Thursday fantasy hockey tips: NHL picks, matchups, more

Patrik Laine of the Columbus Blue Jackets should be in your lineups tonight. Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

It's a busy Thursday with 26 NHL teams in action, meaning fantasy hockey lineups should be easy to fill.

This could be a real litmus test for where the Edmonton Oilers are at with Jack Campbell. Stuart Skinner has been away the past week for the birth of his child, so it's not as if the Oilers had much choice, but Campbell has been on a run in the crease.

And the surprising part is that the matchups haven't been all simple ones.

Sure, beating the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks wasn't anything to write home about, but Campbell followed that up with wins against the Vegas Golden Knights (even banged up, not a gimme) and then the Seattle Kraken (who were averaging more than five goals per game in their previous eight road games).

To quickly recap, the Oilers paid Campbell a hefty contract in the offseason to come in and stabilize a crease that has been the team's Achilles heel since Connor McDavid entered the league. But Campbell has stumbled to this point and eventually lost the starting gig outright to upstart backup Skinner.

It's a small sample of only 18 days of the month, but Campbell is 5-1-0 with a .919 save percentage and 2.01 goals-against average across more than 350 minutes in the crease this month. He hasn't allowed more than three goals in a start yet this month, and only getting that threshold the one time against the Knights.

So what's the test? It's a two-parter: 1) Do the Oilers go back to Campbell on his current streak even though Skinner will be an option? 2) Does Campbell answer the bell in what will be an actual tough matchup against the Tampa Bay Lightning?

The Bolts saved Andrei Vasilevskiy for the Oilers, opting to start Brian Elliott in the crease on Wednesday -- so there will be no quarter from the Lightning side, who come in fifth overall in the NHL in goals per 60 this season.

If Campbell does get the nod and if Campbell does answer the bell, the run-off benefits could be significant.

After this game with the Lightning on Thursday, the Oilers schedule until Feb. 21 reads as follows: Canucks, Blue Jackets, Blackhawks, Red Wings, Flyers, Senators, Canadiens, Red Wings, Rangers, Avalanche, Flyers.

It's OK if you thought I was actually just listing non-playoff teams and forgot the Rangers are actually in postseason position. That's right, the Oilers face precisely one team currently in position to make the playoffs between Friday and Feb. 21. Now, the Canucks and Avs are still dangerous offenses, but could you imagine if Campbell regains the starting role just in time for this schedule?

He's only rostered in 61.8% of leagues, by the way.

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

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Favorable scoring matchups

Anaheim Ducks at Columbus Blue Jackets

7 p.m., Nationwide Arena, Watch live on ESPN+

So this is an interesting matchup. Anemic offenses and anemic defenses combine to create the perfect storm of either no goals or many goals. It's hard to picture anything in between. Both teams rank near the bottom of the league in goals per 60 and in goals against per 60. The only bright spot anywhere is that the Blue Jackets are in the middle of the pack for goals against per 60 at five-on-five in the past month, but a lot of that credit goes to Joonas Korpisalo, who remains day-to-day for personal reasons and may not be involved here. I'm leaning into the offenses coming out on top and rolling with Adam Henrique and Troy Terry for the Ducks, while making sure Patrik Laine, Johnny Gaudreau and Boone Jenner are in lineups, too.

New Jersey Devils at Seattle Kraken

10 p.m., Climate Pledge Arena, Watch live on ESPN+

The Kraken's hot streak is over, but the Devils aren't a stone wall lately, ranking 13th in goals against per 60 at five-on-five in the past month. And even with slowing down in recent games, the Kraken remain first in the league in five-on-five goals per 60. But the Devils rank second in that same rate, so there could be some fireworks here. Tomas Tatar is an option to squeeze into lineups on the Devils side, as he's been stuck to Jack Hughes on and off the power play. I would put Andre Burakovsky on a similar level for the Kraken, playing alongside catalyst Matty Beniers on and off the advantage.

Detroit Red Wings at Vegas Golden Knights

10 p.m., T-Mobile Arena, Watch live on ESPN+

In goals against per 60 at five-on-five in the past month, the Golden Knights ranks 25th and the Red Wings rank 26th. The Red Wings have been scoring some goals of late and the Golden Knights are always dangerous. On the Golden Knights side is their killer penalty kill, ranking first in the NHL in the past month. If it weren't for the Golden Knights penalty kill being so good, Jonatan Berggren would be of interest after playing the last game with the Wings first unit, but maybe just remember him for the next game. Paul Cotter and Nicholas Roy are deep league option if you find yourself short for your lineup for some reason or just like the matchup; they are both on a line with Jack Eichel -- on and off the power play.

