Hey look, we have five NHL games on one day again! Did you think that was over? Evidently, the NHL felt like making the Flames and Stars play on back-to-back days. There's no travel, but that's never easy - especially for Calgary. The Stars may have Ben Bishop and Anton Khudobin, but the Flames probably don't want to see David Rittich in net so Cam Talbot might want to get ready for a back-to-back. You should be prepared to set your lineup by 2:00 p.m. EDT, so here are players to target and avoid.
Philipp Grubauer, COL vs. ARI ($38): It's not so much that Grubauer shut out the Coyotes in Game 1. What stands out to me is he only need to make 14 saves to do so. Arizona only scored 2.71 goals per game. And while they didn't have Taylor Hall for a lot of that, it's not like they are suddenly, say, the Avalanche on offense. If it's going to be this easy for the German netminder, I'm high on his potential and his 2.62 GAA during the season.
GOALIE TO AVOID
Jordan Binnington, STL vs. VAN ($30): Nobody expected Jordan Binnington to produce a .927 save percentage again, but his .912 save percentage this year got overlooked a bit because he managed a 2.56 GAA. We've now seen the second-year goalie allow 11 goals over his last two starts. The Canucks scored 3.25 goals per contest, and it's looking less and less likely that rookie-season magic is returning for Binnington.
Mathew Barzal, NYI vs. WAS ($23): Barzal has notched two points in each of his last two games, though he has benefited from the fact the Islanders have seen questionable goaltending over their two series. After taking on Sergei Bobrovsky in the qualifying round, Barzal and company are facing off against Braden Holtby with his 3.11 GAA and .897 save percentage. The Islanders' offense goes through Barzal, who led the club with 60 points in 68 games.
CENTER TO AVOID
Evgeny Kuznetsov, WAS vs. NYI ($20): Kuznetsov put six pucks on net in Game 1, but that's not typical for him. The Russian only had 129 shots on goal in 63 games this year, and the fact he managed 19 goals was largely because of a career-high 14.7 shooting percentage. Kuznetsov should know how good his former coach Barry Trotz is at suppressing shots and shutting down opposing offenses. And then you have to throw in the fact Semyon Varlamov has sparkled with a 1.81 GAA and .930 save percentage in the bubble versus two of the NHL's top-6 offenses.
J.T. Miller, VAN vs. STL ($25): I can't bring up Binnington's .912 save percentage and the fact he's allowed 11 goals over his last two starts and then not recommend a Canucks' player. Miller represents a great choice, as he excelled in his first year with Vancouver. Skating primarily on the team's top line with Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser, Miller struck for 72 points over 69 games. The 27-year-old also has recorded five points during the playoffs, including two in Game 1.
Elias Lindholm, CGY vs. DAL ($19): While a few of his teammates experienced down years, Lindholm cruised along with 29 goals. He was helped by recording eight of those - and 11 assists - with the extra man. The Stars ranked 17th on the penalty kill, which isn't bad but is also relatively poor considering we're in the playoffs. Since these teams are on a back-to-back, that's another point in Lindholm's favor as I question penalty killers on short rest more than power-play performers.
WINGS TO AVOID
Gabriel Landeskog, COL vs. ARI ($25): Landeskog missed a chunk of the season with injury, but returned and was red hot before the NHL went on hiatus. He hasn't quite returned to that level in the bubble since he hasn't produced a goal. The Coyotes are tough to score on, and Darcy Kuemper posted a 2.22 GAA and .928 save percentage. Arizona also maintains a top-5-ranked penalty kill.
Brendan Gallagher, MON vs. PHI ($19): Have the Flyers convinced Carter Hart he's playing in Philadelphia right now? He's starred with a .943 save percentage at home and a .857 save percentage on the road. In the bubble, Hart has allowed one goal in every game and has made 84 saves on 87 shots. That doesn't bode well for Gallagher, who also may have trouble getting pucks on goal with the Flyers having allowed a league-low 28.7 shots on net per game.
Ryan Pulock, NYI vs. WAS ($24): Pulock's heavy shot helped him tally 10 goals and 25 assists in 68 games. He racked up the most points of any Islanders' defenseman and earns a big role on the team's top power-play unit. Pulock is also currently riding a four-game point streak. As previously noted, Braden Holtby didn't fare exceptionally well with a 3.11 GAA and .897 save percentage.
Ivan Provorov, PHI vs. MON ($17): Provorov produced a power-play assist in Game 1, which should come as no surprise. He averaged 3:03 per game with the extra man on the season and accumulated 16 power-play points. Meanwhile, the Canadiens managed the 19th-ranked penalty kill, which is second-worst among teams left in the postseason.
DEFENSE TO AVOID
Oliver Ekman-Larsson, ARI vs. COL ($18): Ekman-Larsson excelled against the Predators, but he was held without a point or shot in Game 1. That's not terribly surprising, given the Swedish defender actually struggled a bit this year. He was limited to 66 games, but was also held to single-digit goals and single-digit power-play points for the first time since 2012-13 - when he played in only 48 contests. Colorado may be known primarily as an offensive team, but their 2.71 GAA also ranked them sixth-best in the NHL.
Jeff Petry, MON vs. PHI ($17): Petry hit 40 points for the third straight season, but I still worry about him in this matchup. Like I said, the Flyers allowed a league-low 28.7 shots on net per game, and Hart looks dominant in net. And with Shea Weber around, Petry has been working on the second unit of Montreal's power play so his offensive upside has been limited.