The NHL Cheat sheet is your nighty 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: LA Kings -200 over the Carolina Hurricanes

Largest Totals: Bruins v Islanders — 5.5 (has greatest chance of going over per odds)

Stud Goalies (to avoid playing skaters against)

Jimmy Howard ($6900) Red Wings: Howard makes this list by semi-default as we are going to see a ton of backup goalies playing tonight meaning most elite goalie options won’t be available. Howard has been dominant in two of three outings thus far on the season and will also be facing a Flames squad who has started the season slowly. After losing the first end of their Alberta road trip to the upstart Oilers I can see Detroit bouncing back big time in Calgary tonight and for Howard to have a solid game. Howard will be well rested and I’d consider him as a goalie option tonight and avoid the Flames on offense.

Dud Goalies (to possibly target skaters against)

Jonas Gustavsson ($6400) Boston Bruins: Gustavsson actually had a quality start in his only other outing of the year but that doesn’t mean we should start trusting him in fantasy. Gustavsson has never ended a season with a GAA better than 2.50 and his save percentage for the most part of his career has hovered in the very low .900 range… not elite numbers. The Bruins have been strangely inept defensively to start the season and against the NYI, one of the highest scoring teams in the league, this is probably a great spot to target their offense. Don’t be afraid to target skaters against the Bruins backup net-minder.

Hottest Lines

Bryan Little ($5400) – Andrew Ladd ($5700) – Blake Wheeler ($7000)

The Jets have started the season strongly as a team and the main reason for it has been the offensive production they’ve gotten from their top line. As a line this trio now has 10 points combined in their past three games. Bryan Little has been the value play of the bunch collecting 5 points over that span while Blake Wheeler is finally fulfilling his potential and producing on a nightly basis. If I was leaving off anyone from this line it would be Ladd who probably carries the least offensive upside of the three but is still capable of a big night anytime. I’d definitely keep riding this trio until they show serious signs of slowing down as they look borderline unstoppable at the moment.

Top Upside and Top Value at Defense

Anton Stralman ($4600): Stralman is always one of my favorite targets to look for if I’m paying up on defense. He’s quarterbacking the power play on Tampa Bay, who has arguably the most skilled group of forwards in the league taking the ice every night. The offensive skill up front means a ton of cheap assists for Stralman and the opportunity for some big nights as well should one of his shots from the point find the net. Stralman has been producing already this year with 5 points through 7 games and is way cheaper than many other top end D-Men with similar upside. If paying up at this position you need to consider him.

Thomas Hickey ($2600): Hickey’s a nice two-way defenseman who has always been lauded for his passing ability and skill with the puck. Like Stralman, Hickey gets to play with a group of highly skilled forwards who, more nights than not, will be potting multiple goals giving Hickey the chance at some cheap assists. Hickey just returned to the lineup and his ice time is limited thus far but I expect him to eventually get some work on the PP. For now his price is so cheap that I think playing him still makes sense. He’s one of the few min priced defensemen with real offensive upside on the slate tonight.

Best Superstar to Build Lineups Around

John Tavares ($8200): Tavares is heating up, big time. He now has 8 points over his last 4 games and has become the every night superstar people thought he’d be when he entered the league. Tonight he gets a matchup with Boston who are not the team they used to be defensively and will also be starting their backup goalie in this matchup. I used to shy away from starting centres vs Patrice Bergeron but with the Isles at home and having last shift Tavares will probably be able to get away from the Bruins top checking centre on many shifts. Fade him at your own risk tonight.

Best Value Plays to Fill out your lineup with

Anders Lee ($4900): Lee is playing on the top line with John Tavares for the Isles and getting a ton of looks in offensive situations. Even better is the fact he’s been producing of late and now has four points in his last 3 games. The one thing I love about Lee is that he’s getting the puck to the net and has recorded at least two shots on goal in every game thus far on the season… this is great for his fantasy production. A shoot first kind of player, Lee could break 30 goals scored for the year playing with Tavares, keep using him as his price is extremely discounted for a first line winger.

Riley Sheahan ($3600): Sheahan has been bumped up to the de facto second line centre spot in Detroit over the ineffective Brad Richards and is also now starting to see consistent time on the PP. Playing with two offensive-minded players in Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar, Sheahan will have fantasy potential every night and is just great value right now. He’s usable for me in pretty much any format if you’re playing NHL on DK.

Injuries

Pavel Datsyuk: Datsyuk remains out to start the year for Detroit

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