Welcome back to NHL Predictions! Each day, Last Word On Hockey breaks down every game and give our NHL predictions for each game. Today we’ll cover the early games occurring on November 19th. This will include a featured game that should be must-watch hockey. The featured game today is the New York Islanders at Pittsburgh Penguins. You can find our predictions for the later games tonight here.
Minnesota Wild at Buffalo Sabres
Head-to-Head: Wild 0-0 Sabres
The Minnesota Wild come into tonight after a 4-3 overtime loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday. Including that, the Wild are 2-2-1 in their past five, a reflection of their mediocrity this season. Minnesota is struggling both offensively and defensively, with just 2.65 goals per game (25th in the league) and 3.45 goals against per game (24th in the league). Their power play, at a 17.7 percent conversion rate, is much closer to the middle of the pack, however. They also boast a top-ten penalty kill, running at 83.6 percent. Eric Staal still sits as the team’s leading scorer, but only has 14 points (6-8-14) in 20 games. However, the Wild have played better as of late and could play a solid road game against the sliding Buffalo Sabres.
Buffalo is recovering from a 4-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks Sunday night. Jack Eichel had their only goal, giving him five goals in their last two games. This scoring depth, or lack thereof, has become a bit of an issue as they’re only scoring at 2.9 goals per game, which is good for 19th in the NHL. They’re putting up the same number defensively, however, putting them above average (only by a small margin). They also have an above-average power play boosted by the play of Victor Olofsson, 11th in the league at 21.5 percent. Their penalty kill is a significant issue though, as their 74.6 kill rate puts them at 26th in the league. Captain Jack is leading the way offensively with 24 points (13-11-24) in 20 games. Goalie Carter Hutton has regressed to league average (predictably), with a 6-4-2 record and .909 save percentage. The Sabres will continue to regress tonight and continue their cold streak.
Prediction: Wild win 2-1.
Philadelphia Flyers at Florida Panthers
Head-to-Head: Flyers 0-0 Panthers
The Philadelphia Flyers are reeling from an embarrassing 4-3 shootout loss to the Islanders Saturday night, blowing a 3-0 lead in the process. Sean Couturier, Ivan Provorov, and Oskar Lindblom had goals before the collapse occurred. Philadelphia has played a solid, structured game under new head coach Alain Vigneault, but their offence isn’t quite there, operating at the same rate as Buffalo’s. They’re top-ten defensively however as they’re only allowing 2.8 goals a game, good enough for eighth overall. Solid special teams are helping them out too, with a power-play running at 20.8 percent and a penalty kill running at 84.2 percent. They’re being led offensively by 22-year-old Travis Konecny, as he’s posted 19 points in 20 games. Carter Hart has boosted his play after an extremely poor start, giving him a 6-4-2 record with a .903 save percentage.
The Florida Panthers are coming off a too-close-for-comfort 4-3 win over the New York Rangers but are still playing some very good hockey as of late. They’re 6-3-1 over their past ten games. Florida’s rolling offensively with 3.55 goals per game, fifth in the league. The defence has been the opposite, though, as they’re allowing the same number, fourth-worst in the league. This has been in part due to Sergei Bobrovsky‘s poor play, posting a .882 save percentage despite a winning 7-4-4 record. Jonathan Huberdeau is leading the way offensively with 27 points in 20 games, and Florida’s well-oiled offensive machine will capitalize on Philadelphia tonight.
Prediction: Panthers win 4-2.
Boston Bruins at New Jersey Devils
Head-to-Head: Bruins 1-0 Devils
The Boston Bruins dropped a close one with the high-powered Washington Capitals Saturday, losing 3-2 in a five-round shootout. David Pastrnak continued his reign of terror, scoring his league-leading 17th goal of the season in that game. He’s tied for the Bruins lead with 32 points with Brad Marchand. Starting goalie Tuukka Rask has been playing extremely well, posting an 8-2-2 record combined with a .927 save percentage. Boston should have no trouble with the lowly New Jersey Devils tonight.
