Defensemen are hard to come by in the playoffs, even more so the deeper it gets. However, they can be valuable in getting categories like hits and blocks as well as adding points. Here are a few of the best options from the game on tap for tonight.
Mikhail Sergachev has stepped up this series from Round 1 and made his presence known offensively too. He has assisted on two goals in three games after two in seven in the first round. He doesn’t get a ton of shots, but the Tampa Bay Lightning are running over the Florida Panthers in this series and finding ways to score.
Sergachev recorded seven goals and 38 points during the regular season, so the points are bound to start coming a bit more often. Look for some assists more than goals from him in the potential series-clinching game.
With Samuel Girard out for the Colorado Avalanche, Bowen Byram should see an elevated role. He has been very efficient this season when he has played. Many may forget about him because the team has the best defensive pairing in the NHL of Cale Makar and Devon Toews, but Byram is well on his way to becoming a great defenceman.
He recorded five goals and 17 points in 30 regular-season games and has just one assist in seven postseason games this season. That should change really soon, and I’m counting on it to start immediately with more playing time. He has shown the ability to score, which could be vital to getting points from defencemen, but if he moves up to the top four, that’s more time on the ice with the Avalanche’s top-six who can score at will.
Colton Parayko had a better season after being criticized last season for his play. He ended the regular season with 35 points and played much better all around. He remains the St. Louis Blues’ leader in ice time and their top defenceman. He has also stepped up his game in the playoffs thus far, scoring two goals, five points, and is a plus-seven in nine games.
He’s already one-third of the way to his goal totals on the season and is playing a ton. He always seems to be out there for goals scored and hardly out there for any against. The Blues’ scoring can come from anywhere considering they had four 20-goal scorers, so Parayko is bound to start getting even more in on the action. Regardless, his offensive game has improved and he is stepping up at the right time for a key game the Blues must have at home.
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