This article is part of our DraftKings NHL series.
Thursday's busy NHL slate begins at 7:00 p.m. EST and features 11 games. Below, you'll find a breakdown of the action and suggested options for crafting an effective lineup.
Rarely has any slate this season had as many projected lopsided matchups as this one. On one hand, you'll have no shortage of enticing options to build around, but on the other, picking the wrong team to build around will be difficult to recover from with so many viable alternatives. Thursday's massive favorites are the Predators against Buffalo, Bruins against Philadelphia, Hurricanes against Columbus and Lightning against Vancouver, all on home ice. Not far behind them are the Flames against Ottawa, Blues against Seattle, Islanders against New Jersey and Blackhawks against Montreal, with all four favorites once again benefiting from home-ice advantage.
Juuse Saros, NSH vs. BUF ($8,700): Saros should be worth paying up for in net against a Sabres team that's scoring a measly 2.57 goals per game – tied with the Flyers for sixth-fewest league-wide. The Finnish netminder is in a groove, as evidenced by his 9-1-0 record in the past 10 starts, and he's allowed more than two goals only twice in this dominant stretch, as Saros now boasts a 20-9-1 record, 2.27 GAA and .928 save percentage overall.
Tuukka Rask, BOS vs. PHI ($8,300): It's understandable if you want a safer option in net, and there are plenty of those available, but Rask is worth a mention as he gets set to make his season debut for the Bruins against the bottom-10 Philadelphia offense. He boasts a career 2.27 GAA and .921 save percentage but hasn't seen NHL ice since having offseason hip surgery, so Rask should be filed in the high-risk, high-reward category here.
Ilya Sorokin, NYI vs. NJ ($8,100): The Islanders like to play it coy with their starting goalie, but Sorokin and Semyon Varlamov are both $8,100, so a straight swap should be easy to execute if necessary as long as you check back before puck drop. Sorokin has had the better season overall, with a 2.46 GAA and .925 save percentage despite his pedestrian 8-7-5 record. On the other hand, Varlamov has been dominant over his last two starts, setting aside 76 of 78 shots. Either goalie will be an appealing option against a Devils team that's just 5-10-2 on the road this season.
Marc-Andre Fleury, CHI vs. MON ($8,000): Fleury already has a shutout win over the Canadiens this season, and he's far from the only goalie to find success against a league-worst Montreal offense that's mustering a mere 2.09 goals per game. The favorable matchup should be enough to overshadow Fleury's struggles on home ice, where he's just 4-5-2 with a 3.16 GAA and .901 save percentage. If another goalie gets the nod in Chicago's net, they should fare just fine as well given Montreal's offensive ineptitude.
Brad Marchand, BOS vs. PHI ($7,100): Marchand's hat trick in Wednesday's win over the Canadiens was his third consecutive multi-goal performance, and he's now managed to light the lamp eight times in his last four games. The red-hot winger should keep rolling against Flyers goalie Carter Hart, who gave up six goals in his last start to bring his season GAA to 2.92.
Nikita Kucherov, TB vs. VAN ($7,500): Like Marchand, Kucherov delivered a hat trick in his last game, scoring three goals on seven shots Tuesday against the Sabres. He's arguably the league's most productive winger when healthy, and Kucherov has a 4-5-9 line in six games this season. Even with Vancouver's recent improvement under coach Bruce Boudreau, Kucherov's an obvious option to build around here.
Alex DeBrincat, CHI vs. MON ($6,900): The Canadiens are hoping their own young American diminutive winger Cole Caufield can become the next DeBrincat, but the Blackhawks have the real thing, and he's quietly on a 50-goal pace after his recent hot streak. The 5-foot-7 sniper has managed to light the lamp six times in his last five games and nine times in the last nine, bringing DeBrincat's goal total to 23 in 36 contests. Montreal surrenders the second-most fantasy points to left wings and will have difficult time keeping him off the scoresheet.
Mark Scheifele, WPG at DET ($6,000): The Jets aren't one of the many heavy favorites in this slate, but they have an enticing matchup of their own in Detroit. Scheifele should capitalize on facing a Red Wings team that's allowing 3.35 goals per game, as he comes into this contest riding a four-game point streak that has featured two goals and four assists. Overall, the standout center remains a bit shy of his customary point-per-game pace with a 9-14-23 line in 27 contests, but don't be surprised if Scheifele continues to close the gap between his totals in points and games played.
