This article is part of our DraftKings NHL series.
Thursday's NHL slate begins at 7:00 p.m. EST and features nine games. Below, you'll find suggested options for crafting an effective lineup.
There are plenty of lopsided matchups to choose from in this one, as the Maple Leafs (vs. Ottawa), Bruins (vs. New Jersey) and Blues (vs. San Jose) are all heavy favorites, while the Capitals and Coyotes are also solid home favorites against the Sabres and Kings, respectively. Senators-Maple Leafs and Sabres-Capitals are tied for the night's highest over/under at 6.5 goals, while Rangers-Flyers and Sharks-Blues are both at 6.0 goals and the remaining games come in at 5.5.
Carter Hart, PHI vs. NYR ($7,900): Hart's in position to find success in the Flyers' first game action since Feb. 7. The visiting Rangers rank in the bottom five offensively at 2.36 goals per game and have won just four of their first 14 games, and while Hart's season got off to a rocky start, his career 2.69 GAA and .913 save percentage suggest the young netminder should get back on track before long.
John Gibson, ANH vs. MIN ($7,500): Like Buffalo, Minnesota's still searching for its skating legs after a COVID-induced layoff. The Wild were shut out by the Kings on Tuesday in their first action since Feb. 2, and a similar fate could await the team in Anaheim, as Gibson already has three shutouts through 13 starts this season, including a 34-save blanking of Minnesota in their lone meeting so far this season.
Darcy Kuemper, ARI vs. LA ($8,000): Kuemper shut out the Blues in his last outing, bringing his season GAA down to 2.26 while raising his save percentage to .919. The Coyotes don't always provide their stellar goalie much goal support, but Kuemper's in good position to get into the win column nonetheless at home against a Kings team that has only five wins through 14 games.
Vitek Vanecek, WAS vs. BUF ($8,100): Vanecek would be a strong play here if he gets the call after holding Pittsburgh to one goal Tuesday. Washington's set to host a Sabres team that looked sluggish after a two-week layoff, scoring only one goal in two games since returning. These two teams have already met four times this season, with Washington boasting a 3-0-1 record in those games.
Nicklas Backstrom, WAS vs. BUF ($6,800): Backstrom has played well against pretty much everybody given his 7-12-19 line through 14 games, but Washington's first-line center has been especially dominant against Buffalo. Through four meetings this season, Backstrom has a 3-3-6 line and 15 shots against the Sabres, mustering at least one point and three shots in every meeting.
Brady Tkachuk, OTT at TOR ($6,500): Tkachuk has a modest three-game point streak going, including a goal, an assist and 11 shots in the last two against Toronto. Until the Maple Leafs show they can stop him, the Senators' best forward is worth turning to, especially with little-used backup Michael Hutchinson likely to start in Toronto's net for the second leg of a back-to-back.
David Perron, STL vs. SJ ($5,900): Perron tied with Brayden Schenn for the team goals lead with 25 last season and came one point shy of Ryan O'Reilly's team-high 61, so it's no surprise to see the veteran winger leading the Blues in scoring with a 5-10-15 line through 16 games. He has an excellent opportunity to add to those totals at home against a Sharks defense that's tied for third-worst league-wide with 3.57 goals allowed per game.
Nick Ritchie, BOS vs. NJ ($4,300): The perfection line rightfully gets most of the fanfare in Boston, but Ritchie has quietly been an integral piece of Boston's top power-post unit alongside the team's top three forwards, with four of his five goals and seven of 10 points coming with the extra man. Whether you grab him individually or alongside one of Boston's pricey stars, Ritchie's an enticing value option against New Jersey's league-worst, 67.7 percent penalty kill.
Josh Bailey, NYI at PIT ($3,900): Bailey's starting to heat up after a slow start, logging two assists in each of the Islanders' last two games. The affordable winger will look to build on that recent success against a Penguins team that's tied with San Jose for third-worst in the league defensively.
FORWARD LINE STACKS
Maple Leafs vs. Senators
This line lacks the star power of Toronto's top line, but it's a balanced unit that features three double-digit point scorers. Tavares is third on the team behind Mitch Marner (23) and Auston Matthews (21) with 15 points through 17 games, including five goals. Nylander (4-8-12) and Hyman (4-6-10) have been solid as well, and these three guys have also combined for seven power-play goals heading into this third consecutive date with the league-worst Ottawa defense (3.94 goals allowed per game).
Blue Jackets vs. Predators
This trio has been fantastic since Roslovic and Laine arrived from Winnipeg via trade. Roslovic has a 4-6-10 line in 10 games for his hometown team, Laine sports a 6-3-9 line in eight games overall this season, and Atkinson has caught fire recently with a 4-4-8 line over an active four-game goal streak. Columbus' top line should continue to produce against a Predators team that's getting outscored 3.47 to 2.33 in the average game this season.
Coyotes vs. Kings
The Coyotes will finally face a new opponent after seven consecutive meetings with the Blues, and this line — which dominated St. Louis — will be looking to carry over its strong play against a Kings team that's giving up 3.07 goals per game. Garland leads the team in points with a 6-8-14 line through 15 games, including four goals and four assists in his last eight. Schmaltz is right on Garland's heels with a 6-7-13 line, while Keller has finally gotten going after a slow start — his 5-5-10 line includes three goals and three assists in the past five games.
Torey Krug, STL vs. SJ ($5,500): Krug leads all Blues blueliners with nine points through 16 games, and he has stuffed the stat sheet recently with 16 shots and 15 blocks in his last seven games. While the diminutive defenseman's multifaceted game gives him a high floor, Krug also has substantial offensive upside against a Sharks team that struggles to keep the puck out of its net.
Seth Jones, CLS vs. NAS ($5,400): Jones has played at a point-per-game pace over the past seven, with three of those points coming on the power play. The lone blueliner on the Blue Jackets' top power-play unit should continue his recent success against a Predators team that's killing off only 67.8 percent of opposing power plays, just 0.1 percent better than the league-worst Devils.
Rasmus Ristolainen, BUF at WAS ($4,600): Ristolainen didn't play Tuesday due to a lack of practice since being removed from the COVID-19 protocols, but if he's ready to return for this one, the productive defenseman should deliver strong value at $4,600 in what's expected to be a high-scoring affair. The four-time 40-point scorer has a 2-4-6 line through 10 games, while adding 20 shots, 13 blocks and four power-play points.
Erik Gustafsson, PHI vs. NYR ($3,800): Gustafsson's a cheap source of offense from the blue line, with a 60-point season under his belt and seven points through 11 games with the Flyers. As long as coach Alain Vigneault puts him in the lineup, Gustafsson will be an appealing option against the backsliding Rangers.