The Hurricanes were the overwhelming favorites to begin this series and outside of Jusse Saros standing on his head for a couple of games, they really haven’t done anything for us to mistrust them. The Canes have about 30 more SOG than the Preds over the last two games and have the third-best xGF% (expected goal rate) of any team in the playoffs thus far. The big plus money here on the puck line doesn’t properly represent the gap between these teams and with round two now within sight. Betting this for when the Saros wall crumbles isn’t a bad idea tonight.
Playing both favorites here on the money line today will give you a parlay in the +140-142 range. I made my case for the Canes above, who will be playing a distraught Preds team today after they blew a third period lead, but the Leafs look very unstoppable as well. Despite Auston Matthews going pointless in three of four games, they’ve managed a 3-1 lead and have received better goaltending than Montreal. Look for Toronto to break a decade plus winless stretch in the playoffs.
Top Line Stack
Carolina Hurricanes at Nashville Predators
Vincent Trocheck ($6,100) — Martin Necas ($4,800) — Nino Niederreiter ($4,200)
The Hurricanes depth came through in game five for them as they received two goals from second-line winger Martin Necas and an OT winner from third-line center Jordan Staal ($4,700). While the first line had done a lot of heavy lifting at the beginning of the series, don’t be shocked if this trio steps up again tonight. Necas was a key cog on the Canes in the regular season, often filling in on the top line, and he’s sitting at 45-points through 59-games—and is averaging 10.7 DKFP over his last 10 starts. He’s actually been outscored in the goal department too by his wing-mate Nino Niederreiter who has 21 goals on the year in 61-games.
Vincent Trocheck has been quiet at times in this series but has two goals in the last three games and remains a key piece of the Canes PP1. These are three opportunistic players and with the Canes smelling blood after a big comeback win, I like targeting their power-play to get on track. These three all get good man advantage exposure and have the potential for a big night in the goal department. Don’t be shocked if all three end up on the scoresheet in some fashion.
Superstar to Target
Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Montreal Canadiens ($9,200)
Matthews has been relatively quiet in this series (for him) as he enters with just three points and one goal in the first four games—all of which came in game two. The Canadiens have hardly kept a lid on Matthews though as he’s averaged over 5-SOG in the series and has scored 14 or more DKFP in all but one game. Regardless of what you think of him, Matthews is really the only big name on this slate and even though he’ll be heavily owned, there’s really no other forward who brings the same kind of fantasy floor. Stacking a couple of the secondary lines here should give you easy access to Matthews who likely takes center stage, finally, in a game where the Leafs can end a 15+ year playoff-series winless drought.
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Value on Offense
Filip Forsberg, Nashville Predators vs. Carolina Hurricanes ($5,900)
I’m likely cheating a bit by including Forsberg in the value department but lets not forget that this is a player who went off in the mid-6k range most nights during the regular season. The Preds are in an elimination game and even though I like the Canes to close them out, expect the Preds best scoring winger to see a couple more mins of ice than normal. He’s averaging about 4.0 SOG in this series and only played 17-mins in the last game, but does have two goals in the series. Forsberg is another great floor play and a good anchor play on the wing on this exceptionally short slate.
Alex Kerfoot, Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Montreal Canadiens ($3,000)
The Leafs have obviously run into some depth issues up front with the injury to John Taveres and Kerfoot has done a solid job taking over as the teams number two center. While he’s not a prolific scorer he’s done a good job facilitating and comes in with four assists in the last two games while playing alongside William Nylander ($5,800)—who has a goal in each game of the series. Kerfoot’s played over 15-mins in every game of the series thus far and his role seems unlikely to change here. You can make him a cheap stack with his winger or just use him as a one-off value if you’re looking to stack some top-lines.
Jack Campbell, Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Montreal Canadiens ($8,300)
I like both favorites to prevail tonight so we will need to be spending up in net. Campbell has been the best goalie in the MTL-TOR series and heads into this game having stopped 82 of the last 84 shots on net he’s faced. Campbell went 17-3-2 in the regular season and has proven he can string together long stretches of good play, so I wouldn't be too fearful of regression suddenly striking tonight. The Canadiens offense wasn't good during the regular season and they haven’t been able to get on the board consistently. Even against a weak Leafs penalty-kill, which has yet to allow a power-play goal against in the series. Campbell’s the preferred option in net here if you can spare the money to fit him in.
Value on Defense
T.J. Brodie, Toronto, Maple Leafs vs. Montreal Canadiens ($3,200)
Brodie has remained a big part of the Leafs defensive rotation all season and has been playing alongside Morgan Rielly ($5,300) most of the series on the top-pairing. He has been quiet from a fantasy standpoint up to now but did pick up three SOG in the last game and sees time on the second power-play unit for Toronto. The Leafs likely have a chance to blow this one open if they get in front early so I don’t mind targeting the cheap minute crunchers for the Leafs on the backend. Brodie does carry a bit of offensive upside with him, making him a decent pay-down candidate here.
Brady Skjei, Carolina Hurricanes at Nashville Predators ($3,800)
Skjei has been powering the Canes second pairing for most of this series and enters this game averaging 2.0 SOG and 1.7 blocked shots per game over his last 10 starts. The former Ranger is playing solid minutes and saw the ice for over 23 minutes in the last game. He’s also hit the blocked shot bonus in two of his last three games and does carry some offensive ability, despite taking a backseat in that regard most of the year. Like Brodie, I like targeting Skjei here for the price and the fact his team are heavy favorites who could explode for a big night—and push multiple players to decent fantasy games.
Dougie Hamilton, Carolina Hurricanes at Nashville Predators ($6,900)
While there’s some other solid names on the slate to consider targeting, the rate of production between Hamilton and the rest of the expensive D-men on this slate has grown to large proportions during the playoffs. Hamilton comes in with 31-SOG in the series already and has averaged around 17.5 DKFP in the last four games. His totals are obviously boosted by a couple of OT games but his production has been impressive, nonetheless, especially for a player who has yet to score a goal in this series—and has just two assists. The Canes power-play has been stagnant so far but was one of the best in the league during the regular season and a breakout tonight wouldn’t be shocking. There’s lots of cheap value plays on this two-gamer due to injuries so paying up here for the Canes stud and hoping for a ceiling type of performance should be preferred to settling for a slightly cheaper but less effective stud on defense.
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