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Fantasy Weekend Rundown: Who's Hot and Who's Not

Jason Chen goes through the matchups over the weekend of NHL hockey with suggestions for your fantasy hockey team.
Kyle Connor

It’s the weekend before American Thanksgiving, so be prepared for a lighter schedule next week.

SATURDAY

Devils at Senators (1 p.m. ET)

The Devils will be gunning for their 12th (!) straight win, and if you’re wondering, the record is 17 straight set by the Penguins in the 1992-93 season. Everyone knows their two top-tier centers in Nico Hischier (73 percent rostered), who is still somehow underrepresented in fantasy leagues, and the slick Jack Hughes, but it’s also worth pointing out that their fourth line with Mike McLeod between Miles Wood and Nathan Bastian has also combined for 25 points this season.

The Sens, meanwhile, are trying to string together two wins, which they have not done since mid-October. They’re won two of their past three, which is good news, but their defense has really been a sore spot. Waiving Nikita Zaitsev is a move in the right direction and frankly long overdue, but veteran journeymen Nick Holden and Travis Hamonic are barely NHL material, and Erik Brannstrom and Jacob Bernard-Docker must be sheltered. That leaves rookie Jake Sanderson (45 percent) to clean up everyone’s messes, and it’s still unknown if the Sens have time to clone him three times to combat the Devils’ top two lines. Having Artem Zub back in the lineup will definitely help, though. Last thing – it’s a little frustrating that Shane Pinto (17 percent) is bouncing between the second and third lines because Derick Brassard (two points in 10 games) is not the answer, and despite scoring just two goals in eight games, I’d still rather take my chances with Pinto.

Flames at Panthers (4 p.m. ET)

This is the first time the two teams will meet since their blockbuster trade, and it hasn’t worked out that well for either side. The Panthers are faring better, and Matthew Tkachuk is thriving despite his two-game suspension, but Jonathan Huberdeau has been a huge disappointment with the Flames so far. His fantasy value has plummeted while Adam Ruzicka (one percent) continues to skate on the top line.

Note the Panthers are likely to be without Aleksander Barkov (illness), which means Sam Bennett has become their top center for the time being, flanked by… Eetu Luostarinen (two percent) and Colin White (two percent). Both have been very effective, but the Panthers have spread out their talent with Eric Staal now centering Tkachuk and the red-hot Carter Verhaeghe (67 percent), and Anton Lundell (35 percent) between Sam Reinhart (78 percent) and Ryan Lomberg. It has made the Panthers a bit of a minefield when it comes to fantasy, but note Bennett has recently caught fire while Reinhart is shooting the puck more often than he ever did.

Penguins at Jets (7 p.m. ET)

Hopefully, Kyle Connor’s hat-trick performance awakens the goal-scoring beast inside. The Jets have been very successful in spite of his scoring woes thanks to Connor Hellebuyck’s Vezina-caliber season, and note Calder contender Cole Perfetti (13 percent) is quietly having an effective season with eight points in 15 games.

The Pens have won three of their past five but only after a seven-game losing streak. They have two more road games remaining, a back-to-back Saturday and Sunday, and Tristan Jarry is really having a tough time right now. This is supposed to be Sidney Crosby’s last window, and they simply need to be better. The Pens are already three points out of a playoff spot.

Sabres at Maple Leafs (7 p.m. ET)

It’ll likely be Craig Anderson in net to face Matt Murray, who has historically been very good against the Sabres with a 5-1-1 career record. Although the Leafs lost on Thursday to New Jersey, the big takeaway was that Murray looked quite good and matched Vitek Vanecek save for save. If Murray can stay healthy and play well for the next stretch while Ilya Samsonov rehabs his injury, the Leafs will be in fine shape. Note, however, that Nick Robertson (5 percent) is expected to be a healthy scratch. He was a popular sleeper pick but given his inconsistent playing time, his fantasy value is very low.

After a hot start, the Sabres will be trying to avoid losing their eighth straight game. They’re a constant tease with their impressive young lineup, and with Eric Comrie (17 percent) expected to miss weeks with an injury, keep your eye on Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (zero percent), their top prospect in the crease and potential franchise goalie who has struggled a little in the AHL this season.

