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
The Capitals are -170 favorites to beat the Predators
The Avalanche v the Flames has the highest chance of going over 5.5 goals tonight
Semyon Varlamov ($8,100): Varlamov has posted a save percentage of .900 or better in each of his last four games and looks to be in the middle of one of his patented hot stretches. With Colorado in the middle of a playoff hunt and fighting for the final spot, the Avalanche obviously need Varlamov to continue his good play, and there’s no reason to think he won’t here. He’s allowed one goal or less in three of his last four starts and gets a fairly thin Flames team, who has played well recently but isn’t exactly the deepest offensive team in the league either. I’d be fine rolling Varlamov in net tonight and think he’s in a good spot to post a big game and the win. The game total for this matchup is big, but it wouldn’t stop me from using him in goal.
Jacob Markstrom ($6,700): After a decent mid-season run, Markstrom has been ordinary for the rest of the season and has seen his GAA rise to 2.65 for the year. The Canucks have hovered around mediocre to disappointing as a team and are coming off of two straight losses to face an Oilers team tonight who have really picked up their play of late. I would not hesitate to target Oilers skaters against Markstrom here and think as a group, they have some of the best upside of the night. I’d look elsewhere for tournament plays in net, as well and don’t think paying down for Markstrom is worth the risk given his level of play and the matchup. The Oilers may seem like a weak target, but truthfully, they’re taking on an opponent who might be worse off than they are.
This line has had a few big nights recently, including a hat trick put up by James Neal against the Oilers a couple nights ago. The Preds have been rolling two pretty balanced offensive lines lately, and it has been working, as both lines have produced nicely for them. This trio definitely has a little more talent, though with Johansen and Neal paired together, a duo you can get at a very affordable price, and I don’t mind targeting two or all three of these players tonight. Even though the matchup doesn’t look great, Washington has been a little shaky of late, and the Predators have a lot more to play for in the standings as they jockey for home ice. The Predators have one of the most underrated power-plays in the league, as well, and all three men will see time with the man advantage. Don’t be shocked if this line continues its roll and surprises the Caps in what should be a decent showdown of strong teams.
Top Upside at Defense
Rasmus Ristolainen ($5,900): You could arguably target either of Ottawa’s or Buffalo’s top defensemen tonight and probably not go wrong, but given the savings you’re getting with Ristolainen, I do like him in this matchup almost as much as Erik Karlsson. The Senators have been great for opposing skaters’ statistics all year and currently have the second worst penalty-kill in the league, making them a great target for a player like Ristolainen. He plays a ton of minutes every night and sees time on the power-play with Buffalo’s first unit. I love the fact Riostlainen almost always gets a few shots on goal (15 in his last four games) and a couple blocked shots, as well. Take advantage of his big role and the matchup tonight on D.
Superstar to Build Lineups Around
Matt Duchene ($6,600): Duchene has put together an incredibly solid season thus far and already has hit a career high in goals scored with 29. The 25 year-old has carried the Colorado offense recently with six points in his last four games and gets a dream matchup tonight versus the Calgary Flames who are last in most every defensive category on the planet. I really like using Duchene tonight as a backbone for lineups, as he’s incredibly cheap compared to other top options and should be in line for another decent outing. The Flames-Avalanche game has the highest Over/Under on the slate tonight and Duchene has seen plenty of power-play time of late for Colorado, including scoring twice on the PP in his last four games. In the game with the most potential fantasy goodness, why not target Colorado’s best offensive player? I’d roll him out with confidence in any format tonight in a likely Colorado romp.
Jay Beagle ($2,700): This one fits in the category of extremely cheap and will be playing alongside two very quality players. Beagle is by no means an offensive star, but he’s being allowed to play alongside Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom for at least a night, and his grind it out style could easily lead to a garbage point or two if that’s the case. At his price, if you’re looking for a super cheap winger, he’s definitely got potential to pay off his meager salary and would at least give you some exposure to the Capitals top 6 group, never a bad thing. Watch the lineups as they come out tonight, but it looks like Beagle’s going to be up top on line 1 today.
Patrick Maroon ($3,400): Since coming over from the Ducks, Maroon has seen a ton of time in the Oilers top 6 forward group, and while he hasn’t lit the world on fire, he’s had a few decent games. Tonight he gets the privilege of playing alongside Connor McDavid on the top line and makes for an interesting value pick given the amount of ice he’s been seeing and the matchup against the Canucks. A decent game is certainly possible for the bruising winger even if he doesn’t carry a ton of offensive skill.
Also check out: The Oilers Ryan Nugent-Hopkins ($4,700)
This list isn’t meant to be comprehensive and will only update significant, more recent injuries
Bryan Little is out for the season for the Jets
As always hit me up on twitter as @thefantasygrind with lineup questions or other DFS questions!