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 Colorado Avalanche vs Vancouver Canucks.
St. Louis Blues vs New Jersey Devils
Head-to-Head: Blues 1-0 Devils
The St. Louis Blues are frontrunners for the Western Conference title. They should have no problem coming out with a win today. They are fighting to keep themselves at the top of the Central Division as the Colorado Avalanche are trying to close the gap. With only one win separating the two franchises, every point matters and we could have to wait until the end of the season to see who walks away at the top.
At the trade deadline this season, the New Jersey Devils got rid of basically anyone they could. The only trade target that did not leave was Kyle Palmieri. This is a front office that did an excellent job of getting rid of players that were not in the team’s long-term plans. They now have plenty of assets to continue rebuilding the team, including up to three first-round draft selections depending on some conditions.
Prediction: Blues win 5-1.
Chicago Blackhawks vs Detroit Red Wings
Head-to-Head: Blackhawks 1-0 Red Wings
The Chicago Blackhawks are heading out on the road after playing several games at home but they will not be gone for long. A one-game trip to Detroit should be an easy win for this team and they can build momentum as they go into a three-game homestand. If this team wants to win long-term, the development of rookie Kirby Dach will be crucial. The youngster showed off some impressive skills the other night with a beautiful spin move on his way down the ice. He is something special and will be a key player for this franchise for some time.
Andreas Athanasiou and Mike Green were clearly not in the long-term plans of the Detroit Red Wings. The trade of those two proved to the city of Detroit that this team knows how bad they really are. They now have some strong draft capital to work with going into the offseason. Three second-round picks will be crucial to getting this franchise back on its feet and playing competitive hockey once again.
Prediction: Blackhawks win 3-1.
Vegas Golden Knights vs Winnipeg Jets
Head-to-Head: Golden Knights 0-1 Jets
Part of what makes the Vegas Golden Knights story so amazing is the core group of players they have had to go on this outstanding run. Marc-Andre Fleury and Mark Stone are really the only two known stars this team has had. Most of the talent this team had acquired at the expansion draft had not done anything very special. Now this team has such good chemistry and they have been able to put together three stellar seasons of play in Las Vegas. It really has been something to see and they are one of the more impressive teams in the NHL.
There has clearly been a decline in the caliber of play from the Winnipeg Jets. This is a franchise that was routinely a top contender in the Central Division. Now they are barely holding onto a wild card spot and are eight points away from the Dallas Stars for third place. The loss of Dustin Byfuglien not only hurt this team, it may have killed their ability to remain a contender. This team has the offensive weapons to win. They just need someone to fill the hole he left at the blue line.
Prediction: Golden Knights win 4-3.
Arizona Coyotes vs Calgary Flames
Head-to-Head: Coyotes 1-2 Flames
The Arizona Coyotes are fighting harder than they have in recent memory. They have not made the playoffs since the 2012 season when they lost to the Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference Finals. The playoffs are well within reach for this team. They are tied with the two wild card teams in the West but are not holding a playoff spot due to tiebreakers. If they can find a way to step their game up a little bit, they could make the Taylor Hall trade pay off with a playoff berth. All you have to do is make the cut.
The Calgary Flames are in a precarious situation. They currently hold the third playoff slot in the Pacific Division. With the way the top teams in that division have played this year, it could be someone else’s spot in just a few days. While the division race has been more stable in recent weeks than earlier in the season; it is still close enough that a stretch of solid play could be enough to shake things up. The Flames will have all they can handle in this one.
Prediction: Coyotes win 5-4.
Colorado Avalanche vs Vancouver Canucks
Head-to-Head: Avalanche 1-0 Canucks
Injuries have prevented the Avalanche from living up to their maximum potential. Significant players have missed large amounts of time, including superstar Mikko Rantanen. When healthy, this team can not only compete with everyone, they can beat everyone. It is well known that this team can contend for the Stanley Cup. The only question mark remains, if the entire team can stay healthy enough for a prolonged playoff run.
The front office has to be happy with the performance by the Vancouver Canucks this season. They are in the middle of a dogfight for a playoff spot and could very well make it in. While they have to make their run without star winger Brock Boeser, there is reason for optimism as Tyler Toffoli has been excellent in his absence. If they make it into the playoffs, they could surprise a lot of people. What is questionable about this team is that they are still very young and need more experience.
Prediction: Avalanche win 4-2.
Toronto Maple Leafs vs Anaheim Ducks
Head-to-Head: Maple Leafs 1-0 Ducks
The Toronto Maple Leafs are wrapping up a three-game road trip to California with a game against the Anaheim Ducks. This is also the second of back-to-back games. Toronto needs to play hard in order to secure a playoff spot. This team has not been good enough to win on talent alone and they have also had their fair share of injuries to deal with. The young defenders need to step up and play well until established vets like Jake Muzzin and Morgan Rielly make their return.
Anaheim is starting a rebuilding phase and they will have an additional first-round draft pick to do so. Trading away Ondrej Kase and Nick Ritchie was a questionable move for this team. They need good young players and Kase is just that. Ritchie did not live up to his first-round billing but was still a young asset to this team. Kase overperformed for his draft position. The fact they traded these two shows this team wants to completely erase the chalkboard and start over from scratch.
Prediction: Maple Leafs win 5-3.
That does it for today’s NHL Predictions. Be sure to check back tomorrow for another slate of games.