The early NHL season has had some surprises already. As a Wings fan, seeing Anthony Mantha pot four goals against the Stars was certainly a pleasant one. However, we don't know which of the things we've seen will end up being sustainable. It makes sense to pay some attention to what's happening through the first weeks of play, but it also still makes sense to look at history, especially last season, to get a better sense of what may be real and what may be a fluke. There are eight NHL games Tuesday. Here are some players to target, and to avoid, for your DFS lineup.
David Rittich, CGY vs. LOS ($29): The Flames seem to have given Rittich the nod as their No. 1 goalie. Given that their other option is Cam Talbot, that makes sense. He did have a 2.61 GAA last year, admittedly with a .911 save percentage. Tuesday he is at home against the Los Angeles Kings, who ranked 30th in both goals and shots on net per game last season. That's a good matchup to help him get off to a good start this year.
GOALIE TO AVOID
Tuukka Rask, BOS at VGK ($33): Thanks to the Bruins' defensive prowess, Rask had a 2.48 GAA last year even though he only had a .912 save percentage. In fact, the Finn hasn't had a save percentage higher than .917 over his last four campaigns. The Golden Knights have already made their home arena a tough place to play. They averaged 3.20 goals and 35.6 shots on net per game last year, and bear in mind that Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, and Paul Stastny are all healthy and in the lineup now.
Matt Duchene, NAS vs. SAN ($24): Duchene seems to be fitting in well with the Predators. He doesn't have a goal yet, but he has five assists through two games. Last year, the Sharks had a 3.44 GAA in away games. A lot of that is because their goalies only managed an .883 save percentage in those outings, and they have the same netminders this year.
CENTER TO AVOID
Sebastian Aho, CAR at FLA ($25): Aho doesn't have a point yet through three games this season. That's going to change, obviously, but it is a bit of a slow start. Last year, the Panthers only gave up 30.7 shots on net per contest, but still had a 3.33 GAA. That's because their goalies had an .891 save percentage. Now they have Sergei Bobrovsky in net, who has a career save percentage of .919.
Ondrej Kase, ANA at DET ($18): Kase was limited by injuries last year, but he finished with 11 goals on 94 shots in 30 games. Now he's on the top line for the Ducks, and he has two assists and 11 shots on net through two contests. The Red Wings allowed 33.7 shots on net per game last season, and through two games this year they've given up 32.0 shots on goal per contest.
Anders Lee, NYI vs. EDM ($17): Lee saw his goals drop from 40 to 28 last year, though he did have over 200 shots on net for the second straight season. He also had 16 points with the extra man last season, after having 22 power-play points the year prior. The Oilers had the 30th-ranked penalty kill last year, and since they have roughly the same roster this season that likely won't change much.
WINGS TO AVOID
David Pastrnak, BOS at VGK ($32): Pastrnak is an elite talent, so in most matchups he's worth his lofty price. That's not the case on the road against the Golden Knights, though. Marc-Andre Fleury has allowed only one goal in both of his starts this year, and Vegas has been great defensively at home since its debut. Last season, the Knights had a 2.41 GAA on their own ice.
Blake Wheeler, WPG at PIT ($26): With 16 teams playing Tuesday, you have a lot of options for your lineup. That means high-priced players in tough matchups are easily avoidable. Wheeler had a huge opening game this season, but has been a little more his normal self since. While Pittsburgh netminder Matt Murray always seems to keep us guessing, in the end he had a 2.69 GAA and .919 save percentage last season.
Mark Giordano, CGY vs. LOS ($27): The Kings had the 29th-ranked penalty kill last year, and the defensive corps is worse this year than it was last year, including the fact Jake Muzzin is now a Maple Leaf. I wish I could find a cheaper Flames defenseman for a good value play, but really I think Giordano is the only one I could go with. Of course, he won the Norris last year, so we know that he can get it done and prove to be worth any price.
Mattias Ekholm, NAS vs. SAN ($17): Even with P.K. Subban gone, Ekholm doesn't figure to see much power-play time, but he doesn't need it to make an impact. He had 44 points and 146 shots last year, and this year he already has three points. Martin Jones had an .896 save percentage last year, and this year he's allowed eight goals in his two starts.
DEFENSEMEN TO AVOID
Erik Karlsson, SAN at NAS ($26): In time, Karlsson will hopefully find his footing and have a fully healthy season with the Sharks. That would just be nice to see as a hockey fan. However, he's already missed one game with an injury this year, and last season was something of a lost campaign for the Swedish defenseman. Nashville had a 2.59 GAA and ranked sixth on the penalty kill last year, so if Karlsson isn't already in top form, and it doesn't quite seem like he is, this will be a difficult matchup.
Darnell Nurse, EDM at NYI ($21): Nurse got a chance to spread his wings last year and he finished with 41 points, including nine on the power play, and notched 196 shots on net as well. Of course, last season the Islanders had a 2.33 GAA, which was lowest in the NHL. This matchup still tilts in favor of New York.