Henrik Lundqvist, NYR vs. DAL ($8,100) – It could be an expensive win because the Stars offense shouldn’t be taken lightly, but the Rangers defense and goaltending have been pretty good this season. After a slow start in October, Lundqvist went 9-2-0 with a .927 save percentage in November and is 2-1-0 so far in December with a .931 save percentage. He’s also fared well against the Stars in his career, going 8-5-0 with a .922 save percentage.
Mark Scheifele, WPG vs. VAN ($7,500) – Scheifele has 21 points in 31 games at home this season compared to just 13 points in 17 games on the road, and he’s dominated the competition in faceoffs over his past seven games, winning over 60 percent of his draws. The Canucks, meanwhile, are missing Bo Horvat and Brandon Sutter, Travis Green’s top two preferred shutdown centers. If things go well, Scheifele’s in for a multi-point night.
Vincent Trocheck, FLA at DET ($6,600) – Now that everyone knows about Scheifele, it’s time to turn your attention to Trocheck, who has taken over the “most underrated star” title. He’s scored 30 points in 29 games this season and currently on a four-game point streak with at least a hit and a blocked shot in each of those games. He’s been a dominant force all season and more of a No. 1B center rather than a No. 2, while the Red Wings have struggled mightily this season, allowing six goals against the Blues and 16 goals against the Habs in a home-and-home series.
Phil Kessel, PIT vs. COL ($7,200) – He’s on pace to score 30 goals for the first time in a Penguins uniform, thanks to an impressive four-game run that includes goals in three straight games and 18 shots in total. The Avalanche are ripe for the picking against the better and more experienced Penguins, and this is usually one of Kessel’s best months before he hits a lull in January and February. In 12 career games against the Avalanche, he’s scored 13 points, and their defense has barely improved over the past few seasons.
Patrik Laine, WPG vs. VAN ($6,600) – After confessing that he had lost a little confidence, Laine has scored four goals in his past five games, bringing his total to 15 this season and putting him on pace for a 40-goal season. The Finnish sniper’s scored two goals in three career games against the Canucks, and he’s trending up with nine points in his past five games. Both Anders Nilsson and Jacob Markstrom are big goalies, but they’ll have move side to side quickly to stop Laine’s one-timers.
Elias Lindholm, CAR at ANH ($3,700) – The fifth overall pick from 2013 has yet to live up to expectations, but the 23-year-old is on pace for his second straight 40-point season and he’s one of Bill Peters’ most trusted forwards. He’s plus-5 while the team’s goal differential is minus-10, and in his past five games he’s been really heating up with four points. The Ducks have been riddled with injuries and may not have enough able bodies to end Lindholm’s hot streak.
Kris Letang, PIT vs. COL ($6,400) – He’s on a four-game scoring streak with a goal and five assists, and he’s performed much better at home with a plus-4 rating, compared to his minus-17 rating on the road. The Avalanche like to play fast, especially Nathan MacKinnon, but that can be disastrous if you turn the puck over, and their defense just doesn’t have a lot of reliable guys. The Penguins are going through an up-and-down stretch, but the Avalanche are also struggling with a 5-8-1 record on the road and four wins in their past 10 games.
Dmitry Orlov, WAS at NYI ($3,300) – The Islanders' offense gets most of the press, but that's at least in part because their defense and goaltending aren’t very good. They’ve been winning by outscoring their opponents and Orlov, who’s scored four of his 10 points this season over the past two weeks, will present an interesting challenge for them. The Capitals don’t have a lot of total shots, but they’ve also been very good at not wasting chances and they miss the net far less than other teams.