Yesterday, we finally saw the NHL back in action. It was a little odd, though the NBA playoffs did help ease us in, but it's still great to see the NHL playoffs going on. Three more series kick off Sunday, plus the first two "round robin" games. The games start at 2PM ET, so be ready to get your lineups in. Here are some players to target, and to avoid, for your DFS lineup.
Frederik Andersen, TOR vs. CLM ($27): Andersen experienced a down year with a .909 save percentage, but usually he's quite reliable. Prior to this campaign, he managed four seasons in a row with a save percentage between .917 and .919. That's goaltending you can set your watch to! The Blue Jackets clearly missed Artemi Panarin this season, as they managed a mere 2.57 goals per game.
GOALIE TO AVOID
Carter Hart, PHI at BOS ($34): Yes, this isn't a road game. It's neutral ice. Even so, Carter Hart had a 1.63 GAA and .943 save percentage at home and a 3.81 GAA and .857 save percentage on the road. Since Hart isn't playing in Philly in front of Flyers fans, I am having a hard time having faith in him until I see him in action in the bubble.
Bo Horvat, VAN vs. MIN ($20): He's in Elias Pettersson's shadow to a degree, but Horvat is no slouch at center. In fact, he produced 53 points in 69 games this season. Also, 12 of Horvat's 22 goals came with the extra man. The Wild enter with the 25th-ranked penalty kill and their goalies posted a .897 save percentage.
CENTER TO AVOID
John Tavares, TOR vs. CLM ($27): How did the Blue Jackets get to this point, given their relatively paltry offense? Because of their defensive prowess. Columbus excelled with a 2.61 team GAA and only allowed 29.9 shots on net per contest. That was with guys like Seth Jones dealing with injuries, but the Jackets are healthy right now. Tavares is a great player, but this represents a tough matchup. And just because the Leafs are playing in the bubble in Toronto, that doesn't mean they have home-ice advantage.
Phil Kessel, ARI at NAS ($18): Was Kessel what we expected this year? No, thanks in part to a 9.2 shooting percentage that came in well below his career number. That being said, Kessel started 61.5 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone, second highest on the Coyotes, and tallied 17 power-play points even in a down campaign. The Predators had the 29th-ranked penalty kill - the worst of every playoff team - and that's right up Kessel's alley.
Oliver Bjorkstrand, CLM at TOR ($19): OK, so let's say that Toronto's 3.17 GAA is indicative of what level it will be playing defense in the bubble. After Mike Babcock was fired, the defense definitely felt a little looser and Andersen never quite righted the ship. Who might take advantage of that? I like Bjorkstrand's chances. The 25-year-old was en route to a breakout campaign, but injuries got in his way. He notched 21 goals despite only playing in 49 games. Bjorkstrand was out with an ankle injury when the NHL went on hiatus, but he's healthy and ready to go.
WINGS TO AVOID
Claude Giroux, PHI at BOS ($21): The Flyers are getting thrown right into the fire in the round robin. Giroux was already struggling by his standards, as he only managed 53 points in 69 games. Now he is returning to action against a Bruins' team and their league-low 2.39 GAA. Oh, and they also had the third-ranked penalty kill.
Filip Forsberg, NAS vs. ARI ($19): The Predators have reunited Forsberg, Ryan Johansen, and Viktor Arvidsson on their top line. However, the Coyotes have also been reunited with their top-two goalies, and they are already a team that produced a 2.61 GAA. Darcy Kuemper and his 2.22 GAA and .928 save percentage will likely get the first shot for the Coyotes. Being reunited may not feel so good for Forsberg and crew just yet.
Quinn Hughes, VAN vs. MIN ($16): Hughes doesn't boast the track record of other defensemen, but hopefully you haven't forgotten just how good the potential Calder winner is. He's already a machine on the power play, as he averaged 3:49 with the extra man and tallied 25 power-play points over 68 games. Given that the Wild have the 25th-ranked penalty kill, this is a great way to ease into the action for Hughes.
Matt Dumba, MIN at VAN ($18): Let's flip it around for my second defensive recommendation. The Canucks sport a 3.10 team GAA, and they allowed a whopping 33.3 shots on net per contest. Dumba is a defenseman who likes to put the puck on the net, with his 167 shots on goal ranking second on the Wild and one of the higher league totals for a blueliner.
DEFENSE TO AVOID
Cale Makar, COL vs. STL ($22): Why do I like Hughes and not his top rival for the Calder? It's all about the matchup, of course. Makar is facing the defensive champions in the Blues, a team with a 2.66 GAA. Jordan Binnington, the hero of last season for St. Louis, wasn't as good this year with a .912 save percentage. However, he managed a 2.52 GAA along with a .929 save percentage in his final nine games before the hiatus.
Ivan Provorov, PHI at BOS ($18): While Shayne Gostisbehere never got it going, Provorov picked up the slack when it came to offensive output. However, 16 of his 36 points came on the power play. Facing the league's third-best penalty kill, especially after a long layoff, has me feeling skeptical about the Russian's upside in this matchup.