Blake Coleman, CGY vs. OTT ($3,700): Coleman has been playing some inspired hockey of late, contributing a 2-2-4 line to go with an Alex Ovechkin-esque 23 shots in his last four games. Putting the puck on net at such high volume already makes Coleman an excellent value play at just $3,700, and that's before even considering his highly favorable matchup against an Ottawa team that's surrendering 3.69 goals per game – third-most league-wide.
FORWARD LINE STACKS
Flames vs. Senators
Coleman should give you value against Ottawa, but locking him in shouldn't preclude you from also paying up for the big boys on the top line. Gaudreau leads the team in points with a 15-23-38 line in 33 games, while Tkachuk (15-16-31) and Lindholm (12-17-29) aren't far behind. The Senators are allowing 3.69 goals per game overall and have been outscored 12-4 during their current three-game skid, which dates all the way back to Dec. 16, making them an excellent choice to stack against, even in a slate with no shortage of poor defensive teams.
Blues vs. Kraken
After giving up five goals to Dallas on Wednesday, the Kraken officially leapfrogged the Coyotes as the worst defensive team in the league, allowing 3.71 goals per game. The line led by the red-hot Kyrou should wreak havoc against the tired and inept visitors. Kyrou's breakout season has him leading the Blues with 36 points in 32 games, and his 14 goals are tied for the team lead with Vladimir Tarasenko, who's unavailable due to COVID-19 protocols. He's also showing no signs of slowing down, with a 5-6-11 line over his active five-game point streak. Thomas has quietly turned into one of the league's premier setup men, dishing multiple helpers four times in his last nine games and ranking 20th league-wide with 24 assists in just 29 games. The only player with at least as many assists in fewer than 30 games played is Nathan MacKinnon with 29 in 23. Saad's more of a finisher with 12 goals in 32 games – a 30-goal pace – and he should have more opportunities to score in a top-six role with Tarasenko sidelined.
Hurricanes vs. Blue Jackets
With so many pricey stars to build around in this slate, it's important to find value in the middle and lower price ranges, and that's exactly what Carolina's second line offers against a Blue Jackets team that's 5-11-0 on the road. Svechnikov went through an uncharacteristic lengthy slump but has snapped out of it recently with a 3-2-5 line and 18 shots over his past four games. The second overall selection in the 2018 draft is a steal at $5,500 and should build on his 12-14-26 line through 30 games. Trocheck has a 7-15-22 line in 33 appearances this season on the heels of last year's 17-26-43 output in 47 contests, while the affordable Fast is an intriguing lineup filler at just $100 over the minimum valuation given his top-six role and 2-3-5 line over the past six games.
Roman Josi, NSH vs. BUF ($8,000): Like Saros, Josi's pricey but should be worth paying up for against the lowly Sabres. Josi has a 1-6-7 line in his last three games, bringing his season line to 12-25-37 over 35 contests. For as hot as Josi has been lately, Buffalo's been equally cold, going 0-4-2 in its last six games.
Torey Krug, STL vs. SEA ($5,500): Krug should capitalize on facing a sliding Seattle team that's 1-8-2 in its last 11 games. He has a 2-4-6 line during his five-game point streak, and Krug's prominent role in St. Louis' offense should allow him to flourish against the league-worst Kraken defense.
Noah Dobson, NYI vs. NJ ($5,200): Dobson's enjoying an extended hot streak offensively. He has a 2-3-5 line over an active three-game point streak, and a 5-5-10 line over his past 10 games. As long as being off since Jan. 1 hasn't cooled him off, Dobson's a strong choice at $5,200 against a Devils team that's allowing the sixth-most fantasy points to defensemen.
Mikhail Sergachev, TB vs. VAN ($3,900): The Lightning can get by just fine without Sergachev's contributions on offense, but he's been a nice two-way contributor recently, with four assists and seven blocked shots in his last four games. He's on pace to top 40 points with a 2-16-18 line through 34 games but remains affordable with a sub-$4,000 valuation.