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.

Totals and Favorites

Biggest Favorite: the San Jose Sharks are -220 favorites to beat the Coyotes

Largest Totals: the Senators v Blue Jackets, the Capitals v Stars and the Sharks v Coyotes all have similar chances of going over 5.5 goals tonight according to odds makers.

Stud Goalies

Corey Crawford ($8400): A lot of people like to talk about Patrick Kane when referring to Chicago Blackhawks success this year but in my opinion a huge reason for Chicago’s success has been the play of their goalie, Corey Crawford. Crawford is having a career year and is near the top in pretty much every statistical category for goalies. Even though he has a tough matchup tonight against the surging Ducks, Crawford will be playing at home where he’s been almost unbeatable this year, posting a save percentage of .944 and a GAA of 1.70. I’d expect a close, low scoring game between these two Western conference powers and would avoid targeting the Ducks skaters for fantasy tonight. There’s simply not a whole lot of upside for opposing skaters when Crawford is in net, like he will be tonight.

Dud Goalies

Pekka Rinne ($7400): I’m not sure I thought there would ever be a day where Pekka Rinne would be included as a “dud goalie” but here we are. Rinne has been struggling all season but his recent form is has pushed him into becoming a target for your skaters in fantasy (at least in my eyes). Rinne’s posted save percentages of well below .900 in four of his last six starts and has now allowed 16 goals in his last 4 games overall. His season long save percentage is hovering at .900, well below league average, and his GAA has crept up over 2.60. This isn’t the same elite goaltender of years past. Don’t be afraid to target some Panthers skaters tonight on your rosters as the matchup against Rinne provides plenty of upside.

Hottest Lines

Connor McDavid ($6900) – Jordan Eberle ($5700) – Benoit Pouliot ($4800)

This line has been putting up some monster games of late and is now up to 18 points between them in their last four games. In case you haven’t heard the Oilers rookie Connor McDavid is pretty much as advertised and has been tearing up defenses since he returned from injury a week or so ago. McDavid isn’t playing with two slouches either as Jordan Eberle is a former 30 goal scorer who has taken off since getting to ride shotgun on Mcdavid’s line. The Oilers are definitely a bit of a streaky team offensively but will be at home and going up against the Winnipeg Jets tonight, a team who gives up the sixth most goals per game in the entire league and has the third worst penalty killing unit. Expect this line to see tons of time together at even strength and on the power-play and make them a target for fantasy.

Defensive Thoughts

Aaron Ekblad ($4900): Ekblad has been impressive this season and since returning from injury a few games ago looks to be picking up his play a bit with points in three of his last five games. Ekblad is one of the main power-play options on the point for the Panthers and tonight gets a nice matchup against the Predators who have the 7th worst penalty kill in the league. Ekblad offers you a significant discount off the top end D-men tonight but has similar upside in my opinion and is someone I’d consider when making rosters. He’s got a heavy shot, good offensive instincts, and has a better chance at scoring than many of the other higher salaried defensemen.

Ryan Murray ($3700): Murray remains one of my favorite value plays on defense and has a fantastic matchup tonight versus the Senators that I suggest you take advantage of. Murray will be one of the main point-men for the Blue Jackets on the power-play against a team that has the worst penalty kill in the league. At $3700 Murray doesn’t get a ton of shots on goal but his blocked shots total has been impressive of late— racking up 16 through his last three games—and he has been seeing over 23 mins of ice a night. I’d take advantage of the low price and increase in ice time for Murray in this spot, and make him a target if you’re looking to go with a lower priced player on D.

Superstar to Build Lineups Around

John Tavares ($7900): As tempting as it would be to put Alex Ovechkin’s name here I’ll take the savings tonight with John Tavares who has been on a tear recently and offers up better savings. After a really slow patch mid-season Tavares has finally started to light things up again and is up to seven points scored in his last seven games. While the Islanders have been shifting lines around all season targeting Tavares is still a no brainer for fantasy as he is always the one constant on the New York offense and will see the most ice-time and power-play time of any Islanders forward. The Isles take on the Hurricanes tonight who have been fairly solid this year, especially on defense, but who are coming off a game last night and could be fatigued. The Islanders as a team are scoring right now (three or more goals in three straight games) and I like the spot for Tavares to keep on his hot streak. Target him as a backbone for your rosters.

Value Options

Ryan Strome ($3900): Strome is playing alongside John Tavares on the first line for the Islanders right now and seeing over 17 mins of ice per night. He’s got points in three straight games and should benefit from the fact Tavares is starting to heat up a bit himself. Even if he doesn’t play a ton on the power-play with Tavares he’s super cheap and is a great way to get some exposure to the suddenly hot Islanders offense. He’s one of my favorite value plays tonight.

Nick Bjugstad ($4500): With Alex Barkov likely out tonight and the Panthers in a nice matchup against the Preds I’ve leaving my choice from last night up. Bjugstad has had an awful year that has been marred by injuries and seen him get bumped out of the top 6. Still, he remains talented and is now being used by the Panthers as their top centre for the time being, playing between Jaromir Jagr and Jonathan Huberdeau. I’d take advantage of the cheap price tag on Bjugstad for now as his new role could see him return to form quickly. He’s nice value on tonight’s slate.

Also check out: The Hawks Richard Panik ($2900) and Jiri Sekac ($2500) if Artemi Panarin doesn’t play tonight, and the Jets Nikolaj Ehlers ($4600).

Injuries

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

  • Alex Barkov is questionable for the Panthers
  • Carey Price is out for the season for the Canadians
  • Justin Faulk is questionable for the Hurricanes

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