This article is part of our Yahoo DFS Hockey series.
It's a unique Saturday in the NHL with just four evening games comprising the main contest at Yahoo! While St. Louis is the largest favorite on the docket, the Kings-Blues contest also opened with the lowest over/under total. Montreal is the lone road favorite but is also playing its sixth consecutive road game to start the season.
Don't ignore the importance of ice time and shot volume in such a limited player pool.
Jaroslav Halak, BOS vs. PHI ($28): In a shallow goalie pool, spending up for one of the high-end options is almost a must, so Halak checks out as a secondary option to consider. The veteran owns a .921 save percentage and 2.35 GAA through three years and 72 games as a Bruin. Additionally, Halak stopped 29 of 31 shots in his lone start this year. Note that it's definitely not a slam-dunk matchup, and especially after the two teams combined for eight regulation goals Thursday in the Bruins' 5-4 shootout win. Still, Boston has surrendered just nine goals through four games.
GOALIE TO AVOID
Carter Hart, PHI at BOS ($37): There's been a notable statistical drop in Hart's road numbers compared to his home-ice statistics. The 22-year-old netminder owns an underwhelming 9-14-3 record with an .889 save percentage and 3.33 GAA through 29 games away from the Wells Fargo Center. Add the high-event, high-scoring result between the Bruins and Flyers on Thursday, that Philly will be without Sean Couturier (ribs), Philippe Myers (ribs) and Morgan Frost (shoulder), and there's ample reason to strongly consider fading Hart.
Nick Suzuki, MON at VAN ($18): Mr. Reliable to start the campaign, the sophomore has found the scoresheet in all five games, and he spent just 2:42 opposite Vancouver's top two centers Elias Pettersson and Bo Horvat at five-on-five Thursday. If Suzuki receives similar on-ice matchups Saturday, he's positioned to succeed. Vancouver has been a mess defensively, too. The Canucks have surrendered a league-high 16 goals and 56 high-danger chances at five-on-five, and their team save percentage ranks sixth lowest.
CENTER TO AVOID
Ryan O'Reilly, STL vs. LA ($24): The veteran's slow start – just one assist through four games – could just as easily be spun as an opportunity for statistical correction, but his role does position him as more of a matchup specialist. O'Reilly has started 53.3 percent of his five-on-five shifts in the defensive zone and is averaging 2:35 of shorthanded ice time per contest. Additionally, fellow centers Brayden Schenn and Robert Thomas have the more offensively gifted wingers on their flanks. Note that the matchup is neutral at worst. Los Angeles has surrendered 13 goals through four games.
Kyle Connor, WPG vs. OTT ($25): With three consecutive 30-goal campaigns and a 12th-ranked 1.42 goals per 60 minutes during the stretch, Connor has established himself as an elite scorer and currently leads the Jets in shot attempts. He's also begun 2021 in high-end form with seven points – three tallies – through four games, and the Senators have surrendered the seventh-most high-danger scoring chances per 60 minutes dating back to last season.
Drake Batherson, OTT at WPG ($13): Until his salary meets his production and offensive role, Batherson is worth nightly consideration. He's logged the third-most minutes among Ottawa forwards, attempted the third-most shots and has been on the ice for 5.0 expected goals and 24.03 high-danger scoring chances per 60 minutes while sharing the ice with linemates Brady Tkachuk and Joshua Norris. Batherson is also on Ottawa's No. 1 power-play unit and has averaged 5:20 of ice time per game with the man advantage.
WINGS TO AVOID
Tyler Toffoli, MON at VAN ($20): Sizzling hot, Toffoli is an easy fade recommendation after scoring five times on 11 shots (16 attempts) over the past two games. The 28-year-old winger is a notoriously streaky scorer, so look for puck luck to flip the script Friday.
David Perron, STL vs. LA ($19): Similar to linemate O'Reilly, Perron's on-ice assignments are tilted towards shutting down the opposition more so than generating offense. Perron has only had a single assist, five shot attempts and one high-danger scoring chance at five-on-five this season. Again, like O'Reilly, there's statistical correction ahead. It just would just be easier to chase it if the underlying numbers pointed in that direction.
Quinn Hughes, VAN vs. MON ($18): With a fourth-ranked 2.16 points per 60 minutes among defensemen since entering the league, Hughes checks in as a discount Saturday. He's already collected six assists through six games this year and is locked in as the quarterback of the No. 1 power-play unit. Plus, the 21-year-old blueliner has started 71.1 percent of his five-on-five shifts in the offensive zone this season. Additionally, while the jury is still out on the impact of road trips this year, this is Montreal's sixth straight away game to start the campaign.
Dylan DeMelo, WPG vs. OTT ($10): At minimum salary, DeMelo is a worthwhile flier in his return to action. The 27-year-old defenseman is a respectable driver of possession at five-on-five with a 54.0 CorsiFor percentage over the past two years while chipping in 32 points over the past two seasons. DeMelo also moves the needle enough in the shots and blocked shots categories and isn't a significant plus-minus risk.
DEFENSEMEN TO AVOID
Alexander Romanov, MON at VAN ($24): Warranted or not, it didn't take long for Romanov's salary to climb to the top of the list. The rookie defenseman has been excellent, so this warning isn't an indictment of his play. He's just probably too expensive after being held under double-digit fantasy points in three of his first five games. Additionally, without his plus-5 rating, his salary would likely be significantly lower. While plus-minus is typically predictive over the course of the season, anything can happen in a single game.
Drew Doughty, LA at STL ($18): Consider the 31-year-old defenseman a high-risk, high-reward target Saturday. Doughty will play close to half the game, which means he'll have every opportunity to find the scoresheet and pile up shots and blocked shots. However, it also means he's a plus-minus risk matching up against St. Louis' top scorers more often than not. With Los Angeles the largest underdog on the docket, Doughty profiles as a contrarian flier, at best.