This article is part of our DraftKings NHL series.
The NHL schedule is jam packed with 11 games following the holiday break, and each is included in DraftKings' featured contests. Sloppy play and unpredictable outcomes are to be expeted, so it's not out of the question to consider contrarian leans, especially since teams will not have practiced ahead of Friday's games. However, there are also a handful of significant favorites, so there are also multiple reasons to stick to the script.
Without teams practicing, it's more important than ever to double-check line combinations leading into games, too.
Considering New Jersey is the second worst team in the league and enter Friday's contest with an active 5-11-1 record, Michael Hutchinson's salary ($8,000) is a steal. Toronto is cruising along a 7-1 stretch with a plus-17 goal differential, and if you take away the Devils' out-of-nowhere, seven-goal outburst Monday, they've scored just 2.18 goals per hour since Nov. 1 — second lowest in the NHL. Hutchinson is also coming off a 29-save win over Detroit on Saturday. Frederik Andersen's salary ($8,200) is far less attractive, if the No. 1 receives the start. But Andersen is also a safer bet.
Tuukka Rask ($7,500) and Jaroslav Halak ($7,500) are both sporting reasonable salaries, and there probably shouldn't be anything scary about facing the Sabres. Buffalo has just a single win and only 10 goals through its last five contests, and Boston has also surrendered the fourth-fewest expected goals per hour since Nov. 1. It's also worth noting that the Bruins are coming off a statement win over Washington to end a disappointing 1-4-4 stretch.
With the Oilers scoring the fewest five-on-five goals per hour in the league since Dec. 1, David Rittich ($7,300) is worth considering at his price. After all, the Calgary netminder is in the midst of a strong stretch with a 6-1-1 record, .924 save percentage and 2.38 GAA through his latest nine appearances.
Starting a San Jose goalie is risky, but with Los Angeles' road woes in mind, this could be an opportunity for the Sharks to shut the Kings down. Neither Martin Jones ($7,200) or Aaron Dell ($7,200) cripple the cap, and Los Angeles is just 5-13-3 on the road with only 2.26 goals per 60 minutes, after all.
Anaheim hit the holiday break riddled with injuries and scoring just 2.31 goals per hour since Nov. 1 — second fewest in the league — so look for a strong showing from Marc-Andre Fleury ($8,000). Just note, he's been shelled for 12 goals in his last two appearances, and the recommendation is more in line with the matchup aligning Fleury for a bounce-back showing. Backup Malcolm Subban ($7,800) has stopped 65 of 68 shots in consecutive wins and is also worth considering, if he receives the starting nod.
Alex Ovechkin ($7,800) has only found the scoresheet in three of his last 10 games for a modest three goals and two assists, and his salary is down as a result. The Blue Jackets check out as a neutral matchup across the board, and Ovechkin's high shot volume offers a respectable floor. Considering his go-to role and offensive track record, a bounce-back showing is in the cards and would reward at this price.
Value hunters should keep an eye on Colorado's line combinations with Andre Burakovsky ($4,700) and Joonas Donskoi ($4,500) priced for profit, especially if either — or both — line up with Nathan MacKinnon ($8,100). Minnesota has surrendered 3.64 goals per 60 minutes on the road this season.
Mathew Barzal ($6,800) is cruising along a strong stretch with seven tallies and five helpers through his past 12 games. A date with the Blackhawks sets up as a perfect spot for him to have another solid outing. Chicago has surrendered three or more goals in eight of its last nine games to climb to 3.18 goals against per game, which ranks seventh highest in the league.
Sporting a six-game point streak consisting of four tallies, three helpers and 18 shots, Tomas Hertl ($5,400) is making the most of a bad situation in San Jose. The Sharks should have their chances against Los Angeles, though, so the 26-year-old forward is positioned to stay hot. The Kings lost three consecutive games with 10 goals against before the holiday break.
The Ducks hit the holiday break with multiple injuries and had surrendered the third most goals per hour in the league since Nov. 1, so this should set up nicely for Vegas. Chandler Stephenson ($3,800) and Alex Tuch ($4,400 are two low-priced options to consider. Stephenson has a respectable two goals and three assists over his last seven outings while centering Max Pacioretty ($7,300) and Mark Stone ($6,000) in all situations. Tuch, on the other hand, is a candidate for statistical correction. He's recorded just two assists in his last nine outings to drop to 2.06 points per hour for the campaign, which is well below the 2.52 mark he posted last year.
Just above minimum price, Martin Necas ($2,600) has posted an impressive 2.74 points per hour this season. The Rangers have surrendered the most expected goals per hour in the league and three or more tallies in five of their last six games, so the rookie is worth a look. He receives consistent power-play time, and Necas is also coming off a career-high, four-point showing.
Rolling along a point-per-game stretch through his last six outings, Tom Wilson ($4,600) is in play with Washington eyeing a bounce-back showing after losing 7-3 to Boston before the break. The winger is locked into a top-six role, and the Blue Jackets aren't an admirable road opponent with a 6-6-5 record while allowing 3.29 goals per game.
FORWARD LINE STACKS
Auston Matthews ($7,300), Mitch Marner ($6,300) and Zach Hyman ($4,400) have clicked for seven goals and generated nine high-danger scoring chances in the last two games while combining for seven tallies and 11 helpers overall. The matchup is also soft, so while the sample is small, the results are tough to overlook. You'll just want to make sure to peek at Toronto's line combinations before locking your own lineups because William Nylander ($4,900) might also be in play, and the streaky scorer has collected three goals and two assists through his last four games.
Both of the Hurricanes' top two lines offer value and upside. Sebastian Aho ($6,600), Teuvo Teravainen ($5,400) and Nino Niederreiter ($4,300) have statistical correction ahead of their 6.2 shooting percentage considering they've generated 13.98 high-danger scoring chances per hour while driving possession with a 61.5 Corsi For percentage the last two seasons. Similarly, Jordan Staal ($4,300), Andrei Svechnikov ($6,000) and Warren Foegele ($3,500) own 5.8, 16.48 and 60.7 marks this year.
As noted, this should be a good setup for the Golden Knights, and William Karlsson ($5,800), Jonathan Marchessault ($6,400) and Reilly Smith ($4,800) don't break the bank. The trio have quietly continued to take care of business with 13 goals and 20 assists in the last 14 games and skate together on the same power-play unit, too.
Another Maple Leaf in fine form is Tyson Barrie ($5,300). He's locked in as the quarterback on the No. 1 power-play unit and has collected five points and 14 shots in the last six outings. Spending 25:10 of his 42:11 of ice time with Auston Matthews ($7,300) the last two games only boosts Barrie's upside, too.
Another affordable option for Colorado, Cale Makar ($5,000) is expected to return from injured reserve to face the Wild. The rookie has recorded an elite, second-ranked 2.87 points per hour among regular defensemen this season. Quarterbacking the No. 1 power-play unit in the noted good home-ice matchup against Minnesota is another perk.
The Oilers have struggled in December, surrendering a healthy 3.49 goals per hour (fourth most in the league), so Mark Giordano's ($5,800) salary stands out as a potential value. The veteran was never expected to repeat last year's dominant offensive numbers, but he's fallen too far in the other direction with just five helpers through his past 19 games to dip to just 1.13 points per hour. He posted a 1.71 mark the previous two years.
Neal Pionk's ($5,100) recent role as Winnipeg's power-play quarterback on the No. 1 unit has resulted in 11 points and 36 shots while averaging 3:14 of ice time with the man advantage in the last 13 games. Just note that it's a tough matchup against the Blues. St. Louis has allowed the fewest goals per hour in the league since Nov. 1.