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. Saturday we take on the nine game night slate but early slate fans, do not fret, we will have updates on Twitter as always.

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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 is just lurking!

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Panthers @ Hurricanes

Game Analysis

This is one of those where Florida has to keep winning while Carolina is just trying to play the right way. The first line of Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, and Jaromir Jagr will be a handful for the Hurricanes but the fact that Nick Bjugstad and Aaron Ekblad are due to break out too, that is a good thing. Honestly Florida really must play better and more disciplined. Now Dan Ellis will be in net for Florida but will Carolina counter with Cam Ward? That is the question. The Hurricanes are going to need the Staal brothers and Elias Lindholm to click and often. Justin Faulk has been one of the hotter defenseman in daily fantasy of late. Can Carolina suppress Florida’s attack enough to slow it down or will Florida just be too much for them? There is nothing like a good old former Southeast Division clash to get the blood and the players boiling!

Money Line: NL, O/U 5  (Expect changes!)

Players to Watch

  • Jaromir Jagr, RW, Panthers ($4600)
  • Dan Ellis, G, Panthers ($6500)
  • Cam Ward?, G, Canes ($6900)
  • Eric Staal, C, Canes ($6200)

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Canadiens @ Islanders

Game Analysis

This could be a rather slow game or this could be a wild affair. The last time these two teams played was a wild 6-4 game that had a little of everything! The Max Pacioretty line going up against the John Tavares line should be worth the price of admission alone. Ironically Montreal and New York have something in common and that is this. They both lost to Andrew Hammond and the Ottawa Senators. There is a lot to like here offensively but the problem is the Islanders had a 100 minute plus goal drought before scoring in the third period against Ottawa. Montreal gave up five unanswered goals to Ottawa. This will be a game full of intrigue as both teams are struggling and yes that includes Carey Price to a point. That sounds blasphemous, I know. Montreal needs secondary scoring as much as New York does. Watch it happen all at once like it did in their last meeting. The key is the first 20 minutes here. If it is low event hockey, then it may settle that way. However, if there are quite a few shots early, this could shape up to be an over special.

Line: Even. O/U 5.5 (This may change too)

Players to Watch

  • Max Pacioretty, LW, Habs ($8700)
  • Carey Price, G, Habs ($9000)
  • John Tavares, C, Islanders ($9100)
  • Johnny Boychuk, D, Islanders ($5100)

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Rangers @ Sabres

Game Analysis

The game almost has the weird stench that cannot be explained. New York is starting McKenzie Skapski again in Buffalo and maybe the Sabres somehow picked up something on the youngster. The reality is there is not much to look at offensively for Buffalo and yet the Rangers are on some streak and Cam Talbot is arguably playing as good as Henrik Lundqvist. Now, the third string goalie basically stands in against the Sabres because this looks like an easy gimme. Maybe it is too easy perhaps? We shall see. When Buffalo trots out Brian Gionta (on one arm basically) for 22 minutes a night, that is a bad sign. This is often how it goes. Do not be surprised if there are a few contrarian picks where Buffalo might even be stacked sort of. There is this feeling that Buffalo could pull something out with Tyler Ennis and Matt Moulson. They will need some surprise scoring out of seemingly nowhere. The Rangers might let off the pedal and that is the Sabres’ only chance here.

Line: Rangers -320 . O/U 5.5

Players to Watch

  • Keith Yandle, D, Rangers ($4700)
  • Derek Stepan, C, Rangers ($4300)
  • Tyler Ennis, C, Sabres ($5100)
  • Anders Lindback?, G, Sabres ($6700)

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Leafs @ Canucks

Game Analysis

Hey the Maple Leafs just gave up another goal….again! This is the problem with breaking down games. Toronto is on the back end of a back to back after giving up six goals to Calgary. Do they have anything left in the tank? That is the problem here. However, Vancouver has a tendency to have clunkers against some of the worst teams in the league. Also note the early 7:00 pm ET start (4:00 pm PT), that could play a small role. Eddie Lack could face Jonathan Bernier. At least that seems to be the probable match-up. Now what happens in this one? The team totals seem to be a good reach, especially for Vancouver. While Zack Kassian has been refreshing for the Sedins, do watch out for Radim Vrbata and Chris Higgins in this tilt. There is just something about this game that screams that a different line other than the twins may do a majority of the scoring. That does not mean the Sedins won’t have much of a say offensively, it just means the points are likely to spread around. The Leafs might score a few themselves though and that is what could make this worth watching. Which way does this game go?

Line: Canucks -220 , O/U 5.5

Players to Watch

  • James van Riemsdyk, LW, Leafs ($5500)
  • Dion Phaneuf, D, Leafs ($4400)
  • Daniel Sedin, LW, Canucks ($5600)
  • Zack Kassian, RW, Canucks ($2700)

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Jets @ Lightning

Game Analysis

I was looking at this and thinking does Winnipeg have it in them to stop taking penalties? After all, they have taken over 300 minors this year which leads the league. That leads to more power play which naturally leads to more power play goals given up. That makes a goaltender’s life difficult and sometimes after awhile, the goalies just think giving up around three goals a night is acceptable. Winnipeg has quite a load of offensive talent but special teams could very well be their downfall. Fortunately Tampa Bay has struggled so mightily on the man advantage and literally we have seen Stamkos many times, just not enough on the man advantage. The Bolts get too cute or the execution simply gets in the way. Worse, it is downright ugly. However, at even strength, Tampa suppresses enough shots well. Can Ben Bishop make the saves in the high danger areas? If he can, Tampa has a rather easy time of it. If not, the Jets offense will make this more than interesting. They may just win. Their top six can overcome a lot.

