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Fantasy Hockey Head-to-Head Primer: Starring NHL Backups

Fifteen teams will play back-to-back games after American Thanksgiving in Week 7 of the NHL season. Jason Chen looks at streaming options for your fantasy hockey team.
Pyotr Kochetkov

Happy Thanksgiving to our American friends. With the league taking the entire day off on Thursday, it pushed most games to be played on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It’s usually the opposite, but that also means 17 teams will play four games this week, with 12 of them having at least one back-to-back. Look for a lot of backup goalies to play this week.

The Red Wings, Panthers and Lightning get the most rest with two games apiece, and all of them will be played at home. The latter two teams should be avoided from streaming this week because both teams will host the Blues and Bruins, two of the hottest teams in the league.

While the Devils are ranked at the top – meaning that if you’re looking for one-week streamers, look at the Devils first – note the second-ranked Knights face far easier competition. Aside from the Kraken, who are 0-5-0 all-time against the Knights, Vegas will face the Senators and then the Canucks twice.

If you’re looking for a team to pick streaming options from, look at the Kings, who play on Tuesday and Sunday, two of the lightest slates of the week. Their second line of Phillip Danault between Trevor Moore and Viktor Arvidsson combined for 13 points last week, and on moneypuck.com, they grade out close to Anze Kopitar’s line in expected goals percentage (60.2 percent vs. 61.4 percent).

Legend:
P% = season points percentage
Opp. P% = opponents’ season points percentage
Diff. = difference between P% and Opp. P%

Green is good. Red is bad. All advanced stats courtesy naturalstatrick.com. All positions and rostered percentages are courtesy of Yahoo fantasy.

Week 7

Top 10 Weekly Banger Picks (< 50 percent rostered on Yahoo, on teams with four games this week):

Blocked Shots (BkS/GP):

1. Alec Martinez, D, VEG (4.63)

2. Ethan Bear, D, VAN (2.56)

3. Chris Tanev, D, CGY (2.50)

4. Josh Brown, D, ARI (2.44)

5. Alexander Romanov, D, NYI (2.42)

6. Brayden McNabb, D, VEG (2.32)

7. Ryan McDonagh, D, NSH (2.28)

8. Justin Holl, D, TOR (2.26)

9. Mark Giordano, D, TOR (2.21)

10. Niko Mikkola, D, STL (2.19)

Hits (Hits/GP):

1. Luke Schenn, D, VAN (4.50)

2. Nicolas Deslauriers, LW, PHI (3.89)

3. Cal Clutterbuck, RW, NYI (3.76)

4. Zack MacEwen, RW, PHI (3.75)

5. Tanner Jeannot, LW/RW, NSH (3.72)

6. Jeremy Lauzon, D, NSH (3.57)

7. Matt Martin, LW, NYI (3.50)

8. Noel Acciari, C/LW, STL (3.41)

9. Liam O’Brien, LW, ARI (3.31)

10. Keegan Kolesar, RW, VEG (3.12)

Goalies:

Pyotr Kochetkov, Hurricanes

With Frederik Andersen’s return still up in the air, the Canes will likely continue to split starts between Antti Raanta and Kochetkov. The jury’s still out on just how good Kochetkov is – though he’s shown spurts of excellence, it’s hard to gauge because the Canes are so good. Kochetkov just doesn’t face many shots on a nightly basis. His fantasy upside is a high probability of wins but he won’t rack up the saves like other goalies who are called into action on an emergency basis.

Matt Murray, Maple Leafs

Murray went 2-0-1 this past week, sporting a solid .933 save percentage and 2.34 GAA. He made a strong impression in a short period of time, and Ilya Samsonov is expected to be back soon. Both goalies are worth rostering because it remains to be seen if Samsonov can even maintain his pace, and remember that going into the season, Murray was seen as the 1A option and started the season opener before his injury. The Leafs are looking for help on their blueline and it’s a matter of when, not if, Kyle Dubas will make a move considering this might be his last season at the helm.

Filip Gustavsson, Wild

Marc-Andre Fleury’s injury means Gustavsson is the starter for the time being, making him a top candidate for streaming starts. Gustavsson’s numbers don’t tell the whole story – he’s played fine, but the team in front of him hasn’t, and goal support is a problem when there’s no secondary scoring. Zane McIntyre is the backup, but it’s doubtful he’ll get much ice time, if any. McIntyre has not seen any NHL action since the 2016-17 season when he made eight appearances for the Bruins, five of which were in relief.

Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, Sabres

Luukkonen is the Sabres’ top prospect in net and will once again have to accelerate his development after Eric Comrie suffered an injury that’s expected to keep him sidelined long-term. There’s no way Craig Anderson can hold the fort, which means Luukkonen, who was tagged for four goals on 23 shots in his first appearance of the season, is expected to see more playing time down the stretch. The Sabres have cooled off considerably after their hot start and they don’t defend particularly well, which makes Luukkonen a very matchup-dependent starter.

Short-term Streamers (< 50 percent rostered on Yahoo):

Zack MacEwen, RW, Flyers

MacEwen had two assists Saturday against Montreal and was on the ice in the final minute of the game, which is a sign that John Tortorella trusts him a lot. A rash of injuries has MacEwen up the depth chart to the second line with Scott Laughton and Noah Cates. No question, MacEwen is punching well above his weight and is a bottom-six forward, but along with seven points in 16 games, he is also one of the league’s best bangers with 60 hits this season. As long as he’s in a top-six role, MacEwen will have short-term fantasy value.

Mid-term holds (< 50 percent rostered on Yahoo):

Adam Ruzicka, C, Flames

Ruzicka poured in five points in three games last week, and considering they’ve now won three of their past four, it looks like he has really supplanted Jonathan Huberdeau as the Flames’ top left winger. He should get LW eligibility soon, and he’ll be worth picking up right away at that point. Center is just too deep of a position to waste a spot on a player who’s still potentially on just a hot streak.

Juuso Parssinen, C, Predators

An assist against the Lightning now brings Parssinen up to five points in four games this season, and with three wins in their past four games, there’s little reason to change their lineup now. Adding Parssinen has added another element to the Preds’ previously unbalanced attack, and now with Ryan Johansen and Matt Duchene on their second line, it looks like their new look is working. The former TPS star seems to be sticking around long-term.

Jamie Benn, C/LW, Stars

Once in a while, Benn wakes up and reminds everybody that he can be a dominant power forward with soft hands. He scored six points in three games over the past week and in Roope Hintz’s absence was moved to the top line with Jason Robertson and Joe Pavelski. Long-term, Benn is probably not the ideal center on that line, but it’s given him a huge fantasy boost playing on the same line as their top scorer. 

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