Martin Luther King Jr. Day treats us to a big list of hockey games as the National Hockey League has scheduled some runners to coincide with the holiday.
These, of course, aren’t the usual Monday events and have implications for weekly transaction leagues – especially those that close listings when they drop the first disc of the week. So before you worry about leagues with daily roster traffic, make sure you’re okay with your squad in any weekly leagues, since you have six fewer hours than usual.
It’s a great day to watch hockey, with a sporadic schedule starting every hour from 1pm (all times EST) until 8pm except for 2pm and 5pm across an 11-game roster.
With 22 teams in play, you might have a full lineup already ready to hit the ice, but don’t overlook some solid matches here that might change your mind in some locations.
The New York Rangers are the only team out for Sunday’s game (see Jaroslav Halak below), but Tuesday’s busy schedule means nine of those teams will play again the next day. So we can have some goalkeeper surprise starts here. It is difficult to take advantage of it, especially with an early lock. But that puts us at a potential boon from the influx of goalkeeper options on Tuesday.
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All times are oriental.
Favorable scoring matches
1 p.m., KeyBank Center, watch live on ESPN+
Everything is related to goals, goals, and more goals in this one. Although they’ve been a bit of a light on goals lately, both teams are still in the top five in terms of goals at five-for-five-per-60 this season. Both teams are third in the standings in terms of goals allowed per 60 (overall and five-for-five). Throw the Panthers into surrender among the most power-play chances per game in the past month, allowing the second-most power-play goals, but also scoring the second-most power-play goals of the period… The list of possible reasons for both sides to go off is a long one. I would argue that the top six of the two sides deserve closer consideration. That doubles for Dylan Cousins as the only possible access available to the Sabers’ advantage, with Sam Reinhart, Carter Verhaghe, Sam Bennett, and Anton Lundell all worthwhile for the Panthers. Needless to say, I’m not interested in who’s between the pipes for either club.
4 p.m., SAP Center in San Jose, watch live on ESPN+
The Devils offense isn’t as hot as it used to be, but it’s still respectable when you give them a match they can control. They have a huge Corsi advantage over the Sharks here and that is a San Jose team that currently ranks 30th in five-for-five-60 goals this season (and 31st last month). This means that the Devils shouldn’t even need power play to get the job done, which is good because the Sharks are still among the top 10 strikeouts (3rd this season, 10th last month). Ryan Graves is a solid player, posting above average fantasy points from the blue line driven by blocked shots, while Thomas Tatar has missed the scorecard just twice in the past 11 games. He may not get another chance here, but it’s worth noting that the Sharks gave Michael Esimont a waiver pickup game on the streak with Timo Meyer and Thomas Hertel on Friday. He’s more available than any other striker in the top six if he comes back up again on Monday.
4 p.m., Climate Pledge Arena, watch live on ESPN+
Fantasy fans, meet the NHL’s #1 team in scoring all 60 in five-on-five this season: From the depths of the Pacific Northwest, the Kraken rises. First in per 60 targets at five-for-five, and second in per 60 targets overall, this Kraken has found its groove. In the past 10 matches, the streak of Andrej Burakovsky, Jordan Eberle and Matti Benyers has scored nine goals, while the streak of Oliver Bjorkstrand, Elli Tolvanen and Jani Jord has scored nine goals but in the last eight matches (since Tolvanen made his debut on the Kraken). Even Andrei Vasilevsky – yes, even he – must be shivering in his pads. This is the Kraken’s first home game since January 1 after an impressive seven-game road trip in which they scored 37 goals (more than five goals per game). Yet, somehow and surprisingly, the Kraken ranked 31st last month with just five goals. With the lone exception of Bennier, the rest of these two lines are listed in less than two-thirds of the league, so take your pick. I’m not betting on the Lightning getting their share of goals either, so don’t leave any of the usual suspects on the bench. (And Brandon Hagel was on the lists in only 54.0% of paracriminal leagues.)
7 p.m., PPG Paints Arena, watch live on ESPN+
After suffocating the Winnipeg Jets and Carolina Hurricanes in the previous two games, this matchup with the Ducks is exactly what the doctor ordered for the Penguins. I usually look at three defensive metrics when deciding which games to target: Goals-for-every-60, and Goals-for-every-60 at five-for-five last month. Anaheim ranks the dead last on each of those metrics. Yes, that means Brian Rust, Jason Zucker, and Ricard Raquel (facing his old pals) should be in your plans. And don’t forget Tai Smith if we haven’t yet seen mentions of Chris Letang or Jeff Petrie, as he’s the quarterback who plays hard until one or both defenders come back. Assuming Tristan Jarry doesn’t surprise a comeback, start Casey Desmith or Dustin Tokarski to win the broadcast as well. In goals per 60 copies of those same metrics, ducks ranked 32nd, 31st, and 28th. Nothing to be afraid of.
