Friday fantasy hockey tips – NHL picks, matchups, more

Almost there. With just hours left before the holiday, 11 games dot Friday’s lively NHL slate. (Detroit/Ottawa canceled due to weather.) Considering no one wants to get into their turkey after a loss, we can expect a little extra pep in everyone’s step to close out the first meaningful chapter of 2022-23.

Highlights include the Predators seeking revenge at home after last week’s crushing loss in Colorado. Don’t look now, but Nashville looks to turn things around after an otherwise miserable December. Elsewhere, the Hurricanes are trying to win their eighth straight at home against the Flyers, the Bruins are looking to hand the Devils their seventh loss in eight, and the Blue Jackets are hoping for their first win since Dec. 11 against the struggling Blackhawks.

To kick off the pre-holiday festivities, Alex Ovechkin will once again try to break Gordie Howe’s record of 801 regular season goals. After failing to do so in four-straight, Ovi may finally square off with Mr. Hockey against the visiting Jets. He scored on Connor Hellebuyck in their last meeting in Winnipeg, less than two weeks ago. Coach Rick Bowness is playing their second in as many nights and is expected to offer backup David Rittich the start in Washington.

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All times Eastern.

Favorable scoring settlements

22:30 Honda Center, watch live on ESPN+

There was a lot of talk about how Calgary — underachievers of late — needed to make the most of this current road trip through California. By securing two wins in San Jose and an overtime loss to the Kings, along with five of a possible six points, they won’t fall short.

Darryl Sutter’s crew can now make it seven out of eight with a win over a Ducks club that has allowed an average of 4.18 goals/game in December (and really all season). The Flames score again. The players we expect production from, along with others like Dillon Dube, who lights up the top line with Elias Lindholm and Tyler Toffoli, and Milan Lucic, who competes alongside Nazem Kadri and Jonathan Huberdeau.

9 p.m. Rogers Place, watch live on ESPN+

Vancouver’s perennially suspect defense likely won’t be anywhere near its best after Thursday’s spirited 6-5 overtime win against the Kraken. Probably the opposite. Plus, if Elias Pettersson is anything like his inspired self from that win, we could see plenty of scoring from both sides in Edmonton.

Mid-tier fantasy forwards

Nino Niederreiter, Nashville Predators (37.5%): The scoring-line wing is back on track with a point in each of his last three games, including an assist in last week’s loss to Colorado. One of your streakier types, Niederreiter, is usually worth the fantasy investment when hot.

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Deep league/Daily Fantasy value forwards

Kent Johnson, Columbus Blue Jackets (5.2%): Since taking over for an injured Boone Jenner on Columbus’ top line, the rookie has scored in every game. Only two contests so far, mind you, but he seems well suited for the role. I like Johnson’s chances to make it three in a row against the not-so-good Blackhawks. In fact, with Johnny Gaudreau and Patrik Laine under center, the 20-year-old could be in for his second-ever multi-point game.

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Fantasy defenders in the middle

Gustav Forsling, Florida Panthers (49.9%): After losing to the Rangers 5-3 on Thursday, Ilya Sorokin could be in for back-to-back starts while Semyon Varlamov deals with a lower-body injury. That or Cory Schneider could play his first game since last April, the only one of the entire 2021-22 NHL campaign. Regardless of how it plays out, I like Florida’s prominent fantasy offensive assets in this tilt, including the signing blueliner.

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Deep league/Daily Fantasy value defenders

Erik Gustafsson, Washington Capitals (2.4%): Never mind how out of character this latest offensive attack is for the Washington defender, just roll with it. Gustafsson helps account for the four goals and two assists in three contests, shooting the puck on net much more than usual. It’s like we’re reliving the 2018-19 version of the then-Chicago blueliner, when he posted 17 goals and 43 assists. The 30-year-old is in the mood, fine. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if he kicked in another point, and a few shots, against David Rittich and the rest of the visiting Jets this Friday.

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Pyotr Kochetkov, Carolina Hurricanes (47.2%): With records of 8-0-1, .939 SV% and 1.67 GAA since Nov. 29, there is no hotter netminder than Carolina’s current No. 1. The Hurricanes have won seven straight, and have toppled New Jersey for the top spot in the Metropolitan. John Tortorella’s Flyers have tasted victory twice since December 5th. It’s hard to see a scenario where Carolina doesn’t go into halftime with eight in a row, especially with Kochetkov between the pipes.

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Bench them

Montreal Canadiens: After falling to the Oilers 6-3 on Wednesday, the Stars have not lost two in a row. Not to the struggling Canadiens, anyway, tumbling down the Atlantic. If given the choice, I link the fantasy wagon to players from other teams, while avoiding those who have blue, blanc and red in this competition, from the net onwards.

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