Blackhawks at Bruins (7 p.m. ET)

No contest in this one, right? Over the past five years, the Bruins have been victorious in seven of their 10 meetings. One’s headed toward the lottery and one’s emerging as a serious Cup contender. Interesting to note that the “Perfection Line” lasted just a couple games before David Pastrnak was moved back to David Krejci’s (18 percent) line, but that’s good because Jake DeBrusk’s (59 percent) fantasy value just ticked up and it provides better balance in their lineup, anyway.

Avalanche at Capitals (7 p.m. ET)

The Avs were totally outplayed by the Canes on Thursday – they were outshot by 33 – but still managed to win in overtime. That happens. You know what else happens? Injuries, and no team has had more man-games lost than the Caps. Darcy Kuemper faces his former team, and he’s been a really bright spot for the Caps, who have lost eight of their past 10.

That the Avs are still so competitive is a testament to their depth. Alex Newhook (three pecent) has scored two goals in his past five games, and he’s a player who needs to step up for them as they weather the storm of injuries.

Red Wings at Blue Jackets (7 p.m. ET)

Okay, so that Dominik Kubalik (80 percent) regression I expected isn’t happening. It is interesting, though, that the Wings lineup card had rookie Jonatan Berggren (one percent) as the top left winger on Dylan Larkin’s line with Lucas Raymond (60 percent), giving Larkin two very high-end offensive players. However, I wouldn’t read much into it – that is still Tyler Bertuzzi’s (49 percent) spot, and Berggren has played very well with Joe Veleno and Pius Suter. Berggren is a good under-the-radar streaming play for DFS, but he needs to play higher in the lineup to really gain traction in fantasy.

The Jackets are somehow playing better with key players out of the lineup, and Emil Bemstrom (one percent) – unlike Berggren – is playing on the top line and sticking there. He’s always had some offense to burn, and so far with two points in four games, he’s doing okay. The biggest question mark is down the middle, where Boone Jenner (35 percent) holds down the spot on the top line almost by default because Cole Sillinger (three percent) hasn’t played well in his sophomore season and Jack Roslovic (three percent) is far too inconsistent and, in my opinion, at best a middle-six forward. Expect Joonas Korpisalo and Daniil Tarasov to split the games this weekend with Elvis Merzlikins still out.

Flyers at Canadiens (7 p.m. ET)

It’ll be really interesting to see how the Flyers generate offense. Travis Konecny (68 percent) left the previous game with an injury and his status is TBD. Meanwhile, fourth-line fixture Zack MacEwen (two percent) is now on their second line and 27-year-old minor leaguer Max Willman is playing on their third. It looks like Joel Farabee (four percent) will likely move up, but he’s an unproven top-six winger, and former top prospect Morgan Frost (one percent) has scored only four points in 16 games.

That’s going to make things really easy for the Habs goalies, who have had a strong season even though three of their defensemen are 22 years or younger and 25-year-old Johnny Kovacevic still qualifies as a rookie. Note that Kirby Dach’s (44 percent) hot streak has somewhat cooled as well, scoring just one point with a minus-4 rating in the past two games. We knew Nick Suzuki’s (82 percent) line would cool off, so now it’s going to be hard for them to score goals, too.

Ducks at Blues (8 p.m. ET)

The Blues are turning it around. Jordan Kyrou (64 percent) is a streaky player, and he’s definitely on a heater now with six points in seven games. That’s helped elevate the game of Ryan O’Reilly (43 percent), who is on a four-game point streak after scoring just two points in 12 games. If the Blues can get into a rhythm with three scoring lines, they’ll be hard to stop. Pretty amazing that it was Josh Leivo (zero percent), who has had trouble sticking in the NHL, to bring out the best in O’Reilly.

As for the Ducks… I’m not sure they’ll get much for John Klingberg (63 percent). Just nine points and a minus-8 rating? Their defense was never good, but it’s been completely non-existent, and their offense hasn’t been good enough to cover up that gaping hole. They have yet to win a single game in regulation – that’s insane.

Hurricanes at Wild (8 p.m. ET)

Considering how the Hurricanes put 40-plus shots on the Avs rather easily, I am concerned for Filip Gustavsson (19 percent), who has a .901 save percentage this season. The Wild keep juggling their lines to find something that works, and Dean Evason’s latest has Sam Steel (zero percent) centering Kirill Kaprizov and Mats Zuccarello. They’ve tried almost everyone except Marco Rossi (three percent), and I would be surprised if Frederick Gaudreau (three percent) isn’t back in that spot before long.

