Saturday fantasy hockey tips: NHL picks, matchups, more

Torey Krug and the St. Louis Blues will start their season on Saturday. Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Unless you're a fan of the Hurricanes, Rangers, Jets, or Avalanche, your favorite NHL team is playing on Saturday. With 14 contests stretching from 1 p.m. ET until late into the night on the West Coast and involving approximately 550 players altogether, here are a few key tips to help assemble your fantasy lineup whether you participate in an ESPN.com league or Daily Fantasy competition elsewhere.

Favorable scoring matchups

Arizona Coyotes at Boston Bruins

7 p.m., TD Garden, Watch live on ESPN+

The Coyotes won't lose every game this season. But they won't win many either, including Saturday's tilt with a much better team in Boston. Roll out all your favorite Bruins, including mid-tier fantasy forward David Krejci and value defender Hampus Lindholm, against an Arizona defense that was mercilessly peppered and penetrated 6-2 by the Penguins on Thursday.

Montreal Canadiens at Washington Capitals

7 p.m., Capital One Arena, Watch live on ESPN+

After losing their first two of the 2022-23 campaign, Alex Ovechkin and Co. will be all revved up, ready to have their way with against the Canadiens, who are coming off Friday's contest in Detroit. Considering Montreal's tight turnaround and the current questionable state of its defense, this might become a lopsided affair.

Columbus Blue Jackets at St. Louis Blues

8pm, Enterprise Center, Watch live on ESPN+

It doesn't get any easier for the Patrik Laine-less Blue Jackets, who journey to St. Louis following Friday's home contest with the Lightning. Champing at the bit, the Blues have been sitting idle all week, gearing up to get going for this regular season. Bet you they come out with a productive bang.

Mid-tier fantasy forwards

Andrei Kuzmenko, LW, Vancouver Canucks (37.4%): Skating on a scoring line with Elias Pettersson and a top power play, the Canucks' new winger logged nearly 18 minutes, rifled four shots on Jack Campbell and scored a goal with an extra skater in Wednesday's opener in Edmonton. Yes, I would absolutely roster Kuzmenko in whatever fantasy format against the Flyers on Saturday.

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Deep league/Daily Fantasy value forwards

Jason Zucker, LW, Pittsburgh Penguins (1.0%): Hosting a (slightly tired?) Tampa team that's coming off playing Columbus on Friday, the Penguins stand a decent chance of facing backup Brian Elliott instead of Andrei Vasilevskiy. Not the worst news for members of Pittsburgh's offense, including Zucker, who scored a goal and recorded an assist against the Coyotes on Thursday. Plus, the speedy forward plays on Evgeni Malkin's line with fellow winger Bryan Rust, which is a bonus.

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Mid-tier fantasy defensemen

Torey Krug, Blues (57.9%): As discussed above, the Blues might have their way with an overwhelmed Columbus team in the home team's first game of the season Saturday. That bodes well for all involved, including the top four defenseman who also anchors the club's No. 1 power play. The lack of fantasy love for Krug to start 2022-23 is a bit puzzling. I suspect he won't be rostered in less than 60% of ESPN.com leagues for long.

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Deep league/Daily Fantasy value defensemen

Matt Dumba, Minnesota Wild (24.9%): The underrated Wild defender blocked four shots, earned four hits and collected an assist against a formidable Rangers opponent on Thursday. It's completely reasonable to expect a similar, if not better, showing from Dumba versus the visiting Kings on Saturday.

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Jeremy Swayman or Linus Ullmark. Whoever is tapped to play against the visiting Coyotes. If coach Jim Montgomery is sticking with his tandem plan, it should be Swayman.

Juuse Saros, Predators (99.3%): Back from opening the season in Europe, the Predators were self-admittedly unprepared when the puck dropped in Dallas for their third game on Thursday. Ryan Johansen: "It is what it is. We had to be ready to play our best game and we weren't." They should be much better when they face those same Stars on Saturday. Saros isn't losing two straight to Pavelski and Co.

Matt Murray, Maple Leafs (67.8%): Admittedly, this goes one of two ways: Either the former Senator, who enjoyed an impressive preseason with the Leafs, gathers himself after Wednesday's loss in Montreal and stands tall against his former team or he doesn't. This early on, if Murray is indeed offered the revenge start over Ilya Samsonov, I like his prospects against the Senators new-look offense that is still developing chemistry.

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Bench 'em

I'm hesitant to roll out any potentially gassed/drained Blue Jackets against a very fresh and reportedly emotionally refreshed Jordan Binnington in St. Louis on Saturday. Outside of maybe Matty Beniers, the Krakens' offensive cast doesn't appeal much against Vegas' defense and goalie Logan Thompson, who's bouncing off his first shutout of 2022-23. If awash in other viable fantasy choices outside of your assets with the traveling Ducks, perhaps opt for them instead of rolling the dice against Ilya Sorokin and the Islanders at home. Despite suffering the loss, Sorokin appeared pretty stingy against a potent Panthers offense on Thursday.

Jacob Markstrom, Calgary Flames (99.4%): Calgary's starting netminder surrendered 24 goals in five postseason games against the Oilers a few months ago. Connor McDavid erupted for a hat trick, plus an assist, in Wednesday's opener against the Canucks. If you have another quality goalie to start over Markstrom on Saturday, perhaps consider them instead.