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: Columbus Blue Jackets -165

Largest Totals:
– 5.5 Columbus v Buffalo, Vegas has this pegged as the most likely game to hit over 5.5

Stud Goalies (to avoid playing skaters against)

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Roberto Luongo ($7000): There aren’t a ton of elite goalies on the slate tonight but Roberto Luongo looked really good in his first start stopping 38 shots against the Flyers. Luongo gets the Flyers again in this matchup and I would not be shocked to see another good performance. Like many I expect the Panthers to take a pretty big step forward this year as they’ve built a solid team on their backend and have more talent up front than in years past. I’d avoid playing skaters against Luongo tonight and consider him as a pretty decent value play in net.

Dud Goalies (to possibly target skaters against)

Michal Neuvirth ($6200): Philadelphia has been one of the worst teams at keeping the puck out of their own net the past couple seasons. After their starter Steve Mason got shelled in their last game it’s very likely you’ll see Neuvirth take the ice in this game. They’ll be facing the Panthers again who lit them up for 7 goals a couple nights ago. Neuvirth might be an upgrade over Mason but Philly is still so sieve-like on defense that it shouldn’t matter. Target some cheap Florida forwards against the Flyers as the matchup is too good to ignore (and avoid using Neuvirth).

Hottest Lines

Steven Stamkos ($7400) – Ryan Callahan ($5500) – Jonathan Drouin ($4400)

The Tampa Bay first line has started the season hot scoring goals in each of their first two games. While the Bruins are a tough opponent they have started the season slowly and now allowed 10 goals in their last two games. A lot of people might avoid Tampa due to matchup concerns but the way this line is looking to start the season I still think they’re a pretty good play. There’s a lot of firepower and the potential for a huge multi-point night. Ride their hot start on this shorter game slate.

Top Upside and Top Value at Defense

Victor Hedman ($4700): The Tampa Bay Lightning have been one of the best groups of forwards in the league and Hedmen is their undisputed stud on defense. Hedman sees a ton of ice and also quarterbacks their power play. He’s already racked up two assists on the year and should see more shots and scoring chances as the season progresses. I’ve already discussed how I think the Bruins are a decent target for your offense right now and Hedman is priced way lower than many other top defensemen. With Hedman you’re getting a stud d-man at a discounted price tonight and I think that makes him a must play.

Rasmus Ristolainen ($3400): Ristolainen is seeing a lot of time right now on the Sabres top pairing and is also quarterbacking their power play. The Sabres have some talent up front these days and have a good matchup against a Columbus team who’s allowed 4 or more goals in each of their first two games. At only $3400 it’s rare to get a player who sees as much of the ice in such vital situation as Ristolainen. He’s my favorite play under 3500 on D and a pretty good way to get some savings while not losing much offensive upside.

Best Superstar to Build Lineups Around

Ryan Getzlaf ($7000): Getzlaf and the Ducks started the season slowly getting shut out by the Sharks but should bounce back in game two vs the Canucks. I love using Getzlaf since everything on the Ducks offense, especially on the power play, runs through his stick. There’s almost always 3-4 point night-upside when you use Getzlaf and on a shorter slate night the fact he’s a bit cheaper than the other top centres makes me like rostering him for the consistency. Look for the Ducks to get their power play rolling game two and to put some pucks in the net vs a mediocre Canuck squad.

Best Value Plays to Fill out your lineup with

Ryan Strome ($4500): Strome is currently starting the year on the first line of the Islanders playing alongside John Tavares. He’s also been getting a ton of looks on the power play and is generally a huge part of the Islanders top 6 forward group. The Islanders will be at home and should be pretty motivated to get back on the right foot after losing a pair vs the Blackhawks to open their year. I love the cheap price and the upside on Strome, he’s a great value pick for tonight.

Michael Raffl ($3900): Raffl is starting the year on the Flyers top line with Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek. He’s seen a lot of even strength time on Giroux’s line which has played the most of any Flyer trio by far and more importantly saw a ton of action on the power play as well. The Flyers seem committed to developing Raffl as a top 6 forward by playing him with offensive minded players in all situations, take advantage of his cheap price.

Injuries

Zdeno Chara: He’s missed the first couple games with injury, check his status to see if he’s playing tonight before using.

David Clarkson: Clarkson is now a Blue Jacket and is out to start the year, it;s unknown when he’ll return but check his status before game time before rostering any Blue Jackets. .