Mid-tier fantasy forwards

Vladimir Tarasenko, W, St. Louis Blues (88.0%): There's a chance we get Tarasenko back, well ahead of schedule in this Thursday game. He practiced in full on Sunday on a line with Brayden Schenn and Brandon Saad.

Scott Laughton, C/W, Philadelphia Flyers (16.3%): Averaging 2.6 fantasy points in his past seven games, Laughton is driving the production from the top power-play unit and on a line with Kevin Hayes. It's a plus-matchup against the Hawks.

Anton Lundell, C, Florida Panthers (36.8%): Enjoying his new spot on a line with Aleksander Barkov, Lundell has a goal in two straight. This is also a plus-matchup against the Montreal Canadiens.

See also:

Deep league/Daily Fantasy value forwards

Taylor Raddysh, W, Chicago Blackhawks (0.8%): With a minimum of 1.9 fantasy points in each of his past four games, Raddysh is continuing to be a pleasant surprise with the Hawks. The Flyers aren't particularly stalwart as an opponent and Raddysh also gets top power-play work.

Cody Glass, C, Nashville Predators (0.2%): Going into this game with the St. Louis Blues, Glass has played the past two games on a top line with Filip Forsberg and Matt Duchene, while also joining the top power-play unit.

See also:

Mid-tier fantasy defensemen

Jared Spurgeon, D, Minnesota Wild (74.2%): On a busy slate like this, you probably aren't looking for too many stream options. Spurgeon is rostered in most leagues because he's exploded this past month with 2.7 fantasy points per game in the past 30 days. Consider this a reminder to check on his availability -- even if your lineup is full, he might be a better option than someone you have rostered.

See also:

Deep league/Daily Fantasy value defensemen

Mike Matheson, D, Montreal Canadiens (2.6%): Making his return to the lineup on Tuesday, Matheson was back on the point on the Habs power play. Only two teams have allowed more power-play goals than the Panthers in the past month.

Jake Walman, D, Detroit Red Wings (3.5%): Even without getting a point in his past two games, Walman averaged 1.8 fantasy points per game in the contests. He's been rock solid since being moved to Moritz Seider's side on the point.

See also:


Sergei Bobrovsky, G, Florida Panthers (57.6%): Slowly, but surely, Bobrosvky and the Panthers might be a place to look for some goaltending on a matchup-dependent basis. Yes, the negative fantasy points are still flowing on some nights, but those games are the tough ones: Toronto Maple Leafs, Vegas Golden Knights, New York Rangers (well, maybe not so much the Rangers). But still, he's had good outings against the Sabres, Canucks, Red Wings and Canadiens in the past month. He just so happens to face the Habs again here, and I wouldn't be afraid to start him.

Jeremy Swayman, G, Boston Bruins (55.3%): If he's available to you, use Swayman when you can. He's averaged 8.6 fantasy points in his past three starts. With Linus Ullmark in the crease on Wednesday, it's almost a surety that Swayman will get the nod here. Almost.

Pheonix Copley, G, Los Angeles Kings (22.7%): Are the Stars really all that scary on offense of late? Nope. They rank 27th in the NHL in goals per 60 at five-on-five in the past month. All the Kings need to do is eke out the win for Copley to be a good start here. Lucky for them, they are likely facing Scott Wedgewood after Jake Oettinger started on Wednesday, and Wedgewood hasn't won a game since Dec. 13.

Carter Hart or Samuel Ersson, G, Philadelphia Flyers (48.0% or 5.3%): To be clear; this is about a good matchup, so either goaltender is a fair start against the visiting Blackhawks. The question is whether or not the Flyers let Ersson get some extra run here because the matchup is so favorable. He's not going to cut into Hart's crease share or anything, but why not give the rookie another game after he had to bail Hart out on Monday and then won his fifth game on Tuesday?

Bench 'em

Non-superstars from the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers: This is two top-five defenses in preventing goals going head to head. The safer expectation is for a 2-1 or 3-2 finish at best. If the player isn't named David Pastrnak, Charlie McAvoy, Adam Fox, Mika Zibanejad or Brad Marchand, there may be a better matchup available on your bench or as a stream. Patrice Bergeron isn't among this list because there is a chance he sits after taking a puck to the face Wednesday. Chris Kreider might return for the Rangers, but isn't a must-start in this matchup.

Non-superstars from the Minnesota Wild and Carolina Hurricanes: I'll make a similar argument to the above paragraph with the notable exception that these are two top-10 defenses, rather than top five. If there are other players you want to get in your lineup, there's an argument for cutting these teams off at Sebastian Aho, Kirill Kaprizov, Brent Burns and Jared Spurgeon (who has 2.7 FPPG in the past month, by the way).