Weekend fantasy hockey tips – NHL picks, matchups, more

Heavy on the inter-league play, Saturday’s slate opens with the Wild visiting Boston and New Jersey welcoming the Sharks at 1pm ET, then wraps up with three late contests in Vancouver, Vegas and Calgary, approximately 12 hours later. Speckled with 13 games in all, such a schedule poses challenges for fantasy managers of all stripes, in leagues large and small. With so many players in action, and only a finite numbers of lineup slots, decisions loom large over who to sit and who to play. Hopefully the following helps.

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All times Eastern.

Favorable scoring match-ups

10pm Saturday, Rogers Arena, Watch live on ESPN+

Rocking a 3-1-0 record and fifth in league scoring, the Sabres combined for 10 total goals through recent stops in Edmonton and Calgary. Why should we expect a reduced onslaught against the less stingy, and still winless, Canucks? As it happens, we should not. Until Vancouver fixes its defensive woes, productive members of the opposition should be considered fantasy faves more often than not. On Saturday, that’s Buffalo, including a sizzling Alex Tuch and rookie forward JJ Peterka.

7pm Saturday, Amalie Arena, Watch live on ESPN+

Assuming Brian Elliott starts the second of Tampa’s back-to-back, Mathew Barzal and Co. are in good position to rebound after Thursday’s dreary loss to the Devils. Jon Cooper’s crew is never ill-prepared, but they might be less than perfectly primed after leaving a lot on the ice against their state rivals in Sunrise on Friday. Plus, with Ryan McDonagh gone for Nashville, Tampa ranks 20th in goals-allowed this year — even with one of the best netminders on the planet who, again, probably isn’t playing Saturday.

4pm Saturday, Canadian Tire Centre, Watch live on ESPN+

Aside from one anomalous win in Toronto, the Coyotes have been exceptionally, and unsurprisingly, porous. Even accounting for Monday’s 4-2 victory, Arizona is giving up an average of 5.00 goals/game. Roll out your Ottawa assets, including lightly-rostered prospect Shane Pinto, who’s scored in three straight, and have a barrel of fantasy fun.

Mid-tier fantasy forwards

Ondrej Palat, F, New Jersey Devils (58.7%): That’s better. After a sluggish start, Palat has three goals to show for his past two contests against the Islanders and Ducks. If Nico Hischier‘s winger can pot a pair past Ilya Sorokin, he can certainly score against the Sharks. It’s also worth noting that Hischier and Jesper Bratt assisted on both of Palat’s tallies on Thursday.

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Deep league/Daily Fantasy value forwards

Nicholas Robertson, F, Toronto Maple Leafs (5.4%): How’s that for a debut? After sitting out the first few for Toronto, Robertson erupted for a pair, including the overtime game-winner, in Thursday’s 3-2 victory against his brother’s Stars. Look for the 21-year-old to again compete, and quite possibly produce, in the Leafs’ top-six and on the power play in Winnipeg.

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Mid-tier fantasy defensemen

Neal Pionk, Winnipeg Jets (65.1%): Pionk shined as the lone beacon in Thursday’s 5-2 loss in Vegas, scoring a goal and adding an assist. He also scored a pair in Colorado a day earlier. Ride the Jets defender while he’s in such a productive groove.

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Deep league/Daily Fantasy value defensemen

Calen Addison, Minnesota Wild (9.5%): Anchoring the Wild’s top power play, the 22-year-old has six assists in his most recent three games, four of them counting with the extra skater. Not yet popular amongst most managers, Addison sparkles with underrated potential in one of Saturday’s earliest matches in Boston, particularly in Daily Fantasy competition.

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Mackenzie Blackwood, New Jersey Devils (2.9%): On a mini roll with consecutive wins against the Ducks and Islanders, allowing a total of only three goals, Blackwood is in position to earn his first shutout of the season against a visiting Sharks squad that doesn’t score much. If indeed tapped to start over Vitek Vanecek, the Thunder Bay native is my favorite streaming/DFS goalie option du jour.

Tristan Jarry, Pittsburgh Penguins (98.3%): The Penguins’ No. 1 is red-hot, boasting a .952 SV% and 1.67 GAA through three starts. I don’t see this successful early run skidding to an abrupt halt against a Blue Jackets team that’s averaging only 2.80 goals/game — bolstered by multi-goal efforts against the struggling Canucks and Predators.

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Bench ’em

Montreal Canadiens: Dallas netminder Jake Oettinger has surrendered one singular goal in each of his three games to date. Aside from Cole Caufield and Nick Suzuki, I’m looking at other rostered scoring assets from around the NHL to fill my fantasy lineup Saturday. If afforded the choice.

Jordan Binnington, St. Louis Blues (84.6%): Expected to perform well in his first two games of the season, the Blues’ No. 1 rose to the occasion. I’m not nearly as optimistic about his prospects versus Connor McDavid and the Oilers in Edmonton. Binnington wrapped up with a 4.96 GAA and .849 SV% after three contests against the Oil in 2021-22 — one of those appearances unpleasantly brief. There are more attractive goaltending options on Saturday. McDavid and Draisaitl have already combined for 18 points through four contests.

Alexandar Georgiev, Colorado Avalanche (83.3%): By significant margin, Saturday’s visit to Vegas will be Georgiev’s toughest test of this young season. To be honest, I don’t love this fantasy match-up for the new Avalanche No. 1. The Knights’ offense is steaming and Colorado is travelling to their second game in as many evenings. Who else do you have to choose from in net?

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Sunday’s favorable scoring match-ups

Detroit Red Wings: The Red Wings will have plenty of time to recover from Friday’s game in Chicago to battle the visiting Ducks. Anaheim’s given up an average of 4.40 goals/game thus far.

New York Rangers: The well-rested Rangers, at home, against a tired Columbus side coming off Saturday’s tilt with the Penguins? Yes, please!

Philadelphia Flyers: Of the two travelling teams playing back-to-back, I’ll side with the Flyers’ fantasy assets, particularly of the scoring variety, against San Jose’s defense and goaltending. Also, Philly’s at home.

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