Soon enough, every NHL team will have played in at least 50 games. The trade deadline will arrive before we know it. Heck, February is almost here. Right now, though, let’s focus on the three games taking place Thursday. Here are my players to target, and to avoid, for your daily fantasy lineup.
Adin Hill, ARI vs. LOS ($29): Darcy Kuemper isn’t expected to be ready to return for Thursday, which likely leaves Hill in net. That’s not too bad, given that he has a 2.40 GAA and .920 save percentage in limited action this year. Both the Coyotes and the Kings are on the second night of a back-to-back, but the Coyotes are at home, and the Kings are in the bottom five in goals per game.
GOALIE TO AVOID
Pekka Rinne, NAS at NJD ($27): Rinne has had a surprisingly poor season, but maybe you think you’ll take a swing on him because the Devils have only managed 2.59 goals per game and have lost Taylor Hall in a trade. I wouldn’t risk it. For starters, the Predators are on the road for the second leg of a back-to-back, while the Devils will be rested. Plus, New Jersey has scored 2.83 goals per contest at home. That’s still not good, but it’s better than 2.59.
Christian Dvorak, ARI vs. LOS ($17): Heading into the All-Star break, Dvorak had a four-game point streak. In addition to his nice run of recent play, the 23-year-old has nine points with the extra man. The Kings have the 30th-ranked penalty kill, and on top of that they are playing their second game in as many nights. That doesn’t tend to help a penalty kill improve.
CENTER TO AVOID
Ryan Johansen, NAS at NJD ($13): This isn’t a great day for finding players to avoid, which is probably better for DFS players. It’s hard to go wrong. Johansen has been struggling for a while, as he has only four points in his last 14 games, none of them on the power play. MacKenzie Blackwood has a 2.95 GAA for the Devils, which isn’t good, but is the best they can do right now. At least Blackwood will be at home against a team on the second night of a back-to-back.
Ilya Kovalchuk, MON at BUF ($17): Maybe Kovalchuk just needed a change of scenery? Since leaving Los Angeles, the greatest Atlanta Thrasher of all time has eight points in nine games with the Canadiens. Linus Ullmark is expected to miss time for the Sabres, which will leave Carter Hutton (3.31 GAA, .892 save percentage) to man the net in this one.
Phil Kessel, ARI vs. LOS ($17): Kessel’s thing has been the power play for years, as he had over 30 points with the extra man in each of his final three seasons in Pittsburgh. Things haven’t gone quite as smoothly in Arizona, but he still has 15 power-play points in 52 games. The Kings, as previously noted, have the 30th-ranked penalty kill, so this matchup is right up Kessel’s alley.
WINGS TO AVOID
Brendan Gallagher, MON at BUF ($22): Gallagher is expected to rejoin the Canadiens after missing time with a head injury, but how will he look after playing in only one game since the start of January? Plus, the winger has had issues on the power play this year, as he only has four points with the extra man, all assists. Buffalo’s primary defensive issue has been its penalty-kill problems, and Gallagher may not be able to take advantage of that.
Tyler Toffoli, LOS at ARI ($16): Toffoli’s shooting percentage has bounced back after some bad puck luck last year, but that still only leaves him with 28 points in 50 games. Arizona is the only team playing Thursday in the top half of the league in GAA, so this is pretty clearly the toughest matchup on the schedule. In fact, the Coyotes have a 2.58 GAA at home.
Jeff Petry, MON at BUF ($18): Petry provides a nice complement to Shea Weber, as he has seven goals on 121 shots and 22 assists in 51 games. He also gets power-play time, and he’s notched nine points with the extra man. That means Petry could be in line to take advantage of Buffalo’s bottom-five penalty kill, and also Hutton being in net.
Rasmus Dahlin, BUF vs. MON ($17): Dahlin has started 57.6 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone, highest on the Sabres. That, plus 3:36 per game on the power play, has helped him tally 28 points in 42 games. Not too shabby for a 19-year-old defenseman. What is pretty shabby, though, is Montreal’s 3.14 GAA.
DEFENSEMEN TO AVOID
P.K. Subban, NJD vs. NAS ($18): Subban is playing his old Nashville team, but it’s hard to bet on a revenge game for P.K. He’s only managed 11 points all season, and only two with the extra man. Even with Nashville’s issues in net, I can’t really have faith in Subban on Thursday.
Jakob Chychrun, ARI vs. LOS ($15): The Kings have had issues in net as well, but the team has actually been good defensively in other ways. Los Angeles has only allowed 28.9 shots on goal per contest. The Kings have their issues with the penalty kill, of course, but Chychrun may not take advantage of that. He only has six power-play points, and only one in his last 15 games.