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

Biggest Favorite: The Boston Bruins are -180 favorites over the Maple Leafs.

Largest Totals: The Avalanche and the Blue Jackets have the greatest chance of going over 5.5 goals according to odds makers.

Stud Goalies

Braden Holtby ($8600): There’s little doubt who the “sure thing” is on tonight’s slate for goalies. Braden Holtby has been unreal for the Capitals this season and now has a save percentage of over .930 and a GAA under 2. On top of being the goalie for one of the most talented teams in the league, making him a great bet to get you a W every night, Holtby is also capable of stopping a ton of shots and nabbing you a SO whenever he takes the ice as well. The young Sabres have found goals hard to come by recently and are now losers of 7 of their last 9 games. I’d truly avoid rostering any of them tonight and think about fitting in Holtby if you can. There’s no such thing as a lock in DFS but he’s one of the most consistent options out there.

Dud Goalies

Joonas Korpisalo ($6300): The Blue Jackets are still reeling from the loss of Sergei Bobrovsky although he may return soon. The rookie Joonas Korpisalo will get the start in tonight’s game however and while he may be coming off his best performance (a 40 save win over Toronto) he gets a tougher opponent tonight in the talented Avalanche. Colorado can score in bunches and has the 6th most goals per game in the entire league. Meanwhile, outside of his one good game, Korpisalo has looked ordinary allowing 4 or more goals in each of his last three games before the Maple Leafs win. Colorado skaters should have good upside tonight.

Hottest Lines

Evgeny Kuznetsov ($6300) – Andre Burakovsky ($3100) – Justin Williams ($4800)

The Capitals as a team have been great lately and one of the biggest reasons for their recent surge is the play of their second line. Evgeny Kuznetsov has continued to produce all season despite not being the top line centre and his level of play has finally started to make his line mates consistent fantasy targets. The young but talented Andre Burakovsky now has four points in his last three games and could see his minute’s creep up now with his recent good play. Justin Williams, who is only $4800, has also scored twice and recorded four points in his last three games, he looks to be settling into a consistent role in this offense too and sees consistent time on the Power Play. On top of just playing well of late this line gets a great matchup with the Sabres who will likely be focused on stopping the Capitals powerhouse first line, making a big night possible for them here. I’d target these three for value purposes on tonight’s slate.

Defensive Thoughts

Tyson Barrie ($5500): I’ve already mentioned I am a fan of targeting the Avalanche tonight and one way to get good exposure to their Power Play is through Tyson Barrie. Barrie is the Avs best offensive threat on D and has been productive lately, scoring an average of 4.6 fantasy points over his last 8 games. It’s also encouraging that he has multiple SOG in 5 of those 8 games as well. Barrie shares the point time on the PP with Francois Beauchemin many nights but is still seeing plenty of ice time overall (good for blocked shots) and is more of an offensive threat at even strength than most defensemen. Barrie and the Avs have a great matchup tonight and I like targeting him if paying up on D. He’s expensive but won’t break the bank completely.

Dmitry Orlov ($3300): Orlov has seen more ice time of late with the injury to the Caps best defenseman in John Carlson. On top of just getting a general bump in ice time Orlov is also seeing time as the second defenseman out on the power play—a role which greatly increases his chance of getting you a goal or cheap assist—given how good Washington is in special teams. With the Caps playing so well and taking on a struggling Sabres team (who struggles on the penalty kill) I think targeting Orlov as a source of savings on defense is a decent idea.

Superstar to Build Lineups Around

Nathan McKinnon ($7100): With the Blue Jackets struggling mightily of late and still down their top two goalies, targeting the Avalanche in this matchup seems like a great idea. People often forget about McKinnon since he’s mixed in with a group of talented forwards in Colorado, but he truly is one of the best young players in the game. With the Blue Jackets now last in the league in goals against, allowing 3.2 per game, I think using McKinnon as a cornerstone tonight makes sense as he’s certainly capable of a breakout against a team who lacks depth at centre and might have trouble shutting down the size and skill he brings every night. There’s a lot of higher end options to turn to on this slate but the value and upside with Nate the great makes him a great play in my mind.

Also think about: the Sharks Joe Pavelski who is in a good matchup and has been ultra consistent for fantasy all season

Best Value Plays

Ryan Spooner ($4600): Filling in for the injured David Krejci, Spooner has been all kinds 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 decent matchup tonight against a Leafs team who has really struggled in all facets of the game lately and is getting suspect goaltending at the moment. I really like him as a value play tonight and until Krecji returns for the Bruins.

Alex Wennberg ($3700): With the trade of Ryan Johansen the Blue Jackets have been relying more and more on Alex Wennberg at centre, to the point where he’s now a fixture at that position for Columbus in their top 6 and on the power play. Wennberg’s price remains low but he’s getting such quality ice-time with good offensive wingers in Brandon Saad and Scott Hartnell, that he’s produced well above his salary recently and should continue to do so in the near future. He has a nice matchup in a projected high scoring game and is a nice safe value play.

Kevin Fiala ($2500): Fiala is a former number one draft pick by the Preds who got called up recently and scored in his first game out. Fiala has instant fantasy value because he’s getting to play with James Neal and Ryan Johansen. He played over 17 minutes in his first game (quite a bit for a forward) and should see consistent ice time for the near future.

Also check out: the Capitals Andre Burakovsky ($3100) and Justin Williams ($4800) as mentioned in the hottest lines section:

Injuries

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

  • David Krejci is out for the Bruins
  • James van Riemsdyk is questionable for the Leafs
  • David Savard is questionable for the Blue Jackets
  • David Pastrnak is out for the Bruins
  • Colin Wilson is out for the Predators

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