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
Biggest Favorite: The Red Wings are -140 favorites to beat the Sabres
Largest Totals: The Colorado Avalanche and the St. Louis Blues have the best chance of going over 5.5 goals tonight according to odds makers.
Petr Mrazek ($7600): Mrazek has been sensational this year for Detroit and now sports a gaudy .931 save percentage and a GAA of barely more than 2. Mrazek has allowed 2 or less goals in six straight games and posted save percentages of .900 or better in seven straight. The Wings haven’t been a dominant team this year but their goaltending has allowed them to keep pace with the leaders in the Eastern conference. With Buffalo really struggling of late I see this as a nice spot for the Wings to get a road win that should bolster Mrazek’s fantasy total tonight. I would not want to be sending out skaters against him for the moment as he’s simply playing too well.
Craig Anderson or Andrew Hammond (Senators): The Sens have really been terrible defensively this year and part of the reason for them being at the bottom of many defensive categories is the play of their goaltenders. Both Anderson and Hammond have been incredibly streaky thus far in 2015-16 and even though they’re capable of posting big games they’re still not a tandem I would want much exposure to many nights. The Islanders haven’t been an offensive power house this year but they still have some incredibly talented players on the roster and some good value plays I would target tonight against whoever starts for Ottawa. This is a good matchup for opposing skaters and a duo I wouldn’t touch for the goalie position.
Artem Anisimov ($4800) – Artemi Panarin ($6200) – Patrick Kane ($9100)
There’s not much debating this pick right now as the scoring line of the Blackhawks is once again on fire and tearing up the league on a nightly basis. Patrick Kane alone has 9 points in his last four games while centre Artem Anisimov has scored in two straight. The matchup with Florida doesn’t appear great on paper but the Panthers are really reeling right now and look like they might be in over their heads here against the seemingly unstoppable Blackhawks. Targeting at least one of these players tonight is probably a good idea and while Kane is expensive both Pararin and Anisimov are still good value for their production. Expect the good times to keep rolling tonight.
Top Upside at Defense
Kevin Shattenkirk ($6600): There’s not a ton of depth at defense tonight but the Blues certainly have a nice matchup with the Avalanche in what is projected to be the highest scoring game of the night. Kevin Shattenkirk is still the main point man on the power play for the Blues and against the Avalanche, who are only 20th in penalty killing at home, this presents a decent opportunity for a multi-point game. Shattenkirk is quite a bit cheaper than Erik Karlsson tonight but offers similar upside in my estimation given their respective matchups. He’s my choice if paying up at the thin position of defense on this slate.
Brian Campbell ($3300): Campbell isn’t the offensive force he has been in past years but with the injury to Aaron Ekblad he’s seen his playing time rise significantly of late. Campbell has been seeing regular Power Play time recently and should be motivated taking on his former team. While you could also consider the Panthers Dimitri Kulikov as a value play for many of the same reasons, I like the offensive upside with Campbell a little more and think he’s the one I’d roll with if choosing between these two. The matchup isn’t great but the value is as Campbell is now the best offensive option on the back end for Florida.
Superstar to Build Lineups Around
Vladimir Tarasenko ($7800): Tarasenko is in a nice spot tonight against the Avalanche, who give up the 6th most shots on net as a team every night and also have one of the weaker home penalty killing units (mentioned above). Both of these stats are good news for a player who currently sits 7th in SOG and is generally the cornerstone of his team’s power play. Tarasenko only has one goal in his last 7 games but is still on pace for a big year scoring and point wise (25g, 21a through 48 games). I like this matchup for him with the very up and down Avalanche (who are capable of getting blown out any night) and think value wise he’s the best superstar to build around tonight.
Jori Lehtera ($3700): Lehtera has finally starting producing a little bit of late and it’s not a shock that his recently surge came with being reunited with the above-mentioned Tarasenko. Lehtera’s a nice young player who disappointed the first half of the season but is getting a chance to be an offensive leader for the Blues again and producing with them. I’d take advantage while his price is still low as the reunion with Tarasenko might not keep it down for long.
Ryan Strome ($4000): Strome is getting another chance on the top line for the Isles and looks like he might finally be starting to figure things out, as he’s now recorded two goals in his last three games and has 11 SOG as well through that span. I love the matchup for the Isles skill players tonight as Ottawa is one of the worst defensive teams in the league and sports a pretty ineffective penalty kill. Expect Strome to see lots of quality ice time and to possible be one of the best value plays of the night. He’s a great salary saver on this slate.
Also check out: the Isles Mikhail Grabovski
**This list isn’t meant to be comprehensive and will only update significant, more recent injuries
Sam Reinhart is day to day for the Sabres and questionable for tonight
Cam Ward is out for Carolina with a concussion
Thomas Tatar is questionable tonight for Detroit (illness), as is Nik Kronwall
Aaron Ekblad is questionable and likely out tonight for the Panthers
Kyle Turris is questionable for the Senators
As always hit me up on twitter as @thefantasygrind with lineup questions or other DFS questions!