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 Lightning are -250 favorites over the Maple Leafs
- The Capitals are -230 favorites over the Blue Jackets
- The Predators are -230 favorites over the Avalanche
- The Flames vs the Coyotes has a projected total of 5.5 goals
- All other games tonight have projected totals of 5 goals
Pekka Rinne ($8200): Rinne hasn’t been spectacular lately but he has been very, very good. The Nashville net minder has now won five in a row and posted a save percentage of .909 or better in all five of those games. It’s easy to forget sometimes that Rinne plays in front of a pretty solid defense and the fact of the matter is Nashville currently allows the fewest SOG per game in the league. Rinne may not get you those huge fantasy totals as a result (since a 30+ save performance is unlikely) but he’s in a great spot for the win against the beat up Avalanche who are down their two best centres. I really like Rinne as a solid cash game play again and think it’s probably not a great spot to use Colorado skaters, who won’t get you a ton of SOG and are going up against a pretty hot goalie.
Joni Ortio ($6800): The Flames offense had a little spark recently but that offense burned out quickly and they’re now left with just their below average goaltending to save them. Ortio may have posted a few decent games here and there but he’s still flirting with .900 for a season long save percentage and posted a save percentage of under .900 in three of his last five games. The Flames are taking on the Coyotes tonight which seems like a good matchup but the Coyotes have actually been pretty good lately and against Ortio I think most of their skaters make for nice plays. I’d think twice about using the young Finn as a play in this spot, even though it might be tempting against a weaker team. The Coyotes have won three straight and will be a tough out for the struggling Flames and Ortio.
It took forever but the Kings have finally decided to reunite the line that provided them with a ton of offense at the start of the year. This trio is coming off a huge night against Edmonton on the weekend where they combined for 10 real life points and 30.5 fantasy points. The Sharks are admittedly a lot tougher to score on in general than the Oilers but they’re still in the bottom half of the league in terms of goals allowed per game and have the fifth worst penalty-kill in the league when at home this season. The Kings went through a little mini-slump recently but looked back on track Saturday and the fact this line is clicking again could mean good things in the immediate future. These three should see most of their time with each other tonight and make for great plays as a stack or on their own. If the start of the year was any indication this line could keep rolling right up until the playoffs arrive.
Top Upside at Defense
Oliver Ekman-Larsson ($6000): The Coyotes finally got their top defender back a few games ago and since his return he’s not missed a beat. Larsson is back to playing 25 mins a night and will QB the point on the powerplay for Arizona as well. While the Coyotes aren’t the most explosive offense, tonight they play the Flames who are always a great matchup for your defenders. At only $6000 I think Ekman-Larsson is the best bang for the buck given his skill and matchup. He’d be the must target on defense tonight if I was paying up for the position.
Nikita Nesterov ($2600): This pick is a case of taking advantage of opportunity and a very, very cheap price. Anton Stralman is out for the season for the Bolts and they’ve been using Nesterov more on the power-play as a result. Nesterov is an interesting young defenseman with some offensive flare. Last year he had a decent stretch where he was useful for fantasy and with increased opportunity I think he could replicate that production down the stretch. The thing I like best about him is definitely the price though as he really doesn’t need to do much to pay off his barely over the min salary. I’d take him in a plus matchup if you need a real salary saver today.
Superstar to Build Lineups Around
Ryan Getzlaf ($6800): The Ducks offense has been very reliable for fantasy lately and usually when that is the case it means Ryan Getzlaf is playing well. Getzlaf has 6 points over his last five games and more importantly has been shooting the puck a ton (for him), and has averaged 4 SOG over that same stretch. While the Ducks have gone a little more balanced in their offensive approach lately and split up Getzlaf from his running buddy Corey Perry the depth Anaheim added via trade means Getzlaf is still getting to play alongside two pretty skilled wingers every night. There’s also the fact he plays pretty much every second of the power-play with Corey Perry when possible as well, a fact that boosts his value a bit. The Ducks play Edmonton tonight, a team that Getzlaf and Anaheim in general have excelled against in the past few years. With his price under 7k and the matchup being too good to ignore I’d say using Getzlaf as a backbone of sorts for most of your lineups isn’t a bad way to start making rosters. He and the Ducks hot offense could have a field day against the anemic Oilers.
Martin Hanzal ($4200): Hanzel remained so hot with an assist in his last game out, giving him 12 SOG and four points total over his last three games. Arizona actually looks determined to ruin their draft position with a strong end of season run which bodes well for Hanzal’s fantasy outlook. The matchup against the Flames is awesome and he’s a great, cheap play at center who should log plenty of ice-time tonight.
Valtteri Filppula ($3200): You’ll need to check the final lines and lineups when they are released before using Filppula tonight but it looks like he could return here against the Leafs and would be centering a line with Stamkos and Killorn if he does. Filppula hasn’t had a great year but if he gets to play on the top line with the red hot Stamkos on his wing than he becomes an instantly great value play. Check the reports before game time, but definitely consider Filppula as a good value play if he suits up inside the top 6 for the Bolts.
Brandon Pirri ($4200): Pirri has been skating on the top line for the Ducks (or one of their top lines) and getting to play a ton of minutes with Ryan Getzlaf. The former Panthers forward had a breakout game a couple nights ago and will be in a good spot playing in the top six for the Ducks against the lowly Oilers. That definitely locks Pirri in as one of my favorite value plays on wing today.
This list isn’t meant to be comprehensive and will only update significant, more recent injuries.
- Ryan Callahan and Valtteri Filppula are QUESTIONABLE tonight for the Lightning
- Nikita Kucherov is OUT for the Lightning
- Anton Stralman is OUT for the Lightning
- Nathan MacKinnon and Matt Duchene are QUESTIONABLE for the Avalanche
As always hit me up on twitter as @thefantasygrind with lineup questions or other DFS questions GL!