This article is part of our DraftKings NHL series.
Thursday's NHL slate begins at 7:00 PM Eastern time and features eight games. Below, you'll find an overview of the matchups and suggested options for crafting an effective lineup.
This slate should feature plenty of fast-paced hockey, with five of the top six offenses and five of the six worst defenses in action. The Panthers are heavy favorites in Los Angeles, while Washington's Alex Ovechkin will be chasing history against Montreal the Pittsburgh-Toronto game features plenty of offensive talent on both sides. The Sharks-Devils, Jets-Senators and Lighting-Golden Knights games all offer some combination of enticing offense and vulnerable defense as well, while the Flyers-Blue Jackets and Coyotes-Blues clashes are likely to be more defensive-minded.
Carter Hart ($7,200) presided over Tuesday's 5-1 home win over the Blue Jackets, making 28 saves to help Philadelphia leapfrog Columbus in the tight Eastern Conference playoff race. The young netminder will look to hand the Blue Jackets their seventh consecutive defeat in this road rematch and makes for a terrific value play at just $7,200 against the league's fourth-worse offense (2.56 goals per game).
Jordan Binnington ($8,400) got his swagger back by shutting out the Devils on Tuesday, and he played well in a losing cause in his previous outing, holding the Predators to two goals. He has a nice opportunity to continue his recent turnaround and improve his 25-11-7 record, 2.66 GAA and .910 save percentage, as the visiting Coyotes rank in the bottom 10 offensively and will be finishing up a back-to-back set.
While Binnington deserves credit for Tuesday's 17-save shutout, it came against a bottom-10 Devils offense that was further neutered by the recent trade of second-leading goal-scorer Blake Coleman to Tampa Bay. It's been a trying season for San Jose's Martin Jones ($7,400), but he logged a 39-save shutout against the Wild last time out and will have a chance to build off that performance against a New Jersey team that's likely to keep dropping even further from its current mark of 2.68 goals per game.
Sam Montembeault ($7,300) will likely get the second game of Florida's SoCal back-to-back after Sergei Bobrovsky guides the team to a 4-1 win Wednesday in Anaheim. The affordable backup will have an even easier matchup, taking on a Kings team that's scoring the second-fewest goals per game (2.47) overall and is just 3-10-1 in its last 14 games.
Alex Ovechkin ($8,400) has been blanked on 27 shots over his last five games following a Feb. 4 hat trick, so he remains two goals shy of 700 for his career. Considering the Capitals superstar ranks third league-wide with 40 goals and had five multi-goal efforts in his last seven games prior to the five-game drought, it wouldn't be surprising to see Ovechkin reach the milestone in front of a national TV audience against a Canadiens team that's 0-4-1 with 19 goals allowed in its last five games.
Patrik Laine ($7,800) has lit the lamp 10 times in his last 13 games, adding three assists in the past five games to bring his total in the latter category to a career-best 31. The Jets sniper's enjoying his best all-around campaign with a 25-31-56 line through 59 games, and an Ottawa team that's allowing 3.32 goals per game — tied with Florida for third-most in the league — will have a hard time slowing him down.
Jean-Gabriel Pageau ($5,100) led the way in Ottawa's explosive 7-4 win over the Sabres on Tuesday, contributing two goals and two assists. That Herculean effort gave the first-line center a 24-16-40 line in 58 games this season, good for teams leads in both goals and points. Pageau has a nice opportunity to add to those totals at home against a Jets team that's allowing the third-most fantasy points to centers.
Joe Thornton ($3,100) has been thrust into a top-line role by injuries to his Sharks teammate. The veteran center has lost a step or three at age 40, but Thornton can still distribute the puck effectively, having racked up six assists in his last eight games. He's a nice cheap filler against a Devils team that's allowing 3.41 goals per game, which is second-most in the league.
FORWARD LINE STACKS
Penguins at Maple Leafs
Crosby was unstoppable in Tuesday's 5-2 win over this same opponent, delivering a goal and three assists to give him a 2-7-9 line over the past three games and 12-28-40 line in 30 contests overall. Zucker has fit in nicely since coming over from the Wild in a trade, posting a 3-1-4 line and 14 shots in his first four games with the Penguins. Simon hasn't done much of note recently, but skating on a line with Crosby could lead to cheap offense at a moment's notice, especially against a leaky Toronto defense that's giving up 3.28 goals per game.
Panthers at Kings
Given Los Angeles' recent struggles, this is the type of game the Panthers need to have if they're going to claw their way into the playoff picture in the highly competitive Eastern Conference. Florida wins with offense, averaging 3.45 goals per game and giving up 3.32. Huberdeau leads the team in points with a 21-51-72 line through 60 games, while Barkov ranks second thanks to an 18-40-58 line in 57 appearances. Acciari has displayed the finishing ability necessary to thrive alongside this pair of gifted passers, having potted a career-best 19 goals already this season.
Kings vs. Panthers
This line should provide strong bang for the buck in what figures to be a fast-paced affair against a Panthers team that will be battling tired legs. Kopitar has been by far the most productive Kings player with a 17-36-53 line this season, putting him 18 points clear of second-place Iafallo. The latter has come on of late with a 10-9-19 line in his last 23 games. Brown was moved to this line after Tyler Toffoli was traded to Vancouver, and the move paid immediate dividends, as Brown potted two goals Tuesday against the Jets in the Kings' first post-trade action.
Brent Burns ($7,200) is having a down year, but he's recaptured his elite offensive form recently. He has a 2-6-8 line and 23 shots over an active six-game point streak, including three helpers and eight shots in the two games since fellow offensive-minded Sharks blueliner Erik Karlsson was lost for the season due to a broken thumb.
John Carlson ($7,000) is another expensive defenseman who should be worth paying up for if you can find the funds. His 70 points easily lead all defensemen, and Carlson has a nice opportunity to add to that lofty total against the slumping Canadiens.
Aaron Ekblad ($5,400) has fished out five helpers in the past four games, helping the Panthers get their transition game going while also adding multiple shots in each of those contests. The first overall pick from the 2014 draft is on pace to miss double-digit goals for the first time in his six-year career but has already set a personal best for assists with a 5-30-35 line. There's a good argument to be made for Ekblad being undervalued at the moment due to the career 6.6 percent shooter's unlucky 3.7 mark this season.
Kevin Shattenkirk ($4,000) has cooled down after a hot start, but he's picking things back up with an assist in each of the past two games and has a solid 7-23-30 line in 60 games. If you want some exposure to Tampa Bay's prolific offense in Vegas without breaking the bank, Shattenkirk fits the bill.