Saturday fantasy hockey tips: NHL picks, matchups, more

Kailer Yamamoto is a quality deep league/fantasy forward for Saturday's night's NHL slate. Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images

Fantasy hockey friends, we're now forced to pay some real attention to the dreaded 'r' factor. After accomplishing all they can in capturing the President's Trophy and home-ice advantage from mid-April onward, outside of carving out fresh records for accumulated points, Boston can do no better. Which means some players - including some of your most precious fantasy faves - will start resting with greater frequency. Taking games off. Like this very weekend, when the Bruins visit the Penguins Saturday (watch on ESPN+) before heading to St. Louis for a Sunday matinee with the Blues. Prolific players like Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, Hampus Lindholm and others are bound to sit out one of the two (my early guess is Sunday's), meaning it's more important than ever to check Jim Montgomery's real, live lineup before setting your own.

This is just the start. As additional teams wrap up their position in the standings, for rich or for poor, coveted performers are going to take nights off more and more often. Or call is a season altogether. If you're still harboring a shot at fantasy hockey glory -- and if reading this I'm guessing you are - daily diligence in lineup monitoring is key.

In any case, you won't be wanting for fantasy substitutes to stream this lively Saturday, with 13 games on the schedule. Highlights include a Hurricanes squad hoping to get back on winning-track against Montreal before hosting the Islanders on Sunday, while the Panthers are under immense pressure to beat up on the Blue Jackets. Tampa's Andrei Vasilevskiy has allowed three total goals in his past three games, including a 31-save shutout performance in Carolina. Good luck to the visiting Isles when facing the tuned-in netminder, should the Lightning's No. 1 earn the start again Saturday. Ilya Sorokin is performing fairly stingily himself, so that may unravel into a rather low-scoring affair.

Elsewhere, Colorado and Dallas face off in a significant divisional match-up that may result in a new Central leader before the day's through. Depends on how the Wild manage against a Vegas team that's wobbled a bit this past week. Another noteworthy divisional tilt sees the Kraken face the Kings, which should -- on paper -- produce more drama than when the Oilers' meet with the fumbling Ducks.

Resources: Goalie depth chart | Injuries | Schedule | How to watch on ESPN+ | Download the ESPN Fantasy App | Daily lines

All times Eastern.

Favorable scoring matchups

New Jersey Devils at Chicago Blackhawks

8 p.m., United Center, Chicago, Watch live on ESPN2

Since mid-March, the Blackhawks are relinquishing an average of 4.43 goals/game. Beyond the Devils' more prolific scorers, top-six forwards like Dawson Mercer and Ondrej Palat - who've been quiet of late -- should find themselves in reasonable position to rediscover their respective scoring gears.

Mid-tier fantasy forwards

Anton Lundell, Florida Panthers (36.4%): After Matthew Tkachuk broke out of his rare three-game dormant skid by notching a hat-trick, plus an assist, in Thursday's 5-2 win over the Canadiens, you can just feel another rampant scoring run from the star forward a-brewin'. However, unless Tkachuk's already on your fantasy roster, fat chance of mining that predictable productivity. So why not give his center a go instead, who remains reasonably available in ESPN.com leagues? Lundell happened to score the other two goals, plus an assist, in that same win in Montreal.

Deep league/Daily Fantasy value forwards

Kailer Yamamoto, Edmonton Oilers (5.8%): The Oilers host the Ducks to wrap up Saturday's full slate of action. Projected Anaheim starter John Gibson has given up 11 total goals in his past two starts. This one could get messy. Skating on a scoring line with Evander Kane and Leon Draisaitl, Yamamoto has two goals and five assists in his most recent seven contests.

See also:

Mid-tier fantasy defensemen

Deep league/Daily Fantasy value defensemen


Alex Lyon (possible), Florida Panthers (1.0%): The Panthers' other netminder is performing fabulously while Sergei Bobrovsky battles an illness, holding the Maple Leafs and Canadiens each to two goals in consecutive wins. Chasing a Wild Card spot, this superior Florida team needs -- needs -- to escape Columbus with another valuable victory. Even if Bob's feeling better, coach Paul Maurice might run with the guy who's getting it done, with perceivable confidence, in the here and now. And if Florida's No. 1 is fit enough to start against his old squad, he's a fine fantasy option as well.

See also:

Antti Raanta (possible), Carolina Hurricanes (12.5%)
Vitek Vanecek (84.6%)/Mackenzie Blackwood (2.0%), New Jersey Devils