Welcome back to NHL Predictions! Each day, the Last Word on Hockey team 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 is the Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Vancouver Canucks. This is the late game slate of NHL Predictions. Be sure and check out the early games too.
New Jersey Devils vs. Dallas Stars
Head-to-Head: Devils 0 – 0 Stars
This is the first of two meetings between the New Jersey Devils and Dallas Stars. Things have not gotten any better in the standings since replacing John Hynes as head coach last Tuesday. Currently, the Devils are on a four-game road trip. Things did not get off on the right foot. The Devils are on five-game losing streak entering their contest against the Stars. New head coach Alain Nasreddine has a lot of work to do with this club. The Devils have more problems than one person can solve. But the first thing he can do is start with the defence. This will give the Devils confidence and allow their goaltenders to play better. Instead of being on their toes all the time, they can be attacking. As the old saying goes the best defence is a good offence.
The Stars are back to their winning ways after a four-game losing streak. You would have thought that losing streak would have put the Stars behind the eight-ball. However, thanks in large part to their 12 game point streak prior to their losing streak, Dallas remains in the first wild-card position. After being a healthy scratch, Alexander Radulov was back with a force. The thing with the Stars is how many times do their star players need to be motivated to perform at a high level. The coaching staff is getting frustrated. However, the Stars are a tough team on home ice. The Devils will have their hands full with a good Stars team.
Prediction: Stars Win 4-3
Carolina Hurricanes vs. Edmonton Oilers
Head-to-Head: Hurricanes 0 – 0 Oilers
This is the first of two meetings between the Carolina Hurricanes and Edmonton Oilers. The Hurricanes are starting a five-game road trip. Four of those games will be played in Western Canada. Carolina heads into their game with the Oilers on a two-game winning streak. That is helpful when a team goes on the road. Sebastian Aho is heating up. Against the Minnesota Wild on Saturday night, Aho recorded a five-point night including a hat trick. The Hurricanes need Aho to get going after signing that new contract in the off-season. Carolina would like to end this trip on a winning note, but it all begins in Edmonton.
Despite their recent struggles, the Oilers remain in first place in the Pacific Division. Edmonton might have the best duo in the league with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, but their defence is still a question mark. If you go by the pattern forming over the last four games, the Oilers should win this game, however, it will not be easy. Their goaltending tandem of Mikko Koskinen and Mike Smith has been good, not great. Both have given up goals they want back. The Oilers can’t rely on two guys to carry their offence for 82 games. They need more secondary scoring especially from James Neal who has cooled off. Both teams need this game, so expect this to be a low scoring affair.
Prediction: Hurricanes Win 3-2
Calgary Flames vs. Arizona Coyotes
Head-to-Head: Flames 1 – 1 Coyotes
This is the third of four meetings between the Calgary Flames and Arizona Coyotes. The two teams split their first two meetings. Each team winning on their respective home ice. In their last meeting back on November 16, the Coyotes shut out the Flames by a score of 3-0. Just like the last meeting, this game will be played in Arizona. The Flames are coming into the matchup on a high note. With the Flames playing the night before in Colorado, this will be a quick turnaround. However, the Flames have come together as a team under new head coach Geoff Ward. Even with the Flames best player Johnny Gaudreau struggling, the Flames are finding ways to win to get back into the playoff picture.
The Coyotes are returning home after a successful road trip. Arizona won three of four games on the road and remain in second place in the Pacific Division. The Coyotes are playing a team game and get contributions from everyone. However, it feels like Phil Kessel is about to break out this season. Once he does the Coyotes could become unstoppable. The Coyotes continue to get production from Nick Schmaltz, Clayton Keller, and Conor Garland. But one of the reasons why the Coyotes have been so successful this season has been their goaltending. Antti Raanta and Darcy Kuemper have been outstanding. They will need that to continue. It is always tough to return from a long trip, but their opponent played last night so it will be an even playing field.
Prediction: Coyotes Win 4-2
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Vancouver Canucks
Head-to-Head: Maple Leafs 0 – 0 Canucks
This our NHL predictions featured late game of the night.
This is the first of two meetings between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Vancouver Canucks. The Maple Leafs are in the midst of a four-game road trip. Toronto won their first game Saturday night in St. Louis by a score of 5-2. After a good start to the Sheldon Keefe era, the Maple Leafs came back to Earth a bit. Toronto is still climbing up the standings to get back into the playoff race. Outside of Frederik Andersen, Toronto’s top stars need to be a lot better. The Maple Leafs are relying on Andersen to be their best player every night. He has the ability to be that guy. However, they are paying Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares, and William Nylander a ton of money to be the difference makers and they have not been this season. As a team, Toronto needs to be better.
The Canucks are a good young team exceeding expectations this season. Vancouver is holding onto the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference. One of the more underrated trades this past off-season was the Canucks’ acquisition of J.T. Miller. He has added another element to the Canucks’ offence to go along with Elias Pettersson, Bo Horvat, and Brock Boeser. Not to mention their goaltending has been good this season. Both Jacob Markstrom and Thatcher Demko continue to have save percentages in the .900s which will lead to success in this league. This will be a fun game to watch with lots of great talent on display.
Prediction: Maple Leafs Win 5-3
Chicago Blackhawks vs. Vegas Golden Knights
Head-to-Head: Blackhawks 1 – 1 Golden Knights
This is the final meeting of the season between the Chicago Blackhawks and Vegas Golden Knights. The teams split the first two meetings that were tight games. The Golden Knights won their first game in a shootout back in October by a score of 2-1. Chicago returned the favour in Vegas last month with a 5-3 victory. The rubber match will be a fun one to watch. After coming home for one game, the Blackhawks are back on the road. Their previous road trip was successful in going 2-0. Chicago is hoping for the same result as they head into Vegas.
The Golden Knights are looking to erase the disappointment of their 5-0 loss to the New York Rangers on Sunday. Vegas returned home after a successful road trip through the New York/New Jersey area. It is always tough coming home after a long road trip. So expect the Golden Knights to be up for this game. However, it will not be easy as Chicago is playing well at the moment. The Golden Knights sit third in the Pacific Division and still have not played up to their potential. If the Golden Knights have hopes of winning the division, this is a game they need to win. Can’t leave points on the table.
Prediction: Golden Knights Win 5-1
New York Rangers vs. Los Angeles Kings
Head-to-Head: Rangers 0 – 0 Kings
This is the first of two meetings between the New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings. The Rangers are coming in winners of two of their last three games. Artemi Panarin has been everything the Rangers have asked for and even more. Panarin leads the Rangers with 36 points (14 goals and 22 assists). He has been explosive and gives this offence explosiveness they have not had before. Besides Panarin, Alexandar Georgiev has been outstanding for the Rangers this season. Georgiev is slowly taking over the number one role from Henrik Lundqvist. This season he has a record of 8-5-1 with 2.67 goals-against average and .926 save percentage. The Rangers need to continue to ride this young goaltender.
It is has been a disappointing season, to say the least for the Kings. Losers of four-straight, the Kings return home after a quick trip to Western Canada for two games. The one thing the Kings have going for them is they are a good team on home ice. Over their last 10 games at home, the Kings are 7-3. However, it will be a tough ask against a young Rangers team. The saga surrounding Ilya Kovalchuk continues. He has not seen the ice in four weeks. The transition from Stanley Cup contender to a rebuilding team is underway. It will be interesting to see what domino is next to fall in Los Angeles.
Prediction: Rangers Win 3-1
This does it for NHL Predictions for the late games on December 10th, check back tomorrow for another edition.
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