We may have our first series of these NHL playoff end Monday. The Avalanche could finish off the Predators in Game 4. The other three series, though, we know will continue. Perhaps for the final time, here are the players to target, and to avoid, for this quartet of matchups.
Jake Oettinger, DAL vs. CGY ($33): People love to talk about a "hot goalie" in the playoffs, and I don't want to get overzealous. On the other hand…Oettinger has allowed three goals total in this series and has an 1.99 GAA and .935 save percentage over his last nine games. Calgary was quite good offensive this season, but the Stars are at home, and at this salary I like taking a shot on Oettinger.
GOALIE TO AVOID
Louis Domingue, PIT vs. NYR ($28): There is no scenario where I can see myself puting Domingue in my lineup, and it's a bit surprising he doesn't have the lowest salary of any potential starter. He's a 30-year-old goalie who was the Penguins' third stringer, and he has a career 3.05 GAA and .905 save percentage. Yes, he's helped the Penguins to two wins in three games, but he also has a 4.03 GAA and .903 save percentage in the playoffs.
Nazem Kadri, COL at NAS ($27): Juuse Saros won't be back for Game 4, and that's all the motivation I need. Of course, it helps that in nine games since returning from injury Kadri has seven points and 30 shots on net. Connor Ingram may provide more upside that David Rittich, but in the six games he played this year – postseason included – the rookie had a 3.61 GAA and .902 save percentage.
CENTER TO AVOID
Evgeni Malkin, PIT vs. NYR ($23): One bad period won't scare me on Igor Shesterkin. The likely Vezina winner had a 2.07 GAA and .935 save percentage. Malkin was barely involved in that Game 3 win for the Penguins anyway. This is more narrative focused, and I like to primarily pay attention to the numbers, but the announcers were talking about how unengaged he looked on the ice. The margins in the playoffs are thin.
Frank Vatrano, NYR at PIT ($18): Vatrano has been stellar in this series. He's notched four points and 14 shots on goal. Even with a triple-overtime game in the mix that's impressive. The former Panther had 13 points in 22 regular-season games after joining the Rangers. I already went in depth on Domingue's resume, and why I have no fear of him in goal.
Carter Verhaeghe, FLA at WAS ($18): Verhaeghe had 55 points in 78 games this season, and he has three points in this series. After the way he played in Game 3, I expect Ilya Samsonov to get the start for the Capitals. In the long run, that may not be a good thing, as he had a 3.02 GAA and .896 save percentage this season.
WINGS TO AVOID
Johnny Gaudreau, CGY at DAL ($34): Gaudreau has the highest salary of any wing. I mentioned earlier that Oettinger has only allowed three goals across three games in this series and has an 1.99 GAA and .935 save percentage over his last nine outings. I'm not knocking Johnny Hockey, but this is salary you can spend more wisely Monday.
Filip Forsberg, NAS vs. COL ($27): Darcy Kuemper fortunately avoiding injuring his eye in Game 3, and he may even be back in net for Game 4. If he is, he brings a 2.54 GAA and .921 save percentage with him. Should Kuemper not be able to play, his backup Pavel Francouz had a 2.55 GAA and .916 save percentage. No matter how you slice it, a tough matchup for Forsberg.
MacKenzie Weegar, FLA at WAS ($20): Weegar doesn't have a point yet in this series, but he has eight shots on goal and three blocked shots. During the regular season, Aaron Ekblad's partner on the top duo for the Panthers had 44 points and 203 shots on net. As I noted, Samsonov had a 3.02 GAA and .896 save percentage this season.
Jacob Trouba, NYR at PIT ($18): Trouba is a guy who is all over both ends of the ice. He tallied 204 shots on net and 177 blocked shots this year. In the playoffs, he has 13 shots on goal and an assist. The Penguins, meanwhile, have Domingue and his career .905 save percentage.
DEFENSE TO AVOID
Mattias Ekholm, NAS vs. COL ($18): Ekholm had six points in his final nine regular-season games, but that got him only to 31 points on the season. His one point in this series came on the power play, but he had all of four power-play points during the regular season, so that's not a reliable source of production. His secondary role for the Predators likely won't be enough against the Avalanche, no matter which goalie is in net.
Mike Matheson, PIT vs. NYR ($17): Matheson had three assists in Game 3, two of which came with the extra man. That equals his power-play point total from the regular season. I don't see that happening again, and I don't see Shesterkin, who again had a 2.07 GAA and .935 save percentage having another off day.