This article is part of our Yahoo DFS Hockey series.
The NHL season kicked off Wednesday, and things are shifting into another gear Thursday. We also have the first bit of cold water on this campaign, as the game between the Stars and the Panthers that was supposed to happen has been postponed. On top of that, we have our initial second leg of a back-to-back, as the Canucks and Oilers are playing their second game in as many nights, but this isn't your usual home-and-home. Both games are taking place in Edmonton. This is a weird season. There are 10 games Thursday, and here are some players to target, and to avoid, for your DFS lineup.
Robin Lehner, VGK vs. ANA ($35): Lehner has usurped Marc-Andre Fleury's throne in Vegas, and the 1.85 GAA and .920 save percentage he had in the playoffs certainly helps justify that. The Ducks only scored 2.56 goals per game last year, and Ryan Getzlaf isn't getting any younger. Until guys like Trevor Zegras are ready to step up, this offense is going to lack punch, which bodes well for goalies like Lehner this season.
GOALIE TO AVOID
Linus Ullmark, BUF vs. WAS ($25): Is Ullmark ready to be Buffalo's top goalie? Well, he did have a 2.69 GAA and .915 save percentage last season. As per usual, it's expected that the Capitals are going to have a top offense in 2021. They scored 3.42 goals per contest last season, which was second best in the NHL.
Jordan Staal, CAR at DET ($10): Staal struggled offensively last season, but right now he's scheduled to center a line between rising offensive stars Andrei Svechnikov and Martin Necas. Plus, we have to consider the matchup. Yes, the Wings added a little talent in the offseason, including goalie Thomas Greiss. They also had a 3.73 GAA last season. No other team had a GAA higher than 3.35. I don't know if Dominik Hasek in his prime could turn around a defense that bad.
CENTER TO AVOID
Logan Couture, SAN at ARI ($23): It was a bit of a lackluster season for Couture last year, with 39 points in 52 games. The big problem was he had only nine power-play points, all of which were assists. Arizona had stellar goaltending last year, with a .919 save percentage as a team. That's even with the injuries that Darcy Kuemper and Antti Raanta faced. The Coyotes also had the fifth-ranked penalty kill.
Oliver Bjorkstrand, CLM at NAS ($17): Bjorkstrand has notched 36 points in each of his last two seasons. The big difference? Last year he only needed 49 games to do it. The 25-year-old also averaged 2:29 per game on the power play, and this year he's on Columbus' first line and the top power-play unit. Speaking of that power play, the Predators had the 29th-ranked penalty kill.
Anders Lee, NYI at NYR ($17): Lee only scored 20 goals last season, but his 10.3 shooting percentage was his worst in four seasons, and well below his career average. Even though he only played in 68 games, he put 195 shots on goal. Meanwhile, the Rangers allowed 34.0 shots on net per contest last year, which was second highest in the NHL. I believe in Igor Shesterkin. I also believe it's hard to face 34 shots per game and succeed (and adding Jack Johnson to your blue line never helps on that front).
WINGS TO AVOID
Filip Forsberg, NAS vs. CLM ($22): Forsberg scored 21 goals in 63 games last season, which may seem good. However, he had 28 in 64 games the year before, and 26 in 67 games the season before that. It was a down campaign for the Swede. The Blue Jackets were staunch defensively last season, posting a 2.61 GAA and only allowing 29.9 shots on net per contest. Maybe Forsberg will score 20 goals again this season, but I don't think he gets on the board in the opener.
Kyle Palmieri, NJD vs. BOS ($16): Taylor Hall is gone, which means more attention on Palmieri. It feels like he can score 25 or so goals in his sleep, but he's not really a playmaker, and he really relies on the power play for a lot of his output. The Bruins had the lowest GAA in the league by a wide margin last year at 2.39, and they also had the third-ranked penalty kill. Palmieri will probably be fine without Hall to play off of, but not in this matchup.
Shea Theodore, VGK vs. ANA ($24): Alex Pietrangelo is getting a lot of attention as the new face on the Vegas blue line, but don't forget about Theodore. The former Duck tallied 46 points and 219 shots on net in 71 games last year, with 16 points on the power play. I think John Gibson can bounce back from posting a 3.00 GAA and .904 save percentage, but the Ducks allowed 32.1 shots on net per contest last year and had the 26th-ranked penalty kill. Getting "revenge" on his old team shouldn't be too difficult for Theodore.
Tyson Barrie, EDM vs. VAN ($13): Barrie already had a reputation as a power-play weapon coming into this season. Now he's on Edmonton's top power-play with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl? The mind reels at the possibilities. Vancouver will be on the road for the second game in as many nights, and it also allowed 33.3 shots on net per contest last season.
DEFENSEMEN TO AVOID
Erik Karlsson, SAN at ARI ($20): I hate to say it, but it seems like the best days of Karlsson are behind him. He's had trouble staying healthy, and last year he managed a mere 40 points. The Swede has entered his thirties, and he hasn't had double-digit goals since the 2017-18 season. Of course, Arizona posting a 2.61 GAA last year is as much a reason for concern as anything.
Anthony DeAngelo, NYR vs. NYI ($17): DeAngelo came up big for the Rangers last year, scoring 15 goals in 68 games. However, that was with a 10.1 shooting percentage, and he has a 6.2 shooting percentage in his career. I expect regression this season, and the Islanders should help with that. We know the story. Barry Trotz's teams clamp down defensively and squeeze the life out of a game. It works for them, but it doesn't work for opponents like DeAngelo.