This article is part of our Yahoo DFS Hockey series.
Thursday's slate features a trio of Game 1's, each featuring a substantial home favorite. Check out my recommendations below.
Braden Holtby, WAS vs. CAR ($32): Honestly, I feel like Holtby is the only goalie I can justify recommending in any capacity. Four of the six teams in action finished in the top 10 in goals per game, and Boston was 11th. By finishing 16th, and also being on the road for the franchise's first playoff game in a decade, the Hurricanes are a favorable matchup in comparison. Plus, Holtby has a .920 save percentage in his last 20 games.
GOALIE TO AVOID
Tuukka Rask, BOS vs. TOR ($27): Rask's numbers in the past have been impressive, but he struggled down the stretch to end the regular season. Over his last 10 games he has a 3.20 GAA and .871 save percentage. The Leafs averaged 3.49 goals per game, so this won't be the match to help Rask get on track.
Nazem Kadri, TOR at BOS ($17): Kadri ended the regular season with a point in five of his last six games. He also averaged 2:35 per contest with the extra man this year and notched 13 power-play points in 73 outings. As I just noted, Tuukka Rask has a 3.20 GAA and .871 save percentage in his last 10 contests, which is also relevant here.
CENTER TO AVOID
Mikael Backlund, CGY vs. COL ($18): Backlund holds it down on Calgary's second line, but he only had one point in his last seven contests. With Philipp Grubauer playing out of his mind down the stretch, the only negative about the Avalanche is their 25th-ranked penalty kill. However, Backlund only had two power-play points this year, so he can't take advantage of that.
Gabriel Landeskog, COL at CGY ($28): Landeskog looked no worse for the wear after returning from his injury. He picked up six points in six games once he got healthy. The Flames had a .902 save percentage after the start of March, and Mike Smith had an .898 save percentage on the season. Also, the fact we can't even feel confident about which goalie they are going to go with doesn't bode well for Calgary's goaltending situation either.
William Nylander, TOR at BOS ($16): Things didn't go perfect for Nylander after he returned from his holdout, as he had 27 points in 54 games. However, that was with a 5.4 shooting percentage that bound to improve. Also, he started 58.5 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone, highest on the Maple Leafs. If Tuukka Rask's struggles continue, perhaps Nylander's luck will turn around.
WINGS TO AVOID
T.J. Oshie, WAS vs. CAR ($21): Oshie had a good year, even if he was once again hindered by injury. He only has four goals in his last 15 games, but this is more about Petr Mrazek's hot play recently. The Czech goalie has a 1.67 GAA and .943 save percentage in his last 15 games. On top of that, the Hurricanes have the eighth-ranked penalty kill.
Nino Niederreiter, CAR at WAS ($17): Niederreiter was stellar after joining the Hurricanes from the Wild. However, this is a tough matchup to navigate. The Capitals had a 2.71 GAA at home, top 10 in the NHL. That's not even considering Holtby's hot play down the stretch, where he posted a .920 save percentage.
Torey Krug, BOS vs. TOR ($20): Krug notched a career-high 47 assists this season, despite the fact he was limited to 64 games. He also managed a whopping 30 points with the extra man. Meanwhile, the Maple Leafs lost the plot defensively down the stretch. They had a 3.30 GAA after the All-Star break.
Samuel Girard, COL at CGY ($13): Girard ended the regular season by tallying three assists over his last two games. The sophomore took on a notably larger role this year, as he averaged 19:54 in ice time, including 2:02 with the extra man. Mike Smith had a bad year (.898 save percentage), but over his last 14 games David Rittich has an .895 save percentage in his own right.
DEFENSE TO AVOID
Mark Giordano, CGY vs. COL ($27): Giordano had a great year, and he may win the Norris, but he also has zero power-play points in his last 20 games. As such, he may not be able to take advantage of Colorado's 25th-ranked penalty kill. Meanwhile, out in Colorado, Philipp Grubauer has a 1.44 GAA and .956 save percentage in his last 14 contests.
John Carlson, WAS vs. CAR ($25): This is not about Carlson's play, but about the matchups. Sometimes you have to face a tough team in the postseason. In addition to Petr Mrazek's stellar netminding recently (1.67 GAA and .943 save percentage over his last 15 outings), the Hurricanes have the eight-ranked penalty kill. Carlson notched 33 of his 70 points with the extra man, and it will be hard for him to play at that level in this matchup.