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 Favorites

  • The LA Kings are -260 favorites to beat the Devils
  • The Predators are -175 favorites to beat the Canucks
  • The Senators are -170 favorites to beat the Maple Leafs

Biggest Totals

  • The Maple Leafs and Senators have a total of 5.5 goals (and the over is slightly favored)
  • The Avalanche and Jets have a total of 5.5 goals (and the over is slightly favored)
  • The Islanders and Bruins have a total of 5.5 goals (and the over is slightly favored)


Goalies

Stud Goalies

Semyon Varlamov ($7900): He’s back! Varlamov is generally the most-streaky goalie in the league and the key always seems to be catching him at the right moment. After a pretty mediocre stretch of 8-10 games or so the Colorado net-minder has now allowed just one goal in his last two games and has stopped 74 of 75 shots on net in that span of time. I’m not one for waiting around on Varlamov and think that given Colorado’s precarious grip on the final playoff spot his recent hot play has a good chance of continuing tonight against a Jets team who is dealing with injures up front and can be hot and cold offensively even at the best of times. I’d consider using Varly tonight as a play in net and probably think twice before rostering too many Jets skaters.

Dud Goalies

Ondrej Pavelec ($6500) or Mike Hutchinson ($6600): On the flip side of the equation to the Jets-Avalanche game is the fact that this matchup has one of the highest game totals of the night. One big reason for that, at least in my mind, is the fact that the Jets have received mediocre goaltending at best for the past month or so. Regardless of which man starts in net for Winnipeg, the Jets goalies make for good targets most nights as both men are carrying GAA of close to or above 3.00. Ondrej Pavelec is the likely starter here but has now lost two games in a row and comes in having posted a save percentage of .871 or worse in four of his last six games. I like targeting Colorado players tonight in general and would avoid the Jets situation in net tonight at all costs.


Lineup Quick Hits

Hottest Lines

Mike Ribiero ($4100) – Craig Smith ($4800) – Filip Forsberg ($6600)

The Predators have been flying lately and one of the biggest reasons for that has been the play of this line. These three have been absolute hot fire of late scoring an incredible 28 points in their last six games, and have been the prime reason Nashville has pulled into clear 6th place in the West. Nashville as a team has now scored 3 or more goals in seven of its last eight and will be playing a Canucks team who has allowed some big games to opponents down the stretch, and now fallen to 23rd in goals allowed per game. These three have played together at even strength and on the power-play together and will be in line for another big correlation game against a weaker opponent tonight. If making multiple rosters tonight, I’d want at least some exposure to the undeniable hottest line in hockey at the moment. They’re all affordable and in a great matchup.

Defensive Thoughts

Shea Weber ($6200): On top of looking at the Predators top line as a play I’d also think about using one of their stud defensemen tonight for fantasy. While Roman Josi has been consistent all year lately Shea Weber has been the better value play as he’s outscored Josi in fantasy over their last five games, and been super consistent in getting his shot through and piling up a couple blocked shots every night. The Canucks don’t have a horrible penalty-kill but given how well Nashville has been playing of late I’m not sure it matters at this point and I’d expect Weber to have a good shot at a big game here. The BC native shouldn’t have trouble getting up for a game in his home province.

Jake Gardiner ($3800): I’ve been targeting Gardiner a lot lately as he’s seemingly been on of the best value plays on defense for the past couple of weeks. And while he hasn’t delivered any monster games the talented defenseman has points in four of his last six, including power-play assists in two straight games. Gardiner continues to be the most used Leaf defender on the blue line with the man advantage and against the Ottawa Senators, a team who struggles mightily on the penalty-kill, Gardiner seems like a great choice at under 4k. Target him for value on D tonight.

Superstar to Build Lineups Around

Connor McDavid ($7100): I already discussed McDavid a bit in the Line Stacking column but feel like he deserves a spot here too. On top of just being an otherworldly talent McDavid is coming in playing well and will be teamed with the Oilers other best forward tonight—Taylor Hall—in a dream matchup. The Coyotes don’t do anything well defensively and have been reduced to using their third string goalie on a nightly basis in net. The Oilers have been a lot better than people realize of late (won 5 of 7) and will be getting the Coyotes on the back end of back-to-back games. I think using McDavid at only $7100 is a no-brainer given how poorly the Coyotes defend and I love the fact McDavid is chasing down a rookie of the year award, despite missing half the season with injury. I’d use him as your backbone tonight in any roster as a massive game could develop here easily.

Value Options

Nikita Soshnikov ($3600): The Leafs season went down the tubes a while ago but a lone bright spot of late has been the emergence of Nikita Soshnikov who has joined the top line on Toronto after opening some eyes with his gritty and energetic play. The young Russian is now topping 15+ mins a night and gets a dream matchup with Ottawa who ranks near last in the league in most defensive categories as a team. Soshnikov will see time on the power-play and first line and makes for a great value pick because of it. At only $3600 I’d target him if you need a cheap winger on this slate.

Jean-Gabriel Pageau ($4100): With Kyle Turris out for the season Pageau has seen his role increase steadily with Ottawa to the point where he’s now a fixture on the top two lines and seeing consistent power-play time as well. With winger’s Mark Stone and Zach Smith on nice scoring streaks I think using Pageau as a cheap option at centre against the still inept Maple Leafs makes a lot of sense on this slate. There’s value on both sides of the ice in the Ottawa-Toronto matchup and at centre Pageau is one of, if not the best option on either team.

Also check out: The Leafs PA Parenteau ($4300) and the Senators Zach Smith ($4100)


Injuries

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

  • Jakub Voracek is questionable tonight for the Flyers
  • Oliver Ekman-Larsson is questionable tonight for the Coyotes
  • Henrik Sedin is questionable tonight for the Canucks but expected to return
  • Bryan Little is questionable tonight for the Jets

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