Welcome to NHL Predictions! Each day, Last Word On Hockey will break down every game and give our NHL predictions for each game. This will also include a featured game that should be must-watch hockey. Tonight’s featured game will be the New York Islanders vs the Dallas Stars. Be sure to check the early NHL predictions also.
San Jose Sharks vs Tampa Bay Lightning
Head-to-Head: Sharks 0 – 0 Lightning
The San Jose Sharks are 6-3-1 in their last 10 games. This comes after losing five consecutive games in late October and early November then going on to win six straight. It seems that they are a very streaky team this season. In their last contest against the Carolina Hurricanes, they lost 3-2 in a shootout. This game will be the second of a four-game road trip for the Sharks. They stand 6-6-2 away from the Shark tank and are tied with three other Pacific Division clubs for the final wild-card spot with 32 points as of this writing.
The Tampa Bay Lighting are still a huge question mark this 2019-20 season. Last season after 26 games, they had a respectable 18-7-1 record. This season they are just 13-10-3. Keep in mind that last season at about this time of year they went on a 16-0-1 tear to finish the calendar year in style. Can they do it again? There’s really no reason to doubt they have the talent to do so. The longest winning streak they’ve had this season is two three-game streaks and that’s uncharacteristic of them.
The Lightning seem ready to go on a run, this may be the game that starts that.
Prediction: Lightning win 4-2
Columbus Blue Jackets vs Florida Panthers
Head-to-Head: Blue Jackets 0 – 0 Panthers
The Columbus Blue Jackets are 5-5-0 in their last 10 games and this will be the start of a tough four-game road trip. They are scheduled to play both the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins on this trip. Not only are the Blue Jackets in seventh place of the Metro Division, they just can’t seem to score enough goals. Since losing key players like Artemi Panarin and Matt Duchene, they are ranked 29th in scoring. That won’t win many hockey games.
The Florida Panthers are in the midst of an unprecedented nine-game homestand which they will pay for in the second half of the season. Their inconsistencies have been noticed as they improved their team over the summer. By adding goalie Sergei Bobrovsky they were thought to be an instant contender this season. They are behind the run-away Boston Bruins in the Atlantic Division and tied with the upstart Buffalo Sabres for second place with two games in hand. If they can make a run with this long homestand, they can get some breathing room and try to gain ground on the Bruins. This game should be Florida’s to lose.
Prediction: Panthers win 5-2
Minnesota Wild vs Carolina Hurricanes
Head-to-Head: Wild 0 – 1 Hurricanes
The Minnesota Wild are sporting a nice five-game winning streak after starting the season losing six of their first seven games. In the five-game win streak, goalie Alex Stalock (8-3-2, .910 SV%, 3.35 GAA) has won three while Kaapo Kahkonen has the other two wins. Usual starter Devan Dubnyk (4-8-2, .893 SV%, 3.35 GAA) has been absent from the team so he may attend to his ill wife. He’s been gone since November 23rd. Kahkonen was recalled from the AHL Iowa Wild to be a backup to Stalock and has played well. The Wild are finally getting it together. At least for the time being.
The Carolina Hurricanes are led by Andrei Svechnikov who has 12 goals, 19 assists in 29 games. Dougie Hamilton is having a great year with 10 goals, 18 assists from the blue line. The ‘Canes are going to be right there in the fight for a playoff spot again. This would be a good win to secure since they will be playing on the road for the next seven of eight games. This road trip could define what kind of team the Carolina club will be when all is said and done. If the Wild can stay hot, the ‘Canes will suffer.
Prediction: Wild win 3-2
New Jersey Devils vs Nashville Predators
Head-to-Head: Devils 0 – 0 Predators
The New Jersey Devils are in the throws of another losing streak, this time three games old. They just can’t seem to get it going this season. The Devils fired their head coach and that hasn’t really created any improvement yet. They are considering trading their best player, Taylor Hall and have been listening to offers. What else could go wrong? With all the positive changes to the lineup over the summer, this team is really struggling. They will be playing another team who is having some issues winning too. Maybe that will allow them some solitude.
The Nashville Predators have got to be disappointed with their performance this season. Last year after 27 games they were 18-8-1. They have struggled with just a 12-10-5 record this season. They have endured a terrible six-game losing streak, but have only gone 3-1-2 since then. So, what’s wrong? Pikka Rinne is a bit below his standards with a 9-4 record, a less than admirable .899 save percentage and a 2.84 goals-against average. He does have three shutouts. It just seems even with the addition of a Matt Duchene, the Preds’ play is below par. Do they miss P.K. Subban? Perhaps.
Prediction: Devils win 4-2
New York Islanders vs Dallas Stars
Head-to-Head: Islanders 0 – 0 Stars
The New York Islanders have come down to earth after a remarkable unbeaten streak in regulation time which totalled 17 games. Since that time they have an average 2-1-1 record. They still reside in second place behind the Capitals so they are a very good team. The Islanders possess the best defence in the NHL (2.41 goals against per game), while they rank 22nd in scoring. It merely shows that defence can win hockey games. The Islanders are proof of that theory.
The Dallas Stars are somewhat difficult to figure out this season. They won seven straight games and then dropped four in a row before getting back in the win column again. The Stars hold down the top wild-card spot and are a good home team with a 10-4-1 record. If they can score on the stingy Islanders’ defence they will be fine. Even with some sharpshooters like Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin the Stars struggle to score, ranking 23rd in the NHL. This will be a battle and the Stars need a win to stay on track.
Prediction: Stars win 3-2 in overtime
Los Angeles Kings vs Calgary Flames
Head-to-Head: Kings 2 – 0 Flames
The Los Angeles Kings have already played the Flames twice this season and have beaten them each time. They are the worst team in the Western Conference and have played a bit better going 4-5-1 in their last 10 games. They are in a back-to-back situation with the Kings playing Friday night in Edmonton and then travel to Calgary for this game. The Kings are not a very good road team with a 2-10-1 record.
The Calgary Flames have won three straight games and might be over the Bill Peters saga. It’s important that they move on from the bad publicity and shame of what happened and move to playing their games and doing their jobs. This is a perfect time for the Flames to get on the road to being the type of team that they were last season. They are 2-0 under their new interim head coach Geoff Ward and can gather some momentum with some good play. This game is far more important to the Flames than the Kings.
Prediction: Flames win 4-1
That’s all for this edition of NHL predictions.