The NHL Game Breakdown keeps on keeping on here on DraftKings. We take an in-depth look at all of the games on the schedule each day in terms of expected pace of play, Vegas lines, and defense vs. position match ups. Thursday offers up a big eleven game slate that will test the patience of even the most seasoned experts.

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Injury Updates

The news is coming in as always but there will be updates on Twitter because of the big Thursday slate. Injuries are just rolling along and the flu….yes the flu is now in Columbus of all places!

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Stars @ Hurricanes

Game Analysis

This is a game that will be very hard to gauge. Dallas has played a little better defensively lately and did nip the Flyers on the road on Tuesday. Tyler Seguin has played a couple games in his return to pretty good results. The goaltending is questionable at best for both teams at times but every so often can be pretty darn good. That is the dilemma. There is a lot to this when you really look at the numbers from this game. Contradictions abound here as Carolina is giving up power play goals all of a sudden including three in their last game. The Hurricanes are giving up more goals while Dallas has given up a few less of late. It is kind of the period of the season where both teams have hit non playoff reality. It is a good night to start guys like Eric Staal, Justin Faulk, and Jeff Skinner. Dallas is the Benneguin’s Special once again. Here is the problem. Does Vernon Fiddler hit like he did on Tuesday night?  Check values in this game because some of them are just bound to hit.

Money Line: Hurricanes -120, O/U 5.5

Players to Watch

  • Tyler Seguin, C, Stars ($8500)
  • Kari Lehtonen, G, Stars ($6800)
  • Cam Ward?, G, Canes ($6900)
  • Eric Staal, C, Canes ($7000)

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Oilers @ Penguins

Game Analysis

The Oilers are either going to roll over or they are going to scare Pittsburgh. When a team comes back from a long road trip or California trip, that first game back can be an experience sometimes. Edmonton has lost five straight and given up 20 goals in that span while Pittsburgh’s scoring has curtailed back a little bit. Some of that was due to road fatigue but also lack of execution on their power play. When I saw Kris Letang was priced at $5800, I could not hit the draft now button enough times. I may have broken my mouse. That is how strong of a play he is. The Penguins power play has dipped to near 20% and that is a rather scary number. The Oilers are just not that good at keeping the puck out of their own net. Edmonton has to almost play at a very high tempo and just take their chances. Even Sidney Crosby may have a pretty good night but watch out for the first 20 minutes to see how this game goes. Remember Pittsburgh has had clunkers like this before so tread a little carefully.

Line: Pens -350. O/U 5.5 (This may climb more)

Players to Watch

  • Jordan Eberle, RW, Oilers ($5700)
  • Ben Scrivens?, G, Oilers ($6900)
  • Evgeni Malkin, C, Pens ($9200)
  • Marc-Andre Fleury, G, Pens ($8800)

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Lightning @ Bruins

Game Analysis

The game should be a fun one as these two teams have quite a little history. Ondrej Palat has a foot injury and no one really knows if he will play. It does not look really good honestly. The Bruins are playing better hockey in their last ten games at a 6-2-2 clip with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand leading the way. Tampa counters with a top six that is a little banged up with Cedric Paquette also questionable. Again, when Jon Cooper speaks on Thursday, we may know more. Until then, that part of the DFS equation has to be put on hold. Tuukka Rask goes up against Ben Bishop. Bishop pitched a shutout against Montreal on Tuesday but has been a victim of his team’s stingy defense. We used to call this the Jimmy Howard/St. Louis goalie defense. Boston has to go through this gauntlet of games and play well to solidify position but show strength as far as daily fantasy. Let’s see what these guys are made of. We know what Tampa has so far.

Line: Bruins -115 . O/U 5.5

Players to Watch

  • Anton Stralman, D, Bolts ($3900)
  • Tyler Johnson, C, Bolts ($5900)
  • Patrice Bergeron, C, Bruins ($6000)
  • Dougie Hamilton, D, Bruins ($5100)

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Blue Jackets @ Red Wings

Game Analysis

Hey the Detroit Red Wings are one of those teams that suppresses shots at a really good rate but give up a good amount of chances in the high danger zones. Columbus is a team that has been blitzed by the flu so keep an eye on warm-ups. This is going to be one of those nights where Detroit is just trying to get the two points and move on. These two teams can score and of late they have been both over three goals a game….overs have either hit or nearly hit in a majority of their games over the past few weeks. The Blue Jackets arguably have been a better road team. Just imagine if the injuries had not crippled them so hard this year. Jimmy Howard will be in net for Detroit but who will be in net for Columbus? Tune in for another episode of As The Influenza Turns. The battle of the top five power plays should be the key point in this game as well. Detroit’s has a slight edge based on the game being in Detroit.

