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 LA Kings are -180 to beat the Red Wings
Largest Totals: The Sharks v. the Flames is the only game on the slate with an O/U of 5.5 goals
Roberto Luongo ($8200): You could make a case that Luongo on the road versus his old team is a narrative play but the truth is Luongo is simply playing great and needs to be avoided in terms of skaters in fantasy. Luongo has won 9 games in a row and is near the lead in pretty much every goaltending category in the league at the moment. Outside of Luongo’s great play the Panthers as a team have been spectacular lately too and rank first in the league in terms of goals against and are top ten as a unit in killing penalties. Luongo’s by far the best goalie option on the slate tonight—although he is expensive—and is someone you would not want many of your players going up against tonight.
Karri Ramo ($7300): This pick isn’t so much about Ramo’s recent play as he’s actually been pretty good lately allowing just three goals in his last three games and upping his season long save percentage to .914. The problem with using him tonight is the fact he hasn’t been getting much if any goal support lately and he has a tough matchup with the Sharks who rank in the top half of the league in goals scored and have a top ten power play unit as well. Ramo might be at home tonight but I still don’t like the matchup and would be fine using the Sharks players against him, the Sharks as a team put up 7 goals in their last game and come in red hot.
Alex Barkov ($5800) – Jonathan Huberdeau ($5500) – Jaromir Jagr ($5800)
The Florida Panthers are absolutely rolling right now and are winners of 11 in a row. While the Panthers have relied on depth and great goaltending to put together their amazing streak the play of their top line has been a big factor in allowing them to reach such lofty heights. This line now has 11 points between them in their last 3 games and been a real force offensively of late. While Alexander Barkov had a semi slow start to the year he’s been simmering since his return from injury and is a great compliment to flashy winger Jonathan Huberdeau who has really picked up his offensive production recently as well. Both young players benefit from playing with one of the most cerebral players in the game in Jaromir Jagr and I expect the good times to keep rolling for this team versus the outgunned Canucks. Getting some exposure to this hot line on a short slate isn’t a bad idea.
Top Upside at Defense
Torey Krug ($6000): Krug isn’t your typical high end defensive target simply because he’s more of a power play specialist than a full time top 2 pairing stud, but in good matchups he’s always a solid option to get you multiple points. The Bruins power play has been the best in the league thus far in the 2015-16 season and Krug is a huge part of that unit playing the most of any D-man on their team. Also, he is almost always seeing time with the Bruins main group of offensive forwards. Tonight the Bruins take on the Rangers tonight who have been having trouble defensively lately and rank in the middle of the pack in terms of goals against and penalty killing. I like Krug again tonight and on the short slate think he’s good value in this matchup.
Dmitry Kulikov ($3400): Until his price goes up significantly Kulikov makes for a great nightly value target on D. He’s not exactly ripping up the point sheet every night but at only $3400 you are getting a great young defenseman who plays over 50% of the time on the Florida powerplay and in general plays over 20 mins a night. Kulikov’s ice time lets him garner you points in blocked shots many nights and he now has 5 in his last two games. He’s a consistent value choice who can surprise every now and then with a big game.
Superstar to Build Lineups Around
Patrice Bergeron ($7400): There’s a couple top centres in play tonight but Bergeron for me is probably the one I’d really want some exposure to. The Bruins are without their other top centre in David Krecji which means that Bergeron is now being counted on even more by the Bruins and is the main centre piece of their first line and power play. Known for his defensive play Bergeron has been a near point per game player this season and also been a big factor in turning the Bruins power play into the best unit in the league. The Rangers have struggled defensively recently and I like Bergeron and his big minutes tonight for fantasy. Make him a centrepiece of your lineups.
Bo Horvat ($3300): Horvat is best known as the player the Canucks got back for Cory Schneider when they traded him to the Devils. He’s been in charge of their second line for most of the year but only recently has he really started producing. With the Canucks in desperate need of secondary scoring and Horvat and his linemates seeing the opposing team’s weaker lines most nights. I think continuing to use him as a value play makes sense even in tough matchups. His small salary makes him a great way to fit in more big time players.
Ryan Spooner ($4600): Spooner is now riding a four game point streak where he’s produced 6 points in that span. Filling in for the injured David Krejci, Spooner has been all kind of effective as Boston’s second line centre. At $4600 you’re getting a player who now plays in a pivotal top 6 role at even strength, plays on the top power play unit, and gets a great matchup tonight against a Ranger team who really hasn’t been great on the penalty kill of late. I really like him as a value play until Krecji returns for the Bruins.
Also check out: Brandon Pirri and Nick Bjugstad of the Florida Panthers
**This list isn’t meant to be comprehensive and will only update significant, more recent injuries
David Krejci is out for the Bruins
As always hit me up on twitter as @thefantasygrind with lineup questions or other DFS questions!