Most playoff series have become a best-of-three, with only one team punching their ticket into the second round. The Pittsburgh Penguins are one win away from joining the Colorado Avalanche as second-round teams. Also, who will take a commanding series lead between Calgary/Dallas and Florida/Washington? This betting guide will give good value picks to boost your daily fantasy lineups for today’s trio of games.
Center: Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
Heading into Game 5, Sidney Crosby leads the Pittsburgh Penguins in points with nine. His three-point performance in Game 4 brought him up to 200 career points during the playoffs, and he’s shown no sign of stopping. The Penguins discovered how to beat Igor Shesterkin, feasting on him with seven goals in both Games 3 and 4. Despite dressing backup Louis Domingue as the team’s official starter for the series, the Penguins are out-classing the Rangers at both ends of the ice.
It’s probably best to stick with Crosby for at least the remainder of the series. He’s showing no signs of stopping, and he’s getting better with each game. He had two points in three games during the regular season and has somehow tripled that production in the postseason. On a night featuring three games, Crosby should be considered the top choice based on his production in this series and his pedigree during the playoffs.
Center: Nicklas Backstrom, Washington Capitals
Nicklas Backstrom registered an assist in Game 1, and since then, he’s picked up at least one point in every game. He scored his first and only goal of this series in Game 2 and followed it up with a multi-point night in Game 3. He assisted on the game-winning goal in Game 3 and has five points in four games. The series with the Florida Panthers is an interesting one, with both teams exchanging close wins and blowouts. They match each other well enough that predicting the winner of each game becomes a difficult task.
Entering the first round, it was tough to predict how Backstrom would line up against Florida’s high-octane offensive counterstrike. Thankfully, his line has looked good thus far, and the Capitals’ power play is clicking. It turns out that feeding Alex Ovechkin, who had four goals in three games during the regular season, is a recipe for success. Given how the games have turned out so far, expect Backstrom to continue picking up apples.
Wing: Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames
A lot was riding on this year’s postseason for the Calgary Flames, and nobody feels it more than Johnny Gaudreau. He faced heavy criticism for lacklustre performances in the last two seasons but turned things around in 2021-22. His 115 points silenced those critics, and all eyes turned to him in the first-round meeting against the Dallas Stars. He was relatively quiet in the first three games of the season, registering two points and a minus-2 rating, but came back strong in Game 4.
Head coach Darryl Sutter limited Gaudreau’s ice time, down from 21 minutes to just below 18, and it paid off. Gaudreau picked up a goal and an assist in Game 4, including the game-winning goal. The Flames will need more of that style from him if they hope to stave off the Stars. If there’s any indication of hope, it’s that he tends to catch fire once he gets going. He finished the regular season with 14 points in his last eight games, so look for him to continue heating up.
Wing: Jonathan Huberdeau, Florida Panthers
The Florida Panthers have had more to chew with the Washington Capitals, but their chances will improve significantly with Jonathan Huberdeau heating up. He was quiet in Game 1 but has since registered a point in each game. He picked up a primary assist on the game-tying goal in Game 4. While he didn’t factor in on the goal in overtime, he crashed the crease enough to cause a distraction to allow for a Carter Verhaeghe shot to squeak in.
Huberdeau had five points against the Capitals in three games during the regular season, including a three-point night in their last meeting. With the series now becoming a best-of-three, Huberdeau is in a situation where he can shine and showcase how his 115-point regular season can carry over into the postseason. He’s extremely valuable heading into the late stages of the series, especially on an offensively-potent Panthers team.
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