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Friday fantasy hockey tips: NHL picks, matchups, more

Connor Dewar of the Minnesota Wild. Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images

A busier than usual kickoff to the weekend, with five interconference match-ups mixed into Friday's lively medley of 10 games in total. Vengeance a common theme all evening long, as Igor Shesterkin and the Rangers seek retribution against a badly banged-up Avalanche squad after dropping their first tilt in October 3-2, while the Capitals hope to make amends, at home, against a Kraken squad that beat them just last week, also 3-2. It's worth noting, after a raucous November, the Seattle scoring machine has slowed a little bit of late.

Elsewhere, the Islanders are hoping to rebound off this week's uncharacteristic 7-4 loss to the Blues. A big ask, considering they're facing the red-hot Devils in New Jersey. The Isles are better at home than on the road. A later-night highlight features Connor McDavid and the Oilers hosting the Wild after losing in Minnesota 5-3, again, just last week.

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All times Eastern.

Favorable scoring match-ups

Pittsburgh Penguins at Buffalo Sabres

7 p.m, KeyBank Center, Watch live on ESPN+

This one should be fun. Buffalo is scoring goals by the bucketful, averaging 5.25/game since Nov. 22. That the Sabres lost three of the eight contests in question (once in overtime) speaks to their own charitable nature in allowing the opposition to also get in on the scoring joy. Sidney Crosby's Penguins are on their own productive run, potting 14 total goals over a three-game (and counting?) win streak.

Adding to the excitement, these two sides play again, 24 hours later, in Pittsburgh. Home-and-home fun! Of the four goalies presumably involved over the weekend - Tristan Jarry, Casey DeSmith, Craig Anderson, and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen - only Jarry has been remotely stingy. But I'm not certain even the Pens' No. 1 can stop the Tage Thompson train the way he's chugging along at present. Between Thompson's gang and Crosby's crew, we should see a few goals in this exciting match-up. Then again at PPG Paints Arena on Saturday.

Winnipeg Jets and Chicago Blackhawks

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

This one could be ugly. The soaring Jets blasted seven past Petr Mrazek (now on IR) and the Blackhawks less than two weeks ago. Since then they've lost only once - an anomalous falling apart against former Winnipeg forward Patrik Laine and the Jackets - scoring exactly five goals in each other victory.

Shut out in their last two contests, the Blackhawks have won once since Nov. 12. Unless the Jets are super fatigued after Thursday's 5-2 victory over St. Louis, this one could end in lopsided favor of the visitors. Despite Chicago goalie Arvid Soderblom doing his best of late. This match also presents as a prime opportunity for backup "Big Save" Dave Rittich to earn his first victory in a while.

Boston Bruins at Arizona Coyotes

9:30 p.m.,Mullett Arena, Watch live on ESPN+

Any thing other than a Boston romp over the rebuilding Coyotes would be considered an upset of blockbuster proportion. Vegas' posted odds certainly suggest as much. Play your Bruins.

Mid-tier fantasy forwards

Dylan Cozens, Buffalo Sabres (45.0%): The 21-year-old center has six goals and 13 assists in his most recent 13 games, including 12 points in his past five. That works out to a month's average of 3.0 fantasy points/contest in ESPN.com standard competition. While he's no Tage Thompson (4.0) - no one is these days - Cozens is more than holding his own amongst that productive bunch in Buffalo.

See also:

Deep league/Daily Fantasy value forwards

Connor Dewar, Minnesota Wild (0.2%): The Dewar/Mason Shaw (0.2%) forward combo has combined for three goals and five assists in their most recent three contests. Off-radar DFS assets don't fall much further outside the fantasy box than these two. But if they can score in Calgary and Dallas, they can score in Edmonton.

See also:

Mid-tier fantasy defensemen

Deep league/Daily Fantasy value defensemen

Matt Benning, San Jose Sharks (2.8%): The Sharks defender is blocking shots, throwing hits, shooting pucks, and contributing assists. Even on the power play! I'm all over this blazing fantasy asset against the Ducks on Friday. As long as blocked shots count for something.

See also:

Goalies

Jacob Markstrom (projected), Calgary Flames (86.9%): If offered the opportunity to play against the Blue Jackets - presuming a red-hot Dan Vladar would then start versus the Maple Leafs 24 hours later - this would serve as an ideal opportunity for Markstrom to get back on winning track. To "not suck at hockey", as it were. While the Flames have won three-straight, Columbus has just one victory to show for their past seven (Wednesday's 9-4 loss to the Sabers considered especially "embarrassing"). So long as Calgary's skaters aren't too distracted by thinking ahead to Saturday's tough tilt in Toronto.

See also:

  • David Rittich (projected), Winnipeg Jets (0.9%)

  • Igor Shesterkin (projected), New York Rangers (99.9%)

  • Linus Ullmark (projected), Boston Bruins (94.7%)

Bench 'em

Stuart Skinner (projected), Edmonton Oilers (26.9%): Kirill Kaprizov is scoring like a skater possessed. The rest of the Wild are pitching in nicely too. Minnesota's power play is rocking along at a 34.8% success rate since Nov. 20, while the Oilers' penalty kill stinks. Whether Stuart gets the start, or a wobbly Jack Campbell is offered a shot at redemption after last week's loss to Minnesota, I'm not interested in running out either Edmonton goalie on Friday. Not if offered the fantasy choice.