This article is part of our Yahoo DFS Hockey series.
While you're busy buying Christmas presents, the NHL is busy giving us hockey games. There are 11 games on the slate for Thursday. You've got a lot of options, but here are the players I think you should target, and avoid, for your daily fantasy lineup.
Jonathan Quick, LOS vs. NJD ($22): Quick got off to a bad start to the season, but he's played better since returning from injury. In three starts he has a 1.69 GAA and .943 save percentage. Meanwhile, the Devils have lost six games in a row and have a a horrendous record on the road (2-10-1), as well.
GOALIE TO AVOID
Jimmy Howard, DET at TOR ($30): While the Devils have lost six straight games, the Maple Leafs have won five in a row, and they are 8-2-0 in their last 10 contests. They also have a very potent offense — they've averaged 3.64 goals per game — and most of that was before they signed William Nylander. The Leafs will surely test Howard, as the Wings have allowed 34.7 shots on net per contest.
Pierre-Luc Dubois, CLM at PHI ($20): Dubois was impressive as a rookie, but he's taken his game to a whole new level as a sophomore. He has 25 points in 27 games, including 15 in his last 11 contests. It wouldn't be surprising to see him stay hot in this matchup. The Flyers have a 3.52 GAA and .881 save percentage as a team.
CENTER TO AVOID
Elias Pettersson, VAN vs. NAS ($22): It's impressive that Pettersson has 13 goals in 24 games, but his 25.5 shooting percentage is bound to regress. A game against the Predators is a recipe for getting a cold dose of reality. Nashville has a 2.36 GAA, lowest in the NHL by a pretty sizable margin.
Alex Tuch, VGK vs. CHI ($21): Tuch's minutes have gone up this season, his second with Vegas. He's averaged 17:32 per game in ice time, including 3:17 with the extra man. Those extra minutes have paid off, as he has 20 points in 21 games. The Blackhawks are the one team on the second leg of a back-to-back Thursday, and Cam Ward will likely be in net. That should make Tuch happy, as Ward has a 3.91 GAA and .888 save percentage.
Jonathan Drouin, MON at OTT ($18): Is this the year Drouin finally puts it all together? It appears that way, as he has 13 goals and 25 points through 27 contests. Staying hot against the Senators shouldn't be hard. Ottawa has a whopping 4.07 GAA and the league's worst penalty kill.
WINGS TO AVOID
Patrick Kane, CHI at VGK ($30): As previously noted, the Blackhawks are the lone team playing the second night of a back-to-back, and they are on the road as well, which puts Kane at a disadvantage. This is also a tough matchup. The Golden Knights have only allowed 27.6 shots on net per game, lowest in the NHL, and they have the third-ranked penalty kill.
Yanni Gourde, TAM vs. BOS ($19): Gourde has a point in each of his last two games, but that was after a five-game scoreless streak. Also, those points came against New Jersey and Detroit, and Boston is a much tougher matchup. The Bruins have a 2.56 GAA, second lowest in the NHL, led by Jaroslav Halak and his 2.25 GAA and .932 save percentage.
Mattias Ekholm, NAS at VAN ($18): Ekholm has a point in back-to-back games, and four in his last six contests. This gives him 17 points overall on the season. The Canucks have a 3.43 GAA and the 27th-ranked penalty kill. Though Ekholm has only averaged 1:22 per game with the extra man, he has four power-play points, and he had 13 last season.
Ryan Murray, CLM at PHI ($16): Murray has surprisingly averaged 6.2 fantasy points per game. He may only have one goal, but he has 14 assists, including seven in his last 10 contests. As previously noted, the Flyers have a 3.52 GAA and .881 save percentage. That latter number is the worst in the NHL.
DEFENSE TO AVOID
Victor Hedman, TAM vs. BOS ($23): This isn't so much about Hedman's recent play, though he only has one goal in his last 12 contests. Instead, this is about the tough matchup. The Bruins have a 2.56 GAA, so it will be hard for the Swedish defenseman to justify his price.
Mathew Dumba, MIN at CGY ($21): It's impressive that Dumba already has 10 goals, but he also has a 12.2 shooting percentage, which is likely to regress. The Flames have been quite good at suppressing shots, as they've only allowed 27.9 per contest. That has made David Rittich's job easier, and it's partially why he has a 2.39 GAA. His .919 save percentage is solid, too.