Thursday’s schedule is packed with action! Last Word On Hockey is continuing our NHL Predictions series. We’re dedicated to bringing you the latest analysis and predictions for every game, every night. If you missed the early games NHL Predictions, make sure to head over and check it out! There are six match-ups on the late game slate, and our featured contest of the evening focuses on the Winnipeg Jets heading to the Enterprise Center to take on the St. Louis Blues.
Colorado Avalanche vs Ottawa Senators
Head-to-Head: Avalanche 0 – 0 Senators
Heading into their first meeting of tonight’s NHL Predictions, and for the teams their first meeting of the season, the Colorado Avalanche, led by Nathan MacKinnon, are skating into Ottawa looking to start another win streak. Colorado is third in the Central Division, but they’ve lost five of their last ten games. Don’t panic, Avs fans. This team is finding the back of the net like crazy this year. Colorado currently has 188 goals for, well above the league average of 160.
MacKinnon is absolutely dominating the ice, playing close to 22 minutes a night. All of that ice time is translating into goals, 30 of them to be exact. Nazem Kadri is making some noise in Colorado, collecting 34 points since joining the team. And is anyone having a better rookie year than defenceman Cale Makar? He is third on the team in points, trailing Andre Burakovsky by a hair.
Can someone call the Ottawa Senators’ front office and remind them this is a home game? Maybe they can get off the struggle bus they’ve been riding all year. The Senators are coming in on a three-game losing streak. To be fair, the last two have been an overtime loss and a shootout. So, maybe they are taking longer to beat now? There’s your “glass half full” approach. The Sens recently tanked nine games in a row, only to win two of the next six. They will be without Vladislav Namestnikov, who is battling a lower-body injury. Anthony Duclair is at the head of the team, with 21 goals and 34 points. Connor Brown is putting on a show, tallying eight points in the last ten games. Ottawa has taken a beating this season, and they are likely in for another L tonight.
Prediction: Avalanche win 4-1.
Vancouver Canucks vs Minnesota Wild
Head-to-Head: Canucks 1 – 0 Wild
The Vancouver Canucks are having themselves quite a year. Not many would have expected them to be crushing the Pacific Division, but here we are. They have such a talented young core group of players. Elias Pettersson is leading the charge with 55 points. Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat have 44 and 45 points, respectively. Their offence has been impressive all season. Their defence hasn’t been quite as spectacular, but it’s not running the team into the ice. Quinn Hughes is solidifying the Canucks blue line during his astonishing rookie campaign. Tyler Myers, Alexander Edler and Chris Tanev could be a little more dependable, but it could be worse. Vancouver’s power play is stuffed with talent, owning 44 goals and operating at 22.68 percent.
The Minnesota Wild are definitely floundering this season. Their last six games have been at home, and this is the last one before they hit the road again. The Wild have won four of their last six tilts. Their roster is healthy, and when they’re on, they are ON. Sadly, that seems to be a rare occasion. Zach Parise is starting to heat up after a long goalless drought. Mikko Koivu hasn’t managed to wrangle a point in nine games. Eric Staal is having a slightly better stretch, gathering six points in the last ten match-ups. One thing Minnesota needs to be careful of is the Vanucks power play. If they can manage to stay out of the box, they’d stand a much better chance at winning.
Prediction: Canucks win 3-2.
Winnipeg Jets vs St. Louis Blues
Head-to-Head: Jets 2 – 1 Blues
This is NHL Predictions featured game for the evening
The St. Louis Blues returned home from their five-game road trip with a win over the Carolina Hurricanes. This was after a disappointing show as they skated through Colorado and into Canadian territory. St. Louis isn’t a team to get flustered often, and they always seem to find their way out of the weeds.
They’re ninth in league with 174 goals for and riding shotgun at the top of the Central Division. They’re missing Vladimir Tarasenko and Oskar Sundqvist and are still tearing up the ice. The club is working around their absences with confidence and ease. David Perron has been a complete workhorse for the Blues, tallying 53 points so far.
Defenceman Alex Pietrangelo is standing strong at the blueline with 70 blocks and 43 points this season. And how can you not mention rookie netminder Jordan Binnington? His .910 save percentage and 2.64 goals-against average, he certainly isn’t looking like such a rookie these days.
The Winnipeg Jets are the epitome of a streaky team this year. They’re so up and down, on top of their injury-riddled roster, and now they’re sitting in sixth place in the Central division. Regardless, they could still have some steam left after beating the Blues on Saturday. Sure, the loss to the Nashville Predators in between the meetings might have chipped their confidence somewhat. But when you come out dominate over the reigning champions, it has to put a little wind in your sails, right?