Line: Red Wings -210 , O/U 5.5

Players to Watch

  • Scott Hartnell, LW, Blue Jackets ($6000)
  • Jack Johnson, D, Blue Jackets ($4400)
  • Tomas Tatar, LW, Red Wings ($4900)
  • Gustav Nyquist, RW, Red Wings ($5000)

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Senators @ Canadiens

Game Analysis

I was looking at this and thinking does Andrew Hammond start in this spot one more time? Or does Dave Cameron decided to play Anderson anyway? This is the problem. Ottawa is on the edge of the playoff race with a Boston team that is getting hot again. The Senators rode the wave to a 4-0 lead against Calgary and really have not been right since. Playing in Montreal is a hell of a test for a team who needs at least 11 wins to have a chance for the second wildcard. Their top six has been rather good and Mike Hoffman and Mark Stone have been pretty consistent when getting the ice time. Montreal literally would be an 8th seed without Carey Price. The simple truth is Carey Price is giving his team the best chance to win until the timely scoring takes over. With Max Pacioretty still riding high, the Habs offense is just good enough but that game against Tampa showed some concerns where speed definitely can kill. Does Ottawa have enough in the wheels department to beat Montreal in Montreal?

Line: Canadiens -185, O/U 5.5

Players to Watch

  • Erik Karlsson, D, Sens ($8600)
  • Bobby Ryan, RW, Sens ($5700)
  • Max Pacioretty, LW, Habs ($8100)
  • Carey Price , G, Habs ($9600)

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Jets @ Panthers

Game Analysis

This game has potential to be high event hockey. Now first off, Aaron Ekblad should play as he has recovered significantly from the flu. Yes a flu outbreak has really hit the Panthers hard over the last week. Dan Ellis should be in net one more time for Florida as Roberto Luongo does not quite have full range of motion in his shoulder just yet. Winnipeg should have Michael Hutchinson starting but he is going to have to be much better as Winnipeg just is having too many god awful breakdowns for words. That should set up pretty well for Florida who needs goals but more importantly the win. This is where Florida has to shake off what’s left of the flu and just start putting pucks in the net. Throw caution to the win and they have to start winning and winning now. The chances will be there for both teams and again can Winnipeg keep it together without Bryan Little and Dustin Byfuglien? Honestly it does not look all that good but stranger things have happened especially with Florida and Winnipeg.

Line: NL , O/U 5.5

Players to Watch

  • Michael Frolik, RW, Jets ($5000)
  • Michael Hutchinson?, G, Jets ($6800)
  • Aaron Ekblad, D, Panthers ($4100)
  • Jonathan Huberdeau, LW, Panthers ($5100)

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Flyers @ Blues

Game Analysis

These teams could really put up quite a few goals on the board. The Blues gave up a bunch of goals to Winnipeg on Tuesday but got bailed out when Ondrej Pavelec gave up a goal from center ice that just defied explanation. St. Louis is one of those teams that can hold opponents to a low amount of shots on goal but the problem is when you have poor rebound control from time to time, goals go in frequently. Was it just one of those nights or a trend once again in St. Louis? The same thing happened with Ryan Miller last season after his initial bump. St. Louis has a top six to die for and Paul Stastny on the third line to boot with young depth. Philadelphia looks like they are on the sinking ship heading for almost certain disaster. Voracek and Giroux were once the toast of the DFS town but now they are fading away slowly but surely. Both teams have potent power plays and honestly Tarasenko and Wayne Simmonds stand to benefit the most. If Philadelphia is motivated in any way, this game could be one of those here we go again St. Louis.

Line: Blues -200. O/U 5.5

Players to Watch

  • Wayne Simmonds, RW, Flyers ($4700)
  • Jakub Voracek, RW, Flyers ($5700)
  • Jori Lehtera, C, Blues ($4000)
  • Vladimir Tarasenko, RW, Blues ($8000)

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Devils @ Avalanche

Game Analysis

The Devils continue to play Peter Harrold and Dainius Zubrus over Martin Havlat and Michael Ryder. If anyone thinks Lou Lamoriello is losing it a little, they would not be that far off at this point. Cory Schneider sees little support with misplaced offensive talent, most of which is rather long in the tooth. Is there even a Devils player you would want on your DFS team? Yes but be careful. Even tonight it will be tough to figure out who to place on your team from Colorado. Tyson Barrie and Jarome Iginla seem like good fits. Reto Berra may just get a start under the circumstances. He is dirt cheap and against a Devils team that struggles to score goals on the road, this is a team that could get the boost needed. New Jersey gives up a whopping 3.06 goals per game on the road to top it off. Maybe Damon Severson or Adam Larsson is a decent play given their low price. Colorado could see a nice night from Gabriel Landeskog who has a tendency of torching New Jersey whenever they are in town. Cory Schneider will have to continue to try and stand on his head.

