This article is part of our DraftKings NHL series.
Coming into the Islanders vs Capitals series, many would have thought the outcome would be very much different. Braden Holtby is currently performing at some of his worst levels over his entire career, after giving up four goals in the first two games of the series. The latter of the two games did not have Nicklas Backstrom after he went into concussion protocol. Backstrom still may be out today, but monitor his status prior to puck drop. If Washington wants any hope of making the next round, it's a must they pull off a victory in Game 3.
Dallas vs Calgary has been one of the more interesting matchups to watch in Round 1. The Stars came into the series as the favorites, especially after their regular season dominance over the Flames. However, some controversial line making and some poor goaltending has seen Calgary take a 2-1 lead. One of Calgary's biggest keys in the playoffs has been their second line of Matthew Tkachuk, Mikael Backlund and Andrew Mangiapane. Tkachuk remains the Flames' X-factor on the second power-play unit. He missed Game 3 that ultimately saw Dallas win their first game of the series and he might be out again for Game 4. As long as Tkachuk is out, it will make it much harder for Calgary to sustain their current scoring levels.
Just when everyone thought the goal scoring excitement was over after Chicago eliminated Edmonton, hockey lovers were gifted with another exciting series with Vegas vs Chicago. Both are high-flying and love to score, but the Golden Knights actually offer a solid goalie tandem. Vegas has been able to beat Chicago's weak defense throughout the series and have been helped by their second line of Jonathan Marchessault, Paul Stastny and Reilly Smith, who have combined for 11 points through the first three games. Chicago needs to figure out how to mitigate their damage and shore up their defense or they will be watching the rest of playoffs.
Philly vs Montreal has surprised on both sides. The Flyers were not seen as a playoff contending team and Montreal had gotten the benefit of the doubt thanks to the playoff setup. Carter Hart has done wonders in net for Philly, while the elite talents of the team struggle to find goals. Then you have players like Nick Suzuki or Jesperi Kotkaniemi who have been revelations for the Canadiens after taking down the Penguins. With the help of some hungry youth and the second chance to compete for a cup, the Canadiens will continue their push for Lord Stanley.
One of the biggest surprises in the first round would be the Canucks against the Blues. After multiple spells of hot and cold during the regular season, Jacob Markstrom has been incredible and represents one of the reasons they currently hold a 2-0 lead over the Blues. Many would have assumed the chance to get Vladimir Tarasenko back would have been exactly what the Blues needed to make a push for back-to-back titles, but it looks like the exact opposite is happening. The Blues need to revert back to their winning ways and slow down the Canucks or someone else will be hoisting the Cup.
Jacob Markstrom, VAN vs. STL ($7,600): Markstrom represents one of the best values at the position after averaging 30 saves this series. As long as Vancouver continues to put pressure on St. Louis, the Blues will take more shots. If desperate, the shot quality will go down and elevate Markstrom's floor and ceiling.
Cam Talbot, CGY vs. DAL ($7,400): After succeeding with the Rangers and having plenty of cold spells with both the Oilers and the Flames, Talbot has now found his groove in the playoffs. He's looked superb with a .928 save percentage through the first three games of the series.
Chandler Stephenson, VGS vs. CHI ($3,400): Stephenson doesn't always look flashy or has a really good shot, but he's quick and creates chances for teammates. As long as he continues to see top-six minutes, he's an absolute steal.
Brock Nelson, NYI vs. WAS ($5,500): Nelson has been on fire since hockey returned with three goals and three assists. To help his cause, Braden Holtby has looked terrible of late and Nicklas Backstrom is out which has seen Evgeny Kuznetsov move from the second line to the first. This gives Nelson more room to maneuver and produce goal-scoring opportunities.
Kirby Dach, CHI vs. VGS ($3,700): In a series that continues to go over on the total, Dach is lucky to play with some elite talent as he usually centers Patrick Kane and lines up on Chicago's first power-play unit. For his price, all we need are a few shots and a blocked shot or two to hit his value range.
New York Islanders vs Washington Capitals
This line has been key for the Islanders this series. As long as Nicklas Backstrom is out, Nelson will have plenty of space to do well.
Montreal Canadiens vs Philadelphia Flyers
Montreal's third line continues to impress against the Flyers. Since being drafted third overall, Kotkaniemi has not exactly lived up to that selection. But then you put him in a playoff scenario and he suddenly succeeds. This line will be the driving force to see whether or not Montreal sees another round. As long as they are matched up against Derek Grant and company, they shouldn't encounter many problems.
Shea Theodore, VGS vs. CHI ($6,700): Theodore is legit and Anahiem are probably kicking themselves knowing they let him go for virtually nothing. He's become the quarterback of the first power play and continues to rack in peripherals as well as points in all situations. Theodore might be expensive, but he is well worth the pay up.
Ryan Pulock, NYI vs. WAS ($5,700) When anyone thinks about a defender in this series, they immediately go to John Carlson ($6,600). Believe it or not, Pulock is by far one of the best all-around defenders in the playoffs this year. He's been able to take shots, block shots and gets his fair share of points leading the Isles' top power-play. He also comes at a $900 discount compared to Carlson and faces the better goalie matchup.
Colton Parayko, STL vs. VAN ($5,700): Parayko is one of the best players for the Blues right now and often will be shadowed by his teammate Alex Pietrangelo ($6,400). The main difference is that Parayko takes a lot of shots. At a $700 discount from his teammate, you can use that money elsewhere and hope Parayko's recent shot volume finally finds the twine.