This article is part of our Yahoo DFS Hockey series.
Friday's NHL slate begins at 7:00 PM Eastern time and features the series openers for the Hurricanes-Islanders and Avalanche-Sharks matchups. Read on to see which players stand out as options to target and which ones are best avoided at their respective prices in this two-game slate.
Robin Lehner, NYI vs. CAR ($33): The Islanders should be noticeably fresher considering Carolina needed double overtime in Game 7 to knock off Washington on Wednesday. While they came out on top in that series decider, the Hurricanes still finished just 1-3 on the road in the first round while getting outscored 17-9 in those four games. Meanwhile, Lehner limited the Penguins to just six goals in a four-game first round sweep, backing up a 2.13 GAA and .930 save percentage in the regular season, which earned him a Vezina Trophy nomination.
GOALIE TO AVOID
Philipp Grubauer, COL at SJ ($34): While the Avalanche will also have a freshness edge against San Jose, Grubauer will be tough to trust at $34 on the road against a Sharks offense that averaged 3.61 goals per game in its own building during the regular season. This series figures to be higher-scoring than Hurricanes-Islanders, leading to more value among skaters and less among goalies.
Nathan MacKinnon, COL at SJ ($34): MacKinnon was nearly unstoppable in the five-game first round victory over Calgary, recording three goals and eight points in the last four games after taking a shutout loss in Game 1. He added 26 shots on goal over the course of the series, as last year's Hart Trophy snub has his eyes set on greater prizes in the Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe. Given Martin Jones' inconsistent play in net during the first round for San Jose, MacKinnon's worth paying up for here.
CENTER TO AVOID
Jordan Staal, CAR at NYI ($18): Staal scored three goals in the first round, but he did so while mustering only nine shots in seven games, suggesting he's likely to experience regression against the defensively sound Islanders. Coming off a 28-point regular season, Staal will have a hard time living up to his $18 valuation.
Kevin Labanc, SJ vs. COL ($16): Labanc was quiet for most of the first round but came alive with four third-period power-play points in Game 7 to help the Sharks advance. In addition to his usual time on the No. 1 power-play unit, Labanc's likely to skate in a top-six role at even strength with Joe Pavelski (upper body) doubtful for Game 1. Labanc's power-play proficiency should translate to affordable production against a Colorado penalty kill that was the seventh-most generous during the regular season at 78.7 percent.
Jordan Eberle, NYI vs. CAR ($16): Eberle was New York's best skater in the first round, lighting the lamp in each of the four games while throwing in a pair of helpers, 15 shots and a plus-6 rating. While the Islanders will be facing a different opponent, it makes sense to keep rolling with Eberle until he shows signs of slowing down, especially since he can be had for just $16.
WINGS TO AVOID
Evander Kane, SJ vs. COL ($20): Kane doesn't offer much value relative to some of his teammates considering he managed just two helpers and a minus-4 rating in the last six games of the first round after a two-point effort in Game 1. He usually skates on San Jose's second power-play unit rather than the top group, which should limit his exposure to Colorado's vulnerable penalty kill.
Gustav Nyquist, SJ vs. COL ($16): Nyquist was even less of a factor than Kane in the opening round, totaling three helpers without a goal on a mere eight shots. It's apparent that coach Peter DeBoer trusts the team's more entrenched forwards over the trade deadline acquisition.
Jaccob Slavin, CAR at NYI ($17): Carolina has a number of enticing options on the blue line, but Slavin stands out from the pack after dishing out nine helpers in the first round. He also eclipsed his season ice time average of 23:02 in all but one game with at least 24:55 of ice time in five of the seven, suggesting Slavin is going to keep getting plenty of opportunities to rack up counting stats in all categories.
Erik Karlsson, SJ vs. VGK ($25): Karlsson was fantastic on home ice in the first round, notching two helpers in each of the four games at SAP Center. While he's probably best avoided on the road where it's tougher to control matchups, Karlsson should be a near lock for DFS lineups in Games 1 and 2 at home.
DEFENSEMEN TO AVOID
Ian Cole, COL at SJ ($16): Cole is a stay-at-home option who doesn't possess the offensive aptitude of similarly priced defenders in this slate, finishing with just 15 points in the regular season. It's thus no surprise that his season average of 4.6 fantasy points is the lowest among all blueliners who cost $16 or more.
Ryan Pulock, NYI vs. CAR ($18): Pulock is the most expensive of New York's blueliners, but he hasn't done much to earn that distinction. He's totaled only one assist in his last seven games while getting held off the scoresheet entirely in 14 of the past 17. There's better value to be found among cheaper Islanders defensemen such as Devon Toews ($15).