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.
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Highest Vegas Totals and Biggest Favorite
Biggest Favorite: The New York Rangers are -185 to beat the Carolina Hurricanes
Largest Totals: The Avalanche v Islanders has the greatest chance of going over 5.5 goals according to odds makers
Ryan Miller ($7300): It’s probably a little too early to be calling Ryan Miller a stud, but he has played better of late and the slate doesn’t have a ton of strong goalies, especially with Henrik Lundqvist struggling of late. Miller’s posted save percentages of .920 and .939 in his last two games and has his yearly save percentage back up above .910 for the first time in forever. The Ducks have struggled scoring all season and so there’s every chance that Miller can keep up his strong play tonight. He’s by no means a lock but might be the strongest goalie on the slate and one I wouldn’t stack too many skaters against.
Semyon Varlamov ($6900): Varlamov has been pretty awful all season and the Avalanche as a whole have really struggled to keep pucks out of their net. Varlamov’s only posted a save percentage of better than .900 in one of his past five games and his season GAA is now way above 3.00. You can’t put all the blame on Semyon as the Colorado defense has been pretty awful all year but he’s still a goalie you can target with your skaters tonight and I would feel comfortable stacking any number of NYI players on this short slate. Expect some goals to be scored in this game.
Henrik Sedin ($5000) – Daniel Sedin ($6900) – Radim Vrbata ($5600)
This line is now up to 12 points in their last three games and showing no signs of slowing down. The Sedin’s may not be the dominant force they were a couple years ago but their play has really picked up recently and their line mate Radim Vrbata has also looked a lot better as a result. This line was semi-dominant at times last season as well and against the pretty mediocre Ducks I wouldn’t be hesitant to play this trio. The Canucks are very much a one line team when it comes to offense and so these three will play a ton on the PP too. Roll this trio as a stack and don’t be afraid to roster at least one or two of these players in cash game lineups. The points are coming in waves for these three right now.
Top Upside at Defense
Justin Faulk ($5900): Faulk actually leads the Hurricanes in scoring this season which doesn’t say much about their offense, but does say a lot about Faulk’s skill level. While I don’t usually pay up for the highest priced defenseman on any slate, there’s not a whole lot of great fantasy D-men to choose from tonight and Faulk is playing the Rangers who have struggled recently in net and on D. I think making room for Faulk tonight makes a lot of sense as the Hurricanes could find the net more than once against the semi-struggling Rangers.
Andrej Sekera ($3100): Sekera had a slow start to the year but after coming back from a recent injury has started to play much better. Part of this resurgence has meant he’s also been given more time on the PP for Edmonton which has translated to 2 points in his last two games. As the main point man on the first unit power play, Sekera’s obviously going to have some serious point-getting chances every night considering the talented group the Oilers have up front. I love his price tag and recent play, definitely a player I’ll have my eye on if I need a value play.
Superstar to Build Lineups Around
John Tavares ($8100): This one seems obvious but sometimes the obvious plays are still the best. The Islanders and Avalanche have the highest expected goal total tonight and John Tavares has been his usual consistent self all season. He plays in every conceivable situation for the Isles and is actually on pace for the highest goal total of his career (over 40). Colorado’s defense/goaltenders have struggled all season and with the amount of time Tavares plays on the PP I’d expect at least an assist here tonight. On a short slate it’s probably best just to fit him in and look for some value plays elsewhere to round out your lineup.
Leon Draisaitl ($4100): Well, DraftKings keeps making this pick incredibly easy for us. Dr. Drai is still playing with the Oilers top line and also getting a lot of time on the PP too. He had a few slow nights of late but rebounded in his last game with a goal against the Penguins. Tonight the Oilers will get to face the Leafs third stringer goalie as James Reimer is hurt/out and Jonathan Bernier is quite frankly awful. I love this spot for Edmonton who should be motivated after a big win on Saturday. Draisaitl’s been playing like an elite fantasy player but is still priced like a third liner, just play him till his pricing catches up with his production.
Mikhail Grigorenko ($3000): Grigorenko has been benefitting from more playing time in the Avalanche’s top 6 forwards lately due to injuries and suspensions. With Gabriel Landeskog back he’s been bumped to the second line but will still see time with Jarome Iginla and has been working in on the PP every game. The Avalanche are still a pretty highly skilled bunch and capable of a breakout offensively regardless of the opponent. At $3000 Grigorenko’s a nice way to save roster space if you’re looking to fit in as many studs as possible or pay up at goalie.
James Reimer ($6600) is out tonight for the Leafs
Matt Duchene ($5800) missed the morning skate with illness, he’s a game time decision for Colorado
As always hit me up on twitter as @thefantasygrind with lineup questions or other DFS questions GL!