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Fantasy Weekend Rundown: Add Domi, Consider Raanta

Jason Chen shares what you should know about this weekend's matchup so you can adjust your fantasy hockey team accordingly.
Max Domi

It’s a full slate for Saturday with 12 games, the first game starting at 2 p.m. ET with the Rangers at Stars before capping the night off with the Battle of Alberta.

Note the Penguins, Hurricanes, Islanders and Avalanche are playing the second half of their back-to-back, and the Leafs, Rangers, Blackhawks and Wild will all play again on Sunday. Here’s the rundown.

(All player positions and rostered percentages courtesy Yahoo).

SATURDAY

Rangers at Stars

This will be an incredible goaltending matchup with Igor Shesterkin facing Jake Oettinger, who’s been the best goalie in the league so far this season. Afternoon games are tricky because both teams can be potentially out of rhythm with a 1 p.m. local start time. From a fantasy and betting standpoint, these are always the games to be wary of.

This will be the first time Nils Lundkvist (two percent rostered) faces his former team, and he’s worth a streaming start filling in on the power play for the injured Miro Heiskanen. Another young player to watch will be Wyatt Johnston (one percent rostered), the former CHL scoring champion who has been a fixture as the third-line center and on PP2.

Senators at Panthers

The Panthers are favored in this matchup, but are we sure about this? Aleksander Barkov and Sam Reinhart have combined for zero goals, Aaron Ekblad is not expected back for weeks and their goaltending has been unsurprisingly mediocre. This is a team that is already counting on a late signing in 38-year-old Eric Staal for added depth and plays 35-year-old Marc Staal 18 minutes per night.

Meanwhile, the Sens’ offense is no joke ranking fourth with 3.86 goals per game. The Derick Brassard (one percent rostered) experiment continues, and he’s got streaming value with Claude Giroux and Alex DeBrincat on his wings. More importantly, it allows the Sens to deploy the Tkachuk-Stutzle-Batherson line, which ranks fifth in expected goals percentage (min. 50 TOI), according to moneypuck.com. Cam Talbot (74 percent rostered) is back with the team, but Anton Forsberg (66 percent rostered) is expected to start, although another bad outing and he’ll be ceding the crease to Talbot.

Lightning at Sharks

Beyond winning this game, which the Lightning should easily do, they need to figure out where the secondary scoring will come from. Otherwise, it’s still the Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov show. Brayden Point (90 percent rostered) has contributed six points but still doesn’t quite look like the forward who once finished top-10 in Selke voting for three straight seasons. Their bottom six have combined for just three goals and the blue line has contributed just two.

The Sharks are one of the league’s worst teams on offense and that’s unlikely to change anytime soon. The most fantasy-relevant players so far have been Erik Karlsson (80 percent rostered) and Logan Couture (28 percent rostered), and Timo Meier has been very underwhelming in a contract year. The Lightning have won seven of their past nine meetings dating back to 2017.

Maple Leafs at Kings

There’s no panic yet in Toronto, but it always seems like they’re minutes away from midnight on the doomsday clock. A lackluster effort against the Sharks should spur them into a much better effort against the Kings, who are struggling to keep pucks out of their net. That also means the Alex Kerfoot (nine percent rostered) experiment has ended on the top line and Michael Bunting (75 percent rostered) returns to his familiar spot, but it also meant Nick Robertson (22 percent rostered) is dropped to the third line. We shall see if this has an effect because it’s all moot if Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner continue to have quiet games, but note that Bunting’s fantasy value will take a big hit if he can’t stick on that line. Defenseman Filip Kral is expected to make his NHL debut playing on the third pair.

The Kings’ big problem is in net, and Jonathan Quick and Cal Petersen should be avoided by fantasy managers until proven otherwise. Gabe Vilardi (48 percent rostered) continues his tremendous start while Kevin Fiala (95 percent rostered) has been dropped to the third line, severely impacting his fantasy value but not struggling enough to be dropped. Hang tight and hope it gets better.

Canadiens at Blues

Sean Monahan (four percent rostered), who had been playing right wing opposite Cole Caufield, is now paired with Kirby Dach (11 percent rostered) on the second line and there’s definitely some chemistry there. The problem is, that moves Mike Hoffman (two percent rostered) back to the top line; he’s no longer a scoring threat, and he doesn’t do anything particularly well to really justify a spot in the lineup, much less a top-line role. One thing to note: the Habs’ goaltending has been much better than expected.

There are a few worrying developments for the Blues: Ryan O’Reilly (50 percent rostered) has one assist and a minus-8 rating, Jordan Kyrou (77 percent rostered) really loves giving the puck to the other team and only two forwards have scored more than a goal. There’s some potential for upset here, but Jordan Binnington has been fantastic so far.

Hurricanes at Flyers

Antti Raanta (35 percent rostered) should get the start after Frederik Andersen was shelled against the Islanders last night. Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov have 11 goals between them, which constitutes half of the team’s total output. Jesperi Kotkaniemi (three percent rostered) looks improved but has only two helpers in six games, and until he shows some more scoring touch, his fantasy value is basically nil.

The Flyers received news that Cam Atkinson has suffered a setback in his injury recovery and there’s no return date set. With James van Riemsdyk also on the shelf, look for Kiefer Bellows (zero percent rostered) to make his Flyers debut or otherwise they will play seven defensemen again.

Blackhawks at Sabres

Sometimes, it’s easier to play when there are no expectations. Max Domi (26 percent rostered) has excelled as their top center, making him an intriguing pickup in fantasy with his three-position eligibility. The sample size is obviously tiny, but statistically, Domi’s having his best season, scoring on 40 percent of his shots and winning two-thirds of his faceoffs. Jonathan Toews eight percent rostered) is playing well, and perhaps it will give Philipp Kurashev (zero percent rostered) a boost, who will get bumped up to the second line with Boris Katchouk (zero percent rostered) returning to the lineup.

