Weekend fantasy hockey tips – NHL picks, matchups, more

Of the 30 teams in action Saturday, only the Los Angeles Kings are playing the night before, while four clubs — the Florida Panthers, Columbus Blue Jackets, Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks — are facing a second weekend contest on Sunday. Meaning we’re in for another round of (reasonably) daisy-fresh skaters and, more likely than not, top-tier netminders.

Eight of the 15 games scheduled comprise of inter-conference tilts, highlighted by ex-Colorado Avalanche Darcy Kuemper’s projected encounter with his former Stanley Cup-winning teammates in his new Washington Capitals home. Plus, two enduring quality goalies, who are enjoying more success of late, are forecast to meet when Andrei Vasilevskiy travels to stare down Juuse Saros in Tennessee. Mind you, the Nashville Predators’ No. 1 was generally not great in his two appearances versus the Tampa Bay Lightning, especially Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov, this past season.

Out west, we’re treated to a battle of No. 1 versus No. 2 from the 2015 draft class as Jack Eichel and the Las Vegas Golden Knights visit Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers. That’s a first for this season and worth staying up for, to be sure.

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All time Eastern.

Favorable scoring matchups

4 pm ET, FLA Live Arena

The reunion stage is set in balmy Florida as the two teams responsible for this past summer’s most significant trade meet for the first time. Both clubs could use the victory in this emotional matchup, especially Calgary, and neither is performing particularly well defensively from the net out. This one could get lively in a hurry. While ex-Panthers Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar will undoubtedly feel additionally motivated to make an impact against their former team, assure yourself that Matthew Tkachuk would love nothing more than to show off, in the most productive (and hopefully not penalty-earning) way possible, in front of his previous coach. The spirited forward and Darryl Sutter have never been the best of buddies. Keep in mind, Sam Bennett appears the top choice to replace Aleksander Barkov alongside Tkachuk if the top center is to miss a second game with a non-Covid illness. That forward pairing combined for five points in Thursday’s 6-4 loss to the Dallas Stars.

7 pm ET, Bell Center, Watch live on ESPN+

Montreal’s Jake Allen has allowed a grand total of 16 goals in his past four contests. After a strong start, Carter Hart has allowed 15 in his four most recent. Play your favorite fantasy Flyers and Canadiens in what could amount to an entertaining goal fest at the Bell Centre, even if either Sam Montembeault or Felix Sandstrom sub in for their respective clubs. Note: Noah Cates, Owen Tippett and Scott Laughton have earned expanded positional eligibility in ESPN.com leagues that designate forwards by LW, RW and C. Such added flexibility never hurts.

7 p.m. ET, TD Garden

A perfect 10-0-0 at home, the Bruins are leading the league in averaging 4.00 goals/game. They’ve won another five straight. Whoever starts for the Blackhawks — my early guess is Petr Mrazek — could be in for a busy evening in Beantown.

10:30 p.m. ET, SAP Center, Watch live on ESPN+

The Sharks are awful (1-6-3) at home, allowing 4.00 goals per contest. Doesn’t matter if James Reimer or Kaapo Kahkonen starts; roll out your scoring Rangers.

Mid-tier fantasy forwards

Jeff Skinner, Buffalo Sabers (Rostered in 62.5% of ESPN.com leagues): Regardless of either club’s position on the NHL’s scale of success, the Sabers can boast of giving the Toronto Maple Leafs a tough time in recent years. For his part, Skinner can also brag about playing a significant part in Buffalo’s 5-2-1 record against his hometown club since 2019-20, especially after earning four goals and two assists in four games last season. Skating on a top line with Tage Thompson and Alex Tuch, the Toronto native stands a reasonable chance of scoring once more in Scotiabank Arena. Of note, this is also the first time Sabers defender Owen Power — who grew up in nearby Mississauga — will play an NHL game in downtown Toronto.

See also:

Deep league/Daily Fantasy value forwards

Cole Perfetti, Winnipeg Jets (11.6%): A home matchup with the traveling Pittsburgh Penguins presents a rich opportunity for the rookie to snap out of his current unproductive funk. Splitting starts between Tristan Jarry and Casey DeSmith, Pittsburgh has allowed 4.00 goals/game through eight contests in November. As a bonus for fantasy managers who participate in ESPN.com leagues that designate specific forward positions, Perfetti now qualifies as eligible at left wing, in addition to his default assignment of C/RW.

Cole Sillinger, Columbus Blue Jackets (3.5%): The Blue Jackets are score, folks, to the tune of 19 total goals in their past four games. Meanwhile, the opposing Detroit Red Wings have surrendered an equal number of 19 goals in their most recent quartet of contests. Look for Sillinger, centering Columbus’s second line, to add to his recent running total of two goals and an assist in his past three.

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Mid-tier fantasy defensemen

Filip Hronek, Detroit Red Wings (24.4%): Red hot the past couple of weeks, Hronek has a pair of goals and four assists, including two points on the power play, through six games. Throw in a respectable number of shots, a handful of blocked shots and hits, and it all works out to an average of 2.7 fantasy points in ESPN.com standard leagues. (More than Moritz Seider has earned over the same span.) The home side in Columbus, which ranked dead last in goals-granted league-wide, has allowed 4.67/game since Oct. 25. That’s a lot.

See also:

Deep league/Daily Fantasy value defensemen

Jake Sanderson, Ottawa Senators (14.0%): Shouldering greater responsibility with Thomas Chabot out hurt, the rookie defenseman is now seeing even more on-ice minutes. Sanderson has five assists in his past seven games altogether, including three with the extra skater.

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Jordan Binnington, St. Louis Blues (78.1%): What losing streak? After mostly stumbling through the first four weeks of the season, Binnington and the Blues have quickly righted themselves in winning five straight. St. Louis’ No. 1 netminder is 4-0 with a .936 SV% and 2.25 GAA during that stretch. Losing to the Ducks (2.65 goals/game), when in such a groove, would serve as a double bass-sized upset.

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Bench ’em

Logan Thompson, Vegas Golden Knights (87.8%): Listen, the No. 1 netminder for the Golden Knights has been fantastic in seizing the reins in Vegas this campaign. No question. But, if offered the choice of another quality goalie as a fantasy manager on this particular evening, I’m shuffling away from Thompson. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl rarely (never so far this season) string together two straight games in which either fail to score. Both posted goose eggs on the scoresheet in Wednesday’s 3-1 loss to LA That makes me extremely nervous for Vegas’s projected starter on Saturday. For the record, I’m not interested in activating whoever plays in net for Edmonton (Stuart Skinner or Jack Campbell) either.

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