This article is part of our DraftKings NHL series.
Thursday's NHL slate begins at 7:00 PM Eastern time and includes 12 games. Below, you'll find an overview of the matchups and suggested options for crafting an effective lineup.
There's no shortage of enticing options in this slate, with the Islanders and Penguins standing out as home favorites against the Devils and Sharks. Other games are less lopsided but should feature plenty of scoring. These include Lightning-Canadiens, Rangers-Flames and Maple Leafs-Jets, as we should see plenty of high-flying action north of the border.
Most lineups will likely pay up for a top option in net, as some more prominent goalies have favorable matchups here. Semyon Varlamov ($8,400) has a 2.43 GAA and .920 save percentage for the Islanders, Tuukka Rask ($8,300) boasts 2.31 and .923 marks for the Bruins, and Antti Raanta ($8,300) owns 2.80 and .918 marks for the Coyotes. All three will face bottom-six offenses in the Devils, Blue Jackets and Ducks, respectively.
Scoring will likely be hard to come by in the Ducks-Coyotes game, making Anaheim's John Gibson ($7,000) a great low-cost option. Arizona's 2.69 goals per game are ninth-fewest in the league, while Gibson has held 10 of his last 12 opponents to three goals or fewer.
James Neal ($4,900) capped 2019 in style, scoring three goals and an assist in Tuesday's win over the Rangers. Two of the goals came on the power play, giving Neal 12 power-play goals this season. That mark is one behind David Pastrnak's league-leading total and at least three clear of the rest of the league. Neal gets a nice opportunity to keep rolling against a Sabres penalty kill that ranks fourth-worst at 73.8 percent.
Auston Matthews ($7,600) has been Toronto's greatest weapon with the extra man, leading the team in both goals (seven) and points (14) on the power play. He should be worth paying up for against Winnipeg's league-worst, 71.4 percent penalty kill.
Anthony Duclair ($6,600) leads the Senators in both goals (21) and points (31). His breakout season should roll into 2020 against a Panthers team that's allowing 3.36 goals per game.
Mika Zibanejad ($6,900) is morphing into a top-tier player before our eyes. The Rangers' No. 1 center has four goals in his last three games and a 9-5-14 line over the past nine. Look for him to get his 2020 off on the right foot in Calgary.
FORWARD LINE STACKS
Penguins vs. Sharks
Jake Guentzel (upper body) was the latest victim of Pittsburgh's injury bug, paving the way for Galchenyuk to climb to the top line, where Galchenyuk can better use the offensive skills that allowed him to average 21 goals over the past five seasons. Each of his new linemates has missed time due to injury but dominated when available — Malkin has an 11-27-38 line in 26 games while Rust is at 16-16-32 in 25 games. This trio should lead the way for the Penguins against a visiting Sharks team that's allowing 3.37 goals per game — third-most in the league.
Jets vs. Maple Leafs
This figures to be a high-scoring affair, as the visiting Maple Leafs rank among the 10 best offenses and 10 most generous defenses. Winnipeg's top line has been rolling recently and should continue to produce. Scheifele leads the team with 44 points while Connor and Laine are tied for second at 38, despite the latter having missed two of the team's 40 games. Connor has overtaken Scheifele for the team goals lead with 20, having potted six in his last four games. Scheifele enjoyed a tremendous month of December, with a 9-11-20 line in 13 games. Laine's production has come despite a career-low 11.7 shooting percentage, which is 3.6 percent below his career rate of 15.3.
Islanders vs. Devils
The Islanders usually win with defense, but the team's top line is likely to make significant contributions on the other end against a Devils team that's surrendering 3.44 goals per game. Barzal has a 16-18-34 line through 38 games, putting him on pace to top 70 points for the second time in three years. Lee has an 11-12-23 line but is capable of picking up the scoring pace after averaging 34 goals in the previous three seasons. Kuhnhackl's affordability and deployment on this line make him a terrific cheap filler in this favorable matchup.
Victor Hedman ($6,200) leads the Lightning with 19 power-play points, and he gets a great opportunity to add to that total against Montreal's bottom-10, 76.0 percent penalty kill. The Swedish defenseman is over a point-per-game pace overall with 37 in 36 thanks to a 2-6-8 line over his past four contests.
Mark Giordano's ($6,300) 4-15-19 line through 42 games is a far cry from last season's 74-point output, but Calgary's captain can still stuff the stat sheet with the best of them. That high floor of complementary stats will go hand-in-hand with a high offensive ceiling against the Rangers' bottom-five defense, making Giordano a strong choice in all formats.
Quinn Hughes ($4,800) is a nice source of affordable offense from the blue line. Vancouver's standout rookie enters this game against the Blackhawks with a 3-25-28 line through 39 games, putting him on a 59-point pace.
Matt Grzelcyk ($4,300) will continue to be deployed in a more offensive-minded role — including a spot on the top power-play unit — by the Bruins as long as Torey Krug (upper body) remains sidelined. The affordable Grzelcyk has capitalized on that recent change in usage with two assists and eight shots in the past four games.