Friday's 7:00 PM Eastern NHL slate features three games, each of which has a home team attempting to close out its respective series. With how dominant the Jets, Lightning and Penguins have looked, all three will be heavily favored to do just that. Still, there's also value to be found on the desperate road squads. Read on to see which players stand out as options to target in this slate and which should be avoided.
Pekka Rinne, NSH vs. COL ($31): All three home goaltenders in this slate are heavily favored, so Rinne gets the nod here simply for being the cheapest of that group. He's given up four goals twice and two goals twice in this series, but the Finnish veteran's 2.31 GAA and .927 save percentage in the regular season suggest he's capable of producing a much better result at home in Game 5.
GOALIE TO AVOID
Devan Dubnyk, MIN at WPG ($30): Dubnyk will have to win this road start to keep his season alive, but his awful performance away from Xcel Energy Center suggests this is likely to be the end of the road. He posted a 2.97 GAA and .907 save percentage in 27 away games during the regular season before allowing seven goals in the first two games of this series.
Colton Sissons, NSH vs. COL ($13): Playoff Sissons has struck again this postseason, getting on the scoresheet in every game this series for a total of three goals and two assists so far. Dating back to the start of last season's playoffs, the affordable forward's now recorded nine goals and 17 points in 26 games with the Stanley Cup on the line. Scoring should also be easier for him here with the Avalanche forced to turn to Andrew Hammond in net now that Jonathan Bernier (lower body) has joined Semyon Varlamov (knee) on the sidelines.
CENTER TO AVOID
Nolan Patrick, PHI at PIT ($16): Patrick's looked raw in his first career playoff series, racking up a minus-4 rating through four games while finishing with negative fantasy points twice already. The future's bright for the 2017 second overall pick, but he carries major downside in the present against the two-time defending champs.
Nino Niederreiter, MIN at WPG ($12): Niederreiter didn't take advantage of his extra opportunities in Game 4, but he did skate a personal series high of 18:25 in that contest. That extra playing time was the result of Zach Parise's (chest) absence, which granted the Swiss forward a role on the second line to go with his spot on the second power-play unit. His ability to put pucks aplenty on net and cheap price make Niederreiter a sneaky value play for the underdog Wild.
Phil Kessel, PIT vs. PHI ($27): Kessel was quiet in this series' first two games, but he's heated up with three points in the past two contests, including a pair on the power play. The regular season league leader with 42 power-play points is primed to continue exploiting a Flyers penalty kill that finished third-worst overall and last among playoff teams at just 75.8 percent.
WINGS TO AVOID
Austin Watson, NSH vs. COL ($18): Watson's production has mirrored that of his linemate Sissons, but the latter remains very affordable while the former's price has jumped dramatically. Considering Watson averaged just 4.0 fantasy points per game in the regular season, you may as well pay up for some of his more established teammates if you're willing to venture into this price range.
Conor Sheary, PIT vs. PHI ($15): Sheary continues to offer the worst bang for the buck on an otherwise thriving Penguins team. Pittsburgh has 18 goals through the first four games of this series, but Sheary's contributed just one assist while averaging only 10:06 of ice time. You're better off using literally any other player in Pittsburgh's lineup.
Dustin Byfuglien, WPG vs. MIN ($23): Injuries to Winnipeg's defense corps have expanded Byfuglien's role even further, but he's had no problems handling the increased workload. Big Buff has three assists, 13 shots and six blocks while averaging over 25 minutes of ice time through four games in this series, and he's primed to produce once again at home. Including the playoffs, 30 of his 48 points this season have come at Bell MTS Place.
Nikita Zadorov, COL at NSH ($15): Zadorov's club is on the brink of elimination, but the Russian defenseman isn't the man to blame for the 3-1 series deficit. He's quietly put together an excellent series, averaging 8.3 fantasy points while never falling below 6.8. At only $15, plugging in Zadorov also won't limit flexibility in other lineup spots.
DEFENSEMEN TO AVOID
Tyson Barrie, COL at NSH ($23): Barrie possesses excellent scoring upside, but he's also a major rating risk given his minus-3 rating in this series and minus-15 mark in the regular season. Given Colorado's injuries on net, things could get very ugly for him in the rating department against the explosive Predators offense.
Jacob Trouba, WPG vs. MIN ($18): Trouba still hasn't marked the scoresheet in this series, and his chances of doing so are likely to drop even further if Tyler Myers (lower body) is able to return from his one-game absence and reclaim his spot on the second power-play unit. As far as Winnipeg's blue line goes, the approach should be to either pay up for Byfuglien or take a gamble on one of the team's bargain bin options.