Line: Lightning -200, O/U 5.5

Players to Watch

  • Jacob Trouba, D, Jets ($4200)
  • Michael Frolik, RW, Jets ($4900)
  • Alex Killorn, LW, Bolts ($4200)
  • Ben Bishop , G, Bolts ($8400)

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Wild @ Blues

Game Analysis

This game has potential to be a slobberknocker. Yes that is sort of a word. Minnesota and St. Louis like to hold the puck and keep the possession of their opponents down. Again the perils of this are every so often, dangerous chances pop up out of nowhere. Goalies have to make key saves after not seeing that many shots. It is tougher than it would appear. Minnesota has lost three of its last five at home so why not go on the road after a tough loss to Anaheim. That seems like a good idea. St. Louis is on the front end of a back to back. This happens a lot in the final weeks of the season. Brian Elliott is the probable for St. Louis and he has been a bit up and down. The question is does Devan Dubnyk play yet again? St. Louis has rearranged their lines a good bit so keep an eye to see how that works or does not work. Something tells me Minnesota may start to do the same. Everything is getting tighter in the West. Just watch out for stacks and wait until later Saturday for some firm St. Louis lines. Check line combinations at least a couple times.

Line: Blues -150 , O/U 5

Players to Watch

  • Jason Pominville, RW, Wild ($6800)
  • Zach Parise, LW, Wild ($8200)
  • Alex Pietrangelo, D, Blues ($5600)
  • Vladimir Tarasenko, RW, Blues ($7400)

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Devils @ Coyotes

Game Analysis

These teams could put up a real stinker as Mike Smith who nearly stole two points against Chicago is up against Cory Schneider who gets so little goal support on the road that binary jokes are often used. Then again, with how many scoring chances both teams give up, this could be one bizarre game. Also keep in mind, that both teams are in the top ten on the man advantage. That seems so hard to believe given their records and how they have played lately. The best player on New Jersey may just be Adam Larsson while Oliver Ekman-Larsson took a hard hit the other night. Ekman-Larsson is a go for this one. When Kyle Chipchura is on your first line, that is when you know there are problems. Okay Steve Bernier is in the top six along with Jordin Tootoo. Maybe these two teams are more like each other than we think. Either way, this is a game that most will likely steer clear from.

Line: Devils -140. O/U 5

Players to Watch

  • Patrik Elias, C, Devils ($3800)
  • Steve Bernier, RW, Devils ($3700)
  • Kyle Chipchura, C, Coyotes ($2700)
  • Shane Doan, RW, Coyotes ($3700)

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Flames @ Avalanche

Game Analysis

The Flames normally do their beat work in the third periods of games but last night they clubbed the Leafs 6-3. Now they have to face Semyon Varlamov and the Avalanche. Can Colorado jump on Calgary early. After all, the Flames have a horrid -22 goal differential in the first period. We all know what they can do in the third period and overtime. If they feel like a bit like last year’s Avalanche, you might be forgiven. The reality is Calgary just plays a style that can drive an average fan nuts. Is it proficient? No. Do they have an uncanny knack of finding clutch ways to win? That answer is most of the time. They are certainly fun to watch late in games. Colorado, however, has fallen on hard times but is prideful at least. They are still on the fringe of the playoff picture and if they can muster a few more wins, the Avs could have some hope left. Will Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog ever get it together consistently? Can Colorado stop the Monahan-Gaudreau-Hudler line? Now sit back and grab the popcorn already!

Line: Avalanche -150 . O/U 5.5

Players to Watch

  • Dennis Wideman, D, Flames ($6900)
  • Jiri Hudler, RW, Flames ($6400)
  • Jarome Iginla, RW, Avs ($5800)
  • Tyson Barrie, D, Avs ($5200)

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Predators @ Kings

Game Analysis

Hey Nashville is coming to Skid Row!  Oh wait they are just playing like it. When you see some of the numbers, they are cringe worthy. Shea Weber has gone ice cold (just a couple points in his last dozen). Now the Predators are riding the wrong end of the PDO wave. They fired 35 shots on San Jose and got nothing to show for it. Los Angeles will suppress shots pretty good as well and this seems to be the way the Preds are trying to break out of this slump. Filip Forsberg has gone from Calder favorite runaway to just in the running. Pekka Rinne has looked human over the last 8-10 starts. James Neal has one goal in his last ten. The Predators have seen the wheels fall off because their power play just cannot save them when the shots do not go in at even strength. Los Angeles is rolling at the right time and getting solid goaltending from Jonathan Quick. It is like the alarm clock went off for him and Los Angeles. Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik are a nice duo stack in this one and do not forget LA’s top four defensemen. There is some good potential here.

Line: Kings -155, O/U 5

Players to Watch

  • Mike Fisher, C, Preds ($4800)
  • Shea Weber, D, Preds ($5300)
  • Anze Kopitar, C, Kings ($6100)
  • Jonathan Quick, G, Kings ($8800)

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