This article is part of our FanDuel NHL series.
The Thursday NHL slate features five games set to start at 7 p.m. EST. The Canucks and Habs will finish their back-to-back set at 9:30 p.m., and the Kings and Avs will cap it off at 10 p.m.
Since the 2010-11 season, the Lightning and Blue Jackets have alternated wins just twice during the season. Prior to their 2019 first-round playoff series, the Lightning had won four straight, then lost three straight, then won another six straight in their regular-season matchups. The Lightning have won the last three meetings and have remained undefeated.
Through the first week, the Devils have the best 5v5 Sv% at .987. Last season, they were 23rd at .913. The Isles have won five of their past six meetings, but three of them went past regulation.
Carter Hart, PHI at BOS ($8,600): The Bruins are missing key players due to injuries, and without David Pastrnak, their offense has been a huge issue. Hart was pulled in his last start but that's a rarity; up until that point, he had been playing well. Young goalies will go through their ups and downs, but even with key injuries of their own, the Flyers still have enough quality forwards to secure the win.
Philipp Grubauer, COL at LA ($8,500): He's likely to start again with Pavel Francouz nursing an injury. Regardless, both goalies have a good chance against the Kings and they're one of the surest bets of the night. He's allowed just two goals in his past two starts.
Mackenzie Blackwood, NJ at NYI ($7,000): I like Blackwood at this price because the Isles' goalies are much more expensive ($8,100) and the Devils have kept their games close thanks to this guy. There's more insurance in Blackwood with Jack Hughes having such a terrific start.
Matt Murray, OTT vs. WPG ($6,900): He's just been good enough to keep the Sens in games, but don't be surprised if we see Marcus Hogberg make his first appearance. The Sens kept it close against the shorthanded Jets and it should be the same story again this time with Patrik Laine still sidelined.
Jack Hughes, NJD at NYI ($5,100): One more strong game and we're past the point where Hughes is a value play, so kudos to those who hopped on the wagon earlier. The Islanders' defensive structure can be stifling, but it's not perfect and with so many lineup changes from game to game, it seems like there's been more broken plays than usual. Offensive players are feasting so far.
Jake DeBrusk, BOS vs. PHI ($4,800): He's the next man up after Jack Studnicka and Anders Bjork struck out on the top line. DeBrusk has yet to score a point this season but he gets a very good chance to do so playing with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. Usually a second-line staple, DeBrusk would be the best third wheel that top line has had this season.
Andreas Athanasiou, LA vs. COL ($3,700): A.A. has three goals on three shots over three games. We should temper expectations, but Athanasiou is anstreaky scorer and we should ride the hot hand until it cools.
Kieffer Bellows, NYI vs. NJ ($3,000): The Islanders haven't made it official, but Bellows skated on the second line after Josh Bailey was placed under COVID-19 protocol. He brings a much different skillset to the lineup, and perhaps his size and physicality can open up some room for Anthony Beauvillier and Brock Nelson to make plays, and hopefully Bellows can bury his chances.
Devils at Islanders
You won't really find a better value play for a first line. Sharangovich is the odd-man out because he doesn't play on the power play, but the Devils have trusted him all season and he's stuck on this line. You get Hughes for the big upside and Palmieri's the safe play for his consistent performances.
Jets at Senators
The intrigue lies with Batherson. His defensive play has been criticized in the past but he's managed to play at least 17 minutes in the first three games and has yet to be moved off this line. He's generates plenty of shots, though he has yet to score a goal, and along with Norris and Tkachuk present one of few lines with significant upside.
Avalanche at Kings
Expensive, but very worthwhile against the Kings, who are allowing a fair number of shots and not getting the goaltending to steal games. The Kings made it close with two goals in the third period in their last game, but this trio combined for four points.
Shea Weber, MON at VAN ($5,600): Jeff Petry ($5,700) is usually my preferred play but their salaries have flip-flopped, and so has my choice. After Victor Hedman ($7,100) there's a huge middle tier, but I think Weber has a good matchup and he's a safe play because he contributes in all categories.
Drew Doughty, LA vs. COL ($5,000): He's basically the cut-off between first-pair defensemen and the 1B's, and I would put Doughty in the first group. He has just one assist in three games, but once again he's a workhorse for the Kings and provided 10 blocked shots in three games so far, which ranks second in BkS/60 on the team. He's reliable with proven offensive upside.
Alexander Romanov, MON at VAN ($4,300): He's like a Weber/Petry-lite, a rugged defenseman with a heavy shot and a propensity to dish out hits. Through four games he has two points, 13 shots and six blocked shots.
Ty Smith, NJ at NYI ($3,600): He's being sheltered but the Devils have not been shy about playing to his strengths, using him on the second power-play unit and in overtime. Free ice will probably be a premium against the Isles, but Smith's scoring streak and usage makes him a good high-upside play.