Pekka Rinne, NAS vs. STL ($9,000) – It wasn’t Rinne’s fault the Predators couldn’t close out the Blues in five games, allowing just two goals on 32 shots. After allowing six goals and splitting the first two games, Rinne’s been excellent, allowing just four goals on 88 shots, including two straight wins at home. He’s the best bet for Sunday’s slate, and the pressure he’s facing in front of his home crowd is the good kind. Rinne has not lost at home in the playoffs since last year’s first-round matchup against Anaheim.
Connor McDavid, EDM vs. ANA ($8,500) – If the Oilers lose the series, there’s not much blame that can be laid at the feet of their young captain. He’s scored in three straight games, and despite the team losing three straight, seems to have found his groove after scoring just two goals against San Jose. McDavid is proving that his speed is still tremendously difficult to contain for a very mobile Ducks defense, and it also helps that Leon Draisaitl is scoring some points. McDavid played 35 minutes in Game 5, but the long games and short rests should affect them far less than the veteran Ducks, giving them a potential edge they can exploit in Game 6.
Ryan Getzlaf, ANA at EDM ($8,400) – The Oilers defense has no answer to the Ducks’ captain, who’s been dominant in the second round with five goals and five assists. Even with the Oilers hosting Game 6, there’s no obvious matchup for Todd McLellan to exploit, and they have the difficult task of regrouping after a tough double-overtime loss in Game 5 in which they blew a 3-0 lead in the game and a 2-0 lead in the series.
Leon Draisaitl, EDM vs. ANA ($7,300) – Draisaitl was apparently battling an illness against San Jose, which could explain his low production, but against Anaheim he’s been much better, scoring two goals and eight points — four of which have come in the past three games. The Oilers have to be a little worried how Game 5 went, but goal-scoring has not been a problem for them this series. Offense remains their strongest suit, which makes Draisaitl a top pick for Sunday’s games.
Jakob Silfverberg, ANA at EDM ($7,000) – Getzlaf’s been a star, but don’t discount Silfverberg’s contribution, either. The Swedish winger saw his four-game goal streak against the Oilers snapped in Game 5, but still pitched in with two assists and five shots. Silfverberg’s ice time has increased in each of his past four games.
Rickard Rakell, ANA at EDM ($6,100) – If it’s not Silfverberg, it’s Rakell. He’s scored a goal in each of his past three games and turned in a gem of a performance with two points and seven shots in his previous contest. He’s been skating on the Ducks’ top line with Getzlaf and Corey Perry, and has seen his role grow over the course of the series. Rakell’s very versatile, which allows the Ducks to stick him anywhere in the lineup, and right now he’s in the best situation possible. He’s been a much-improved player in this year’s playoffs with nine points in nine games after scoring just two in seven last year.
Alex Pietrangelo, STL at NAS ($5,500) – Pietrangelo is the undisputed No. 1 defenseman in St. Louis, and the Blues’ captain has been excellent throughout the playoffs. He enters Game 6 with three assists and has done his part in trying to solve Rinne over the past two games, firing 10 shots in total. The Predators’ defense may be more dynamic and offensive, but they also do it by committee, as opposed to the Blues’ heavy reliance on one guy. Beating Nashville at home will be tough, and if the Blues manage to stave off elimination, Pietrangelo will surely be a big reason why.
Cam Fowler, ANA at EDM ($5,000) – He was a horse for the Ducks in Game 5. With the Ducks running four forwards on their power play, Fowler has been Carlyle’s quarterback of choice, and has seen more opportunities with the man advantage than anyone else. He’s been excellent in this role with eight shots in his past two games, and the Ducks were curiously 0-for-4 on the power play in Game 5 despite outshooting the Oilers by 26 and winning 60 percent of the faceoffs. In a series that has become more physical and chippy with each passing game, the Ducks will get power-play opportunities and won’t be shut out for long.