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 features nine games including a few games where you may want to considering stacking and more.

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Injury Updates

The news is coming in as always but there will be updates on Twitter because of the nature of this Thursday slate. Just expect more injuries tonight. It seems like more prominent injuries keep happening.

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Coyotes @ Rangers

Game Analysis

This is a game tailor made for the New York Rangers as the Arizona Coyotes come in reeling, losing badly to the New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders on this tri-state road trip. The Rangers have enough speed to even make the Islanders look silly and that is saying something. Yes, Henrik Lundqvist is still a little ways away but Cam Talbot had a shutout in his last start against the Calgary Flames and obviously will get the start here. Rick Nash is back after having a really bad night’s sleep err neck spasms. Arizona at this point really does not have much to look forward to other than Keith Yandle and Oliver Ekman-Larsson. That is the problem. Their defense and maybe a few forwards seemingly get better shot selection that just throwing shots randomly like a scattered array. The Rangers have an advantage in speed, advantage in shooting percentage, better goaltending, and they are better in all phases. Someone said well how about the power play of Arizona? Their road man advantage has fallen apart during the last 10-15 road tilts and that is another issue that Dave Tippett cannot fix. This literally has the makings of various Ranger stacks and options to choose from.

Money Line: NL, O/U 5.5

Players to Watch

  • Sam Gagner, C, Coyotes ($3700)
  • Oliver Ekman-Larsson, D, Coyotes ($5000)
  • Derek Stepan, C, Rangers ($6800)
  • Rick Nash, LW, Rangers ($8300)

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Canadiens @ Blue Jackets

Game Analysis

These teams can play very ugly hockey and then they can go up and down the ice. That is where the frustration lies. Montreal has a first line that can cause headaches and it will be interesting what line Devante Smith-Pelly ends up. Smith-Pelly has not lived up to expectations but then again maybe a fresh, new start will help. Carey Price has been lights out for the last two months and change. Basically Columbus goes up against the number one goalie in all the league. Montreal’s road power play has concerns and Columbus’s lack of team defense and consistent goaltending is troubling. When you get right down to this, people may consider running just Price out there and maybe pairing up either the Columbus first line or two out of three from the Montreal first line. That seems to be the best and most advantageous position to set up from. Other than that, this is one where you may want to stay away from. This is why when playing DFS, you have to look at rankings every so often. IT does help.

Line: Habs -140. O/U 5

Players to Watch

  • Carey Price, G, Habs ($9500)
  • David Desharnais, C, Habs ($3900)
  • Nick Foligno, LW, Blue Jackets ($5600)
  • Ryan Johansen, C, Blue Jackets ($5600)

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Canucks @ Sabres

Game Analysis

The game has the look of being a trap game for Vancouver as they seem to pull these clunkers after beating top teams. Buffalo has won a few games recently and surprised Columbus on Tuesday night, 4-2. Zemgus Girgensons did get dinged up and there definitely is a concern. Buffalo is still giving up a ton of shots. Even in the win against Columbus, Michal Neuvirth faced 47 shots. He has an incredible .938 save percentage in his last ten games played despite only two wins. With Ryan Miller on the shelf for 4-6 weeks with a knee sprain, Eddie Lack will be making the majority of starts. His first one was a success and against Buffalo, you would think this would be too. These are the type of games where that first goal is the most crucial. Buffalo’s rankings are nearly 30th across the board still. As far as daily fantasy, they most range anywhere from 28th to 30th. If you have high expectations that the Sabres can pull off an upset, take heart in the fact that even New Jersey beat Vancouver and they are almost as bad at times as far as a rope-a-dope philosophy. Other than that, Kassian is still a nice play as a stray. There are better options than Eddie Lack but if you are desperate…

Line: Canucks -210 . O/U 5

Players to Watch

  • Daniel Sedin, LW, Canucks ($6200)
  • Zack Kassian, RW, Canucks ($3600)
  • Chris Stewart, RW, Sabres ($3500)
  • Michal Neuvirth, G, Sabres ($8000)

