligation to recommend Roope Hintz in lineups, especially after his hat trick performance in Game 2. The injury to Joe Pavelski (C – Stars) in Game 1 served as a rallying cry for the Stars, who came out of the gate with speed and determination in Game 2, which was clearly seen during Hintz’s three-goal outing. We shouldn’t expect a repeat performance, but Hintz has scored at least one goal in four of his previous five games, so without Pavelski, expect the first-line attack to continue shouldering the load for the Stars. Hintz is worth every bit of his $7,400 salary on FanDuel.
Adrian Kempe (RW – Kings): $5,900
Los Angeles has plenty of talent within its attack lines to match Edmonton’s frantic pace, including veteran winger Adrian Kempe, who scored a pair of goals during the Kings’ overtime road win in Game 1. Kempe has recorded at least one point in five of his previous six games played and has taken eight to nine shots on goal during three of these outings, so he possesses a massive floor that could wind up leading to a ceiling performance like the one we saw in Game 1. At such a cheap salary, Kempe is a screaming value that deserves to be inserted into FanDuel lineups during the Kings’ first home game of the series.
Evan Bouchard (D – Oilers): $4,500
I’ve been burned by so many defensemen in DFS this season, so I’m looking for consistency now. Evan Bouchard has been rock solid with his production, recording at least one point in five consecutive games. Bouchard also offers a high floor with two to three shots on goal and a similar number of blocked shots in the defensive zone, making him an asset within the Oilers’ defensive and offensive zones. We’re hardly paying a dime for Bouchard at $4,500 on FanDuel, so let’s insert him as a strong salary-saving candidate with upside on Friday night.
Ilya Sorokin (G – Islanders): $8,000
The New York Islanders find themselves in a must-win scenario returning home with an 0-2 deficit in the series against Carolina. Goaltender Ilya Sorokin has been huge for the Islanders all season, boasting a 2.21 GAA and .924 save percentage, averaging 18.9 FD fantasy points per game. Yes, he’s lost two outright games in the crease to start the series, but he’s recorded at least 32 saves in both losses. The Islanders need their offense to get going in Game 3, and I imagine it happens in front of their home fans, so Sorokin should be treated as a valuable commodity. You can pay up to get the talented netminder ahead of Game 3 on Friday night.