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Friday fantasy hockey tips: NHL picks, matchups, more

Ryan Lindgren of the New York Rangers plays the puck. Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire

Consider Friday's light slate an interesting amuse bouche ahead of Saturday's main course of 13 games. The scheduled three match-ups - all gloriously staggered - feature the second half of a home-and-home between the Senators and Rangers at Madison Square Garden, followed by a second, and final, meeting between the Islanders and Predators. After Nashville's 5-4 win in mid-November, we can probably expect a lively tilt between the two sides at UBS Arena. The limited action wraps up with the lousy-on-the-road Blue Jackets visiting the soaring Jets. Riding a three-game win streak, Winnipeg is 8-2-0 at home this season.

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All times Eastern.

Favorable scoring match-ups

Columbus Blue Jackets at Winnipeg Jets

8 p.m., Canada Life Centre, Watch live on ESPN+

The Jets are scoring in bunches. The Blue Jackets are allowing a league-worst 4.21 goals/game since Oct. 25. All else being equal - this contest is cushioned by off days on Thursday and Saturday for both sides - I like Kyle Connor and Co., including defenseman Josh Morrissey, to whack a few past whoever starts for Columbus, be it Joonas Korpisalo or a just-activated Elvis Merzlikins (who hasn't competed since Nov. 15).

Mid-tier fantasy forwards

Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg Jets (Rostered in 66.1% of ESPN.com leagues): The Jets' former captain is at his wheeling and dealing best at present, coming off Tuesday's hat-trick against the visiting Avalanche. Winnipeg's scoring line of Wheeler, Mark Scheifele, and rookie Cole Perfetti (11.1%) is the club's most effective, production-wise, right now.

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Blake Wheeler bags a hat trick against the Avs

Blake Wheeler scores three as the Jets take down the Avalanche 5-0.

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Deep league/Daily Fantasy value forwards

Colton Sissons, Nashville Predators (0.6%): The streaky forward scored against Ilya Sorokin and the Islanders at their last meeting in Nashville two weeks ago. Then again last night in New Jersey and the previous Tuesday against the Ducks. All told, Sissons appears in the best kind of productive groove, centering a scoring line with Tanner Jeannot and either Matt Duchene or Filip Forsberg. He's my favorite off-radar fantasy asset to pluck from Friday's sparse schedule.

Mid-tier fantasy defensemen

Vladislav Gavrikov, Columbus Blue Jackets (50.0%): Playing a ton of minutes, Gavrikov is blocking a good number of shots, night in and out. The Blue Jackets' top-pair defender is also projected to share a good portion of ice-time with Patrik Laine, who's scheduled to make his healthy return against his former team on Friday.

Deep league/Daily Fantasy value defensemen

Ryan Lindgren, New York Rangers (3.4%): So the Rangers defender fancies himself a playmaker these days, I guess. Hey, it's working well for the club overall. Lindgren supplied the primary assist on all three of New York's goals in Wednesday's 3-1 win over Ottawa. He also earned another three helpers through his previous four contests. Fantasy managers may as well take advantage for as long as the 24-year-old remains in a productive mood. At minimum, he'll supply you with a blocked shot or two, likely along with a pair of hits and shots on net.

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Goalies

Jaroslav Halak (possible), New York Rangers (1.6%): If I'm Gerard Gallant, I'm running the Rangers backup right out there again, after he stopped 34 of 35 shots, earning win No. 1 of 2022-23, against the very same Senators two days ago. Then play Igor Shesterkin in Saturday's tilt against the visiting Blackhawks. If that's how it rolls out, managers everywhere might consider streaming or utilizing Halak as a Daily Fantasy asset, if at all possible. Wednesday's confident performance was that convincing. But I'm not the head coach of the New York Rangers. So, make sure Halak is indeed starting before making any such move.

Bench 'em

Kevin Lankinen (projected), Nashville Predators (2.0%): No. 1 Juuse Saros has been pretty great of late for the Predators, riding a 7-1-1 record, along with a .918 SV% and 2.69 GAA since Nov. 5. However, after Thursday's impressive OT win in New Jersey, backup Kevin Lankinen will be the likely starter against the well-rested Islanders - a club boasting one of the best home records in the league (8-3-0). As far as outlying Daily Fantasy assets go, Lankinen isn't my favorite on this eve.