Their penalty kill could use a little breeze in its direction. Winnipeg is operating under the league average, at 74.45 percent. The team definitely struggles short-handed. Patrik Laine found the back of the net in three of the past five contests and also contributed three assists. Kyle Connor and Mark Scheifele top the team with 25 and 23 goals, respectively. One major thing keeping them afloat is Connor Hellebuyck standing on his head for the team, with a .919 save percentage. They’ll need to lock down a strong Blues team once again: not an easy task.
Prediction: Blues win 3-1.
Nashville Predators vs Calgary Flames
Head-to-Head: Predators 0 – 1 Flames
The Nashville Predators have been inconsistent this season. Their 25-20-7 record proves it. However, they’re still comfortable in fourth place in the Central division. Well, maybe comfortable isn’t the right word. They’re more like “hanging out” in fourth. The team hasn’t seemed to be able to gain any real momentum this year. Yet, their bout with the Calgary Flames will offer a strong middle game in tonight’s NHL Predictions.
The Predators power-play unit is 21st in the league, but their penalty kill is second overall. They are running a mediocre goalie tandem with Pekka Rinne and Juuse Saros. Both goaltenders have a .898 save percentage. Nashville is still trying to find their footing under their new head coach John Hynes. The general consensus was that the Predators would be contenders this season, and so far they have disappointed.
The Calgary Flames showed they can be a prevalent force in the division after they went on a five-game tear. Unfortunately, they lost the next five of seven games. Now they’ve lost Mark Giordano to injury. Matthew Tkachuk has been the center of attention in the media lately, with his pestering antics. Despite the distraction, he is leading the team, tied with Johnny Gaudreau, with 42 points. Calgary’s netminders are keeping the team in the game for the most part, with a combined save percentage of .912.
If we’re honest, neither team is playing exciting hockey right now. They’re both just treading water. Someone will spark some exhilaration during the contest, but which team? Whose to say.
Prediction: Predators win 2-0.
Carolina Hurricanes vs Arizona Coyotes
Head-to-Head: Hurricanes 1 – 0 Coyotes
The Carolina Hurricanes are not doing as well as they probably hoped to this year. They’re locked in sixth place in the Metropolitan division. The team is flush with talent and, for some reason, can’t seem to their act together.
Right now they have a depressing 30-20-3 record. Sebastian Aho has been a bright spot for the Canes, notching 27 goals this season. Andrei Svechnikov claimed points in six of the last ten games. Unfortunately for the entire team, they’re averaging 2.47 goals against per game. Their powerplay is ranked ninth in the league. How will the Hurricanes stand up against the dominant Coyotes?
The Arizona Coyotes will host the Hurricanes on Thursday. The Coyotes are looking to pull ahead of the Vegas Golden Knights for second place. Their five-on-five save percentage is unreal at .921. Darcy Kuemper and Antti Raanta have gone above and beyond for the team. Conor Garland is driving the team with 18 goals.
Phil Kessel is thriving in Arizona after his acquisition sparked a new life into the fandom. He is currently tied for fourth on the roster in overall points. Again, Garland is putting up numbers. Both players have 31 points in total. The freshly added Taylor Hall is ranked 13th on the team with 18 points. Now that they’ve broken that nasty five-game losing streak, they will be hungry for a second win to extend their tally.
Prediction: Coyotes win 4-2.
San Jose Sharks vs Edmonton Oilers
Head-to-Head: Sharks 1 – 1 Oilers
The San Jose Sharks are absolutely nose-diving this year. Maybe they’re hoping to find some decent goaltending at the bottom of the deep blue sea? Martin Jones owns a .889 save percentage after 33 games. Backup netminder Aaron Dell has a .913 after just 25 games this season. Either option isn’t ideal for the Sharks, who desperately need some type of consistent goaltending. The two goalies average a .900 save percentage total. Their defence is lackluster, at best. The team has only won two of their last seven games.
Tomas Hertl and Evander Kane are tied for second on the team in points. Erik Karlsson and Brent Burns are leading the team in assists, with 55 total between them. Basically, the team is in a downward spiral. Their struggling defence and tendency to fall on the road does not bode well. Something has to give and let them rise above the quicksand they seem to have stumbled into.
The Edmonton Oilers are on a bit of a hot streak, winning seven of their last ten games. They’re second in the Pacific Division, despite their unimpressive 28-19-6 record. Maybe their mid-level tear will pay off. After all, the Sharks are struggling on away games, and the Oilers defence just might be better.
Leon Draisaitl is ahead of star forward Connor McDavid, with 83 points to McDavids 79. It is nice that the Oilers finally have someone else to lean on besides McDavid. Maybe the boy can breathe now. Again, maybe not the most intriguing tilt but it’s worth a look.
Can the Sharks get any worse? Are the Oilers going to get any better? It’s a mystery. What isn’t a mystery is the likely outcome for tonight’s NHL Predictions.
Prediction: Oilers win 4-3.