Mid-level fantasy strikers
Tyler Seguin, C/W, Dallas Stars (66.3%): Roope Hintz didn’t practice on Sunday, which means Seguin’s run on the top line will likely extend here.
Niklas Backstrom C, Washington Capitals (18.2%): Not the greatest game in the world for the New York Islanders, but Backstrom still gets his best playing minutes even though he hasn’t started producing since his comeback.
Rickard Raquel, C/W, Pittsburgh Penguins (67.0%)
Dylan Cousins, C/W, Buffalo Sabers (63.2%)
Brandon Hagel, W, Tampa Bay Lightning (54.0%)
Sam Reinhart, Florida Panthers (84.5%)
Deep League / Daily Value Attackers
Evan Rodriguez, C/W, Colorado Avalanche (9.2%): Most of what follows here would be negated if Valeri Nichushkin returns to the Avs lineup, which he is about to do. The Red Wings allowed 13 power play goals last month, ranking 26th in the league in that span. Rodriguez was enjoying life in the front row with Nathan McKinnon and a role in power play with Mikko Rantanan and Kali Makar. I could see him getting 2 points on this one. Nishushkin will, at least, erase Rodrigues’ point of play.
Alexis Lafrenière, W, New York Rangers (16.0%): I honestly don’t know why I would go back to this well. But, again, Lafreniere is in a prime position in the lineup with Chris Kreider injured, so I’m expecting something here. Heck, he played over 21 minutes on Thursday and scored just 0.4 fantasy points with Mika Zibanejad as his center. The Blue Jackets game is the only reason I’m looking at it again as a streaming option.
Michael Amadeo, C/W, Vegas Golden Knights (0.8%): I wanted Jacques Eichel back in front row, but not like this. Mark Stone plays week after week, so Eichel slips in to play Chandler Stephenson and Amadio. It’s hard not to look at those top six side by side with the Knights’ position at the top of the Pacific Division and not think that maybe Logan Thompson isn’t getting enough credit this season. They are fourth in the division for goals per game (and just a hair above the Kings for fifth) – such is the effective use of those goals.
Eli Tolvanen, W, Seattle Kraken (6.9%)
Jason Zucker, Pittsburgh Penguins (15.3%)
Thomas Tatar, W New Jersey Devils (5.7%)
Michael Esimont, W, San Jose Sharks (0.0%)
Mid-class fictional defensemen
Candy Miller, D, New York Rangers (28.0%): Going into Sunday’s game, Miller’s passing month averaged 2.0 fantasy points per game, easily putting him in the top 30 fantasy defensemen during that span. He had another assist on Sunday to extend his point streak to six games. Get him in your lineup.
Deep League/Daily Fantasy Defensive Value
Matt Benning, DE, San Jose Sharks (3.4%): Decent floor and low ceiling, maybe it’s not as flattering as other fancy options, but there’s something to be said for stability. Benning quietly posted borderline relevant fantasy stats with consistency. He has 1.7 fantasy points per game (FPPG) in the last month and 1.8 FPPG in the last two weeks. It won’t win your week, but it’s a safe way to get a warm body if you lower your stats in the deep league. He caught an assist in five out of seven, and continued to get hits and blocked shots.
Ryan Graves, DE, New Jersey Devils (17.4%)
Ty Smith, D, Pittsburgh Penguins (2.0%)
Jaroslav Halek, G, New York Rangers (0.9%): With Igor Shesterkin wrinkled on Sunday, Halak should get the call here against the Columbus Blue Jackets. And while the jackets have looked a little more dangerous in some games lately, it’s still a good game as it is for a backup goalkeeper.
Casey Desmith, G, Pittsburgh Penguins (4.6%): Dustin Tokarski got some extra running back after winning his first start, but the Penguins aren’t among the nine teams to play again on Tuesday, so DeSmith is the likely starting lineup. And it’s a dream game against the Anaheim Ducks, which are the weakest offense in the NHL by any measure or measure.
Jeremy Swaiman, G, Boston Bruins (53.4%): I tried using tea leaves and a crystal ball, as that seemed to be the only way to know for sure which Bruins goalie would be in the crease. The club would rotate from game to game until Linus Ollmark took the last two games in a row. It looks like the team might go back to Swaiman here, but there’s no guarantee. The bottom line is that this is a treat only for the early birds against the Philadelphia Flyers, as this 1 p.m. game will require some extra focus to make Swayman start in time for your lineup.
Brayden Sheen and Justin Volk, C and D, St. Louis Blues (50.4% and 91.4%): I think the Ottawa Senators will be even more locked up after playing “one of their worst games” ever, according to Thomas Chabot regarding the 7-0 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday. And the Sens still boasted the second-best penalty kick in the NHL over the past month, knocking Shane and Volk out of the equation.