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 Lines
A) Biggest Favorite: The Rangers are -170 favorites to beat the New Jersey Devils
B) Largest Totals: The Lightning and the Senators are the only game on the slate with an Over/Under of 5.5
Petr Mrazek ($7800): The Red Wings will be playing the Panthers tonight which is a tough matchup, especially given the fact the Panthers put up 6 goals the last time these two teams met a couple nights ago. However, Mrazek wasn’t in net for that game but should be tonight. The young goalie has been terrific all season, posting save percentages of .900 or better in nine of his last ten games while also driving his GAA down to 2.03 for the season. The Panthers are a tough matchup for any team right now but I’m not sure how many skaters I’d want to roster against Mrazek at the moment, especially since he’ll be playing at home and in front of a likely angry Red Wings team. He’s a goalie to consider in tournaments and should be low owned as most people will choose to avoid him due to the matchup.
Marc-Andre Fleury ($8000): Even though the Penguins as a team have played better of late Fleury himself has gone through some struggles. Outside of one shutout, he’s allowed three or more goals in four of his last five games and was pulled from his last start halfway through after surrounding four fairly ugly goals in a short span. I don’t doubt Fleury’s ability to bounce back but he has a tough matchup tonight against the Ducks who have won six games in a row and scored three or more goals in all six of those games. Fleury is someone I’d likely avoid rostering on his own tonight but would definitely consider using the Ducks skaters against him. Anaheim is a tough matchup for any goalie right now, let alone one in a slump like Fleury.
Sidney Crosby ($7900) – Patric Hornqvist ($6700) – Chris Kunitz ($4500)
The Penguins have been on a nice run lately and their top line and top player has been producing some huge games for fantasy. Sidney Crosby has been on an absolute tear lately and he’s been dragging some pretty nice fantasy games out of his wingers. Chris Kunitz and Patrick Hornqvist both have three points in their last three games and are getting consistent time on the Power Play. While Kunitz is by far the better value it is Hornqvist who might see a little more regular time on the PP with Sid giving him a little higher upside for fantasy. This line is great as a stack right now and getting some exposure to it on a short slate is probably a decent idea. Crosby is simply on a tear and the Penguins have been scoring at a much better clip of late, compared to their first 30-40 games. Even in a tough matchup against the surging Ducks this line makes for a good stack although it should be popular in tournaments.
Top Upside at Defense
Victor Hedman ($6000): Hedman has been heating up lately and seeing more regular time on the power-play for the Lightning. The big D-man doesn’t score a ton but he does play lots and with his added power-play time will be in a great spot for a big game against the defensively deficient Ottawa Senators. Hedman is one of the most consistent plays in DFS as far as defensemen go because he’s strong at blocking shots and has the skills to put up multiple assists in the right matchup. The Lightning have been playing much more solid of late and they’ll have a good chance at putting up 3 or more goals against the Sens. I like Hedman for fantasy as a play tonight if you’re paying up for D.
David Schlemko ($3500): Schlemko isn’t the most offensively talented defenseman you’ll find but he’s been manning the point for the Devils consistently for most of the year and has seen over 50% of the time on the power-play for them over the teams last three games. Even better for fantasy purposes is the fact that Schlemko has now seen over 20 minutes of ice time overall in his last six games, which gives him a much better shot at getting those valuable blocked shots and SOG points. The matchup isn’t great but the price is right and on a short slate if you’re going “dumpster diving” at defense Schlemko is likely the player I’d target tonight.
Superstars to Build Lineups Around
Sidney Crosby ($7900): 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. I’d definitely consider him as a backbone tonight and keep riding this heater.
Steven Stamkos ($7000): If you’re looking to go in a slightly different direction tonight at forward then Stamkos makes a lot of sense. The truth is Stamkos has been a slight disappointment for fantasy this year but gets an awesome matchup against the Senators tonight. Even though he hasn’t scored in four games he’s still seeing plenty of power-play time and will have a shot at breaking out against the league’s worst penalty kill and the team who has given up the most goals against per game in the entire league. I like him as a tournament play and someone you could swerve to if looking to avoid the popular Crosby.
Alex Killorn ($3900): Killorn has been riding shotgun on the Lightning’s scoring line alongside Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov lately. While he may not be in the same class offensively as those two he is producing decent numbers and seeing a lot of time on the power-play as well. Killorn and the Lightning take on the Senators tonight in the game with the highest projected total on the slate. His increased offensive role makes him great value and someone to target if you need to go cheap at wing.
J.T. Miller ($4500): Miller has been playing a bigger part in the Rangers offense of late and is now up to 7 goals scored in his last 7 games. He’s been playing great lately on a line with Derrick Brassard and given the Rangers some real depth on offense. While the matchup with the Devils isn’t spectacular (the game has a low O/U), I’d still consider Miller as a value play, especially since the Rangers Rick Nash is questionable—which might mean more playing time for him. He’s played extremely well recently and has proven to have consistent big game upside of late.
Also check out: The Rangers Chris Kreider and Jesper Fast (if Rick Nash is out) and the Ducks Rickard Rakell.
This list isn’t meant to be comprehensive and will only update significant, more recent injuries
- Rick Nash is a game time decision and questionable tonight for the Rangers
- Evgeni Malkin is out 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!