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Blackhawks @ Panthers

Game Analysis

Hey the Panthers are contending for the final wildcard spot in the East and stole a point and much more from Chicago on Tuesday. Patrick Kane is out 6-10 weeks with a broken collarbone. This could be an even longer recovery but he is obviously out for this game. The Blackhawks will start Corey Crawford while the Florida Panthers counter with Roberto Luongo once again. Looking around at lines for Chicago, Teuvo Teravainen was called up again but where he plays is anyone’s guess even. Could he slide into the top six? That would not be a surprise. Someone will get a bump up in minutes. Patrick Kane played a ton of important minutes as now Chicago has to step it up. Florida has seen a dip in their daily point values to especially guys like Nick Bjugstad and Aaron Ekblad but the are due for a bit of a rise. That is classic buy low and Florida is usually good for 30+ shots and 15-20 chances at home a night. This will be one of the high event hockey games of the night as though Patrick Kane was taken out by a clean hit, Chicago will come with force and Florida will try to match that intensity.

Line: Blackhawks -130, O/U 5.5

Players to Watch

  • Nick Bjugstad, C, Panthers ($4400)
  • Aaron Ekblad, D, Panthers ($3300)
  • Patrick Sharp, LW, Blackhawks ($5300)
  • Corey Crawford, G, Blackhawks ($7800)

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Flyers @ Maple Leafs

Game Analysis

I was looking at this and Toronto gets Dion Phaneuf back. Despite this, Maple Leaf fans and DFS’ers cannot feel good about it however. Reading around and listening to various podcasts you get the feeling that Jonathan Bernier needs to just get angry, break stuff, and whatever it takes. Something has to give for this team to have some kind of faith and pride in its netminder and Bernier has to have faith in what is in front of him. Whether it is Rob Zepp or Ray Emery in net, goals are going to be scored in this game. There is something about this that may even reunite Jakub Voracek and Claude Giroux for a brief time. People have to like what Wayne Simmonds is doing and this is his kind of game against a defensively deficient Maple Leaf team. Special teams will also be vital and with both teams in the bottom five as far as the penalty kill in their last 20 games, here’s your sign. This should be another potential high event hockey game. When you get right down to it, there are options to not necessarily stack but at least place a few players together to see what happens. If cheaper options are there, then so be it. The opposition rankings are too high to not expect goals.

Line: NL, O/U 5.5

Players to Watch

  • Chris VandeVelde, C, Flyers ($2500)
  • Mark Streit, D, Flyers ($4100)
  • James Van Riemsdyk, LW, Leafs ($5600)
  • Phil Kessel, RW, Leafs ($6500)

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Blues @ Jets

Game Analysis

The Blues come off a humbling loss to the Montreal Canadiens where they looked every bit as unraveled as they have in the last week. At some juncture, this St. Louis team has to address the fact that they come up small against the bigger err contending teams. That was a home game St. Louis needed and they failed the test badly. Brian Elliott, who has been a bit shaky and was yanked two starts ago gets the start here against a Jets team battling for their playoff lives. The Jets acquired Jiri Tlusty from Carolina in an effort to hopefully get Dustin Byfuglien back on defense more permanently (he is much more effective and productive there — almost a point a game). Whether Mike Hutchinson or Ondrej Pavelec starts in net, the Jets will face a bit of an adventure at times. This will be a game with playoff atmosphere and that may be enough to push Winnipeg up a goal at least. They have the last line change and throw some of the opposition ranks out the window because the intensity will be high enough due to the stakes. The first lines of these teams could play against each other and that is a match-up that should be in the Blues’ favor. This game should be as well but that is why they play the game.

