The NHL Cheat sheet is your nighty look at some key matchups, fantasy studs, value plays, and important fantasy news and notes for the upcoming slate…
Highest Vegas Totals and Biggest Favorite
Biggest Favorite: The Canucks are -200 favorites to beat the Sabres
Largest Totals: The Preds and Bruins have the greatest chance of going over 5.5 goals according to odds makers
Semyon Varlamov ($6900): Let me preface this pick by saying there’s no “safe goalies” on the slate tonight, just a ton of backups playing and guys who are struggling. That being said there’s a good case to be made for using Varlamov tonight. The Wild are struggling offensively and have scored 1 goal or less in 3 of their last 5 games. Varlamov’s season stats still stink but he’s put up back to back games with save percentages of .950 or better. This is no lock but there’s such thing in net tonight. I’d consider Varley as a goalie of choice.
Carter Hutton ($7100): Nashville is giving Pekke Rinne a rare night off and that means backup Carter Hutton is in net. Hutton is a clear downgrade and will be on the road tonight against one of the hottest offensive teams in the Bruins. Nashville has been shockingly bad killing penalties this season (3rd worst in the league) and will be facing the leagues best PP in Boston. With no Rinne to bail them out this could get semi-ugly. I’d definitely avoid using Hutton tonight and target skaters against him.
Ryan O’Reilly ($5500) – Evander Kane ($5400) – Sam Reinhart ($3000)
This line is up to 14 points in their last four games and has been a force most nights for the surprisingly solid Sabres. There’s a lot of talent on this line and while Evander Kane can be a head case and inconsistent scorer many a night he’s also got a ton of goal scoring ability. Sam Reinhart finally looks comfortable playing in the NHL and has really benefitted from playing with two solid offensive players. This line also comprises the Sabres first unit PP and so will play together a ton tonight. All three makes good targets on tonight’s slate.
Top Upside at Defense
Rasmus Ristolainen ($5000): There’s admittedly a few different ways to go on defense tonight but for the value you are getting I think Ristolainen is a great choice. The Canucks have not been good at killing penalties all year and the Sabres have one of the best PP’s in the league at the moment (6th). Ristolainen plays a ton for the Sabres and generally QBs their PP. He’s been a consistent source of points, SOG and blocked shots this year and I won’t be shocked if he has a good game versus the mediocre Canucks.
Matt Dumba ($3500): Dumba’s a terrifically talented defenseman who looks to be getting some of his offensive jump back lately. Dumba’s scored in two straight games and is seeing consistent time on the power play over Minnesota’s last three games (over 35% of the ice time). With him being afforded a little more offensive opportunity comes an increase in fantasy production and I love the fact he’s been averaging over 2 SOG in his last few games too (along with the goals). He’s my best value on defense for this slate.
Superstar to Build Lineups Around
Daniel Sedin ($6700): While I do like targeting the Sabres tonight I also like the other side of this game too and think Daniel Sedin is a great play tonight. Sedin’s been having a great year and is now on an over PPG pace through a 28 games. The Canucks are no offensive powerhouse but the Sedins do great work on the powerplay, where they get a little more room, and the Sabres have one of the worst penalty kills in the league. I expect a bit of a shootout between these two teams tonight and think Daniel could be in for a big night, don’t be afraid to pair him with his brother either.
Calle Jarnkrok ($2900): Jarnkrok has been playing in the top 6 for the Preds for a couple games now and will be centering their top line and skating between Filip Forsberg and James Neal tonight. The Swede played in the AHL most of last season but has offensive upside and is getting a legitimate chance to be the Preds top centre at the moment (they’re thin there to say the least). Jarnkork has seen a ton of PP of late too and I expect him to once again anchor that spot. This is a great chance to get a top line centre who will be playing with two offensive minded wingers for relatively nothing.
Sam Reinhart ($3000): see my write up in the hottest lines section, Reinhart’s played great recently and is getting a ton of playing time with Buffalo’s top line and PP.
Matt Belesky ($3900): Belesky has been playing extremely well the past few games and broke through recently with a goal and assist. He’s playing on the top line at even strength for the Bruins with two offensive players which is a huge boon to his fantasy prospects. I’d keep considering him as a value play at wing until he gets moved or cools off.
As always hit me up on twitter as @thefantasygrind with lineup questions or other DFS questions GL!