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 Favories

Biggest Favorite: the Bruins are -200 favorites to beat the Sabres

Largest Totals: the Jets v Avalanche, Leafs v Senators and Blackhawks v Stars all have the same chance of going over 5.5 goals tonight according to odds makers.

Stud Goalies

Semyon Varlamov ($7800): There’s some talented goalies playing tonight but the one who’s posted the best numbers of late is the Avs Semyon Varlamov. Varlamov is an incredibly streaky goalie but when he’s on he’s one of the best at his craft and he’s now allowed a measly 4 goals in four games and has posted save percentages of .964 or better in those same four contests. Varlamov is returning from an extended break due to an off ice issue but he’s still in a nice spot here in a home game to keep his streak running. He makes for an interesting tournament option tonight and could land you a huge fantasy game given his recent run of play.

Dud Goalies

Craig Anderson ($7600): The Ottawa Senators poor defensive play has really started to catch up to them of late. As losers of 5 of their last 6 games the Senators have allowed 27 goals in their last 6 outings (4.5 goals per game). The Sens goalies aren’t all to blame but they have received sub par play from Craig Anderson who will start in net for them tonight and has now allowed three or more goals in 6 of his last 7 starts. Anderson is a streaky goalie so he could turn this around quickly but he’s now recorded save percentages of under .900 in four of five games and looked incredibly average of late. I’d target the Senator goalie tonight with your skaters.

Hottest Lines

Sidney Crosby ($7800) – Patrick Hornqvist ($6700) – Chris Kunitz ($4500)

The Penguins have been on a nice run lately and their top line and top player have been producing some huge games for fantasy. This line alone has 17 points in its last 4 games and superstar Sidney Crosby has an amazing 5 goals and 6 points in his last 4 games. With all three men seeing time on the PP there’s no reason not to consider this line as a stack and even in a tougher matchup, with the talented Florida Panthers, I’d still want at least some exposure to this line tonight. Winger Chris Kunitz looks like one of the best value options on the board at his position right now and has really picked up his play lately after an awful start. He has 6 assists (most on Crosby goals) in his last 4 games and hasn’t seen a huge rise in salary yet. With Crosby once again looking like the best player n the world getting a piece of the Penguins offense in your roster every night seems like a decent idea for fantasy once again and targeting him and his line mates tonight seems like a profitable strategy.

Defensive Thoughts

Torey Krug ($5900): Krug is an interesting player for fantasy purposes as he’s not the prototypical stud defenseman (only plays 20 mins a night) but he is talented offensively and is the main point man for the Bruins when they have the man advantage. What is so appealing about Krug is that he gets a ton of shots on net (26 over his last 5 games) and is great at creating his own chances. The fact he only has 3 goals on the year is puzzling (giving how much he shoots) and it could simply be a case of bad luck that he hasn’t scored more already. In a matchup with the Sabres I like him as a target tonight and think he’s a good way to get exposure to the Bruins power-play and offense in general.

Jason Demers ($3800): There’s not a ton of value plays at defense that I trust tonight but Demers looks like a solid option. The Stars defenseman has become the number two option on the point behind the pairing of Alex Goligoski and John Klingberg and as a result is seeing consistent minutes with the man advantage every night. Demers is also getting more ice time overall and has seen over 20 mins in each of his last three games, which increases his chances for blocked shots. Overall I think he’s a solid option at his price and has been out performing expectations all year, he’s who I would likely turn to if looking under the 4k mark tonight.

Superstar of the Day

Sidney Crosby ($7800): There’s a lot of superstars playing tonight but I think the best value for your fantasy dollars is Sidney Crosby. As mentioned above in the hottest lines section, Crosby has been on a tear recently and when he is playing at the level he is now he’s virtually impossible to completely shut down. Some might be scared off of Crosby due to the matchup with the Panthers who have allowed the fewest goals against as a team in the entire league this year, but with the Penguins scoring a lot recently (5 or more goals in four of their last seven games) I think staying on Crosby tonight makes sense. Expect a pretty intense game between two of the better/best teams in the East and for Crosby to maintain his productivity.

Value Options

P.A. Parenteau ($4000): Parenteau and the entire Leafs squad is in a good spot tonight against the defensively inept Ottawa Senators making their forwards a good target for fantasy. Parenteau is probably my favorite value play from the Leafs tonight though as he’s a part of their top 6 and gets a lot of time on the first unit power play as well. Parenteau has recorded points in two straight games and should be in a good spot to post a solid fantasy game here as the Sens not only give up a lot of goals but shots on net as well. Parenteau has a higher floor than usual tonight and makes for decent value.

Mika Zibanejad ($4600): Zibanejad has seen a bump in playing time recently with the injury to Kyle Turris, who is questionable to play tonight. Even if Turris plays I still like Zibanejad as a value play in a decent matchup with the Leafs. Toronto allows the fourth most shots on net in the league and in a heightened offensive role Zibanejad has been shooting the puck more regularly of late. I expect the Sens to come out with some emotion tonight after getting beaten down in their last game and won’t be shocked if their first line has a decent game. I like Zibanejad as a tournament play for his price.

Also check out: the Flames Jiri Hudler ($4000) and the Penguins Chris Kunitz ($4500)

Injuries

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

  • Kyle Turris is a Game Time decision for the Senators tonight
  • Jason Spezza is out tonight for the Stars
  • Evgeni Malkin is questionable tonight and day to day with a strained oblique

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