With the contenders separating themselves from the pretenders, listed below are three must-start teammate plays to target in DFS (Daily Fantasy Hockey) for the remainder of the playoffs:
C Evgeny Kuznetsov and W Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals
Could this finally be the season future Hall of Famer Alex Ovechkin captures his first Stanley Cup? Or will it be yet another heart-wrenching loss?
The Pittsburgh Penguins have been the Washington Capitals’ kryptonite in the playoffs, winning nine of the last 11 series between the clubs. However, the outcome was different this year. Ovechkin made his presence felt on the scoresheet throughout the series, netting three goals and adding four assists while averaging 22:02 in ice time. As of this writing, Ovechkin ranks fourth in playoff goals with eight and is tied for second among all remaining skaters with 15 playoff points. Ovechkin’s linemate and fellow countryman Evgeny Kuznetsov has been an offensive catalyst in his own right, tallying 14 points over the Capitals 10 postseason games, including the series-clinching goal in Game 6 to eliminate the Penguins.
Washington’s top scoring line will more than likely be matched up against the Lightning’s shutdown line of Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Brayden Point, which will make for an exciting Eastern Conference Final. Ovechkin’s goal-scoring ability, paired with Kuznetsov’s shifty playmaking ability, is a lot for a defense to handle, and, with a cheap price point and low ownership against one of the best defensive team’s in the league, expose your lineups around the high-scoring duo.
C Brayden Point and W Ondrej Palat Tampa Bay Lightning
The Tampa Bay Lightning were the first team to advance to the Eastern Conference Final thanks to the emergence of the shadow line that consists of Point, Johnson and Palat.
While many DFS lineups will have plenty of shares in Lightning superstars Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov, bettors should look to the Lightning’s cheaper DFS options in Point and Palat. Point struggled in the Lightning’s 6-2 Game 1 loss – adjusting to the chemistry and speed of the Bruins top scoring line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak was a challenge for the young forward. Point recorded just one assist and finished the game an atrocious minus -4.
Prior to Game 2, Point and his line received praise from Lightning head coach Jon Cooper despite the porous Game 1 performance. The 22-year-old forward answered the bell in Game 2, setting up three of the Lightning’s goals and scoring the other in a 4-2 win. The Lightning went on to win the next three games, eliminating the Bruins from Stanley Cup contention. Point leads the Lightning with seven points in the series with Kucherov and Stamkos combining for just six points.
Palat and Point combined for 11 points over five games in the second round. If Lightning coach Cooper has his way, it’s likely Palat, Point and Johnson will be matched up against Ovechkin and Kuznetsov for most of the series, which may hinder their fantasy production with how dangerous the Capitals offense has been in the playoffs thus far. However, Palat and Point already proved they can shut down and outscore one of the best trios in the NHL, and they’re the best value plays for the remainder of the Conference Final.
C Mark Schiefele and W Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg Jets
The Winnipeg Jets are one of the deepest teams remaining in the NHL playoffs and have a tough road to the Western Conference Final, playing the tenacious Vegas Golden Knights.
The Jets’ heartbeat on offense has been Blake Wheeler and young sniper Patrik Laine. While Mark Schiefele has been masterful in his own right, he missed 22 regular season games with a shoulder injury. At the time of his injury, Schiefele was averaging one point per game with 34 points in as many games. His production didn’t falter upon his return, ending the season with 60 points in 60 games. He is averaging 21:24 minutes of ice through 12 playoff games. He ranks first in goals with 11, including the two goals he scored in Game 7 against the Nashville Predators.
Wheeler tied Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux for the league lead in assists with 68 and tickled the twine 23 times in 2017-18. Wheeler was consistent against the Predators in the second round, scoring two goals and adding nine assists. His elite playmaking ability paired with Schiefele’s scoring touch could be disastrous for the Golden Knights.
Schiefele and Wheeler have combined for 31 points in the playoffs thus far. If they remain healthy, the Jets have plenty of scoring and depth throughout their lineup to solve the astonishing goaltending performances of Marc-Andre Fleury.
Former Daily Fantasy Sports Editor at theScore and current NHL Prospects and Fantasy Hockey author for The Hockey Writers. I’m real and I hope my followers are too!