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 Vegas Totals and Biggest Favorite
Biggest Favorite: The Ducks are -260 favorites to beat the Oilers.
Largest Totals: The Sabres v the Sharks has the highest probability of going over 5.5 goals according to odds-makers.
Stud Goalies (to avoid playing skaters against)
Robin Lehner ($7200): The Sabres generally make for a good target when looking for skaters who are going up against a weaker opponent. That being said their goalie, Robin Lehner, has been playing fantastic since returning from injury and has now posted save percentages of .966 or better in four of his last five starts. Lehner’s hot play hasn’t led to a ton of wins (the Sabres are still a weak team overall) but it has really limited the upside of opposing skaters. Lehner’s only allowed more than one goal in one of his last five starts and makes using Shark players a slightly risky proposition tonight, even though their first line has been rolling lately. I’d consider Lehner an interesting tournament option given how well he’s performed lately and would be careful stacking skaters who are playing against him.
Dud Goalies (to possibly target skaters against)
Cam Talbot ($7100) or Anders Nilsson ($6500): On a short slate this one seems fairly easy and sometimes it is just best to go with the obvious play. The Oilers goaltending has been pretty brutal lately and the Oilers as a team have been brutal defensively for the last 20 games or so. Edmonton is suffering from injuries and a lack of depth on the back end and it’s really exposed their very average goaltending. Cam Talbot has let in three or more goals in each of his last four starts while backup Anders Nilsson was so bad earlier in the year that he was sent down to the AHL. Either goalie makes for a good target right now for your skaters in fantasy and with the Oilers in a free-fall towards the bottom of the standings expect a possible big night for some of the Ducks best players.
Evgeny Kuznetsov ($6700) – Justin Williams ($5300) – Alex Ovechkin ($9100)
The Caps mixed up their lines a week or two ago and so far the results have been pretty solid for everyone involved. Alex Ovechkin has been on a tear with seven points and four goals in his last four games and centre Evgeny Kuznetsov has produced multiple, multi-point games since getting the nod to play alongside the great 8. These three also make for a little bit more affordable trio for fantasy purposes which is nice if you want to stack Washington players tonight. While the Wild recently broke out of their losing slump and have now won four in a row this is still a pretty big mis-match and I wouldn’t hesitate to target any of these three in tonight. The Caps are an absolute monster and on a short slate this line is definitely one you should at least consider getting some exposure to given how well it is playing as a unit.
Top Upside and Top Value at Defense
Sami Vatanen ($5100): Based off his strong finish to last season I think a lot of fantasy players have been pretty disappointed so far with Vatanen’s performance. That being said, the Ducks are rolling right now and Vatanen is once again on a late season roll with three goals and five points in his last five games. Vatanen’s a proven power-play producer and is also now seeing over 20 minutes of play a night on a regular basis which has really helped his SOG and Blocked Shots total lately. In his last 10 games Vatanen has only recorded less than 3 fantasy points on DK once and in a matchup with the struggling Oilers tonight, he’ll again be in a good spot for a big game. He’s my choice if paying up on D tonight.
John-Michael Liles ($3600): I’ve written up Liles for this spot at least once in the past couple of weeks and once again he’s looking like one of the best value plays in this range to me. Liles has seen his usage skyrocket thanks to the injury to Justin Faulk, who looks very doubtful for tonight. Over the past three games Liles has been used as much as nearly any defender on the Power Play for Carolina and scored his first goal in the new role last night. With Liles also recording decent SOG and Blocked Shots totals I think his increased special team’s role gives him quite a bit of upside at his price and I like him as a value play on D tonight because of it.
Best Superstar to Build Lineups Around
Ryan Getzlaf ($6000): I’ve already mentioned Alexander Ovechkin and how good he and his linemates are playing, and while Ovechkin makes for a solid play pretty much every night at the moment I do like using Ryan Getzlaf as a backbone for your rosters if you’re looking to go with a more balanced approach. Getzlaf is $3100 less than Ovechkin and is in the middle of a nine game point scoring streak where he’s recorded 14 total points and five goals. Getzlaf also has the advantage of facing an incredibly weak Oilers team that he and the Ducks have generally dominated over the past five years or so. I think using Getzlaf at his price tonight in all lineups is a near no-brainer tonight and would recommend him as a backbone to structure your lineup around.
Best Value Plays to Fill out your lineup with
David Perron ($4700): There’s no doubt that a lot of Anaheim Ducks make for good plays tonight but the best one from a value and narrative perspective might be David Perron. Perron is a former Oiler who has enjoyed a revival this season after getting traded to Anaheim and will no doubt relish the chance to put up a decent game versus the team that gave up on him a couple years ago. Perron is playing on the top line and power-play unit alongside Ryan Getzlaf and is great value for the upside he brings in his matchup tonight.
Justin Bailey ($2900): Bailey is an interesting and potentially great young player on the Sabres who is getting a shot at playing on the top line with Evander Kane and Sam Reinhart thanks to an injury to Ryan O’Reilly. At only $2900, and with the Sabres season all but done, Bailey makes for an interesting value play since he’ll be seeing time on the top line and power-play unit with the Sabres best offensive players. I’d definitely consider him if you’re looking to employ a stars and scrubs approach or just want a value play to fill your lineup out with tonight. His new role gives him a chance to really produce a nice game at a very low price.
Also check out: The Ducks Rickard Rakell ($4700)
**this list isn’t meant to be comprehensive and will only update significant, more recent injuries
Justin Faulk is questionable for the Hurricanes
Nikita Kucherov is questionable for the Lightning tonight
Zach Parise is questionable for the Wild tonight
As always hit me up on twitter as @thefantasygrind with lineup questions or other DFS questions GL!