This article is part of our Yahoo DFS Hockey series.
The NHL season began Tuesday with two games, but things get serious Wednesday. That was an appetizer, but we have five games taking place Wednesday. Also, Canadian teams are in action now, and you know it's hockey season when you start thinking about the city of Winnipeg. Here are some players to target, and to avoid, for your DFS lineups.
Connor Hellebuyck, WPG at ANA ($39): Hellebuyck's numbers have been steady the last two seasons. He followed up a season where he had a 2.57 GAA with a 2.58 GAA. Last season the Ducks ranked last in goals per game. It's a new season, but looking at the Anaheim lineup I don't see any additions that lead me to believe this year will be any different.
GOALIE TO AVOID
Marc-Andre Fleury, CHI at COL ($33): Fleury got traded from the Golden Knights to the Blackhawks, considering retiring as a result, and now begins the season on the road against the team that scored the most goals per game last year. What a sequence of events for the veteran goalie. Fleury had great numbers last season, but he also had a strong defense in front of him. Chicago finished tied for last in shots allowed per game.
Elias Pettersson, VAN at EDM ($19): Injuries kyboshed Pettersson's campaign last year, but he still managed 21 points in 26 games. The Swede has been a force since he was a rookie, especially on the power play. I am legitimately fascinated about Mike Smith this season, but clearly I am also skeptical. Out of nowhere as a 38-year-old he followed up a season where he had a .902 save percentage with a .923 save percentage. Can he do it again at 39? I don't know about that.
CENTER TO AVOID
Nick Suzuki, MON at TOR ($21): Suzuki is a player on the rise, and I expect a good season. However, a road game in Toronto might be a tricky way to start the new campaign. The Leafs only allowed 27.8 shots on net per game last season, though that number only means so much beginning a new year. What likely means more is the fact Jack Campbell had a 2.15 GAA and .921 save percentage and is now Toronto's number-one netminder
Gabriel Landeskog, COL vs. CHI ($29): To start the season sometimes it's nice to spend a little extra salary on a player you can trust. Landeskog plays on perhaps the top line in the NHL alongside Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen (though MacKinnon will miss this one). He's also on Colorado's elite top power-play unit, and the Swede averaged 4:09 per game with the extra man last year. The Blackhawks ranked 28th on the penalty kill last season, and Fleury can only do so much.
Andrew Copp, WPG at ANA ($13): Copp surprised by notching career highs in goals (15) and points (39) last season, even though he only played in 55 games. It wasn't a fluke necessarily, as his 13.2 shooting percentage wasn't a career high. Maybe it's a result of having to shoulder a heavy load, but John Gibson has a .904 save percentage over the last two campaigns.
WINGS TO AVOID
Patrick Kane, CHI at COL ($30): I'm coming out the gate hot recommending avoiding one of the top wings in the NHL for over a decade, I know, but this is a tricky matchup to start with. Sure, the Avalanche have a new goalie in Darcy Kuemper, but Kuemper's career save percentage is .917. Colorado allowed a mere 25.4 shots on net per contest in 2020-21, lowest in the NHL by a significant margin. Even if the Avalanche regress a bit, I fully expect them to be stingy once again.
Anthony Mantha, WAS vs. NYR ($16): Mantha was surely happy to move from the rebuilding Red Wings to the Capitals, and he's slotted onto Washington's second line. However, that line is usually centered by Nicklas Backstrom, who is injured. Lars Eller is not quite on Backstrom's level. Igor Shesterkin has so far lived up to the hype in net for the Rangers. In 47 career games he has a .921 save percentage.
Darnell Nurse, EDM vs. VAN ($22): There will likely be some regression from Nurse, who had a 10.4 shooting percentage last year. However, he averaged 25:38 in ice time and put up 154 shots on goal and 100 blocked shots in 56 games, so clearly he was active and not merely a guy getting puck luck. Last season Thatcher Demko lifted his save percentage from .905 to .915, but he still had a 2.85 GAA due to the fact Vancouver allowed so many shots on net.
Bowen Byram, COL vs. CHI ($10): OK, this is purely a bet on upside and potential. Byram was the fourth-overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft for a reason, and the 20-year-old should finally get a real shot at the NHL this year. He's expected to be on the second pairing and the second power-play unit, and I am going to speculate he gets sheltered minutes to be eased into the lineup. The Blackhawks allowed 33.7 shots on net per game last year and were in the bottom five in penalty-kill percentage, which should also help the young defenseman.
DEFENSE TO AVOID
John Carlson, WAS vs. NYR ($22): This is about trying to save some salary and not using so much of your allotted cash on a matchup that isn't great. I'm not knocking Carlson here. Instead, I am merely noting again that Shestkerin's career save percentage is .921 and also the Rangers had the 10th-ranked penalty kill last year.
Seth Jones, CHI at COL ($19): Jones has joined a new team, and he will be expected to shoulder a large load for the Blackhawks. He'll get there, but I expect it to take time. Being on the road against the Avalanche is also a tricky place to start. Again, they only gave up 25.4 shots on goal per game last season.