The NHL Cheat Sheet is your quick-hit daily look into odds, fantasy studs, value picks, and more to help you navigate your DFS Hockey lineups.
Highest Vegas Totals
– Montreal Canadiens vs. Colorado Avalanche – 5.5
– Chicago Blackhawks vs. New York Rangers – 5
– Minnesota Wild vs. Calgary Flames – 5
Semyon Varlamov ($7,900): Varly has had his fair share of ups and downs this season but he has been very solid overall for the Avs. He has allowed two goals or less in six of his last 10 starts and will get the nod on Wednesday night when the Avalanche welcome the Canadiens. They get the Habs at the right time, as Montreal is in a freefall in the standings and do not look complete at the moment. The Canadiens have only six wins since the start of January and have allowed 12 goals against in their last two games total against the Sabres and Coyotes. Varlamov was fantastic his last start against the Red Wings, stopping 43 of 45 shots to pick up his 21st win of the season.
Top Line of the Night
Most would probably expect the Blackhawks top line here, and while they will make an appearance on the line stacks today the Flames top line is my line of the night because of their favorable matchup. Calgary takes on the Wild, who are fresh off firing their coach Mike Yeo, and are losers of 13 of their last 15. The Flames top line is one of the most dynamic in the league and has two burgeoning superstars in Gaudreau and Monahan. This line was fantastic in their last game on Monday against the Ducks. All three contributed three points in the Flames 6-4 loss. Gaudreau netted a power-play goal and added two assists on five SOG. He’s nearly on a point-per-game pace with 54 in 56 games. Monahan, who has 10 points in his last nine games, had three assists including two on the power-play and added two shots of his own. Hudler had two goals and added an assist on Gaudreau’s power-play tally. This line has been very solid since they were reunited weeks ago and will have a fantastic chance to produce tonight against a desperate and struggling Minnesota club.
Top Upside at Defense
Ryan Suter ($6,300): Despite the shortcomings of the team as a whole, Suter has been very solid for the Wild all season and hasn’t slowed down even though his team is crumbling around him. Suter sits one point behind Mikko Koivu for the team lead in points with 37 and leads the Wild with 30 helpers on the year. He has five points in his last four games with a goal and four assists and has two multi-point games in the last two games he has points. He has also added 12 shots and seven blocks in those games all the while averaging almost 29 minutes of ice time per game, good for second in the league in that category behind Erik Karlsson.
Dan Girardi ($3,900): Since the loss of Ryan McDonagh the Rangers have struggled for consistency from the blueline, which has largely been an issue for them all season. The good news for the Rangers is that McDonagh should return tonight for the Rangers, but they may have lost Dan Boyle for the night after he missed practice with the flu on Tuesday. Girardi played very well over the weekend against the Flyers picking up two assists and blocking three shots in the process. He should still be on the Rangers first pair when McDonagh returns and at $3,900, on such a limited night, Girardi is worth the flier.
Superstar to Build Lineups Around
Patrick Kane ($8,800): Kane continues to be the best player in the league this season and has continued his dominance lately with points in his last three games. He had one of his best games of the year, and that’s saying something, against the Maple Leafs on Monday when he netted his 34th goal and added three assists, bringing his season total to 48, and becoming the first player in the league to break the 80-point barrier. Kane has managed at least a point in six of his seven games so far since the All-Star game and has nine points in seven games this month. Kane faces the Rangers tonight, and in his only other matchup against NY at the beginning of the season he managed an assist and five shots on goal.
Andrew Shaw ($4,200): Shaw is enjoying one of the best seasons of his career this year and has settled in nicely on the wing for Captain Jonathan Toews on Chicago’s first line. The young RW has 30 points in 60 games and could be on pace to break his previous career-high of 39 points. He has found the production again as of late with points in each of his last three games. He is coming off a three point game against the Leafs on Monday night. Shaw had a power-play goal and assist and added another helper at even strength. As long as he continues to patrol Toews’ wing, especially with Marian Hossa out on IR, Shaw will see increased production opportunities and have solid fantasy relevance.
Erik Haula ($2,800): Haula is patrolling the Wild third line as the center for Nino Niederreiter and Jason Pominville. He only has 15 points on the season for the Wild but has six points in his last 10 games. In his last four games for Minnesota he has points in two of them and both occasions have been multi-point outings. He had two assists in the Wild win over the Canucks on Monday and is one of the least expensive options at the center position tonight, allowing you to spend bigger elsewhere.
Karri Ramo ($7,500) Ramo collided with the Sharks Joonas Donskoi last week and was placed on IR by the Flames. He is scheduled to have an MRI due to fears of ligament damage. In the meantime the Flames look to turn to Jonas Hiller in net with Joni Ortio backing him up.
Ryan McDonagh ($5,100) The Rangers Captain is poised to return tonight for New York when they welcome the Blackhawks. McDonagh has missed the team’s last four games with a concussion that he suffered on February 6 against the Flyers on a hit by Wayne Simmonds. Expect McDonagh to resume his role on the Rangers top defensive pair and to be heavily involved in the special teams immediately.