New Jersey’s coming off a surprising 4-3 overtime win over the Montreal Canadiens, but don’t expect their success to last long. Their offence is ranked 28th at 2.58 goals per game and their defence is ranked 26th at 3.47 goals per game. Their special teams are struggling too, as their power-play is only at a conversion rate of 14.3 percent. The Devils’ penalty kill is slightly better, sitting at 23rd in the league, but is still only at 75.8 percent. Taylor Hall is leading their team with only 17 points in 19 games, and MacKenzie Blackwood has emerged as the team’s starting goalie with a 7-4-3 record and a .904 save percentage. The Devils will drop this one tonight.
Prediction: Bruins win 3-1.
New York Islanders at Pittsburgh Penguins
Head-to-Head: Islanders 0-1 Penguins
The Islanders are feeling great about themselves after their aforementioned comeback victory over Philadelphia. Their middle-of-the-pack offence has been enough so far at 3.11 goals per game, and they have the league’s best defence at 2.33 goals per game. They have a strong power play as well with a 23.5 percent success rate, and a good penalty kill rate of 84.6 percent. Mathew Barzal leads the way with 17 points in 18 games (9-8-17), and goalie Thomas Greiss has taken the 1A spot from Semyon Varlamov, boasting an incredible 8-1-0 record and .938 save percentage. However, the Islanders may hit a snag tonight against a strong Penguins team.
Pittsburgh is coming off a strong 6-1 victory over the struggling Toronto Maple Leafs and they’re doing well without captain Sidney Crosby. They still boast a top-ten offence with 3.30 goals per game and a top-five defence with 2.50 goals allowed per game. Their once-great power play is struggling though, as a conversion rate of 14.5 percent puts them at 24th in the league. They have an elite penalty kill of 89.1 percent, however. Crosby is still leading them in points with 17 in 17 games but is soon to be passed by Jake Guentzel. Goalie Matt Murray has been just fine, posting a 9-4-2 record and .913 save percentage. Expect Pittsburgh to play a strong game at home tonight.
Prediction: Penguins win 3-0.
Montreal Canadiens at Columbus Blue Jackets
Head-to-Head: Canadiens 1-0 Blue Jackets
The Canadiens are looking to redeem themselves after their loss to New Jersey. However, they’ll have to do so without Jonathan Drouin for the near future. Their offence has been top-ten so far, though, with 3.50 goals per game scoring rate. They’ve been middle-of-the-pack defensively, allowing 3.05 goals per game. Their power play is remarkably average as well, operating at 20.3 percent. Penalty killing is a huge issue, though, at only 71.9 percent. Tomas Tatar (anyone?) is leading the Habs with 20 points in 20 games. Carey Price is playing better every game, compiling a 10-4-2 record and .917 save percentage. Expect a deep Montreal team to win out over the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight.
Columbus is confident after a 3-2 win over the St. Louis Blues but will run into trouble tonight. Their 30th-ranked offence is only producing 2.37 goals per game, and have a bottom-ten defence as well. Special teams don’t get better either, as a 14.5 percent power play and 76.8 percent penalty kill are both 21st in the league. Young pivot Pierre-Luc Dubois is doing his best and leads the team with 12 points in 19 games. Joonas Korpisalo is struggling as a starter with a 7-7-1 record and .897 save percentage. Columbus will drop this one at home.
Prediction: Canadiens win 4-2.
Ottawa Senators at Detroit Red Wings
Head-to-Head: Senators 1-0 Red Wings
The battle for the last place in the East continues tonight. The Ottawa Senators‘ last game saw a 4-2 loss to Buffalo. Ottawa is struggling offensively, scoring at a pace of 2.75 goals per game. They’re not terrible defensively, but not good either allowing 3.25 goals per game. Jean-Gabriel Pageau has come out of nowhere to lead the team with 15 points in 20 games, tallying 11 goals. Anders Nilsson‘s goaltending has been insane, compiling a 5-4-1 record and .925 save percentage. However, Ottawa will struggle on the road against a Detroit team that’s picked it up lately.
Detroit is coming off a good performance in a 4-3 shootout loss to San Jose. However, don’t expect their hot streak to continue considering they’re last in the league with 2.32 goals per game. They’re dead last defensively, too, tallying 3.68 goals per game against. Their special teams’ story is no different, having the league’s worst penalty kill as well. Anthony Mantha leads the team with 21 points in 20 games, and neither Jonathan Bernier or Jimmy Howard have emerged as the clear starter. Both have struggled, but Detroit’s played well enough as of late to garner a win.
Prediction: Red Wings win 3-1.