Welcome to NHL Predictions! Each day, Last Word On Hockey will break down every game and give our NHL predictions for each game. In today’s late-game NHL predictions, we’ll cover the six games happening on March 1st. Each piece will include a featured game that should be must-watch hockey. The featured game for this article is the matchup between the Washington Capitals and Minnesota Wild.
Philadelphia Flyers vs New York Rangers
Head-to-Head: Flyers 2 – 0 Rangers
The Philadelphia Flyers are, to the amazement of fans, in the Metropolitan Division’s top three. They’ve managed to find their way into second place in the Division, thanks to a powerful resurgence. Philly has gone 8-2-0 in their last 10 games. This includes two wins over the strong Columbus Blue Jackets, one five-goal-victory over the Capitals, and, conveniently, one over the New York Rangers in their last outing. In this matchup, the Flyers outshot New York 40-28, taking away a 5-2 win as a result.
It was a dominant showing, one that surprised a Rangers team that has also been heating up. They have also gone 8-2-0 in their last 10. This great record is docked a little bit, though, when looking at the competition that New York has faced. While Philadelphia’s boom has come against the league’s best, New York has been faced with bleak competition such as the Winnipeg Jets and San Jose Sharks. While still impressive, New York’s recent greatness is far from the same level as Philadelphia’s.
In fact, Philadelphia has been among the best teams in the league over the last 30 days. Since January 30th, the team ranks third in the league in expected-goals-for percentage (xGF%), behind only the Vegas Golden Knights and, strangely, the Montreal Canadiens. The Flyers are absolutely rolling and establishing their elite status in a misty Eastern Conference. The Rangers won’t slow them down at all on Sunday.
Prediction: Flyers win 6-1.
Calgary Flames vs Florida Panthers
Head-to-Head: Flames 1 – 0 Panthers
The Calgary Flames are in desperate need of a heat-up. They’ve gone 5-4-1 in their last 10. It’s been an alright streak but not one that will guarantee them a playoff spot, something that they are very precariously clinging to. The Flames are in control of the Western Conference’s first Wild Card, with 73 points. Three of the teams below them have 72 points, one has 71, adding immense pressure to the Flames to perform.
Sunday may not be the day to do such. The Florida Panthers have been good-not-great all year long but still manage to find their groove on nights that are dire to the opposition. With that said, they’ve been losing more-often-than-not lately, going 4-5-1 in their last 10. It’s not a terrible trend but one that Florida needs to break if they want to fight for a playoff spot, something that they are five points out of.
This makes Sunday’s bout a close-fight. Both teams have underperformed as of late and in need of a spark. Calgary’s great offence has gotten them this far and will look to go one step further against a Florida defence that has allowed the third-most goals-against this season. Ultimately, that will be the difference-maker. If Calgary’s offence can show up to play, they should have no worries against the Panthers.
Prediction: Flames win 4-2.
Vancouver Canucks vs Columbus Blue Jackets
Head-to-Head: Canucks 0 – 0 Blue Jackets
The Vancouver Canucks are struggling. In their last 12 games, they’ve gone 4-6-2, a far cry from the 14-3-0 streak they were on immediately before. They’ve hit a wall and are losing incredible amounts of momentum because of it. Calgary is only one point off of bumping Vancouver out of the Pacific Division’s top three, which would severely jeopardize the Canucks playoff chances. This is quite a surprise for a lineup with so much talent. What makes it worse is their goal differential in the 12-game-stretch. They’ve allowed an average of 3.67 goals-against in each game, while only managing a 3.08 goals-for average.
The Canucks offence is clicking fine but their defence has crumbled. Luckily, they’re facing an equally-struggling Blue Jackets team on Sunday. In their last 11, Columbus has gone 1-5-5, an impressively bad skid. Much like Vancouver, this comes following a very hot streak that saw Columbus go 12-2-1 between January 2nd and Februrary 7th. Nevertheless, Columbus can’t find their groove again. While the Calgary vs Florida matchup is between two tough and competitive lineups, this one is against two teams that haven’t done much of anything lately. In the end, though, Vancouver has seen the lesser of two evils and should pull away with a win.
