NHL

Lineup picks, matchups, start or sit advice for Thursday

It doesn’t look like we’ll get any of the nine and eight goal teams like we saw on Wednesday, but that’s to be expected. It was a record night for Tage Thompson and the Buffalo Sabrtes against the Columbus Blue Jackets, and the Edmonton Oilers feasted on the Arizona Coyotes.

This five-game slate, light for a Thursday, has some more solid defensive teams on tap. The Nashville Predators at the Tampa Bay Lightning, in particular, is two teams good at preventing. Overall, eight of the 10 likely starting goaltenders have positive results for the goals saved above expected statistic.

But with a light slate, you may want to stream in a few advantageous matchups if you can find them.

Resources: Goalie depth chart | Injuries | Schedule | How to watch on ESPN+ | Sign up for ESPN Fantasy Hockey | Download the ESPN Fantasy App | Daily lines

All times Eastern.

Favorable scoring match-ups

7:30 p.m., FLA Live Arena, Watch live on ESPN+

If this is Ville Husso (5.4 goals saved above expected) versus Spencer Knight (3.5 GSAE), it’s a much different game than Alex Nedeljkovic (-9.5 GSAE) versus Sergei Bobrovsky (-8.1 GSAE). But the best guess with no confirmed starters is that it’s Husso versus Bobrovsky. It’s possible the Panthers will get captain Aleksander Barkov back in time for this one, as he was deemed close on Tuesday before missing the contest. If they don’t, the Matthew Tkachuk, Sam Bennett and Carter Verhaeghe trio should continue to roll just fine.

8 p.m., Enterprise Center, Watch live on ESPN+

No team has allowed more five-on-five goals in the past two weeks than the Blues and only two teams have scored more five-on-five goals in that span than the Jets. The anticipation here, pending more Blues mercurial swings, is that the Jets run away with it. Torey Krug and Pavel Buchnevich missed Tuesday’s game and will be questionable for the Blues. The Jets top line of Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler and Cole Perfetti is now up to 77.8% goals percentage, which is seventh in the league among lines with at least 90 minutes at five-on-five, while they sit 15th among those same lines in goals per 60 minutes.

See also: Best lines in the NHL

8:30 p.m., American Airlines Center, Watch live on ESPN+

Only the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning have more power-play goals than the Senators since Nov. 1. That should help give them a fighting chance against the usually stalwart Stars, who have uncharacteristically allowed eight goals in the past two games of this home stand (six at five-on-five, one shortie and one power play). The power play is helping to right the ship for a slow-starting Alex DeBrincat, who now has six points in his past seven games and, yes, all of them came on the advantage. You know who to start from the Stars, as Jason Robertson and Co. surely want to make up for being held off the score sheet on Tuesday.

Mid-tier fantasy forwards

Lucas Raymond, W, Detroit Red Wings (51.5%): The goals aren’t exactly coming in bunches for Raymond in his sophomore campaign. Before potting one on Sunday, he went nine games without a tally. But the pressure will stay on him to produce with Tyler Bertuzzi out for the long-term. Dylan Larkin, David Perron and Raymond are forming the Red Wings top line. It’s not as if the Panthers run a tight ship at five-on-five, as they’ve languished near the bottom third of the league in goals allowed per 60.

See also:

Deep league/Daily Fantasy value forwards

Arthur Kaliyev, W, Los Angeles Kings (1.7%): The return of Alex Iafallo allows the Kings the luxury of icing three fairly threatening scoring lines. And that luxury has allowed them to divide up the attack by moving Kaliyev to the top line with Anze Kopitar and Kevin Fiala.

Michael Eyssimont, C, Winnipeg Jets (0.0%): Settling in as the sixth and final member of the Niklaj Ehlers-less top six for the Jets, Eyssimont has access to Pierre-Luc Dubois and Kyle Connor as linemates for 10 to 14 minutes of ice time. I know we don’t use it anymore, but a plus-3 in the past two games is indicative that goals are happening when he’s around.

See also:

Mid-tier fantasy defensemen

Filip Hronek, D, Detroit Red Wings (65.7%): Still not 70 percent rostered, so Hronek is fair game for recommendation. Although he seems pretty obvious at this point, sitting first for goals and sixth for points among defensemen since Nov. 1.

See also:

Deep league/Daily Fantasy value defensemen

Rasmus Sandin, D, Toronto Maple Leafs (4.5%): The Kings are 27th in the league when it comes to how many goals they allow per 60 minutes on the power play. Sandin still has the quarterback role for the Leafs cemented until further notice.

See also:

  • Nils Lundqvist, D, Dallas Stars (0.7%)

  • Olli Maata, D, Detroit Red Wings (4.9%)

Goalies

Ilya Samsonov, G, Toronto Maple Leafs (59.3%): Good luck finding another goaltender likely to start on this slate with both availability and a matchup not likely to result in negative points. Samsonov, who is already confirmed for the start per Sportsnet, and the Leafs are in a good spot here against the Kings, coming off a shutout against a much more formidable Dallas offense on Tuesday. This matchup doesn’t come without its pitfalls, as the Kings are leading in the NHL with a 40% power-play conversion during the past four weeks; thankfully the Leafs have the second best penalty kill in that same span.

Bench ’em

St. Louis Blues: When it comes down to it, Hellebuyck probably gets this start. That means the Blues will be in tough at five-on-five, where Hellebuyck owns a 1.79 goals-against average and leads the league in goals saved above expected. Well, maybe the Blues can score on the power play? Nope. Their quarterback, Torey Krug, missed the last game and will be questionable and, more importantly, the Jets have allowed the fewest power-play goals against in the NHL since Nov. 1.


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