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 and Biggest Favorite

Biggest Favorite: Blackhawks are -225 favorites over the Sabres

Largest Totals: Preds v Avalanche and the Oilers v Lightning both are at 5.5 goals for the O/U

Stud Goalies

Cory Schneider ($7900): I love consistent goalies for fantasy and Schneider has been his usual consistently great self almost all season. In his last 4 games he’s been even stingier than usual allowing only five goals in that span and posting an average save percentage of over .950. Boston’s offense has been great this year and their power-play has been especially prolific, but Schneider isn’t a goalie I typically mess with for fantasy. While he isn’t a lock to get a win, consider that for tournament play he also might have to stop a ton of shots tonight too, which gives him a lot of upside. Either way I’d limit my Bruin exposure here and won’t be shocked if Schneider ends up as the play of the night in net.

Dud Goalies

Chad Johnson or Linus Ulmark ($6700): This is more of a matchup choice, especially if Chad Johnson starts as he hasn’t been terrible for the Sabres. Buffalo takes on the Blackhawks tonight and it’s very simply a tale of two teams headed in completely opposite directions. The Sabres started the season well but have succumbed to their lack of talent in certain spots lately and now lost 5 in a row… meanwhile the defending Cup champs are rolling with 5 straight wins. Ulmark has been very inconsistent this season and while Johnson has been better, he’s still not the goalie I’d trust to break this slump and beat this rolling, beefed up Blackhawks team. Avoid whoever starts in net for Buffalo and get some exposure to Chicago’s offense.

Hottest Lines

Artem Anisimov ($4700) – Patrick Kane ($8900) – Artemi Panarin ($5900)

This line is at it again. The Blackhawks talented scoring trio now has 21 points in their last 5 games and is seemingly getting a ton of open ice every night against opponents. The pair of Kane and Panarin have been especially brilliant scoring 7 goals between them in that span and will see a ton of ice time together in power play, four on four and any possible overtime situation. The Hawks shouldn’t need OT tonight though as they take on the struggling Sabres and this matchup presents a possibility for a huge night for every member of this trio. Buffalo now ranks as the 5th worst special team’s unit in killing penalties and given this line’s ability with the man advantage I won’t be shocked if you see another multi point game in this spot. I’d get some exposure if possible.

Top Upside at Defense

Tyson Barrie ($5300): Even though he splits a lot of the power play time with the big shooting Francois Beauchemin, Barrie is still the Avalanche’s most mobile and skilled defenseman and has been coming on offensively lately with 5 points and 9 SOG in his last two games. The Preds used to be a bad matchup for fantasy purposes but aren’t necessarily anymore, especially with their special teams being so bad (second worst penalty kill in the league). There isn’t a ton of upper tier defenseman I like on this slate, but Barrie is definitely someone I’d pay up for tonight. I think riding his surge in this matchup makes sense.

Jack Johnson ($3900): Johnson has always shown some flashes of offensive skill since he came into the league and in Columbus he still sees consistent power play time. At under 4k I think Johnson makes for a great value choice simply because he plays so much and isn’t afraid to fire the puck on net, making him a valuable source of SOG and blocked shots as well. With Carolina having a weaker penalty kill I think using Johnson here is a good idea and a good way to get a pretty consistent option at D for cheap.

Superstar to Build Lineups Around

Steven Stamkos ($7600): Since I already mentioned Patrick Kane in the best line section I thought I’d move to a more affordable option here. Steven Stamkos is still behind most people’s point expectations for him on the season (30 points in 40 games) but he’s been playing a bit better of late and the Lightning as a whole are getting healthier. The Lightning face the Oilers tonight and while the young team is coming off a couple nice wins they’re still not exactly a team you fear for fantasy purposes. The Oilers give up the fourth most shots on net per game and with the added offensive depth on Tampa, Stamkos could see a tad more open ice in this game. I like him as a target, especially if you’re looking for another high upside option that’s cheaper than Kane.

Value Plays

Valtteri Filppula ($3600): Since moving into a top 6 centre role for Tampa, Filppula has 5 points in four games and has been getting a lot more offensive opportunities. I just mentioned the Oilers as a great fantasy target and given that Filppula will be beside the great Stamkos most of the night I see him as a great value target and someone you can use for cash game purposes or tournaments if you need savings, definitely one of the best values of the night.

Brandon Dubinsky ($4100): Ryan Johansen has been traded from Columbus to the Preds and so that leaves Columbus very thin at centre. Brandon Dubinsky is arguably their best option right now and that will mean increased minutes and increased offensive opportunity as well. The matchup tonight is good versus the Hurricanes meaning this might be a spot where he really excels in his new role. I love the price and think he’s got a nice floor and some potential for a big night too.

Also check out: Alex Wennberg (CBJ) and Lee Stempniak (NJ)

Injuries

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

Erik Johnson is day to day for Colorado

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