With the Canes rotating between Antti Raanta (44 percent) and Pyotr Kochetkov (22 percent), expect the Russian to start. He had a pretty easy shutout last game, and this test shouldn’t be too tough, either. One more guy to watch: Jalen Chatfield (zero percent). The 26-year-old was a former Canucks prospect and his underlying metrics have been excellent but so far has zero points in 17 games – he should be due. Chatfield bumped Ethan Bear from the top six, who is ironically on the Canucks now, and is either a statistical anomaly or truly a late bloomer.

Islanders at Stars (8 p.m. ET)

I’ll need to pump the brakes a little bit on Anders Lee (72 percent) and Brock Nelson (64 percent), who have understandably cooled off but remain long-term holds in fantasy. The rest of their lineup just doesn’t generate many goals, and that includes Mathew Barzal (64 percent), who has zero goals and 19 assists in 18 games. He’s never been a good finisher, but even for him, this is really bizarre. Barzal will eventually score, and I think it’s going to come in bunches. Sit tight.

The Stars continue to live and die with their top line. Jason Robertson is an elite fantasy player, and rookie Matej Blumel has been sent back to the AHL with Denis Gurianov (one percent) returning. Gurianov scored 20 goals in his first full season in the NHL, but I’m starting to think that’s just his ceiling, and to bring more out of Tyler Seguin (59 percent), who’s having a resurgent season, and Mason Marchment (26 percent), they’ll need a better winger.

Lightning at Predators (8 p.m. ET)

The new Finn whose name should be on everyone’s lips in Nashville: Juuso Parssinen (three percent). The eighth-last pick in his draft, Parssinen developed into a very good forward with TPS and is now the Preds’ top line center. He’s excelled, scoring three goals and four points in three games. Is he the No. 1 center they’ve been looking for? Stranger things have happened, but the key is that Matt Duchene (83 percent) has been bumped to the second line and it’s helped even out the scoring.

Brandon Hagel (37 percent) has climbed back into fantasy relevance with a top-line role. He’s scored 13 points in 17 games, but the Lightning still don’t have much scoring depth beyond their top six. Anthony Cirelli (11 percent) is still not close to returning and an injury to Nick Perbix (three percent), who has been a surprise this season, is again testing their blue line depth.

Kings at Kraken (10 p.m. ET)

It’s the second half of a back-to-back for the Kings, who played the Canucks on Friday. The Kings are a tough team to gauge for fantasy because their offense is pretty spread out. Top scorer Kevin Fiala is on the third line, and Phillip Danault’s (37 percent) line grades out as their best on moneypuck.com. Jonathan Quick (78 percent) had an excellent start to the season, but once again, the Kings’ goalies are getting exposed with a thin defense that has produced just seven goals. Only three of them are playing over 20 minutes per night.

That’s good news for the Kraken, who have an equally balanced but better offense. Martin Jones (64 percent) is having an incredible season and is certainly worth the start while he runs hot.

Golden Knights at Oilers (10 p.m. ET)

This will be a tough test for the Oilers. Stuart Skinner (49 percent) has started two straight games and they should be going with him as their No. 1 full-time until Jack Campbell (83 percent) gets back on track. The Oilers also have no help on the wings, meaning the usual suspects have to pick up the slack.

Rangers at Sharks (10:30 p.m. ET)

The Rangers are struggling a bit with five losses in seven games, while the Sharks have won three of their past four. You can’t help but wonder a little about expectations. Though the Rangers’ underlying possession metrics have been very good, Igor Shesterkin hasn’t been as good as he was last season. Meanwhile, the Sharks are playing loose because there are no expectations, and finally Timo Meier and Tomas Hertl (58 percent) are scoring again. There’s some upset potential here, for sure.

SUNDAY

Panthers at Blue Jackets (6 p.m. ET)

The Panthers have won eight of their past nine meetings, and they haven’t been close. It includes blowouts by scores of 8-4, 9-2, 5-1 and 5-2. With Reinhart and Bennett scoring again, it’s not going to be pretty.

Penguins at Blackhawks (7 p.m. ET)

For whatever reason, the Pens just have trouble with the Blackhawks, having lost 11 of their past 13 meetings. They don’t meet very often – it’s their first matchup in over a calendar year, and it’s also a team that Crosby has had the most trouble against with only seven points in 15 games. Part of that is the matchup game, but the Hawks are nowhere near what they used to be. 

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