Line: Blues -125, O/U 5.5

Players to Watch

  • Vladmir Tarasenko, RW, Blues ($7600)
  • Brian Elliott, G, Blues ($7200)
  • Jacob Trouba, D, Jets ($4600)
  • Bryan Little, C, Jets ($6400)

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Wild @ Predators

Game Analysis

Gone in Benoit Pouillot? Minnesota lost to the Edmonton Oilers of all teams the other night and that has to leave them seething mad. The task gets no easier as Minnesota travels to Nashville to face a team that is 26-3-1 at home and features one of the most balanced top sixes in the entire league. Nashville scores nearly a full goal more at home than they allow. Just imagine if Pekka Rinne had been healthy the whole season. Rinne has been Vezina caliber just about all season while Devan Dubnyk has shown a 15-20 game stretch that would make most any goalie jealous, though again he just lost to the Oilers. Nashville finally reunited Filip Forsberg with James Neal and Mike Ribeiro and not surprisingly Forsberg scored a hell of a goal. Forsberg is your likely Calder Trophy winner. Then there is Shea Weber and Roman Josi who are probably the best 1-2 punch among defensemen in the league. Minnesota has had trouble matching up against that first line and first defensive pairing. Nashville’s overall balance is likely too much but Minnesota’s top six can be formidable when they avoid being too cute. Zach Parise has to lead the way and set the tone. If Minnesota does not play their game, this will get ugly.

Line: Preds -160. O/U 5

Players to Watch

  • Mikko Koivu, C, Wild ($4900)
  • Ryan Suter, D, Wild ($4000)
  • Filip Forsberg, RW, Preds ($5600)
  • Pekka Rinne, G, Preds ($9000)

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Red Wings @ Sharks

Game Analysis

So how many people expect much out of this game other than a moderate to high scoring type of night? Not many expect a 2-1 game at all. Jimmy Howard versus Antti Niemi are your probable starters and this just has the makings of at least a 3-2 game or greater. Both teams have given up a combined six goals a contest over their last five games. That is why I do not quite understand the over/under of 5. Henrik Zetterberg is likely not to play again and still has concussion symptoms even though that has not been made official. Pavel Datsyuk has to continue to carry the load and so far he has been incredible. He has 13 points in his last nine games and is averaging 5.1 DK points per night. That is on the level of Alex Ovechkin and Tyler Seguin (before his injury). As for the Sharks, they will have to contain the Tomas Tatar-Gustav Nyquist duo. They do not always play together but when they do, there is undeniable chemistry. Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture will be expected to lead the way. Pavelski is on his way to another 40 goal season that few predicted. The key in this game comes down to defense and maybe scoring from the defense. Both teams can bring it from the blueline so maybe Nik Kronwall surprises again against a Sharks team that is mediocre at home.

Line: Sharks -125. O/U 5  (Expect late movement!)

Players to Watch

  • Gustav Nyquist, RW, Wings ($5200)
  • Pavel Datsyuk, C, Wings ($8500)
  • Brent Burns, D, Sharks ($7000)
  • Antti Niemi, G, Sharks ($8200)

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Senators @ Kings

Game Analysis

At first glance, this looks like a Kings kind of game. Ottawa is one of those teams however where you never know. Craig Anderson has to play eventually, right? Keep an eye on what Ottawa does later in the afternoon as far as naming the starter. That refurbished 70’s line plays a rugged possession driving style that may keep the Senators hemmed in far too often considering Ottawa just played last night. Ottawa’s second line which mixes Mike Hoffman with Bobby Ryan and Mika Zibanejad will cause LA some fits but the Kings are just on fire lately. This may be too much to ask of the Senators. Erik Karlsson and the special teams will have to strike early and often against the Kings penalty kill which can be a bit hit or miss. Other than that, Los Angeles has almost every advantage. They have the experience of a two time Stanley Cup winner who looks more like himself again in Jonathan Quick. They just acquired Andrej Sekera from the Carolina Hurricanes to bolster the defense. All looks pretty good from their side of the world. Marian Gaborik and Anze Kopitar may be the duo to look at from this game, however almost as buy low options.

Line: NL, O/U 5

Players to Watch

  • Mike Hoffman, LW, Sens ($4700)
  • Mika Zibanejad, C, Sens ($4300)
  • Jeff Carter, C, Kings ($6100)
  • Tyler Toffoli, RW, Kings ($4900)

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