There are a lot of NHL games Monday, but owing to the holiday, a lot of them also happen to be in the afternoon. That leaves us five games for the usual evening slate. Hey, five games is not too shabby in terms of options for your DFS lineups. With that in mind, here are my recommendations for guys to target, and to avoid, for your contests.
Casey DeSmith, PIT vs. ANA ($29): There is not yet news that Tristan Jarry is going to return from his injury, and with this matchup it's worth giving him another couple days to rest. The Ducks are the worst team in the NHL, and they rank last in goals per game and GAA. If ever there was a time to play a backup in DeSmith, it's at home against Anaheim.
GOALIE TO AVOID
Juuse Saros, NAS vs. CGY ($34): Saros is likely to be quite busy in this one. The Predators have allowed 34.2 shots on goal per game, while the Flames have averaged 34.9 shots on net per contest. Saros has a .919 save percentage, so clearly he can hold his own, but the more shots you face, the more that can go wrong.
Vincent Trocheck, NYR at CLM ($19): The Rangers are the only team on the second leg of a back-to-back Monday, but this matchup is too enticing to eschew. Columbus has a 3.95 GAA and has allowed 35.3 shots on net per contest. Trocheck stands out to me in particular, as he's put 136 shots on net in 44 games.
CENTER TO AVOID
Nicklas Backstrom, WAS at NYI ($12): Backstrom has returned, but he has returned to the second line, meaning he doesn't play with Alex Ovechkin on his wing at even strength. Ilya Sorokin has a 2.25 GAA and .927 save percentage, so this is not a conducive matchup for a player still trying to get fully up to speed on the season.
Patrik Laine, CLM vs. NYR ($19): Laine has had trouble staying healthy, but when he's been on the ice, he's been his usual self. The Finn has 12 goals and 10 assists through 27 games, with six points over his last three contests. Since the Rangers are on the second leg of a back-to-back, Jaroslav Halak will likely be n net, and he has a 2.85 GAA and .896 save percentage.
Rickard Rakell, PIT vs. ANA ($18): Rakell has an excellent opportunity against his former team. As I noted, the Ducks have the highest GAA in the NHL. They also allow the most shots on goal per contest and rank 30th on the penalty kill. Rakell has two power-play goals across his last three games, and he has tallied 129 shots on net through 42 outings.
WINGS TO AVOID
Jonathan Huberdeau, CGY at NAS ($19): In Huberdeau's first season with the Flames, he hasn't been shooting much. In fact, he's only put 65 shots on net through 41 games. Thus, maybe he won't be as equipped to take advantage of Nashville's porous defense, but he will still have to face Saros and his .919 save percentage.
Anders Lee, NYI vs. WAS ($16): Lee has 15 goals and 15 assists, though only two points in his last eight games. That's not bad necessarily, but heading into a matchup with Darcy Kuemper, a goalie with a 2.54 GAA and .918 save percentage, it's not encouraging either.
Thomas Chabot, OTT at STL ($19): Chabot has tallied 22 points and 91 shots on net in 37 games played this year. He's also averaged a robust 4:01 per game on the power play. The Blues have a bottom-six penalty kill, and Jordan Binnington has a 3.28 GAA and .891 save percentage. Thomas Greiss isn't going to save the day either, as the 36-year-old has a .906 save percentage over the last four seasons.
Ty Smith, PIT vs. ANA ($13): With Kris Letang out, the Penguins called up Smith and immediately placed him on the top power-play unit. He's averaged a whopping 5:34 per contest with the extra man, helping his tally three points and 20 shots on net through seven games. The Ducks, for their part, have a 4.16 GAA and have allowed 38.8 shots on goal per contest.
DEFENSE TO AVOID
Erik Gustafsson, WAS at NYI ($19): Washington has the toughest matchup Monday evening. Sorokin, as I noted, has a 2.25 GAA and .927 save percentage. The Islanders also have the sixth-ranked penalty kill. All that adds up to me avoiding Gustafsson on Monday, especially since his 9.0 shooting percentage will be hard to sustain.
Noah Dobson, NYI vs. WAS ($19): Dobson's follow up to his breakthrough campaign was going swimmingly, but he's slowed down recently. He has zero goals in his last 13 games, and only one power-play point in his last 17 outings. As a team hovering around the top 10 in GAA and penalty-kill percentage, the Capitals don't pose a favorable matchup to a scuffling defenseman.