Prediction: Canucks win 3-1.
New Jersey Devils vs Anaheim Ducks
Head-to-Head: Devils 1 – 0 Ducks
Continuing the trend of two evils is the bout between the New Jersey Devils and Anaheim Ducks. The two are third-to-last in their respective Conference. The end of the year has become more draft-preparation rather than fighting for wins. Still, someone has to come out victorious on Sunday.
With that said, neither team has been particularly awful as of late. The Ducks have gone a measly 4-4-2 in their last 10, setting a 29-for-36 against goal differential on the way. While not particularly pretty, it’s better than many would expect from one of the bottom-dwellers in the league. They’ve also won both of their games since the Trade Deadline, where they made four moves in one day. This included reeling in Danton Heinen and Sonny Milano, the latter of which scored two goals in his Ducks debut.
Meanwhile, the Devils have gone 5-3-2 in their own last 10. They’ve set an almost-even differential of 25-for-26 against. Since the Deadline, though, the Devils have gone 1-2-0. This makes sense seen how the Devils lost both Wayne Simmonds and Sami Vatanen on Deadline-day and Blake Coleman and Andy Greene soon before. It was an impressive roster-void for the terrible Devils, as they turned their sight towards the future.
Ultimately, the Ducks have looked somehow better since the Deadline. The new additions are looking at home in Anaheim and will easily help pull the team ahead of the now-even-moreso struggling Devils.
Prediction: Ducks win 3-2.
Los Angeles Kings vs Vegas Golden Knights
Head-to-Head: Kings 2 – 1 Golden Knights
The Vegas Golden Knights are, secretly, the best team in the league right now. They have led the league in xGF% in the last 30 days and have only gotten better since the Deadline. In their last 10 games, they’ve gone 8-1-1, setting an eight-game win streak. New additions Nick Cousins and Robin Lehner have both fit in great. Cousins set two points in his first two games and Lehner tallied a 32-save win in his first game as a Golden Knight.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Kings have gone 5-4-1 in their last 10 and, weirdly, won both games since the Deadline-season where they lost Tyler Toffoli, Alec Martinez, and Derek Forbort. One of these two wins since the Deadline came against the Pittsburgh Penguins as well, one of the best teams in the league.
Even though the Kings have looked good the last two games, though, there is simply no way they can topple Vegas. The Golden Knights are becoming one of the Stanley Cup favorites and won’t let the last-place-team in the Western Conference get in the way.
Prediction: Golden Knights win 5-0.
Washington Capitals vs Minnesota Wild
Head-to-Head: Capitals 0 – 0 Wild
This is our NHL Predictions featured game of the night
Much like Vegas, the Capitals have been one of the team’s elites for a while. Players like Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson have wowed fans this season, with Ovechkin scoring 43 goals and Carlson amounting a team-high 72 points. The team has struggled as of late, though, going an impressively-bad 3-6-1 in their last 10 games. There’s no telling when and how a team with as much talent as Washington will bounce back.
With that said, the Wild have been strong lately. They rank fifth in the league in xGF% in the last 30 days, really taking an upturn after a modest middle of their season. They’ve also gone 6-3-1 in their last 10 games. After not doing much this year, they’ve quietly become a very threatening team. In fact, it may be enough to take advantage of the struggling Capitals.
The bout will be incredibly close, with the Capitals showing off plenty of talent but struggling, while the Wild have simply clicked great and are finding success as a result. Predicting the outcome is a crap-shoot, as either team could pull away with the win. Ultimately, though, Minnesota has shown more worth in their last 10 games and should have no issue taking advantage of Washington.
Prediction: Wild win 4-3.
That does it for NHL Predictions for Sunday, March 1st.