The NHL Cheat sheet is your nightly look at some key matchups, fantasy studs, value plays, and important fantasy news and notes for the upcoming slate.

Highest Totals and Biggest Favorite

Biggest Favorite: The San Jose Sharks are -175 to beat the Avalanche

Largest Totals: The Sharks/Avalanche has the highest total on the slate at 5.5 goals

Stud Goalies

Braden Holtby ($8300): Holtby’s price keeps rising but he has a plum matchup tonight and hasn’t let his foot off the gas at all this season in terms of quality of play. Holtby leads the league in GAA amoung starters and is still flashing a .932 save percentage despite playing in almost every game for the Capitals. Just to give you an idea of how great Holtby has been lately there’s only been one game in his last 10 starts where he’s failed to post a save percentage of less than .900 in a game. He’s as near a lock for solid points from the goalie position as you’re going to get this season and has a great matchup tonight.

Dud Goalies

Mike Condon ($7200): I really want nothing to do with the Montreal Canadiens right now who are currently going through a pretty scary regression in terms of their quality of play from the start of the season. Condon has been trying to fill the void left by Carey Price’s injury but is now winless in his last 6 starts and sporting a save percentage that is barely on the right side of .900. Condon and the Canadiens face a Tampa squad who have found some offense lately and potted three or more goals in 4 of their last 5 games. I’d target Tampa tonight for skaters and definitely leave Condon off your list of goalies.

Hottest Lines

Vladislav Namestnikov ($3400) – Steven Stamkos ($7400) – Nikita Kucherov ($6000)

Continuing on with my Tampa theme, the Lightning have been much better offensively of late and the play of their top line has been responsible for much for the scoring. This line is now up to 12 points in their last 3 games and really been clicking as a unit lately. With so many injuries Tampa has been forced to pair its best two offensive players together (Kucherov and Stamkos) and the results have been great. The pair have now tallied 8 power play points between them in their last three games and done well to jump start an anemic Lightning power play. The young Namestnikov has been centering the duo at even strength which adds to his value and he’s also seen some power play time as well. This line has a great matchup tonight versus the struggling Canadiens and I’d definitely recommend getting exposure. There’s potential for a big night once again.

Top Upside at Defense

Brent Burns ($8000): I’m not sure if there’s ever a good time to pay up 8k for a defenseman but if there is tonight’s probably it. Brent Burns is a powerhouse right now for San Jose and will be skating in the game with the highest point total of the night. Burns is nearly averaging a point per game this season and on top of his silly point production is also getting an average of 4 SOG and 2 blocked shots over his last 4 contests. The Sharks play Burns a ton on special teams (he plays nearly the full 2 minutes of any power play) and lately that part of the game has been clicking for San Jose as Burns has 4 power play points in his last 4 games. I’d consider trying to squeeze him if you can, and think he’s head and shoulders the best play at D tonight (if you can get past the price).

Nikita Nesterov ($2600): Nesterov is a young D-Man who played with Tampa for portions last season and produced decently while with the team. He was called up recently and now has two goals in his last three games. The important thing about Nesterov is that he’s an offensive minded D-man and will be seeing time on the PP, as he’s been a part of that unit since being called up. With the Lightning in a good matchup I like his chances to grab you a point and a couple SOG. A result which would be huge for fantasy considering his price.

Superstar to Build Lineups Around

Joe Pavelski ($7500): The Sharks have been feeling it offensively of late and now scored 3 or more goals in 4 of their last 5 games. Centre Joe Pavelski has been on a tear during this time as he’s now up to 5 goals in his last 5 games. The Sharks centre is really the backbone of the entire San Jose offense and like Brent Burns will be out there in pretty much every important offensive situation for his team. Tonight Pavelski plays against a very up and down Colorado team who will be starting their backup netminder and is in the bottom half of the league in terms of killing penalties. Expect Pavelski’s strong special teams play to continue and make him the focus of your rosters tonight.

Value Plays

Joe Thornton ($4700): Thornton has been playing well recently and been a big part of the Sharks recent increase in offensive output. At $4700 you’re getting a player who will be playing almost the entire night with one of the hottest players in hockey in Joe Pavelski. The Sharks are in a good position to put up some goals tonight in a game with highest projected total on the slate and getting a mainstay of their first unit PP at only $4700 is a great bargain.

Jannik Hansen ($3900): Hansen has been moved back to the Canucks first line to play with the Sedins recently and while he’s not exactly the most talented offensive player the twins have ever played with he has produced for periods when given the chance to play with them. I don’t love the Canucks offense for fantasy at the moment but at only $3900 you’re getting a player who has 4 points in his last three games and will be playing all night in important offensive situations for the Canucks. He’s great value at wing.

Also check out: Vladislav Namestnikov ($3400)


**this list isn’t meant to be comprehensive and will only update significant, more recent injuries

Jeff Carter is day to day for the Kings and questionable to play tonight

Jeff Petry is day to day and questionable tonight for the Canadiens

As always hit me up on twitter as @thefantasygrind with lineup questions or other DFS questions.