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 San Jose Sharks are -170 favorites to beat the Ottawa Senators.
Largest Totals: The Winnipeg Jets v the Colorado Avalanche has the highest probability of going over 5.5 goals according to odds makers
Brian Elliott ($7800): With Jake Allen going down with injury Brian Elliott has stepped up recently and played great hockey for the Blues. As a winner of three of his last four games Elliott has recorded an average save percentage of .927 in that span and just generally been a solid presence in net. With the Blues playing better recently and the Penguins struggling with consistency right now I’d definitely consider Elliott an interesting tournament target tonight in goal and probably consider the Penguins skaters a risky play, despite all the talent they possess.
Semyon Varlamov ($7600): Varlamov has indeed been streaky this year and has been hard to judge for fantasy. Lately though both him and the Avalanche have struggled. In his last four games Varlamov has allowed 3 or more goals in each start and only recorded a save percentage of over .900 once in that same span. The Avalanche take on the Jets tonight who have been hit or miss as an offense all season but still rank in the top half of the league in goals scored. Varlamov isn’t a goalie I’d target right now and think the Jets skaters might be an interesting target in a game that has the highest expected O/U on the slate.
Brian Little ($5700) – Blake Wheeler ($6800) – Andrew Ladd ($5200)
The Jets top three players got reunited recently with the injury to Drew Stafford and the trio didn’t take long to reconnect. As a line these three now have 9 points in their last two games and will once again be counted on to carry most of the offensive load for Winnipeg, who lack depth up front and are suffering in the health department at the moment. The Avalanche have lost three of their last four games and not been receiving very good goaltending of late which makes them a nice target tonight, especially for a line that has been rolling recently. I’d consider stacking this trio or at the very least using one or two of them in your lineups. They should see a ton of ice time and at home are in a good spot to take advantage of a weaker opponent.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson ($6100): the legend of Ekman-Larsson has been growing recently as he’s been tearing it up offensively for the Coyotes of late and been helping his team to some big wins. On top of scoring three times in his last 5 games, Larsson also has 7 points and 19 SOG in that same span—all while averaging over 25 minutes of play per night. The Coyotes take on the Sabres tonight, a team who has really struggled on the road this year and has one of the worst road penalty-killing percentages in the league. I love this spot for Larsson and think he’s a great target to aim for if you want to pay up for a player on defense.
Justin Schultz ($3700): the young Oilers defenseman came into the league with a bang a few years ago but has really disappointed ever since. Recently though, after a brief stint on the bench and with injuries, his play has picked up and he now has 2 goals, 4 points and 11 SOG in his last five games. More importantly for fantasy purposes is the fact that he’s been seeing a lot more ice time with Edmonton’s Power Play and leads all Oiler defenders in the last three games in terms of ice time with the man advantage. The Panthers haven’t been great at killing penalties when at home and so I’d definitely consider Schultz a good value target tonight, his improved play has made him a lot more productive recently.
Superstar to Build Lineups Around
Brent Burns ($8300): I’ll rarely if ever be featuring defenseman in this spot but then again Brent Burns isn’t your ordinary defenseman. Burns is averaging nearly a point per game on the season and gets a terrific matchup tonight versus the Ottawa Senators who have been pretty bad on the road this year and have the second worst penalty kill in the league overall. This is an important stat for Burns since he’s currently third in the league in power play points and gets a ton of opportunities every night with the man advantage. To top things off here Burns is also second in the league in SOG and the Senators have allowed the most SOG against per game in the entire league. I love paying up and making Burns a backbone of my rosters tonight as the possibility of a monster game is very high in this matchup.
Also think about: the Sharks Joe Pavelski who is in a good matchup and has been ultra consistent for fantasy all season
Patrik Berglund ($4000): Berglund recently returned to the lineup for the St. Louis Blues and, after a slow couple of games, has found his groove with 2 goals and 4 points in his last 4 games. The great thing about using Berglund isn’t just his price—which is super cheap—but the fact he’s getting a nice amount of playing time at even strength with the well-rounded David Backes, and also seeing time on the Blues top power play unit to boot. Berglund’s a steal right now at $4000 and I expect his production to continue as long as he’s getting these kinds of opportunities nightly.
Jussi Jokinen ($4700): Jokinen has been a nice secondary scoring option all year for the Panthers, who have gotten really good production all season from their secondary forwards. The Panthers face the Oilers tonight who have been awful on the road this year and allow a lot of SOG and goals against as a team. With Jokinen getting consistent time on the power play I think using him as a value option tonight makes sense and is a good way to get exposure to a good matchup.
Also check out: the Sabres Sam Reinhart ($3800) and the Panthers Vincent Trocheck ($4100).
This list isn’t meant to be comprehensive and will only update significant, more recent injuries
Jake Allen is out for the Blues
Drew Stafford is questionable for the Jets
Dustin Byfuglien is questionable for the Jets
As always hit me up on twitter as @thefantasygrind with lineup questions or other DFS questions GL!