Braden Holtby, WAS vs. TB ($33): Itís basically splitting hairs now that the four remaining starters are priced within $2 of each other, but so far the Jets and Caps have looked much better than their opponents, and Holtby costs $1 less than Connor Hellebuyck. After a horrific regular season, Holtby is back to his former self and heís allowed two goals or less in four of his past five starts.
GOALIE TO AVOID
Marc-Andre Fleury, VGK at WPG ($35): The Knights steamrolled the Pacific Division en route to the conference final but, boy, the Jets are just in a different league than the Sharks and Kings. With Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler and Patrik Laine on hot streaks, Dustin Byfuglien probably playing the best hockey of his career and 16,000 fans screaming for him to lose, Fleuryís not in an ideal position, especially for a goalie whoís the most expensive on the slate.
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Steven Stamkos, TB at WAS ($25): The Lightning captain has goals in four of his past five games after a lackluster start to the Bruins series, and itís up to him to lead the charge or otherwise face a 3-0 series deficit. The debate about Stamkos is whether heís great or just really, really good, but in either scenario he has always emerged as a leader, be it via scoring a goal or dropping his gloves to defend a teammate. Stamkos was just one of three Lightning forwards to record a point in Game 2.
Lars Eller, WAS vs. TB ($17): Look, Iím just as surprised as you, but letís face the facts. Eller has three goals, three assists and 12 shots on goal in his past four games, and as long as Nicklas Backstrom (hand) is out, the Caps seems pretty content with the idea of playing Eller on the second line. Heís not a skill player by any means, but heís got a little chemistry with a skill player in Jakub Vrana, and it looks like Ellerís size and strength has given him the edge against a Lightning defense thatís playing mediocre hockey right now.
CENTERS TO AVOID
William Karlsson, VGK at WPG ($25): Picking Karlsson isnít a bad idea, actually, but considering linemate Jonathan Marchessault is $1 cheaper and averaging more fantasy points per game, why not just go with Marchessault? Karlsson has only two points in his past four games and has been rather quiet since the series against the Sharks. Scheifele has won the head-to-head match so far between them and has the distinct advantage in both size and skill.
Tyler Johnson, TB at WAS ($15): Just splurge and go with Brayden Point ($22) instead, because Point is that much better even though they play on the same line. Johnson has just two assists in his past five games and played just 14:37 in Game 2. Point has been the far more dangerous offensive player and gets a little more time on the power play.
Alex Ovechkin, WAS vs. TB ($33): Heís an unoriginal and low-risk pick, but missing out on Ovechkin could mean missing out on the best player of the night. Heís scored two goals and four assists in his past four games, and whatís most admirable about his performance so far has been his ability to score at will; the Caps have scored key goals on the power play in the final seconds of a period in two straight games.
Patrik Laine, WPG vs. VGK ($27): Perhaps thereís a bit of shell shock because the Knights havenít faced anybody nearly as good as the Jets in the playoffs, but Laineís certainly gotten off to a good start. Fleury had no chance on his power-play goal in Game 1, and it may take the Knights defense some time to adjust to their opponent as they try to figure out the best way to contain them.
Nikolaj Ehlers, WPG vs. VGK ($16): Heís carrying the puck a lot and using his speed to generate offense, but the pucks just arenít bouncing his way. He has yet to score a single goal in the playoffs but hasnít seen his role diminish, and the law of averages says that something has to give.
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WINGS TO AVOID
Nikita Kucherov, TB at WAS ($31): He has scored just once after lighting the lamp five times against the Devils, and thereís something about Kucherov that just doesnít look quite right. Heís usually automatic from the dots but his shots have been going all over the place, limiting his effectiveness. He has not been the Lightningís best player very often, and thatís a problem because so much of their offense goes through him. The Caps will also have the matchup advantage as the series moves to Washington.
T.J. Oshie, WAS vs. TB ($22): Heís still a very effective two-way player, but even without Nicklas Backstrom on the ice he has not been the focal point of the offense on the second line. Scoring duties have been assumed by Lars Eller and Jakub Vrana, both of whom are considerably cheaper, and in his past three games Oshie has registered just two assists and six shots on goal.
Ondrej Palat, TB at WAS ($19): Thereís a bit of Marian Hossa in Palat in that theyíre both very strong two-way wingers, but Palat doesnít have the same kind of offensive talent and instincts. Through 78 games in the season and the playoffs heís scored just 16 goals, and just one in his past four games. Heís responsible for winning the puck battles and not creating offense, which hurts his fantasy value.
John Carlson, WAS vs. TB ($25): Heís shutting down the Lightning offense and providing some offense of his own, and through two games has three assists, all of them at even strength. Thereís no clear-cut MVP for the Caps so far, but Carlson is definitely on the short list. He has been the best defenseman on the ice against both the Lightning and the Penguins, and since Game 5 against the Pens has averaged four shots per game.
Victor Hedman, TB at WAS ($24): With an assist in Game 2, Hedman stretched his point streak to seven games, and given how the rest of the Lightning defense has struggled he could see much more ice time in the near future. Hedman has played at least 25 minutes for six straight games and thereís no question heís the No. 1 defenseman, so if Jon Cooper shortens the bench, Hedmanís going to be the biggest benefactor.
DEFENSEMEN TO AVOID
Jacob Trouba, WPG vs. VGK ($19): Trouba has gone five games without a point even though he continues to play well. He is clearly the No. 2 option for the Jets, but heís a distant No. 2 with Dustin Byfuglien averaging over four more minutes of ice time per game and running the first power-play unit. Trouba has just three points in the playoffs, so heís unlikely to exceed expectations, getting most of his fantasy value from shots and blocked shots.
Ryan McDonagh, TB at WAS ($19): He finished Game 2 with a minus-3 rating and looked awful out there with Anton Stralman. His fantasy value comes from plus-minus and blocked shots, and even at the height of his Rangers days he was never considered an offensive weapon. His play is trending down but the Lightning defense may not be deep enough to afford sitting him, which means theyíve got to figure out fast how to protect him or face another blowout loss.