Line: NL . O/U 5

Players to Watch

  • Damon Severson, D, Devils ($3000)
  • Steve Bernier, RW, Devils ($3700)
  • Jarome Iginla, RW, Avs ($5700)
  • Tyson Barrie, D, Avs ($5200)

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Blackhawks @ Coyotes

Game Analysis

Hey here come the Hawks…the mighty Blackhawks! The song is catchy even if it is from the 1970’s. When you look at this game, expect Corey Crawford to face Mike Smith and though Smith can stand on his head, it just does not appear all that likely. Chicago is going to score a few goals here. Oddly enough the Hawks have only scored nine goals in their last five games despite a large number of shots. Arizona just does not score period. They average a measly 1.91 goals per contest at home while giving up over three. Yikes! The one concern with Chicago is Patrick Sharp, who has one point in his last 14 games. Now that is painful. Shots have drifted off in oblivion along with quality scoring chances. There is a real chance that the winger may have to resort to unconventional methods to turn this thing around. So, the Coyotes have Kyle Chipchura on the first line and that may be all you really need to know here. That is pretty rough and there is no getting away from that. Just watch the numbers drop in Arizona.

Line: Hawks -230, O/U 5

Players to Watch

  • Jonathan Toews, C, Hawks ($6400)
  • Marian Hossa, RW, Hawks ($5900)
  • Sam Gagner, C, Coyotes ($3800)
  • Mike Smith?, G, Coyotes ($6800)

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Kings @ Canucks

Game Analysis

The game is a study of contrasts. The Kings can just bludgeon you to death while Vancouver has a few bruisers but a propensity to get too soft and lax. Vancouver has played pretty well and Eddie Lack has not been all that bad either but Jonathan Quick has been heating up as just the right time. What will happen when the Sedin Twins team up with Zack Kassian one more time? We will monitor that but it is something to look into once again. Kassian is a value player at under $3000 which means quite a few people may just take the plunge and own him anyway. Radim Vrbata oddly enough has eight points in his last nine games and has looked really good in spite of plays that appeared better than him. It is a funny thing that high volume shooters cannot stay in prolonged slumps. They will just keep firing pucks like the Sedin twins making plays. Marian Gaborik and Anze Kopitar will be in demand and watch who Brayden McNabb winds up being paired with. Maybe he sneaks you one more solid game before reality hits again. He is streaky to say the least.

Line: Kings -125 . O/U 5

Players to Watch

  • Zack Kassian, RW, Canucks ($2800)
  • Daniel Sedin, LW, Canucks ($5300)
  • Marian Gaborik, RW, Kings ($7800)
  • Drew Doughty, D, Kings ($5300)

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Predators @ Sharks

Game Analysis

Hey here come the Sharks and Predators in a game of the evenly matched. This game likely turns on the first mistake and then it will go back and forth till one team survives. At least it has a feeling of that is how it may go. These two teams hate each other and both are in need of wins so the intensity is going to be that much higher. Joe Pavelski has to be the most vital cog in the Sharks offense as his presence on the power play is especially huge in games like this. Who plays well as far as the top six may drive Nashville in this one. Pekka Rinne should face Antti Niemi in this one and lately Niemi has looked as good or better as Rinne has occasionally struggled. It is quite rare. San Jose has only given up two goals a game over their last five games and in spite of that their penalty kill has not gone up….it really is a case of the Sharks being just what they are. The Predators are going to just need odd bounces to go their way. San Jose just needs goals, period! This game is full of urgency and yet something tells me it could be a 3-2 game. Expect a lot of strange in this one!

Line: Sharks -115, O/U 5.5

Players to Watch

  • Mike Fisher, C, Preds ($4800)
  • James Neal, LW, Preds ($5600)
  • Joe Pavelski, C, Sharks ($8800)
  • Antti Niemi, G, Sharks ($8300)

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