Friday fantasy hockey tips: NHL picks, matchups, more

Jakub Vrana of the St. Louis Blues has four goals on 19 shots through five games. Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

Friday's four-game NHL slate features a tilt between two playoff-bound contenders, both jostling for position, when the Maple Leafs welcome the Hurricanes to Toronto. Elsewhere, the not-out-of-it Capitals hope to gain ground in the Eastern Wild Card race with a win against the Blues - themselves coming off Wednesday's violent, high-scoring affair with the Wild - while the Sabres aspire for a similar standings-climbing victory versus the porous Flyers. No Jordan Binnington in this battle, after the Blues netminder was suspended two games for assaulting Ryan Hartman with his blocker.

Matters wrap up late between two non-contenders when the Ducks host the Blue Jackets; a match-up that remains fantasy-relevant if not otherwise.

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All times Eastern.

Favorable scoring matchups

Buffalo Sabres at Philadelphia Flyers

7 p.m., Wells Fargo Center, Watch live on ESPN+

Cycling through a trio of starting netminders - Carter Hart, Samuel Ersson, and Felix Sandstrom - the Flyers have surrendered a league-worst average of 4.23 goals/game since Feb. 12 (63.2 PK%). The Sabres rank sixth in goals-scored through that same period with 3.63/contest, even with top-line winger Alex Tuch often out of the lineup. In addition to the usual heavy-hitting fantasy Sabres, I also like Jack Quinn and J.J. Peterka to make a tangible impact in Philadelphia on Friday, as they did two nights earlier in Washington.

Mid-tier fantasy forwards

Jakub Vrana, St. Louis Blues (32.4%): Skating on a scoring line with Pavel Buchnevich, and top power play, the former Red Wing/Capital is fitting in well with his new club so far. Since joining the Blues two weeks ago, Vrana has four goals on 19 shots through five games. The additional motivation behind potting one or more against his former team at Capital One Arena won't hurt.

See also:

Deep league/Daily Fantasy value forwards

Mid-tier fantasy defensemen

Cam Fowler, Anaheim Ducks (24.0%): He's been one of the league's most consistent fantasy blueliners for well over a month, averaging 2.3 fantasy points/contest in ESPN.com standard leagues through 14 games (2G, 14A). As mentioned, the Ducks host the travel-weary Blue Jackets Friday, who relied on both Daniil Tarasov and Michael Hutchinson in Thursday's loss to the Kings.

See also:

Deep league/Daily Fantasy value defensemen


Lukas Dostal, Anaheim Ducks (0.2%): Oh, the Ducks' backup is a fantasy gamble, alright. But Dostal was solid enough in his past two starts versus the Blackhawks and Canucks, and the Blue Jackets are habitually lousy in their second of back-to-back sets (3-10). Columbus lost to the Kings 4-1 the previous evening.

See also: