NHL.com has identified a potential X-factor from each Stanley Cup Playoff team with a high ceiling in playoff pools and FanDuel DFS contests. For more fantasy hockey coverage, visit NHL.com/Fantasy.
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Stanley Cup Playoffs picks | Projected lineups, starting goalies
Columbus Blue Jackets: Pierre-Luc Dubois, F -- The Blue Jackets center will have a huge assignment in the second round against the Boston Bruins; elite centers Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci each exceeded 70 points in the regular season. Dubois, who plays on the top line with elite left wing Artemi Panarin, had three points (one goal, two assists) in Columbus' sweep of the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round but struggled late in the regular season (seven points in final 19 games). Dubois will likely need to produce better than a point per game in the second round to offset Boston's center depth.
Boston Bruins: Marcus Johansson, F -- The Bruins wing missed two games in the series against the Toronto Maple Leafs because of an illness and did not score a point in his first four games playing mostly on the third line. But Johansson's game-winning goal in Game 7 could ignite a player that was producing on the top line and first power play for the New Jersey Devils prior to being acquired by Boston on Feb. 25 and missing time because of a lung contusion down the stretch. Boston's secondary scoring stepped up with them trailing 3-2 in the series and will need to contribute against the Columbus Blue Jackets, whose three strong lines overwhelmed the Lightning.
Carolina Hurricanes: Andrei Svechnikov, F -- The rookie forward had two goals against the Washington Capitals in Game 1 and a power-play assist in Game 2 before sustaining a concussion during a fight in Game 3. The Hurricanes rallied around Svechnikov's injury to upset the defending champions in seven games and could have an even higher ceiling if/when he returns to the top-six forward group against the New York Islanders in the second round. Svechnikov scored 20 goals in the regular season despite playing frequently on the third line.
New York Islanders: Devon Toews, D -- The rookie led Islanders defensemen in assists (two, T-1st), power-play points (two), SOG (10) and power-play ice time (3:03 per game) in their sweep of the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round. Toews, who has played 18:29 per game in the playoffs and saw usage on the first power play with playoff standouts Jordan Eberle, Brock Nelson and Josh Bailey, could take on a bigger even-strength role in the second round against the Carolina Hurricanes with veteran Johnny Boychuk (leg) out 3-4 weeks.
Dallas Stars: Mats Zuccarello, F -- The Stars' secondary scoring faces the challenge of stacking up to the St. Louis Blues in the second round, and Zuccarello is an X-factor anchoring a line with forwards Roope Hintz and Jason Dickinson and also playing on the first power play with Hintz, elite skaters Tyler Seguin, Alexander Radulov, Jamie Benn and John Klingberg. Zuccarello had three goals but no assists, and Dallas' power play went 4-for-22 in six games against the Nashville Predators in the first round. Zuccarello finished the regular season with 18 assists in the final 20 games and can help the Stars reach their potential as a distributor.
St. Louis Blues: Brayden Schenn, F -- He was moved from left wing to center late in the first round against the Winnipeg Jets and had three points (one goal, two assists) and seven SOG over the final two games of the series after no points and three SOG in the prior four games. If Schenn remains on a separate line from valuable forwards Vladimir Tarasenko and Ryan O'Reilly, he'll be counted on to sustain his strong play with left wing Jaden Schwartz, the Blues' first round X-factor who delivered with four straight goals in the final two games of the series.
Colorado Avalanche: Cale Makar, D -- The Avalanche rookie joined them during the first round against the Calgary Flames and made an immediate impact with two points (one goal, one assist), a plus-4 and six blocked shots in three games. Makar, who played 17:57 per game, 1:49 on the power play, will be relied upon to generate more offense over a full series against the San Jose Sharks, especially if Samuel Girard's shoulder injury lingers.
San Jose Sharks: Martin Jones, G -- The Sharks goalie was instrumental in their comeback from down 3-1 in the first round series against the Vegas Golden Knights, stopping 122 of 129 shots faced (.946 save percentage) over three straight wins facing elimination. It's worth noting the resurgence of Jones and San Jose coincided with the return of defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic from injury in Game 5. Even with three strong forward lines and elite scoring defensemen in Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson, San Jose's road to the Stanley Cup hinges on Jones, who struggled in the regular season (.896 SV%) and needs to be more consistent than he was in the first round (.904) against the elite duo of Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen.
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