The Sabres have looked really good but have now lost two straight with Eric Comrie (32 percent rostered) allowing eight goals in two games, but I don’t think Craig Anderson (14 percent rostered) is really a threat to take much playing time. Up-and-down play is expected with young teams, and it’s a reminder the Sabres are still developing their young players and opting for a rotation between Jack Quinn, Peyton Krebs and Rasmus Asplund. Rasmus Dahlin, on the other hand, has emerged as a bona fide No. 1 and should be one of the best fantasy defensemen this season.

Wild at Red Wings

Which team’s goaltending implodes first will determine the winner. Marc-Andre Fleury is getting better but still wholly unreliable, and the Wild are still trying to figure out what to do with Tyson Jost, Sam Steel and Marco Rossi. Frederik Gaudreau (two percent rostered) is worth a streaming start playing between Kirill Kaprizov and Mats Zuccarello, and Gaudreau’s scored three points in his past two games.

With Oskar Sundqvist hurt, look for the Wings to go 11-7 with their lineup. Domink Kubalik (70 percent rostered) has been one of the hottest commodities in fantasy hockey, and note that he’s scoring close to the same pace as his rookie season with a shooting percentage around 20 percent. Eventually, Kubalik will drop back down to earth, but he’s a must-start right now.

Avalanche at Islanders

The Avs mustered just 24 shots in a 1-0 loss to the Devils last night in an uncharacteristically poor showing of offense. They miss Valeri Nichushkin big time, and Martin Kaut (zero percent rostered), who replaced him on the second line, is averaging just seven minutes per game. The good news is that they are starting Alexandar Georgiev while the Isles are going with Semyon Varlamov; the Avs have the edge in that regard, and their offense should be much better.

Capitals at Predators

Darcy Kuemper is expected to start this game, but he’s been outplayed at certain points by backup Charlie Lindgren (four percent rostered). It’s still early in the season, but if Lindgren keeps this up, the Caps will have no choice but to give him more playing time. Otherwise, the Caps have been sneaky-good with a balanced lineup.

The same can’t be said about the Preds, who are getting lackluster play from some of their top players. It’s clear that Matt Duchene and Filip Forsberg will not be able to keep scoring at last season’s pace unless they start to click again, but at least Roman Josi got the monkey off his back with his first goal after seven games. Josi remains a top-five fantasy defenseman in spite of his recent drought.

Penguins at Kraken

The Pens looked flabbergasted and a little discombobulated in a 5-1 loss to the Canucks last night. Losing Jake Guentzel hurts a lot, and this is a team that cannot miss any key players from their top six if they want to win games. They should come out with a better effort and the Kraken’s goaltending should be much easier to beat, which will help them avoid their fourth straight defeat. The Pens look a little tired after starting the season 4-0-1.

Oilers at Flames

Jacob Markstrom is 4-0-0 in spite of his .907 save percentage while Jack Campbell is 4-2-0 with a .888 SP. Go figure. But this shows that both teams are excellent on offense and can bail out their goalies if they’re not performing well. I am more fearful of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl than anyone on the Flames roster, but it’s also far easier to score against the Oilers than Flames.

Note that including last season’s playoff series, their matchups have featured six goals or more in eight of their 10 meetings.

SUNDAY

Blue Jackets at Devils

The Blue Jackets are 0-for-23 on the power play and are so short on defensemen that they were forced to call up 2022 top pick David Jiricek (one percent rostered) from the AHL. They may be rushing his development a little bit, and the Devils are a very tough opponent. They’re coming off a 1-0 win against the Avs and dominate puck possession. Jack Roslovic (seven percent rostered) is centering Johnny Gaudreau and Patrik Laine, but it has bore little fruit for anybody. On the Devils, Jesper Bratt (86 percent rostered) is emerging as a dependable elite winger and should be rostered in all formats.

Wild at Blackhawks

If Fleury draws Detroit, look for Filip Gustavsson (two percent rostered) to draw the Blackhawks, who will start Alex Stalock (20 percent rostered) since Arvid Soderblom started Saturday. This is shaping up to be the highest-scoring game of the night.

Rangers at Coyotes

Part of me thinks the Coyotes’ rinky-dink visitors' dressing room is a 4D chess play to make the road team as uncomfortable as possible, but that became a moot point when the Jets emerged victorious in overtime. Though the Rangers have lost three of their past five meetings against the Coyotes, two of them were in overtime and the Rangers have defeated them 11 times in their past 14 meetings. This is the ideal game to start Jaroslav Halak (four percent rostered), but the problem is he doesn’t even look like an NHL-caliber backup anymore.

Maple Leafs at Ducks

The Leafs are 30-13-5 all-time against the Ducks, and nothing suggests that will change. Depending on what happens in their game against the Kings, the Leafs may juggle their lineup, but look for Erik Kallgren to start this game. Anthony Stolarz (four percent rostered) remains a goalie to keep an eye on since the annual rite of the Ducks leaving John Gibson out to dry remains intact, and he’s only gotten a chance to start one game this season because he’s had to come in relief twice.

Jets at Golden Knights

Are the Jets good or not? That’s the key question, but it’s tough to answer when Nikolaj Ehlers is out of the lineup. The Knights, on the other hand, are poised to win another division title. It’s ironic that the Knights go big-game hunting, but when the pressure mounts, they keep going back to the “Misfits Line” with William Karlsson (20 percent rostered), Jonathan Marchessault (91 percent rostered) and Reilly Smith (30 percent rostered). It’s a proven line stack in daily fantasy games and combined for two goals on Friday against the Ducks.  

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