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 Favorites

Biggest Favorite: The San Jose Sharks are -175 to beat the Avalanche

Largest Totals: The Sharks/Avalanche has the highest total on the slate at 5.5 goals


Stud Goalies

Roberto Luongo ($8200): Luongo and the Panthers have been rolling lately winning 6 in a row. Luongo has only let in more than 20 goals once in his last 7 starts and is sporting a save percentage over .925 and a GAA of 2.16 for the year. The Rangers offense has been entirely hit or miss all season and their power play particularly has been much less effective overall on the road. This game has a great shot at being a defensive struggle between two teams with great goalies. Luongo’s got a nice shot a win tonight and at the very least isn’t likely to let in more than 1 or 2 goals. He’s someone I’d avoid using skaters against.

Dud Goalies

Curtis McElhinney ($7200): The Blue Jackets have let in 3 or more goals in 4 straight games and just generally continue to be one of the easiest teams to score against in the entire league. McElhinney has done his best lately and posted back to back solid games, but continues to struggle with consistency. His season long numbers for save percentage and GAA are at or near the bottom of the league for starters, and the Blue Jackets penalty kill is still near the bottom of the league as well. On top of everything he’ll be going against one of the hottest/best teams in hockey tonight in the Washington Capitals, who sport one of the most dynamic power plays in the league and should be licking their chops for this matchup. For all these reasons I’d definitely try and get some exposure to Washington skaters tonight and avoid using McElhinney at all costs.


Hottest Lines

Tyler Seguin ($8700) – Jamie Benn ($8600) – Patrick Sharp ($6800)

This line was reunited recently and has been netting goals left and right ever since. The Trio now has 12 points in their last three games which includes 7 goals. Rostering this line price wise is always tough but the rate they score at makes them worth it, or close to worth it every night. The Stars power play has sputtered a bit recently but still rank as the fourth best in the league. With a normal teams top line, I might avoid the matchup with the Devils tonight who generally are good at limiting shots against and special teams production, however this trio is certainly capable of scoring against anyone and could be asked to carry even more of the load tonight if the Devils shutdown the Stars other three lines. Regardless, this line is one of the best in hockey right now when they’re together and they should play a ton of minutes in this contest together tonight.


Defensive Options

Kris Letang ($5800): There’s a couple other interesting options near the top of player pool at defense tonight but right now the best value is looking like Kris Letang. Letang returned from injury recently and the Pittsburgh offense looked like it really benefitted from his return in its last contest. The matchup tonight doesn’t look particularly great as the Isles have great special teams and could limit Letang’s power play potential. Still, the Isles will be on the road here and I think playing Letang and hoping the Penguins offense keeps rolling here isn’t a bad play. Ultimately if you roster Letang you’ll be getting one of the most offensively gifted D-men in the league at a significantly reduced price which I think makes him a great play.

Dmitry Kulikov ($3300): Kulikov is pretty much everything you look for in a cheap value play at defense. He’s averaging well over 20 mins of play a night and getting ice time in every situation, including seeing over 40% of the ice on the power play at the point. While the point production hasn’t been there this season Kulikov’s been pretty solid since returning from injury and could be headed for a small breakout soon on a pretty hot Panthers team. At his price he’s got the opportunity to net you scoring in all four categories and gets that important first team power play time which could mean a goal or an assist on any night as well. I like using him if you need to save money at defense.


TONIGHT’S FIRST STAR…

Joe Pavelski ($7500): The Sharks have been feeling it offensively of late and now scored 3 or more goals in 4 straight games. Centre Joe Pavelski has been on a tear during this time as he’s now up to 5 goals in his last 4 games. The Sharks centre is really the backbone of the entire San Jose offense and will be out there in pretty much every important offensive situation for his team. Tonight Pavelski plays against a very up and down Jets team who is 5th last in killing penalties. The Sharks power play is one of the best in the league and Pavelski is a major reason why, scoring three PPG in his last three games. Expect Pavelski’s strong special teams play to continue here and make him the focus of your rosters tonight.

VALUE OPTIONS

Joe Thornton ($4900): Thornton has been playing well recently and been a big part of the Sharks recent increase in offensive output. At $4700 you’re getting a player who will be playing almost the entire night with one of the hottest players in hockey in Joe Pavelski. The Sharks are in a good position to put up some goals tonight against the weaker penalty kill of the Jets and getting a mainstay of their first unit PP at only $4900 is a great bargain.

John Mitchell ($3200): Mitchell has been bumped up to the first line recently in Colorado and will be playing between Gabriel Landeskog and Matt Duchene, two highly skilled forwards. Mitchell doesn’t get a huge amount of PP time but he’s still benefitted from the promotion by getting three points in his last four games. I like the increase in playing time Mitchell has received and the fact he’ll have a chance to play a prominent offense role at even strength. He’ great value at $3200.

Mike Ribeiro ($3600): Ribeiro had a slow start to the season but has been bumped back up the top 6 recently for Nashville and will play on a line with sniper Filip Forsberg tonight against the weak Hurricanes. Ribeiro is on a tear recently and now has 9 points in his last 6 games. He’s not a huge goal scorer but he’s a great setup man and at $3600 will see some power play time in this game as well. He’s great value on tonight’s slate.


INJURIES

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

Valarie Nichushkin is day to day for Dallas
Zach Parise is day to day for the Wild and a game time decision
John Carlson is day to day for the Capitals
Vladamir Tarasenko is day to day with an illness for the Blues

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