Wednesday fantasy hockey tips -NHL picks, matchups, more
Two matches. After Tuesday’s chaotic 12-game slate, the league settles back into repose mode, offering all but four teams the night off on Wednesday. But those two contests – they’re doozies. A couple of crackerjacks that provide plenty of fun fodder for both Daily Fantasy competitors and managers in conventional leagues with more generous streaming options.
The first features a Maple Leafs squad that hasn’t won since two Thursdays ago, losing five straight, either in regulation or overtime, to the Golden Knights, Jets, and three California teams with a combined record of 12-20-2. A preseason Stanley Cup-favourite for many, Sheldon Keefe’s team (this morning, anyway) sits seventh in the Atlantic with a worse-than-it-looks 4-4-2 record. Heavily favored, they’re facing the Flyers, who are coming off a scrappy 1-0 overtime loss to the Shesterkin-led Rangers from a night earlier. A (.667) Philly team that will presumably be backstopped by Carter Hart’s occasional substitute, Felix Sandstrom, who has yet to win an NHL game through seven total appearances dating back to last season. As I suggested: Drama City.
I usually find it a bit silly when pundits and fans throw around “must-win” this early in the season. Not in this case. Back at home and off since Sunday, the Leafs need to overthrow this tired group of travelling Flyers. Preferably by a comfortable margin and led by their elite, including Auston Matthews and Keefe’s current best friend, Mitchell Marner. On paper, and according to oddsmakers, this lines up as an easy Leafs win. Do with that what you will.
Doozy No. 2 starts about half an hour after puck drop in Toronto, involving another 4-4-2 team, looking for their first win after dropping five straight. The narrative splits at this point, as the Pittsburgh Penguins played the previous evening, blowing a substantial lead to the Bruins. While still favored to win in Buffalo, Sidney Crosby and Co. aren’t heavily so. Not against a fun Sabres team that has recently scored with ease.
Favorable scoring match-ups
7:30 p.m., KeyBank Center
Averaging an NHL second-best 4.11 goals/game, the Sabres scored eight against the Red Wings on Halloween after potting four versus the Blackhawks on Saturday. Less than 24 hours ahead of their date in Buffalo, the Penguins surrendered a mittful – blowing a 5-2 lead – in a lively 6-5 overtime loss to the Bruins. Projected to start in place of No. 1 Tristan Jarry, backup Casey DeSmith has yet to win a match this season. With all such elements in play, it’s difficult to bet against the Sabres offense at the KeyBank Center on Wednesday.
Mid-tier fantasy forwards
Rickard Rakell, Pittsburgh Penguins (65.6%): Skating on a scoring line with Evgeni Malkin, Rakell is shooting on net and scoring. Leading his club in shots (41), the former Duck already has five goals on the year.
Deep league/Daily Fantasy value forwards
Kevin Hayes, Philadelphia Flyers (20.4%): The Flyers’ current top center might very well break his two-game scoreless streak in Toronto by assisting on the fifth goal of the season by linemate Travis Konecny – who hails from just down the road in London, Ontario. Hayes leads the Flyers with 10 points on the year.
Deep league/Daily Fantasy value defensemen
Justin Holl, Toronto Maple Leafs (5.1%): The Toronto defender leads his team in blocked shots, averaging 2.6/game. While Holl sometimes shoots, and only very occasionally scores, he still has a usefulness in competition that rewards that defensive statistic.
See also: Pierre-Olivier Joseph, Pittsburgh Penguins (0.3%)
Ilya Samsonov, Toronto Maple Leafs (71.4%): As discussed, the Leafs need to win this game. After losing two straight himself, Samsonov – .920 SV% and 2.35 GAA – could also use the individual boost of securing the significant “W.”
Two backups projected to be involved in Wednesday’s action – Pittsburgh’s Casey DeSmith and Philadelphia’s Felix Sandstrom – will win games this season. I’m just not terribly sure either secures their first on this evening.