Here are today’s NHL Predictions. Daily, Last Word on Hockey brings you a prediction and analysis of every game on the schedule. This will also feature a significant game on the schedule that is must-watch hockey. Today’s featured game is the New York Rangers vs the Boston Bruins.
New York Rangers vs Boston Bruins
Head to Head: Rangers 0 – 1 Bruins
The New York Rangers are built to win in the future. But they have been playing competitive hockey recently. That bodes well for the development of young stars. One player to spotlight is Kaapo Kakko. Building up to the draft, many viewed Kakko as a budding superstar. He still has a lot of potential with 10 points in his first 21 NHL games. He had a pair of assists in the Rangers last matchup with the Washington Capitals. He has not had a point in the four games since however. This game could be a tough one for the highly touted prospect who has more development to do if he wants to be an NHL superstar.
David Pastrnak has been playing lights out for Boston this season and surpassed all expectations to this point. His 23 goals lead the league with a large gap between the first and second place in the NHL. Connor McDavid is the next closest with 18. The best part for the Bruins is that Brad Marchand has more points that Pastrnak with a team-leading 43. Scoring depth is a problem though. Outside of the top line, offensive production drops off steeply. No player outside the Perfection Line surpasses 20 points this season. That could jeopardize their winning streak if the Rangers get strong goaltending.
Prediction: Bruins win 3-1
Winnipeg Jets vs Anaheim Ducks
Head to Head: Jets 0 – 1 Ducks
Kyle Connor and Patrik Laine have had strong seasons and are earning every penny of the contracts signed with the Winnipeg Jets this offseason. The team’s offence has not been enough to get the job done night in and night out, however. Mark Scheifele is the team leader with 23 points this season. The fact that no one on the team has been able to reach the 30 point mark in 25 games is concerning. But the defence has been surprisingly good enough to keep them afloat in the Central division. This is not to say that they have one of the best, but it has been enough to keep them in games. The loss of Dustin Byfuglien hurt the Jets, but clearly not as much as some would have anticipated.
The Anaheim Ducks are having another disappointing season. An 11-11-4 record doesn’t scream playoffs or top of the lottery draft picks in the offseason. Ryan Getzlaf has led the way offensively with 20 points this season. This team cannot win on the shoulders of their ageing captain alone. If Anaheim wants to win this game, their other forwards need to step up as Getzlaf, Jakob Silfverberg, and Rickard Rakell cannot continue to be the driving force for this team on their own.
Prediction: Jets win 4-2
Los Angeles Kings vs San Jose Sharks
Head to Head: Kings 0 – 1 Sharks
The last time fans had the opportunity to watch the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks go head to head, Sharks fans were thrilled with an overtime win. They could get that again tonight. This will surely be a heated matchup as the two franchises battle for supremacy in California. This season has not been kind to the Kings as they sit at the bottom of the barrel in the Western Conference. They have a long road ahead if they want to battle for a playoff spot. Their last 10 games are a good start. A 5-3-2 record is not the best, but only three games without points is a good way to start rising from the bottom.
The San Jose Sharks are in a similar situation as the Kings but not nearly as dire. They currently sit out of the playoffs but could hold a wild card slot soon if they continue their strong play. An 8-2-0 record in their last 10 is an excellent way to push themselves up in the standings. Logan Couture’s passing skills and Evander Kane’s ability to churn out goals give this team an excellent chance to win now. Add in the dynamic offensive defenders Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson and you have yourself a fighting chance at a playoff berth. But for now, they need to come out on top of their Pacific Division rivals.
Prediction: Sharks win 4-3
Colorado Avalanche vs Chicago Blackhawks
Head to Head: Avalanche 0 – 0 Blackhawks
The Colorado Avalanche and Chicago Blackhawks are about to play each other on back to back nights and Chicago gets the opportunity to host round one. They successfully snapped a three-game losing streak against the Dallas Stars. A couple of strong outings against a weakened Colorado squad could give them a better kind of streak. One of the positives for Chicago is that Kirby Dach is playing at the NHL level. He was a borderline candidate in the offseason for an NHL roster but has posted positive numbers. While he has not registered a point in the last three games, he scored twice against Buffalo and had an assist against Carolina. The third overall selection in the draft has looked like he can be a key cog in Chicago’s machine.
The Colorado Avalanche are without several of their top scorers. Mikko Rantanen is expected to return from injured reserve but not until their matchup Saturday. Gabriel Landeskog is also on IR and Andre Burakovsky is considered day-to-day. The loss of three of their top six players is going to hurt. When you take a look at how well Corey Crawford and Robin Lehner have played in net this season, things are looking bleak for the Avs. If they want to win, they need their secondary scoring to step up and play a big role in this game. That doesn’t even cover the fact that they need to slow down Patrick Kane as well.
Prediction: Blackhawks win 4-2
Ottawa Senators vs Minnesota Wild
Head to Head: Senators 0 – 0 Wild
Most casual hockey fans will see this game as a snoozefest. But if you look a little deeper, there are reasons to watch this game. Particularly on the Ottawa Senators side of things. Brady Tkachuk and Thomas Chabot are both exciting young players for Senators fans to keep an eye on. Jean-Gabriel Pageau has been a surprising frontrunner for team MVP. Ottawa’s last 10 games boast a 6-4-0 record, and their last loss was a 2-1 loss to Boston. They dominated the first period and had things under control until the end when it mattered. Despite early concerns, this team is better than what meets the eye.
The Minnesota Wild do not have as much reason for optimism as the Senators. At least Ottawa is rebuilding and attempting to build around promising young talent. The Wild have an ageing roster that is unable to compete with the majority of NHL franchises. While bringing in Mats Zuccarello in free agency helped, he does not solve the fact they lack youth. They need talented prospects to start turning things around.
Prediction: Senators win 3-1
Toronto Maple Leafs vs Buffalo Sabres
Head to Head: Maple Leafs 0 – 0 Sabres
The Buffalo Sabres get the opportunity to host the first game of a set of back to back matchups this holiday weekend against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Buffalo gets an excellent opportunity to get their season back on track. Toronto has not been winning games as much as people expected them to this season. The offensive juggernaut has been mediocre at best through nearly two months of play. If Buffalo can capitalize on this opportunity, they could get themselves back into the conversation as a fringe playoff contender. Sabres fans should keep their eyes on Victor Olofsson, who has been a surprisingly dynamic offensive threat this season.
The coaching situation in Toronto has unfortunately been the spotlight of the last couple of weeks for them. The controversy surrounding a story about Mike Babcock and Mitch Marner has distracted from the fact that Sheldon Keefe has gotten this team off to a strong start as an interim head coach. In three games, Keefe has delivered three wins. He also started using Tyson Barrie in ways Babcock could not seem to figure out. In those three wins, Barrie has scored three times and assisted on two more scores. Barrie only had seven points in his previous 23 games. This production is a big reason why Toronto appears to have won big by firing Babcock.
Prediction: Maple Leafs win 3-2
That does it for today’s NHL predictions. Be sure to check back tomorrow for another slate of games.