The Calgary Flames will be playing their 19th game of the season Thursday. That means we're getting oh-so-close to the quarter mark of the new NHL season. It's not so "new" anymore, now is it? We've learned quite a bit about these teams, which is helpful, say, when picking a daily fantasy hockey lineup. Here are some players to target, and to avoid, from Thursday's robust 11-game schedule.
Darcy Kuemper, ARI vs. CLM ($39): Kuemper doesn't really need help. He's posted a 1.69 GAA and .940 save percentage. However, he's also at home against a Columbus team that, shockingly, has lost its offensive punch after losing some key cogs in the offseason from its top lines. The Blue Jackets have only averaged 2.33 goals per game.
GOALIE TO AVOID
Braden Holtby, WAS at FLA ($24): Holtby has played better after a slow start, as he has a .923 save percentage in his last six games. However, that's bolstered by two great home starts, as he has a .913 save percentage in his last four road contests. The Panthers will provide Holtby with a real challenge, as they rank in the top five in goals and shots on net per game.
Sean Couturier, PHI vs. MON ($20): Couturier has been rounding into form, as he has six points over his last four games. He only has three points on the power play so far, but he had 17 last season. This may be the night for him to get it going with the extra man if the opportunity arises, as the Canadiens rank 30th on the penalty kill.
CENTER TO AVOID
Nathan MacKinnon, COL vs. NAS ($34): Yes, I dare to recommend avoiding MacKinnon at home. He's without his usual running mates, Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog, which hurts him both at even strength and on the power play. He's still been putting a ton of shots on net, but the Predators have only given up 28.8 shots on net per contest. Plus, Pekka Rinne has a 2.07 GAA and .923 save percentage.
Andrei Svechnikov, CAR vs. NYR ($21): Svechnikov scored 20 goals as an 18-year-old rookie, which portended great things to come. Indeed, this year he already has six goals on 45 shots through 15 games. The Rangers, who rank in the bottom 10 in both GAA and shots allowed per game, are also going to be the only team on the road for the second leg of a back-to-back Thursday.
Anthony Duclair, OTT vs. LOS ($18): I know, I know, the Senators are usually a team to avoid, but hear me out. Duclair is playing on Ottawa's top line, such as it is, and has actually notched six points in his last six games. Most importantly, though, the Kings have a 4.00 GAA. They also have the 29th-ranked penalty kill, and Duclair has averaged 3:07 per game with the extra man.
WINGS TO AVOID
Jake Guentzel, PIT at NYI ($25): Guentzel has turned himself into a productive forward, or maybe it's more accurate to say playing alongside Sidney Crosby has turned the winger into a 40-goal scorer. Crosby or not, I don't like Guentzel's chances of success here. Stop me if you've heard this before, but Barry Trotz's team has the league's best GAA and save percentage.
Alex DeBrincat, CHI vs. VAN ($24): DeBrincat is not producing at the level he did last year. His shooting percentage has fallen from a lofty 18.6 to 10.3, but he still has four goals and five assists. However, the Canucks have picked it up defensively this year, as they have a 2.33 GAA. Additionally, Vancouver has the third-ranked penalty kill, and three of DeBrincat's four goals have come on the power play.
Jaccob Slavin, CAR vs. NYR ($18): Slavin gets to play on Carolina's top pairing with the red-hot Dougie Hamilton, which has helped him notch 10 points in 15 games. Like I noted earlier, the Rangers are on the road for the second night of a back-to-back. They've given up over 35 shots on net per game, and they aren't likely to be stingier than usual in a scenario like this.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson, ARI vs. CLM ($16): Ekman-Larsson has started 57.8 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone, most among Arizona defensemen. He's also averaged 3:13 minutes per game on the power play, even though he only has one point with the extra man. That should change soon, and perhaps in this matchup. The Blue Jackets have a 3.47 GAA, and also the 24th-ranked penalty kill.
DEFENSEMEN TO AVOID
Shea Weber, MON at PHI ($20): Weber is still producing like he did in the past, except on the power play. He only had six points with the extra man last year, and he only has two this season. The primary reason I'm skeptical about the veteran defenseman here, though, is the fact that the Flyers have only allowed 28.4 shots on net per contest, fewest in the NHL.
Seth Jones, CLM at ARI ($17): Jones is off to a bit of a slow start. He only has one goal, and also only one point with the extra man. I mentioned that Kuemper has a 1.69 GAA and .940 save percentage. Good luck to Jones trying to get his season on track in this matchup.