The NHL Cheat Sheet is your quick-hit daily look into odds, fantasy studs, value picks, and more to help you navigate your DFS Hockey lineups.
Highest Vegas Totals
– St. Louis Blues vs. Detroit Red Wings – 5
– Buffalo Sabres vs. Colorado Avalanche – 5
– Minnesota Wild vs. Anaheim Ducks – 5
John Gibson ($6,900): I was between Gibson and Varlamov but $6,900 for a top starting goaltender? Sign me up. Gibson is my top goalie of the night despite playing for the Ducks who have struggled mightily this season. Gibson was called up in late November and has been nothing short of fantastic for Anaheim. You have to look past his 9-7-2 record and look at his main stats. When you do that you see that he is first in the league witha1.90 GAA and sits just outside the top-10 in SV% with a .923 mark. He has maintained top-tier numbers even with allowing three goals against in three of his last four games, but he’s looked solid and is due for a solid outing. The Ducks welcome the Wild tonight and at home this season Gibson has posted a 1.97 GAA and a .923 SV% with two of his four shutouts. Minnesota is struggling badly at the moment offensively having been shutout in consecutive games and scoring more than two goals in a game only twice this month.
Top Line of the Night
Nathan MacKinnon ($7,000) – Matt Duchene ($6,700) – Alex Tanguay ($3,700)
The Avs top line is my top line of the evening and it’s easy to see why with the way MacKinnon and Duchene have played together this season. Despite their struggles as of late these two are capable of being dynamic, top of the league players and both are sitting inside the top-25 in scoring. MacKinnon has been held in check the last two games even though he has added six SOG. Duchene likewise has also been held off the scoresheet in his last two while adding 11 SOG of his own in that span. Both have an excellent matchup against the Sabres tonight, a team each has had success against in their young careers. Mack has four points in three games against Buffalo and Duchene has added nine points in eight career meetings. Tanguay, the seasoned vet of the group, added an assist on Jerome Iginla’s PP goal on Monday night against the Jets and now has points in two of his last three games. This offense, and this line in particular, can get hot quickly and put up points in droves and currently rank 7th in the league in scoring and face the Sabres scoring defense which ranks in the bottom-half of the league.
Top Upside at Defense
Rasmus Ristolainen ($6,000): Ristolainen continues to have a great season for the Sabres despite their struggles overall. He is quickly becoming one of the best, young puck-moving blueliners in the NHL. He’s second on the Sabres in points with 31, 14 PPP and leads the team with 23 assists. Risto has points in two straight games and four of his last five overall. He’s coming off a two assist game against the Coyotes on Monday night and has eight SOG in this five-game stretch. He has a tough, but gettable matchup tonight against the Avs on the road, and away from home this year he has put up 18 of his 31 points.
Shea Theodore ($3,000): I wrote about Theodore a few weeks ago and it took him some time to settle in at the NHL level but he is beginning to find his groove. The Ducks former first-rounder has points in three straight games after going scoreless in his first seven. He had a goal against Ottawa last week and then followed that up with an assist in each of his next two games against Dallas and LA while adding three shots and four blocks. On a night this limited having someone like Theodore in your lineup at his price is a huge value buy.
Superstar to Build Lineups Around
Vladimir Tarasenko ($7,800): Tarasenko continues to be one of the best pure snipers in the league and is the superstar to build around tonight. The young Russian currently sits in a tie for fourth in the league with 25 goals and is sixth overall in scoring with 46 points. He’s on pace to crack his 37-36-73 stat line from last season and if he sees a bump in production, could break the 80-point plateau. His scoring has stayed consistent with seven points over his last nine games with 30 SOG in that time span. He sits sixth in the league in SOG on the season with 172 but his 14.5 shooting% is one of the best in the league among qualifying players, and among players with more than 150 SOG this season he ranks second to only Patrick Kane. The Blues travel to face the Red Wings tonight and on the road this season Tarasenko has been a point per game player with 22 points in as many road games. On top of that he has always been able to get to the Red Wings on the scoresheet with seven points in eight career meetings. Roll Tarasenko as your top skater tonight.
David Perron ($4,100): After his trade to the Ducks Perron has found himself saddled on the second line with Ryan Kesler and Jakob Silfverberg. In his first game with Anaheim Perron notched his first goal since December 1. He added three SOG in his debut with Anaheim and should continue to see plenty of time in the Ducks top-six forward rotation with their offensive struggles this season.
Robby Fabbri ($3,000): Fabbri finds himself skating on a line with Jori Lehtera and one of the best players in the league Vladimir Tarasenko. He has points in three of his last four games giving him 18 on the season. He has points in back-to-back games with a multi-point game against the Canadiens on Saturday and followed that up with an assist against Pittsburgh on Monday night. It’s doubtful that he will keep this offensive form going for long, but while he is seeing such prime placement in the Blues lineup you should ride the value.
Sami Vatanen ($5,000) Vatanen is battling flu-like symptoms and the Ducks are not sure if he will be available for their game tonight against Minnesota. It’s a heavy loss for the Ducks, who are already thin on the back-end, missing Vatanen from the lineup as he’s currently the third-leading scorer on the team and leads all their defensemen with 22 points.
Niklas Kronwall ($3,400) Kronwall, the Red Wings leading scorer from the blueline, underwent a knee scope and will be out for a timetable of 2-4 weeks. The Wings are thin on the backend as well so look for Mike Green to have a larger role in their offense going forward trying to fill the void of not having Kronwall and his almost 23 minutes of TOI per night.