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Wednesday fantasy hockey tips: NHL picks, matchups, more

Michael Bunting of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Wednesday's light slate features three early East Coast contests -- all 7 p.m. ET starts -- and one lonely McDavid-flavored nightcap in Chicago two and half hours later. A singular interconference matchup is on offer, featuring the red-hot Maple Leafs hosting the traveling Sharks, who are coming off Tuesday's impressive -- and altogether surprising -- 4-0 win in Montreal. All eyes on Toronto as Mitch Marner strives to extend his point streak to 18 games, which would tie franchise leaders, and legends, Darryl Sittler and Eddie Olczyk. (Teammate Ilya Samsonov: "I think he's going to do it.") Since Nov. 1, Toronto is 10-1-3, outscoring their opponents 46-31.

The Sharks are loosely expected to again start Kaapo Kahkonen in the second of back-to-backs after he pitched a shutout against the Canadiens 21-ish hours earlier. If so, fair enough. Otherwise, AHL call-up Aaron Dell could make his first NHL appearance of the season for San Jose. Either way, unless the Leafs tighten up with Marner's streak on the line and/or overthink matters, it's difficult to see them wrap up such a successful month with a defeat. Not against a team that's losing more often than not.

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All times Eastern.

Favorable scoring matchups

Buffalo Sabres at Detroit Red Wings

7 p.m., Little Caesars Arena

Forward Tage Thompson scored a hat-trick and piled up another three assists when the Sabres devastated Alex Nedeljkovic and the Red Wings 8-3 on Halloween. Detroit is averaging 4.4 goals/game since mid-November. Such arithmetic adds up to a potential scoring party in Detroit Wednesday evening - regardless of who starts for Buffalo: Craig Anderson or Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen.

Edmonton Oilers at Chicago Blackhawks

9:30 p.m., United Center

When the Oilers and Blackhawks last met on Oct. 27, they exchanged a grand total of 11 goals in a highly entertaining, back and forth affair, culminating in an eventual 6-5 win for Edmonton. Fast forward a month, and Chicago's early-roaring offense is dried up, while the Oilers are tangibly feeling the loss of Evander Kane, game in and out. Still. Both sides rank in the "top" five in generously relinquishing goals this November, and there remains enough firepower on hand to produce another rollicking score-fest. Connor McDavid earned a hat-trick and added an assist last round. Defenseman Evan Bouchard -- who has three goals in his past two games -- logged a pair of assists. Plus, should Petr Mrazek start for the Hawks, know that he's given up 18(!) total goals in his last three appearances.

Midtier fantasy forwards

Michael Bunting, Toronto Maple Leafs (73.2%): Competing on a scoring line with Auston Matthews and William Nylander, the winger has two goals and six helpers in his past eight contests. During that span, he's the only Toronto forward outside the Big Four who has averaged at least 2.0 fantasy points/game in ESPN.com standard leagues. For what it's worth, Bunting has also looked extra inspired in recent play.

See also:

Deep league/Daily Fantasy value forwards

Andreas Athanasiou, Chicago Blackhawks (2.1%): Skating on a top line with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane - reunited once more - Athanasiou is sure to see substantial minutes, particularly at even-strength. The fact that he scored on Jack Campbell the last time the Oilers came to town should also help boost his confidence. Athanasiou has three goals in November. That's not good enough. Here's a plum opportunity for the underperforming winger to get back on track. Managers putting together a Daily Fantasy roster might give him a thought as an off-radar asset with real potential.

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Andreas Athanasiou scores goal vs. Stars

Andreas Athanasiou scores goal vs. Stars

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Midtier fantasy defensemen

Filip Hronek, Detroit Red Wings (53.6%): One of my favorite fantasy plays of late, the Red Wings defender is on an absolute - and underappreciated - tear. Before running into Matt Murray's hot glove and blocker on Monday, Hronek had strung together 12 points in nine games, half of them goals. Only Nashville's Roman Josi has been a more valuable asset in ESPN.com standard leagues these past couple of weeks. Make sure Hronek is in your fantasy lineup - of whatever variety - when the Wings host the Sabres.

Deep league/Daily Fantasy value defensemen

Mattias Samuelsson, Buffalo Sabres (20.0%): Need a shot-blocker who also shoots the puck and (very) occasionally scores? Rasmus Dahlin's top-pair partner might be your guy. His season interrupted by a now-healed knee injury, Samuelsson has 20 blocked-shots, 20 hits, 14 shots, and an assist to show for nine games. Four games into his return, the young defender is seeing an increase in valuable minutes as well. If your Daily Fantasy league rewards defensive play, the Sabres blueliner could serve as low-investment lineup padding with above-expected value.

Goalies

Igor Shesterkin (projected), New York Rangers (99.9%): Yes, I'm aware of Saturday's unraveling at the hands of Edmonton and subsequent loss to New Jersey two days later. I grant you, there's something a little off with the Rangers right now, including their No. 1 netminder. But the Senators -- with full respect to what Tim Stutzle and Brady Tkachuk are accomplishing this campaign -- aren't the Metropolitan-leading Devils, nor do they have a winning record like McDavid's Oilers. And the reigning Vezina winner hasn't lost three regular-season games in a row since spring of 2021. Nineteen months ago. Back on the road, away from MSG, I like Shesterkin's odds of breaking out of this mini funk.

Bench 'em

Alex Nedeljkovic, Detroit Red Wings (2.2%): In step with the vengeance-seeking theme, there's the temptation to roll the dice with Nedeljkovic after the Detroit netminder coughed up eight goals to the Sabres on Halloween. Plus, he looked fine enough in relief of Ville Husso, stopping all 12 shots faced in Monday's losing effort to the Maple Leafs. But, as mentioned, Buffalo's skaters are scoring in bunches. As a dark-horse fantasy candidate, Ned only suits managers with the strongest of stomachs.