Friday fantasy hockey tips: NHL picks, matchups, more

Martin Jones has won four games in a row for the Seattle Kraken. Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images

Friday's lean schedule is highlighted by the rather glitzy Hall of Fame game to kick off the weekend's festivities in Toronto. The visiting Pittsburgh Penguins are hoping to make it two straight after winning their first contest since Oct. 22 on Wednesday in Washington. Meanwhile, the hosting Maple Leafs are a much better 3-0-1 after a disastrous wrap to October. This one should be a fun.

Sidney Crosby loves scoring against the Leafs, both in Pittsburgh and on the road in Toronto. By the numbers, more than he enjoys scoring against most other NHL teams. Pre-pandemic, the Penguins captain had failed to register a single point in Toronto on only three occasions since joining the league 2005. A new experience for Toronto 'tender Erik Kallgren, to be sure. In his still-young career, the second-year goalie has yet to face Crosby and his crew. Meanwhile, Auston Matthews and Co. are bound to pepper whoever starts for Pittsburgh, be it this week's game-winner Casey DeSmith or Tristan Jarry.

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All times Eastern.

Favorable scoring match-ups

San Jose Sharks at Dallas Stars

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

Shouldering a 0-2-2 record and .881 SV% and 3.68 GAA, James Reimer hasn't won a game since Oct. 23. The traveling Sharks are coming off a 5-3 loss in St. Louis the previous evening. Idle since Tuesday, the well-rested Stars boast one of the league's most dangerous offenses, lead by a top line consisting of Jason Robertson, Roope Hintz, and a seemingly ageless Joe Pavelski. Tossed all together, it adds up to a forecasted Dallas victory in which we could see a few goals.

Additional note: At last check, coach Pete DeBoer suggested it was possible Jake Oettinger might start after losing two weeks to a lower-body injury. Otherwise, look for Scott Wedgewood - who's been mostly solid in relief - to make his fifth consecutive start for the Stars.

Mid-tier fantasy forwards

Jamie Benn, Dallas Stars (59.6%): Before Tuesday's dud in Winnipeg, Benn was running hot with four goals - including a hat-trick in Edmonton - and four assists in three games. I'm favoring the veteran forward to get back on track in ripping off a few shots, and denting the scoresheet otherwise, against a much weaker Sharks defense.


Jamie Benn notches hat trick in Stars' victory

Jamie Benn finds the net three times as the Stars cruise to a 6-2 victory vs. the Oilers.

Deep league/Daily Fantasy value forwards

Nicholas Paul, Tampa Bay Lightning (9.0%): The second-line center is on a nice little roll, with four goals and four assists in his past eight games. I also like the sense of familiarity with this match-up. Paul faced Washington's projected starter Darcy Kuemper, then with Colorado, six straight times in losing the Stanley Cup Final last June. Penetrating the Avalanche's superior defense, he managed to score in Game 1 and 3. The Capitals banged-up defense isn't nearly of the same caliber

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Deep league/Daily Fantasy value defensemen

Timothy Liljegren, Toronto Maple Leafs (7.0%): At the risk of getting overly excited about a rather anomalous pair of goals against Vegas on Tuesday, I truly feel the young defender has a lot more to contribute on the offensive side. He appeared a skater possessed in that particular match-up, only his third of the season. Drafted 17th overall five years ago, the 23-year-old needs to finally kick it into another gear. I'd also like to see him earn a shot on the Leafs' secondary power play, but Sheldon Keefe doesn't appear ready to give that combo a whirl - yet.

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Martin Jones, Seattle Kraken (25.0%): Seattle's No. 1 has won four straight, including last week's 22-save shutout in Minnesota. He surrendered a grand total of four goals in the other three victories. This Kraken squad - threatening to take over second spot from the Kings in the Pacific - is having a ton of fun at present, including Jones.

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Bench 'em

Marc-Andre Fleury, Minnesota Wild (69.2%): The Kraken are hot. And they potted four on only 23 shots past Fleury last week. While there's certainly the element of revenge in play, I'm not rolling the fantasy dice in line with that narrative unless absolutely necessary.