The upcoming Christmas holiday has shaken up the NHL schedule just a bit this week, so things aren’t quite as busy on the ice this evening as they typically are on Thursday nights. However, with seven games on the docket there are still plenty of favorable matchups to exploit.

Goaltenders

Sergei Bobrovsky – Columbus Blue Jackets – If you haven’t been paying close attention, than you may have missed the resurgence of a Columbus Blue Jackets team that looks to finally be getting healthy. Columbus enters tonight’s game having won seven straight games and Bobrovsky has been between the pipes for each one of them. In those seven games Bobrovsky has posted a 1.63 GAA and .950 SV%. He’s fresh off of a 30 save shutout of the Detroit Red Wings and defeated these Washington Capitals in their only previous meeting this season. The defense in front of him will be much stronger with James Wisniewski and Brandon Dubinsky both back in the lineup and he’s proven in the past to be one of the streakiest netminders in the league.

Others: Steve Mason, Marc-Andre Fleury, Antti Niemi

Centers

Joe Pavelski – San Jose Sharks – With Edmonton heading into the Shark Tank tonight, it’s safe to say that I’ll want plenty of exposure to San Jose in my cash games. Pavelski has racked up three goals and an assist over the last three games and lit the lamp twice against the Oilers when they came to town last week and he feasted on them last season to the tune of five goals and four assists in five meetings. Edmonton is allowing 3.47 goals per game on the road this season and Pavelski is logging big minutes on both the Sharks’ top forward line as well as their #1 power-play unit. He won’t come cheap ($8,200), but the matchup doesn’t get much better.

Claude Giroux – Philadelphia Flyers – Another pricey center well worth a look tonight is Claude Giroux. He brings a six game point streak into tonight’s battle with the Florida Panthers and now owns 8 goals and 27 assists in just 30 game this season. He’s been nearly unstoppable on home ice, where he’s posted 5 goals and 17 assists in just 15 home games. Him and his partner-in-crime, Jacob Voracek, have set each other up for more goals than any other duo in the NHL thus far this season (24 goals in which they’ve both had points). His consistency makes him a rock solid cash game option, and his high ceiling is perfect for GPP use.

Others: Logan Couture, Evgeni Malkin, Tyler Bozak, Ryan Johansen, Joe Thornton

Wingers

James van Riemsdyk – Toronto Maple Leafs – This JVR/Kessel/Bozak line is one of the hottest lines in the NHL right now, and all three are recommended options tonight against the Carolina Hurricanes. Van Riemsdyk enters tonight’s game riding a five game point streak and has tallied four goals and seven assists over the last nine games. The Leafs and Hurricanes are headed in completely opposite directions, as the Leafs have won six straight games and the Hurricanes have dropped six games and now own the NHL’s worst record. There is no reason to believe their hot streak will be slowed down tonight, so make sure to give them a look.

Rene Bourque  – Anaheim Ducks – If you’re going to spend up for the guys mentioned above, you’re going to have to go dumpster diving somewhere and that’s where you can find Rene Bourque and at just $2,900 he’s one of my favorite value options on the board. The Injury to Corey Perry has opened up the door for Bourque to jump onto the Duck’s top forward line and skate with the exceptionally talented Ryan Getzlaf. We haven’t seen much from Bourque over the last several years, but this is a guy who posted back-to-back 27 goals seasons for the Calgary Flames not too long ago. As an added bonus, he’s also been slotted onto the wing of their very lethal #1 power-play unit. Sometimes fantasy hockey success is simply about getting opportunities, and Bourque certainly has one.

Others: Phil Kessel, Taylor Hall, Patrick Marleau, Jakub Voracek, Patric Hornqvist, Cam Atkinson

Defensemen

Brent Burns – San Jose Sharks – With 9 goals and 15 assists on the young season, Brent Burns is a different bread of “defenseman”. While he does manage to stay defensively responsible more often than not, few defensemen in the league are given the offensive freedom that Burns gets from Todd McLellan. Burns is a lock to log roughly 25 minutes of ice-time tonight and is a major offensive weapon from the point of the teams #1 power-play unit. Since the beginning of last season, Burns has racked up three goals and added four assists in six meetings with the defensively inept Edmonton Oilers.

Drew Doughty – Los Angeles Kings – Doughty was a bit slow out of the gates this season, but looks to be settling in nicely now as he’s picked up one goal and added four assists over the last four games. Doughty has logged over 30 minutes of playing time in each of the last two games and is offensively talented as just about any other defenseman in the league today as we saw last winter in Sochi. One of the Blue’s few weaknesses this season has been their penalty kill, and it’s Doughty who QB’s the King’s top power-play unit.

Others: Mark Streit, Cody Franson, P.K. Subban, Kris Letang, Sami Vatanen, Marc-Edouard Vlasic

Best of luck tonight and hit me up anytime on Twitter (@JBritt2)!

John Britt (AKA: JMBWngFn)