The two Game 4s on tap will be rolled into one Thursday-Friday contest on DraftKings, and both the Penguins and Ducks will try to avoid returning home in a 3-1 hole. The two favorites have managed to keep the series competitive, but awful performances in their previous games have everyone wondering if we’ll be crowning a brand-new Stanley Cup champion this spring.
Pekka Rinne, NAS vs. ANA ($8,000): Have you heard how loud that Bridgestone Arena crowd is? Not only did Rinne allow just one goal in Game 3, the Predators’ defense allowed just 20 shots all game. Randy Carlyle can talk all he wants about the shot counter, but the Ducks simply haven’t passed the eye test; it’s clear the Predators have been the quicker and more dangerous team. They remain unbeaten at home, and there’s little reason to think they can’t extend that streak. The Ducks battled hard to beat the Oilers, but this Predators squad has much more playoff experience.
Sidney Crosby, PIT at OTT ($8,300): He was the lone Penguin to score in Game 3 despite a pretty awful effort overall in a 5-1 loss. The thing about the Pens, though, is that they’re never out of it (ask the Capitals), and the Senators should expect a big bounce-back game in Game 4. The chatty center will look to involve his teammates early on, and he remains the Pens’ best player no matter how well Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel are getting along. Crosby’s goal was also his first point of the series, so maybe he’s just getting started.
Ryan Johansen, NAS vs. ANA ($6,200): Ryan Kesler seems to be doing his job alright, judging from the volley of chirps between them, but Johansen has still been very productive with one of the league’s best shutdown centers hounding him every play. Through three games, Johansen has tallied four points and won 33 faceoffs, winning more than half his draws in Games 1 and 3. The Preds are surely riding high after a dramatic win in Game 3, so they should come into this one with a lot of confidence. When he’s in the groove, Johansen is the type of skater who can make plays no one else can.
Filip Forsberg, NAS vs. ANA ($6,800): He’s scored in every game this series after being held to just one goal against St. Louis, and when goal scorers start finding twine, they tend to do so in bunches. Forsberg had a combined 11 shots in Games 2 and 3, and the offense is clicking with Viktor Arvidsson on the other wing and Johansen manning the middle. The vaunted Ducks defense hasn’t been particularly sharp, having trouble handling the puck and defending against the Preds’ top line. DFS owners who like Nashville’s chances in Game 4 should go all-in on Johansen and Forsberg.
Jakob Silfverberg, ANA at NAS ($6,400): Despite having been held scoreless with just two shots on goal in Game 3, Silfverberg continues to demand a lot of attention. One of the best things about Silfverberg is his play away from the puck – even if he’s not scoring, he’s heavily involved in the play. The Ducks’ offensive struggles extend beyond Silfverberg, but they’ve shown some good pushback this season, especially against the Oilers. Silfverberg should play a big role as his club tries to avoid falling into a 3-1 hole.
James Neal, NAS vs. ANA ($5,100): He had a quiet Game 3 with just one shot on goal, his lowest shot total in the playoffs since Game 1 against the Blackhawks. But other than that, Neal has been pretty consistent, registering at least three shots on goal most nights and notching a pair of six-short efforts. With the top line rolling offensively, it opens up the ice a little for Neal. Even though the Ducks have the depth to counter the Preds, Neal has had his way for most of the series.
Erik Karlsson, OTT vs. PIT ($7,500): Karlsson has been on the ice for all 10 of the Sens’ game-winning goals in the playoffs, which is just absurd, but also a testament to just how good and how important he is to his team. Don’t expect Ottawa to pump five goals past the Penguins again, but it’s great that Karlsson’s club puts so much emphasis on defense: By sitting back, the Senators allow their counterattack to begin from their own blue line, which plays right into Karlsson’s hands. No one is better at bringing the puck up the ice, and there’s just no stopping him. Karlsson finished Game 3 with a plus-4 rating and his first assist of the series.
P.K. Subban, NAS vs. ANA ($5,300): The Predators’ defense continues to be the star of the playoffs, and even though Roman Josi scored the game-winner in Game 3 and Ryan Ellis is drawing rave reviews, Subban has been fantastic in his own right. He’s not putting up the same kind of numbers like he did in Montreal, but he’s played a big role on the power play, and he finished Game 3 with three shots, two hits and a blocked shot. He’s been excellent at evading forecheckers and moving the puck up the ice, while the Ducks haven’t been very good at preventing shots in this series.