We're less than three weeks from Christmas. What's on your wish list? Is it nine NHL games? Well good news, that's what we're getting Thursday night! To try and make the holiday season even better, here are some players to target, and to avoid, for your daily fantasy lineup.
Brian Elliott, PHI vs. ARI ($28): The Flyers are sitting the red-hot Carter Hart, but Elliott has been no slouch either recently. Over his last six games he has a 2.30 GAA and .932 save percentage. The Coyotes are no longer in the cellar offensively, but they've still scored only 2.69 goals per game.
GOALIE TO AVOID
Robin Lehner, CHI at BOS ($33): This presumes that Lehner is over the illness that kept him out Monday, which seems likely given that it's now Thursday. However, healthy or not, I'd steer clear of Lehner here. The Bruins have the reputation of a great defensive team, and rightfully so, but this year they've also averaged 3.61 goals per contest.
Phillip Danault, MON vs. COL ($17): The Canadiens are kind of top-heavy offensively, powered by the top line of Tomas Tatar, Brendan Gallagher, and Danault. While his 17.5 percent shooting is likely to regress, centering Montreal's primary line is a good place for the 26-year-old to be. The Avalanche have a 2.88 GAA, which is not bad, but they are the only team on the road for the second leg of a back-to-back on this slate, which will likely hurt them.
CENTER TO AVOID
Logan Couture, SAN at CAR ($24): The assists have been there for Couture, but the goals aren't as they usually are. He's managed eight tallies in 29 games, and he has zero on the power play. Carolina has a 2.79 GAA, in large part because it has only given up 28.8 shots on goal per game, tied for second fewest in the NHL.
Teuvo Teravainen, CAR vs. SAN ($23): Teravainen has started 60.0 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone, highest on the Hurricanes. He's also averaged 3:02 per game with the extra man. The Sharks have, inexplicably, the top penalty kill in the NHL, but I have a hard time believing that will continue. Even with that penalty kill, San Jose has a 3.31 GAA and .889 save percentage.
Oliver Bjorkstrand, CLM vs. NYR ($17): Somebody had to step up for the Blue Jackets after all the departures. Previously a secondary piece in the offense, this year Bjorkstrand has 80 shots on net in 27 games. Plus, his 7.5 percent shooting is likely to improve if he keeps that up. It could be a very busy night for the 24-year-old, as the Rangers have allowed 35.6 shots on net per game.
WINGS TO AVOID
Mark Stone, VGK at NYI ($24): Stone's overall numbers look good, but he also got off to a red-hot start to the season. Over his last 15 games he's cooled down, as he only has six points over those outings. Once again, Barry Trotz has his Islanders sporting a top-five GAA in the NHL, and that's not likely to change as long as he and goaltending coach Mitch Korn are there.
Alex DeBrincat, CHI at BOS ($22): DeBrincat has been struggling to show his old goal-scoring prowess this year. He has five goals all season, and none in his last 12 games. I don't expect him to light the lamp in this one. The Bruins have a 2.18 GAA, which is best in the NHL. Oh, and that GAA drops to 1.94 at home.
Cale Makar, COL at MON ($24): Yes, the Avalanche are on the road for the second game of a back-to-back, but this matchup is good enough I'm still interested in it. Makar is an early favorite for the Calder thanks to his 27 points in 27 games, including 12 points with the extra man. It's his power-play prowess that has me most excited, as the Canadiens rank 30th on the penalty kill.
Dean Kukan, CLM vs. NYR ($10): Dean who? Meet the guy who has seen his role increase the most with Zach Werenski hurt. Kukan is now pairing with Seth Jones, and he's played over 22 minutes in each of his last two games. That includes over a minute on the power play in each outing playing on the second unit. The Rangers have a 3.31 GAA and 35.6 shots on net per game, so this could be a nice opportunity for Kukan to pay off big time.
DEFENSEMEN TO AVOID
Josh Morrissey, WPG at DAL ($17): Morrissey is doing what he can on Winnipeg's blue line, and it's working well for him so far. He's got 17 points in 26 games, including seven with the extra man. Still, he doesn't get much help, and the Stars don't make things easy for anybody. That's especially true when Ben Bishop is in net, as he has a 2.20 GAA and .928 save percentage.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson, ARI at PHI ($13): It's been a rough year for Ekman-Larsson. Over his last 18 games he has only three points, all assists. Now he's running into a hot Flyers squad and the league's third-ranked penalty kill.