- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
The season hasn't gotten off to the smoothest start, but we're chugging along in this condensed NHL campaign. We're going to have to make calls on players sooner than normal, because with less games on the slate we can't wait as long for a robust sample size to arrive. For Thursday, we have six games, including the Canucks and Canadiens running it back for the second night in a row. There was supposed to be seven, but the Hurricanes and Panthers had their game called because of COVID issues within the Canes. I've got some players to recommend for your DFS lineup, but also some guys I would steer clear of for the night.
Semyon Varlamov, NYI vs. NJD ($33): Not a single shot that Varlamov has faced has gotten past him this season. He's started two games and posted a shutout in both of them. That won't continue, though it would be pretty amazing if it did. The Devils only scored 2.68 goals per game last year, so even if Varlamov doesn't blank another opponent I think he'll be just fine.
GOALIE TO AVOID
Joonas Korpisalo, CLM vs. TAM ($29): Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins make for a dynamic duo, and Korpisalo has a .944 save percentage this season. That likely won't continue – he had a .911 save percentage last season – but he posted a 2.60 GAA with that save percentage because of the defense in front of him. No matter how good a defense is, though, it's hard to stop the Lightning. They led the league in goals per game last year and they've scored five goals in both the games they've been able to play this season.
Paul Stastny, WPG at OTT ($17): Stastny has returned to Winnipeg, and while he doesn't have a point yet he's carved out a large role with the team. In particular, he's averaged 4:56 per game with the extra man. The Senators had a 3.35 GAA and allowed 33.6 shots on net per contest last season, and while they've added Matt Murray he has a 3.30 GAA and .890 save percentage in three starts.
CENTER TO AVOID
Anze Kopitar, LOS vs. COL ($18): Kopitar is 33 now, and while the Slovenian is still a good player, he's waiting on the Kings' young talent to arrive and start contributing. He doesn't have a goal yet this season, but he has four assists through three games. Philipp Grubauer has a 2.01 GAA and .923 save percentage and hasn't had a save percentage lower than .916 in the last five campaigns. Kopitar can't do it all himself.
Anders Lee, NYI vs. NJD ($19): MacKenzie Blackwood has been excellent for the Devils so far, but his team is asking a ton of him. Through three games Blackwood has faced 115 shots, and last season New Jersey gave up 32.7 shots on net per contest. The Devils' defense has been porous, and Lee had 195 shots on goal in 68 games last year plus 13 shots through three games this year.
Brandon Saad, COL at LOS ($12): Saad has spent three games with his new team in Colorado, and he just scored his first goal. That goal, fittingly enough, came against the Kings in the Avalanche's last game. Saad is on the second line and the second power-play unit so far, and that's not a bad place to be in this lineup. Jonathan Quick was once a formidable goalie, but he had a .904 save percentage last season and an .888 save percentage the season prior.
WINGS TO AVOID
Travis Konecny, PHI at BOS ($20): With Sean Couturier out, and Morgan Frost banged up, the Flyers could be quite short-handed at center Thursday. That's not going to help Konecny, but I'm more concerned about the matchup. The Bruins had a 2.39 GAA last season, which was lowest in the NHL by a comfortable margin.
Cam Atkinson, CLM vs. TAM ($17): Two seasons ago Atkinson scored 41 goals, but that version of Atkinson hasn't showed up this season. The 31-year-old doesn't have a single point, even though the two teams he's faced are the Predators and Red Wings. Tampa is a tougher matchup, especially when Andrei Vasilevskiy is in net. Even in a "down" year last season he had a 2.56 GAA and .917 save percentage.
Shea Weber, MON at VAN ($19): Normally you might not need much of a push to select Weber for your lineup, but since the Canadiens are on the second day of a back-to-back I thought you might be hesitant. Even at this salary, and in this situation, I think Weber is a fine choice for DFS purposes. The defenseman with the big shot had 15 goals on 185 shots in 65 games last year. While he's been less of power-play weapon in recent seasons, he has four power-play points in four games this year. As expected, the duo of Braden Holtby and Thatcher Demko are off to a slow start, and Demko actually has a 4.66 GAA this season.
Neal Pionk, WPG at OTT ($18): Pionk broke out with 45 points last season, and 25 of them came on the power play. This year he has a point in all three games he's played, and I find it encouraging they've all come at even strength. As I previously noted, the Senators had a 3.35 GAA last year, which was second highest in the NHL.
DEFENSEMEN TO AVOID
Seth Jones, CLM vs. TAM ($18): Like his teammate Atkinson, Jones has yet to register a single point this season. That might change, and he does have 11 shots on goal in four games, but I don't expect that to happen against the Lightning. Since becoming the Tampa Bay starter, Vasilevskiy has never had a save percentage lower than .917, and he has a .950 save percentage to start this campaign.
Charlie McAvoy, BOS vs. PHI ($14): With Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara both having moved on, McAvoy has a bigger role this year. He's averaged over 26 minutes per game in ice time, but he hasn't notched a point yet. Also, even with all that time, he's still on the second unit on the power play. As for the Flyers, they only allowed 28.7 shots on net per contest last season. That was lowest in the league.